And on the seventh day: Relief, rest, and ruminations on responsibility

by Stephen Cobb on June 14, 2012

If my wife’s pain relief nightmare began on Wednesday of last week, then the seventh day of that nightmare was yesterday. I am thankful to report that the day went well and the nightmare may now be over, although it wasn’t actually a nightmare, it was a reality, one we had to live through, and doing that burned a lot of energy. So I decided to rest my blog on the seventh day and just use Twitter and Facebook to let people know the good news: Chey now has a doctor who cares!

ThChey's off-road racere new doctor seems to be just what a doctor should be: she is compassionate, a good listener, a good communicator, thorough, knowledgeable, and able to acknowledge, as we all must do, the limits of our current knowledge, as well as a willingness to further expand our knowledge. Of course, the relief that comes with this news is tempered by the indignity and distress experienced in getting to this point.

But the bright side is still bright: Chey now has an improved regimen of pain medication and NO pain contract. (I decided to celebrate with a photo of Chey smiling, from the front page of the local newspaper in Alice Springs, Australia, where she was preparing to take part in the Finke Race 2000).

Something great about Chey’s new doctor? She is not a fan of pain contracts. In fact, if you find yourself looking for a doctor, perhaps after moving to a new city like we did, a good tip is to ask any prospective doctor: What do you think of pain contracts? If the doctor agrees with Dr. Kevin Pho that pain contracts threaten the doctor-patient relationship, then you probably have a winner (but no, Dr. Pho is not our new doc).

Finally connecting with a good doctor yesterday was such a reversal of medical fortunes that both Chey and I are suffering from a sort of psychological whiplash. We will take a few days to recover, but then it will be time to move on to post-crisis analysis and lessons learned. Perhaps the biggest question to answer is: Why did things go so horribly wrong? Who was responsible? If we can answer that we may be able to save other people from a similar fate.

Talking of responsibility, I do feel obliged to keep spreading the word about some of the nasty things this incident brought to light, like pain contracts. Expect a blog post on the topic later this month delving into questions like:

  • Are they legal?
  • What should they include to protect you, the patient?
  • How to add a clause that protects you?

Let me close with another big THANK YOU to everyone who expressed support for Chey and outrage over her mistreatment. We will try to do what we can to inform others and prevent this from happening to anyone else.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jerry de Jaager July 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

Really, really hoping that this is the beginning of much better days for Chey, and you!

I can relate. My daughter suffers from something called cluster headaches, which have been described as the worst pain a person can experience. Because the condition is fairly rare, the average time between first seeing a doctor for it and being correctly diagnosed is seven years (for most people, the pain occurs daily for about half of the year, so it’s not like they’re not having symptoms while they’re being misdiagnosed). These folks often live through a hell similar to Chey’s (although there are no analgesics–not even morphine–that can touch the pain). (A suggestion: if her migraines are tough to treat, she might look at some of the alternative remedies discussed at clusterbustersdotcom. It’s site for people with cluster headaches, but many people have found migraine relief using the same strategies.)

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: