Hello, I sought out this article you wrote in a general search, because I feel horrible about a recent similar experience of my own, and have other past experiences very much like yours. I just went to a new Pain Mgt Doctor to get other options (including and hoping for medicinal non-narcotic options) to help my unrelenting body-wide chronic pain, but instead I was prescribed "a psychologist and pool therapy" -sound familiar? This guy charged about $250-400 for the exam, but knew ahead of time he wasn't going to help me. I made it clear before the exam that I've been physically unable to even get out of bed since I first moved back here 18 months ago.
I'm in my 40's, and (surprise! as a TEEN, I was in a 6mo. out-patient treatment center in a pioneering chronic-pain program. I know more than most professionals about therapy and chronic pain!). Then again 12 years ago combined pool/psych after another serious injury, then repeated again pool/psych about 7 years ago. I also have a BA in psychology. I've worked my "past" into the ground. Enough already, it's NOT psychological!!!
Since my body totally crashed about 18mo ago, I arrived in my hometown by my family literally evacuating me from another State where I'm a homeowner. Having lost almost all my independence to pain, weakness, and severe fatigue caused by multiple conditions, I came here to be cared for by my elderly mom. I was originally referred the same thing by my new VA doc here, but I told her the truth, I'm too weak and in too much pain to get to a pool or a psychologist... AGAIN. We started working together trying to really get answers and find solutions, but then she quit to move with her family. I WAS CRUSHED! The new doctor replacing her has, for no reason, not only NOT asked what my former treatment plan/goals were, but has ignored me every time I tried to explain the things that were helping and the goals we had! Since then, it's been 18mo of me explaining to doc after doc, who then quit the VA, that I've become too weak and in too much pain to get out of bed. Within 3 months, the entire VA neuromuscular clinic quit and was closed! Five different neurologists have seen me recently, and all 5 had totally different reactions and treatment suggestions! Same with GP's and pain doc's. I have no faith in the medical world anymore.
Most "treatments" I've tried have seriously harmed me or almost killed me. Unfortunately, opiates are the only class of medicine that dent my pain. I am on a high dose, and was offered even higher by the VA, but I am afraid and hate being dependent on any drug. Opiates aren't a perfect solution, but in my case, so far they are the only drug class I've found that might restore some independence to my life someday. I really feel that there was a window of opportunity years ago when I needed a high enough dose of opiates to take out the pain while it still could, but I was ignored as a patient and vastly under-medicated, allowing really stubborn, intractable pain acute pain from a new injury to take hold for too long over my pre-existing chronic pain. I don't know if there's any hope for me now.
I believe you and have also experienced the DEA connection interfering in my own care plan by my physician. My former (non-VA) GP told me "off the record" that all GP physicians in the State were risking DEA investigation if they prescribed any narcotics, no matter the patient. He said that even if cleared, the accusations alone are too costly to defend against and does irreparable harm to the reputation of a doctor. He felt horrible for not being able to change the entire medical system to work for people like us. I was getting my narcotic pain meds from the VA, but my former VA doc there never ordered them on time, and almost every month, I ran out before the mail came w/ the new script. By that time, I couldn't get to my mailbox without the pain meds, because it was so far away from my house. No one who could help me gave a crap.
Years of having been under-diagnosed and mistreated by doctors and hospitals, unable to get the help I need from the VA (even as a 100% disabled veteran) nor the local hospitals and doctors where I still own my home, I eventually became unable to maintain my own home, myself, nor even able to take care of my service dog! The rarity of my conditions and the combined effects of back, neck, hip, jaw pain and whole-body pain from Fibromyalgia has been a difficult combination for me to explain to doctors in order to get safe, effective treatment. Many FMS meds and treatment recommendations not only failed because I also have a neurological disease, but the meds could have killed me because they activate the other condition! For years nobody knew it, and didn't pay attention to my numerous symptoms that didn't fit, so they just assumed I was a "difficult" patient, malingering. I think we all have that label, and it's a crime to ignore a suffering patient. Should we change our justice system to presumption of guilt? Because that's what chronic pain sufferers go through in the doctor's office, the ER, and the hospital! Guilty and impossible to prove innocence! I feel like a criminal every time I talk to a doctor. I don't want to talk anymore! All I had left was my integrity, now they want that too.
Regarding a psychologist, it may help to talk to someone about how wrong the medical community is, but the ROOT of my "PROBLEMS" are physical, and I'm sure yours are as well. I truly understand your frustration, and I have personally been mistreated to the point of illegal negligence by at least 5 doctors and two therapists. Morally mistreated by even more than that. I'm a veteran, but the VA hospital doesn't even have a neurology department qualified to deal with my emergencies anymore so I can't even go there! So, I've been to the civilian hospital ER's and been hospitalized, and watched doctors pass the issue of my pain meds like a hot potato. They NEVER even called my VA pain med prescribing physician to get my baseline dose! I left the hospital almost as bad as when I got there. Most times I've gone to the ER, I've come home worse off. It's an outrage, and doctors as well as hospital administration should be held accountable.
Hang in there and good luck! If I ever get well enough, I'm going to compile an entire research document from stories like ours and try to change the way the world, and the medical world, sees and treats us. Blessings and good luck.