Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I feel your pain

I heard something on the radio this morning that really hurt me today. 

Occasionally in the morning I listen to the Bert Show on 93.9 fm. Today they were talking about addiction, specifically to pain medication. I think this type of addiction touches me more than alcoholism, or nicotine or recreational drugs because it’s not recreational. In most cases, it starts out as legitimate medical treatment. People don’t walk into the situation (most times) to get high. They do it just to function. 

The guest on the show starting taking lortab for severe migraines and got to the point that she was taking it daily for five years and taking up to 12 pills a day. Here’s what breaks my heart…what alternative pain management methods could have been explored before turning to pain medication? Granted, the beginning of her addiction journey started over 9 years ago, so I’d like to believe that pain management therapy has come a long way since that time, but I fear that it hasn’t. I fear that too many doctors take the easy way out and prescribe pain medication when yoga, diet, acupuncture or some other more alternative therapy may work to treat the underlying issues causing the pain. I fear that our current health care insurance culture feeds that cycle of treating pain. 

I cried on my way into work listening to this. It pains me to think there are people out there in pain, sometimes from injury, sometimes from some other chronic condition, desperately trying to find an answer, but don’t know where else to turn besides their doctor (or maybe even an ER). People who couldn’t afford to turn elsewhere even if they knew about other options because all their insurance plan will cover is a prescription that could lead to an addiction. 

I invest a lot on a lot on my “healthcare.” But I don’t think my healthcare is traditional – my healthcare comprises of fitness, a diet that some might think is extreme, chiropractic care, dental hygiene, a couple specialists and some prescription medication (very seldom do I take pain meds though). It’s not cheap to spend $80/month to belong to a good gym, another $100/month for chiropractic care and pay insurance and copays on top of that. But if it keeps me off pain medications or even more invasion medical treatments, it’s worth it. 

But what I really want to figure out is HOW to help others. How can I help others figure out where to get help?  How do I open up the eyes of other sufferers of chronic conditions that there are other options? And how can I help them find that care in an affordable manner? I don’t have those answers, but I hope that is something I can figure out in my own personal journey.

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