Being realistic when dealing with pain management doctors

Contributed by: Lori
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, May 2012

Lori is 48 years old and lives in Massachusetts with her husband.  She worked in biotechnology and law enforcement for over 20 years but is unable to work now due to unpredictable pain. Her chronic pain is a result of rare genetic anomalies, worsened by trauma and unnecessary spine surgeries.


I have had nothing but problems with pain management docs. I have been in my chronic pain condition 15 years. Eight of those have been on a fentanyl patch. The rest of the time, I was on a myriad of oral opiates.

Things were going FINE, until last October…suddenly, my PCP decided he wanted me OFF the pain meds. Initially I agreed, I told him I was interested to see if I could live without them. However, I have learned by now (April) that I cannot. My pain is back to levels that keep me curled up in bed or on the couch. I am chastised for taking breakthrough medicine, so I don’t take any. I just suffer. It is obvious I STILL have a pain-generating issue that still needs medication.

For some reason, suddenly I am being treated as if I was a criminal. Doctors should not make their patients anxious and full of self-loathing simply because of being on pain meds. I didn’t ask for this condition and I sure don’t want it. But the literal harassment is making me sicker – I am very anxious, afraid to go to the doctor, suspicious of everything they ask.

I cry when I read all the boards on the Internet for people on opioid medications – they brag how they get fentanyl for breakthrough or PRIMARY pain management and only pay $10 for 3 months’ supply, or how they are on 250mcg of fentanyl, or 125mcgs…and here I am, getting hassled like I kidnapped the Lindbergh baby, over 50mcg of the medicine. WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE GETTING THESE MEDS WITHOUT GETTING THE HASSLE I GET?

How do I address this when my doctor is so hostile towards me?  The pain management clinic I went to in the hopes of having them take over prescribing is treating me like there is something wrong with ME because my PCP has changed his mind about prescribing controlled substances to anyone. I am not an addict. I have never been an addict. I don’t even drink. I have never smoked cigarettes.

I am about to be left without any pain management whatsoever. And here I thought that going to a pain clinic was the first step to getting my life back – to getting thing under control so I could have a predictable life and go to work again.

How do I handle this situation? How does ANYONE handle this situation?  Where do people like me go for help?

Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

[Editorial note: Lori has started a blog at]

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