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Certified organic poultry farmer in SE Mass

April Fools Day
April has come on with a vengeance. Sideways rain on 50 mph gusts. Bungee cords are clanging against the camper and I always hope they will hold the tarp over the top and not snap. So far, so good. I do change the bungee cords every few months to keep the tarp secure and rain off the top of the camper since it leaks.

I was writing a friend of my experiences with doctors. I thought it might be a good post, so here goes!

On the subject of doctors, I have declined almost everything my doctor offers me for medication. No shots in the sore shoulder, knee or hip. No statins, no vaccinations for shingles, pneumonia or any other disease they want to "protect" us from. I do use an inhaler to help me breathe, fluoride toothpaste and I have a Rx for painkillers (which I seldom use). My doc questions why I want to have my cholesterol checked since I won't do anything to lower it. I tell her I like to be an informed patient and she has no right to deny me the test. Sometimes, she and I are at loggerheads, but I do like her better than other docs I have had. At least she listens. Before I had her, the NP who "treated" me was a real jerk. Five years I complained of back pain and she did nothing. She was a nurse practitioner, supposed a geriatric specialist. She had nothing but criticism for me but wouldn't test me for Lyme. Because I wouldn't take statins, she cut off other medication I was on at that time. Take this or I will take away that! Like she was my mother! Anyway, I got a different person (a real doctor) to take care of me. 

I did take Rx arthritis medication for some time in the late 90's and early 2000. I was on Vioxx, which made me bleed internally, caused great pain in the abdomen. I was on several other arthritis medications, all had little effect or made me bleed internally. I think I was a guinea pig since I no longer see these drugs advertised. I was also diagnosed with h.pylori, a bacterial infection in the gut, but would have never known if the arthritis drugs hadn't made me bleed internally. Seems about 50% of people in the US have h.pylori and don't know it.

BTW, in 2009, my new doctor sent me for physical therapy for my back pain, but when that didn't help, she sent me to a back specialist. The MRI showed I have a bulging disc in my L3-L4 region. Plain as day on the MRI, which I took on  a CD to the back specialist. He ordered a TENS unit which helps a lot. Less pain killers, better pain management. However effective, my insurance wouldn't pay for it...but they did pay for the pain killers. What a system!l The company that made the TENS unit has a scholarship program for those who can show financial hardship, but it took me days to find that out. I didn't have to pay for the TENS unit in the end.

In late summer, 2002, I experienced a lot of pain in my right hip & thigh. The pain ran right down into my foot and ended up in my toes. At that time, I had a large veggie market garden and a full-time job off the farm. The pain was so severe, I couldn't walk without clenching my teeth. So bad, I cracked a molar. The pain didn't subside when resting. At the time, I was being treated by a specialist in arthritis. I was regulated to the recliner. Couldn't even take my dogs for a walk. I had a MRI and waited for the results for over two hours in the arthritis specialist's exam room. Seems they had forgotten I was there!

The arthritis specialist who was treating me, the one who kept me waiting for two hours (in New Bedford for excruciating pain in my hip & leg), gave me a Rx for Perks (250 count), said take as many as I needed and told me to come back to get more any time I needed more. She told me they were not habit forming. When I saw the bottle from the pharmacy, a bigger bottle than I had ever seen before, (I did some online research on "opiod") with the word "opiod" on the label,  I realized all the doctor wanted to do was to pacify me and get me hooked on drugs. I grew up in the 60's and saw a LOT of drug use. I didn't want to go there.

