This is part 2 of a series called "Gambling On Life", my experiences in the US healthcare system. Read part 1 here.
My first visit with pain management was interesting. I checked in 15 minutes early, knowing I'd most likely have some paperwork to fill out. I am used to this sort of thing, but probably the best, and worst aspect of the paperwork was just how much there was.
I filled out pre-existing condition forms, allergies, surveys about my emotional state, and more. The most interesting part, though, was the 4 part human body diagram where I noted where I was experiencing pain.
As I shaded in the areas where I hurt, it really hit me.. My body is not doing well. From head to toe, I marked the spots where the mild aches would turn into burning and stabbing pain depending on the weather, activities, and other factors I'm not completely aware of.
15 minutes actually wasn't enough time to finish filling it out, but when the nurse came to retrieve me for my visit, she said it was ok. I could finish the form in the treatment room.
While I was going through the standard battery of questions for any doctor's visit ("what are your goals here, how do you feel, let's take your blood pressure"), I finished my form and handed it off to the nurse.
Not long after, Jordan Hogan, FNP-C came in and we got started.
When I was given my referral to pain management, I had two options. Wait 3 months for an MD, or visit with Jordan in a week.
Jordan, while not being a full MD, is actually exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced. Her specialty includes exactly my kind of pain, and if she needed assistance, she could always ask the MD. As far as I'm aware, she's never needed to.
I talked about how much pain I'm in on a regular basis. I shared how Prednisone turned me into a much younger man. I even asked about Medical Marijuana, seeing as how it is available currently in Illinois (and other friends, including nurses, have recommended it).
While Prednisone is an amazing drug, it isn't without side effects, as I was aware. I wasn't expecting to get a prescription for it and be done; it can't safely be taken long term without real concerns, especially at my age ("You're much too young to take Prednisone every day").
Medical Marijuana referrals, as it turned out, have to be done by my GP. Still, she was concerned that the money to get it and time wouldn't be worth it without knowing if it would actually help me (I've never smoked it in my life). So, we turned to Gabapentin.
Gabapentin is nerve pain medication; originally prescribed as anti-seizure medication, it actually works better for pain management. The issue is, however, that I have to do a slow buildup of it before I actually see any effects; If you take too large of a dose too suddenly, or stop taking it at a high dose, it can actually cause seizures.
Still, it's cheap, so I'm all for it.
I left, and not a few hours later I got my prescription from my pharmacy. Pain Management first visit success? We'll see.
Check back later to find out how the story progressed, what my pain management first visit bill was, and how the Gabapentin is working out.