On Monday I had the early mission of driving around to figure out what good flower shops I could find that were open before 9AM to get some birthday flowers, and today I left early because Nefarious wanted to get to school as soon as the doors opened, because the first kids to get there get to play chess before class starts. I’ve been waking up early to the sound of quite abrasive beeping from the device below, which I’ll digress a little to explain.
When doctors ask you to rate your pain, you get to respond with a 0-10 ranking, often along with smiley-face pictures, “0″ being “none” and “10″ being “worst possible pain”. I’ve mentioned before that one of the great cruelties of the pain treatment industry is that the doctors are instructed to try and get their patients to a response of “5″, not zero. What kind of person out there can deal with constant moderate pain? Even dealing with constant mild pain can be debilitating — a la a water drop wearing down the Grand Canyon. Knowing that you are in moderate pain, and that you will be in moderate pain tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that for the rest of your life, can drive you mad. And knowing that the only reason you’re not getting full medication is because the government is worried that you might sell your desperately needed medication on the black market to folks who want to shoot it rather than temporarily lift their head up out of the fire, drives you even madder.
I’m sure it’s frustrating for the doctors as well, because the government audits them aggressively, and doctors can — and do — lose their ability to prescribe narcotics not just for making the mistake of prescribing to a con artist, but if they, say, aim for reducing people to “mild pain” via these simple and relatively side effect-free medications (in comparison to Lyrica and other non-narcotic pain killers). A friend was telling me that their own doctor’s entire clinic lost their ability to prescribe any opiates, so they can’t even prescribe T3′s for an injury! It’s crazy… and like I said, just really really cruel. That puts into context why I’ve had doctors tell me to buy street drugs I suppose, and really, you know something is seriously wrong with the system when doctors are so afraid of government harassment that they surreptitiously send their patients into the hands of drug deals — not that Big Pharma isn’t the biggest drug dealer of all.
Anyway, being underprescribed is difficult, because it means that every day you’re in more pain than you can deal with, so you’re left with the choice of taking some of tomorrow’s pills — a condition that snowballs and leaves you in a couple days of hell as your prescription renews — or being in pain (assuming you don’t take the dubious advice mentioned above). And when you’re in pain, and have been for a long time, you’re not thinking straight and you’re desperate to find a solution, and if you have tomorrow’s pills accessible, you’ll see them with tonight in mind, not tomorrow… I’ve struggled with this a great deal, and a secondary problem to running out before you renew is that doctors see taking your pills too quickly as a sign that you might be getting addicted, not that you’re undermedicated (which I would have thought was obvious).
To try and solve this issue I just picked up a convenient electronic locking pill container. It has 28 containers for pills that you can program however you’d like — I have it set up as two per day, so it’s got two weeks per refill for me, but you can do literally anything. For me, in the morning it serves as a wake-up alarm, beeping before it allows access to the next set of pills — and the beeping means that in addition to controlling access, it acts as a reminder (because I tend to be forgetful about parts of my prescription. The whole thing locks with a key, so these keys need to be left with a friend or, perhaps better yet, with the pharmacist (which is a little embarrassing because you have to admit to them that you need help, but that’s what they’re there for). It’s battery powered, with a small home base that it sits on during the day, perhaps to recharge. I have the basic version so the base does nothing, but you can get versions that are internet connected and send a report (I assume this feature is more for checking that old people have taken their medication). Nice feature set, and compact and portable as well.
Anyway, I got it to help me keep my medication on a regular schedule, because as much as it’s horrible — really horrible — to be undermedicated and know that every night you’re going to be in pain, it’s even worse to spend a few days with nothing at all.