Senior Member (female)
Join Date: Jun 2003
Stuck in N.Palm Bch FL for a year, need help finding a legit doctor
I'll apologize in advance for a long post. It's been some time since I've posted in the forums- previously in the Lymes threads. But, since then, I have simply dealt with the pain issues that are Lymes related OR "undifferentiated connective tissue disease", as the rheum believes it to be.
I am desperately in need of a legitimate PM doctor. I was very unfortunate to have to move to this dump after living in Los Angeles for the last 8 years- where I had one, excellent doctor from UCLA the whole time. I thought that LA was bad...I was soooo mistaken. I am so frustrated, hurt (though I don't know why I should be), and seriously concerned.
Now, I feel like I've fallen into the 7th level of hell (we were nearly held up at the ATM the first night we pulled into town from our 3 day drive here) and anytime I call a legit family doctor and tell them that I have been taking 10 mg of methadone for just over 3 yrs, they refer me to one of the infamous "pain clinics".
Yes, I did say and mean 10 mg of methadone. Those of you who know it or take it know that is a relatively small dosage to take for chronic pain. Prior to that, I was taking anywhere from 5-10 vicodin (500's & 750's towards the end) every day just to manage pain.
My doc put me on the 10 mg of methadone because I told him that I was concerned over how long I had been taking vicodin and how much I had jumped up to after nearly 2 years. So, he brought up methadone and of course I was a little taken back, but, it has changed my life. The half-life is longer, it's the only med that builds up in the body, and I feel like I can benefit equally from that small dosage as I did from say, 6 vicodin a day.
I take it first thing after I get to work. There is no eurphoria, there are no mood swings, there are no angry outbursts like I had with vicodin. When it wears off, it's slow and gradual so you don't start feeling lousy right away.
I'm fortunate that I can manage my pain on such a small dosage and for this long. The pain and discomfort is still there, but with the medication, it's something I can live with. Granted, some days by left elbow and my hands hurt so bad that I do get a little irritable, but I've been told that I hide it well.
HOWEVER, it seems like these doctors here are living in the past. They think that only heroin addicts take methadone and that I MUST have some secret reason for wanting that specifically. So, they insist that I go to the legal form of drug dealing here in FL that is otherwise known as a pain clinic. I'm not interested in paying $550 for an initial appt and having to take a urine (a drug screening) test, or being stared down by the armed guards that they have stationed in those places. I'm sorry, but it's insulting...and not a little bit scary. For you who don't know different and have to deal with this here, I am very sorry- it's not right.
Cali is not without it's flaws, but the doctors are encouraged to find quality of life for their patients, even if they have to move to off-label uses for meds or even experimental. It's like that in a lot of places. But you come to the south and "boy golly" there are a lot of addicts. There are a lot of us with REAL legit pain, too and unfortunately, we are lumped in with the rest of the people who will sell their TV to make sure they get their monthly fix. I only regret that I sold mine to move to this stinking state.
Anyhoo...I wanted a family doctor- a normal doctor who I can go to for everything from my pain management to pap smears.
In L.A., my doc was wonderful, only in his mid forties, and very reasonable and reputable- took care of everything and only referred out anything requiring specialist attention. Otherwise, he did what doctors are supposed to do...know their patient and take care of anything that they have been trained to address.
How is pain outside of the realm of internists here, but not in CA (or PA for that matter!)????
As I am stuck here for awhile, I went to one doctor who was referred by a co-worker and he was fine for two months- even though he said that he'd never prescribed it in his 35 years in practice...but he did for me and I went for a follow up where, after seeing that I did not take all of the 45 pills he prescribed for a 30 day period, he agreed that he was "ok with this". He did speak to my doc back in CA by the way...
Anyway, apparently he will want to see me in there every month in order to refill for me. I am a self-pay, as my employer does not offer med insurance, so we're talking $85 a month for a year (that's w/the discount). When I expressed that I cannot afford that right now, he recommended that I go to a PMC.
Basically, when he found out that I wasn't (or couldn't be) the cash cow that he wanted, he said that he's not "comfortable" prescribing that to me anymore.
I asked if they would bill me, and they refused, saying "he said that he will only see you if you pay up-front". AND, "he will do it this one last time so that you have time to find a new doctor". It's as though he has forgotten everything we talked about last month. He's old, but he shouldn't be losing his mind...Then again, perhaps he is. He does tend to repeat things a little.
As a self-pay, I don't have the capacity to interview doctors by means of appointments. I didn't move here because I really really wanted to...I moved here because before getting the job that I have now, I went 11 months without one (and 120 resumes & apps) in Los Angeles and I am that much worse for the wear.
I need to know what to do and where to go. I was in tears yesterday- so offended by what the practice did and how they were treating me. I've never actually been insulted by a doctor or their staff before so I'm at a loss at how to handle it. I've also never been rejected because I couldn't pay in full at the time of service. I don't even know if that's legal. It probably is here in hell.
Mind you, this is all happening after having the doc tell me that I must really be an ethical and responsible person to have my doctor speak so highly of me, to prove my responsible medication taking, and to have had my employer pay for my husband and I to move her from Cali...blah, blah, blah.
Now, this month, I'm back to being a "drug-seeker" I guess. I don't have a clue what I'm going to do, even if I do go back to him for a last visit. I can't afford to pay another doctor for another "initial visit" without risking my other obligations- including the fact that my husband needs to see an electro physiologist/cardiologist and that is going to kill what little savings we do have, and then some.
Can anyone recommend a doctor who works with patients like me? I'm so tempted to just stop my medication, but I am also afraid of the pain returning and the symptoms of withdrawal that will be worse yet.