Sunday, February 26, 2012

Searching for a Pain Doc: Part 1

     More than fifty million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Many more suffer from protracted pain that doesn’t qualify as chronic.

     Let’s take a minute to think about pain. There’s the hang nail. How you baby the afflicted hand for days. You yelp every time you bump the thing and soon it feels like the whole finger is infected. Next you’re holding it up and away as you do stuff and you can think of nothing else.

     Then there’s the pulled muscle. My God, will it never end? You limp along, wincing every time you move, clutching and grabbing to ease your suffering. Forget bending over. And it’s not your fault you cry out like a little girl when you happen to sneeze or cough or do something to call into question the enflamed area, which, by the way, might as well be on fire. It hurts that much.

     And surgery…what can we say? You’re a basket case and need a hand-maiden for weeks, no questions asked.

     So what about the poor guy who falls three stories to the ground and lives through it? Or the one whose neck whips back and forth like a rubber band when his car is hit from behind by a guy going fifty?  Or even the guy whose left leg is two inches shorter than his right, so his spine twists and his muscles pull and contract and torture him all day every day no matter what he does?

     When we have pain, we can buck up for a few days but, by gum, things had better turn around after that or we find ourselves fit to be tied. For many people, the relief never comes. They suffer in ways most of us cannot fathom. Some of them are barely hanging on and, pretty soon, they’re thinking they’d rather just let go.They roam from doctor to doctor in search of relief. Maybe, the next one will think of something different.

     Then they come upon Cecil Knox, the guy from Texas with a pony tail hanging down his back. His cowboy boots are worn. So are his jeans. There’s a POW flag flying off the roof, a peace hatchet stuck into a stump in the corner, and sacred ash hanging over the door jam. He’s ‘eccentric’. He’s ‘interesting’. They call him Cecil instead of Dr. Knox. As it turns out, he is the doctor that will try everything until he has helped them.

     This doctor is at the office before dawn and late into the night, fretting over what he can do for Patient A or Patient B. He’s down in the basement on weekends developing braces to relieve their pain. Everyone has his home phone number and he thinks nothing of piling out in the middle of the night because a patient is feeling down. Does he get creative? Well, if stretching doesn’t work, maybe orthotics or bracing will. And there’s always physical therapy, Rolfing, acupuncture, cranio sacral therapy, aqua therapy and OMT. Mental health counseling might help. You might try colostrum and other supplements. I could go on.

     When you find a Dr. Knox, he becomes your friend, your lifeline. He is the one you have been searching for.

     Unfortunately, there is a ‘but’ to this story. It goes like this: But, most pain patients also require pain medication. Narcotics. When the powerful narcotic, Oxycontin, came on the market in the mid-1990’s, it was seen as a Wonder Drug in the treatment of chronic pain.

     In my next post, I’ll talk about what happened with Oxycontin and how it all went bad.

1 comment:

  1. I've had the occasional surgery, hang nail, etc. It's hard to imagine cronic, never ending pain. Hope I never have to go there.