VA doctors and drug medications
Posted in the Veteran Affairs Forum
#1 Jul 14, 2012
I have a long story to tell about what I just went through with drug withdrawal. Let me start off by explaining that the VA has done everything they could to help me with my degenerative joint disease/disk disease by adding what ever pain medication they could. Surgery with the VA does not seem to be an option since they do not have the right staff to help with any of my problems. I have seem all the surgeons and pain management staff and they recommend a pain pump at present which is not an option for me.
The VA doctors put me on a Fentanyl patch 50mcg to help with pain. I had been on the patch since about January of 2012 but really did not get enough relief but the doctors also added breakthrough medication which helped at time and at other times it did not. By June of 2012, my system was breaking down due to the heavy drug medication and my pancreas reacted with pain issues and now I had more pain. After seeing a host of doctors, they recommended I get off the patch and all the pain medication because my pancreas was reacting to all the doped up medication I was given.
Here is the horrible part. There is no support for getting off the patch, I have checked the web site and they offer rehab as the best alternative so I saw no choice except to go cold turkey and I did. It is now one month later and my pancreas has calmed down to the point I can eat again and starting to get a decent night sleep with a neuropathy medication which causes sleepiness. My family doctor gave me valium but that was not enough for me to get through the sleepless nights. The withdrawal was horrible and there is no support for getting off this damned patch of fentanyl. I saw no other way except cold turkey and that was the way to go for me and I did. I still have a way to go to clean out my system from all the heavy drugs the doctors accommodated me with but I am on the mend and actually gaining weight for the first time in a long time.
Now let me say in defense of the VA and the staff I know there. They know my pain issues and although surgery is not an option for me with their staff, they don't seem to have a surgical staff that can handle my problem and I have seen most doctors all over the VA in the southern California area. I have had surgery done through a private orthopedic surgeon and had metal put in for 5 years and then taken out when I had side effects from the metal. The reason I go to the VA is that is is the closest hospital to my house only seven blocks away. I know my Primary care doctor for 25 years and he has done all he can to help me with pain issues but the results were not good.
I have been off the fentanyl patch for over a month now and the only pain medication I take is Norco 10/325 but after discussing with the VA what pain options I have, the recommend a pain pump and if you do the research, it is a 50/50 chance of this working.
Why the VA does not have more competent surgeons to handle surgery issues is beyond me. Every time I spoke to a surgeon, they offered surgery with the possibility of paralysis. They could not be more hopeful than that.
After much research I found an orthopedic surgeon who did two surgeries on my back and neck with no possibility of paralysis. Yes, he mentioned that but felt that he could operate without that complication. Since then I have had a series of 5 surgeries from this orthopedic surgeon to help correct the problems that arise with my condition and may have to go for another surgery but at least I feel confident with this surgeon. The only thing the VA can offer me is a pain pump! That is a horrible way to go and after this fentanyl disaster I can no longer trust the VA in their judgment of treating real patients with proper knowledge of pain issues and surgical staff that are limited in what are willing to do. This is a horrible way to live when you want to trust a VA doctor but the doctor does not have the knowledge, training or education. I no longer trust the VA!
#2 Jul 20, 2012
what really stinks is taking pain med that controls the pain from my detereating every thing 25 years of ra and the va pain meds dont ever get to me on time so not only do i have to be in pain but the effects of withdrawll suck wen oboma got into office all my scedulel corrective surgerys were cancelled and the doc started minimizzing or should i say lieing still to be a veteran and i served this country what a kick in the butt
#3 Jul 21, 2012
I see your point and understand RA is a very painful disease. Yes the VA has limitations and I would suggest a second opinion. If you can sign up for Medicare it might help. I have had some doctors through Medicare that have done a remarkable job of helping me with surgeries and pain management.
I had to go through the fentanyl patch 50mcg cold turkey after seeing what this pain medication was doing to me. It has now been over 30 days and although I am in pain, my normal health, like my appetite and energy are returning to normal. The VA is suggesting a pain pump for me and I have read the research and this is a 50/50 shot, not something I know an intelligent doctor would try.
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