More From the Other Side of the Counter

I know I kind of went off the other day about this whole Cynical Pharmacist Facebook Page garbage and if I’m being honest I’m not really over it. But, I’m trying to move on from it because it was getting way too heavy for me.

What really shocked me was how comfortable the people on the page were to be so blatantly rude and dismissive of anything I had to say. No matter the tone I used, the words I said or the “proof” I provided to show them that the things I was saying were valid they were completely unwilling to listen. More than that, a few were completely unwilling to treat me like a human being.

You’ll remember from “The Other Side of the Counter” that Lisa Marie felt like the poking and prodding and general hassle pain patients go through to fill their pain medications was completely justifiable. She felt that if we “want the narcs you deal with the poking.” I pushed back on this and made it clear that as a pain patient I deserve to be treated exactly the same as any other patient refilling their medications. Lisa’s response was downright hideous.

After referring to me as a “soft hugs fan girl” (while I do like soft hugs I’m not sure how being a fan of something is an insult but let’s roll with this for Lisa’s sake) she reminded me that I was not the only person in existence. Lisa also made sure I knew that my pain wasn’t greater than anyone else’s and claimed to see the “righteous stick up my ass” (I hadn’t realized she was a doctor; her mom must be really proud). Then she got real cute and wrote “*insert throat punch* *insert add note to pt chart*”

Now, it seems her comment about the throat punch was a violent threat and she was properly reprimanded by Facebook and her comment was then removed and while I appreciate that, that isn’t the thing that really stuck.

What really got me you guys was the comment about making a note in my chart if she would have had access to it.

This is exactly the kind of thing I keep talking about on These Next 6 Months when we talk about the imbalance between patient and provider/care team member. Lisa has a duty to the people she helps at the counter to be a part of the team that cares for us. What she isn’t supposed to do is allow her personal distaste for a person interfere with their care and that is one hundred percent what she not so subtly alluded to here.

The truth is I never said anything even close to this disgusting to her. I pressed on when I was met with resistance about what it’s like to be a patient at a pain clinic. I repeatedly stated that I felt like the term “druggie” and the constant digs at patients taking pain medications were inappropriate. I explained that this kind of “venting” was damaging to our community and that it promoted a stigma that follows us throughout our medical lives and I was met with not only violence (as much as can be portrayed with two asterisks) but a threat to my care via a note in my chart.

Think about the kind of power that Lisa holds over every patient she comes in contact with and consider her reaction to a simple Facebook conversation that didn’t go her way. Look at the way she completely exploded towards me spewing downright hateful words and capping it off with the one thing she could do that I couldn’t: notate my chart. I can’t say this enough; a person in a position of perceived power allowed her personal feelings to interfere with the care of a patient.

Now I know you may be thinking this is all social media garbage and she doesn’t even know me in real life and you are right. We will most likely never meet again in the social media world and for that I am grateful. But what I can’t –won’t- back down from is the fact that Lisa, and others in her position need to be put in check.

Enough with the idea that because you can’t see the pain it must not be real.

Enough with the belief that pain medication patients are “druggies” or addicts.

Enough allowing other people’s feelings about OUR lives interfere with the way we receive care.

Enough being afraid to speak up for ourselves out of fear of losing our care.

At the end of the day the only people who have to live with these conditions is us; the patient. Shouldn’t we be encouraged to fight for the best quality of life we can get? Shouldn’t we be celebrated for asking questions, expressing concerns, getting second and third opinions? Why is it that when a patient speaks up it’s considered taboo? I am not a difficult patient because I don’t want to blindly follow a care provider’s lead. Living with a chronic condition is a heavy load, and each decision has an impact on not just ourselves but our spouses and children as well. Each and every decision impacts the quality of our lives.

Our lives.

Not the Doctor’s, not the pharmacist’s, not the Physical Therapist’s or the surgeon’s or the Radiologist’s: OUR lives.

Ultimately I decided to delete my original comment which took the whole thread down with it. It was a difficult choice for me because I hated the idea of allowing these people any kind of “win”. I wanted so badly to have just one person on that thread say that they heard me, that maybe, just maybe they might reconsider cracking that CSP joke or that they learned something about the way a pain clinic operates but that never came. The nasty things said in the comments sat heavy in my heart and try as I might I couldn’t shake them.

I wanted to effect change so badly I forgot that a page like the Cynical Pharmacist isn’t the place to find it. That spaces like that, with people like that, aren’t going to be where it starts; they’re too close minded for that. The change has to start here, on this page where you are reading my words and hopefully hearing my heart.

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