Shortly after I filled the huge Rx for Perks, I called Mass Gen Hosp and saw the head of the oncology department (since my MRI suggested I might have bone cancer but the "specialist" in New Bedford said this was an unnecessary test). A bone scan and second MRI was scheduled, with the results in hand, I saw the MGH doctor. He said the cysts were not growing (one of his concerns). He was the one who explained to me (no diagnosis or reason for the crippling pain was given by the "specialist" I saw down here in New Bedford) what was happening to me. Seems they had NEVER seen this particular condition before. I was a curiosity, my condition unknown at this teaching hospital. Medical students crowded into the exam room, the MRI's hanging on the light boards. However, he told me what was going on, how to deal with it and what the prognosis was. I had a cyst in the head of the femur and another in the acatabulum (pelvis). They were somehow connected, even tho' they were in different bones. He suggested I may have had them from birth, they didn't know.  Since my lifestyle had been so active, he suggested there were micro-fissures in the cartilage in my hip joint from all the heavy work. I had recently developed arthritis in my hip. When the synovial fluid (surrounding the hip joint)  became inflamed with arthritis, it was pushed through the micro-fissures in the cartilage when I did heavy work. The inflamed fluid went into the cysts, spreading the inflammation and the cysts swelled inside my bones.

He said the pain must be excruciating. I said "Mind Bending" and he agreed. Solution: I had to have an entire lifestyle change. No more gardening, pushing a lawnmower, hiking, standing or sitting for more than 20 minutes. No lifting. He was the one who suggested I go on disability. Since I was so young, my insurance was not going to pay for a new hip. I was 53 at the time. At that time, I had a 1/4 ac. market garden and was also working full time off the farm. I didn't believe him and tried to continue my gardening and other heavy work. That put me right back into bed for another few weeks.

I had to wrap my head around my disability. It was very hard not to do the things I loved and lived to do. It took me a year to recover from the pain that came any time I did any heavy work. At that time, I was taking Perks & 800 mg. Ibuprofen 3X a day. I stopped taking the Ibuprofen and  needed less pain killers. I saved my stomach and liver. It made no sense that the anti-inflammatory caused a higher use of opiods, but it did.

I have been on the same dose of perks since fall of 2002. I have not become addicted, nor have I had an increase in dosage or amounts. To the contrary, since I stopped taking the high doses of Ibuprofen and the "epidemic" of deaths due to overdoses, my Rx has been decreased. I now have to see my primary doc every 90 (vs. 180) days for a Rx renewal. This costs my insurance an additional $800. per year. I have to wonder about our medical insurance and our law makers. Always complaining about how high our medical costs are, but I am punished because I really need these pain killers. I am not an abuser, but when I need a pain killer, I really need it. I push the pain away till I can't stand it anymore. 

I applied for disability in the late spring of 2004. I am the only person I know that was granted disability without any battle what so ever. I was very surprised when my bank account showed money and I had no idea of the source. When I called the bank, they told me it was the state who put the money in my account. I called the state disability office. Seems they FORGOT to send me the notification that my request for disability had been granted. I get very little money from the feds & state, but it is better than what little Social Security I get now that I am over 65. This is why I live in a camper rather than trying to rent an apartment. I don't have enough money to pay for rental, car insurance, car repairs, food, etc. I wouldn't be able to take care of BB my dog, either.

I have the doctor at MGH to thank for the ease of my application being accepted for disability. I don't know what he wrote to the disability board, but I am grateful for his input on my case. There is no way I could work a full-time job for any amount of time without a relapse into pain.

Next, I will go to get my marijuana medical card. I have a friend who gets specially grown mj for pain. I tried some and it WORKS!!! Don't get sleepy or stupid, just less pain. Fewer Perks. Maybe someday, there will be no pain killers out of the bottle.

I know acupuncture helps, but can't afford it. Insurance won't pay. For a short time after my diagnosis at MGH, I did have a job (I took care of a 98 year old man, did the night shift) and could pay for acupuncture. It really worked, for two weeks...pain free. But not now, income is too small.

This is only one small excerpt from the medical care I have had since I began seeing doctors on a regular basis. Much of the care I have received in New Bedford has been poor, at best...at least till I got my current doctor.

If it weren't for Romney (when he was governor of MASS) and his blanket health care law, I probably would still be in pain. For those of you who might not know, Obama Care was formed using Romney's health care for the state of Mass as his model for the our current medical care system.

Thanks for reading my blog. Always welcome comments and suggestions!