Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The new wowser is the enemy of pain relief for the sick

My next blog post was going to be about love, but it’s been pre-empted by the unreasonable, hateful, despicable hostility the healthy show towards the sick.

Because some people abuse pain relief medications, doctors want them banned. Or further restricted. Or something. And the ABC’s 730 program is more comfortable with talking to some well-heeled doctors than actually getting out where the pain is.

You utter deadshits: you’ve picked up a story driven by someone’s media unit, wrapped it up so it looks like “journalism”, and haven’t even been ARSED to ask any public medium – even the slack option of asking on Twitter, for fuck’s sake – whether there’s another angle.

If anyone wants to give 730 a Tabasco enema, I’ll provide the Tabasco, the hose, and a bike pump. Slack, insensitive journalism conducted from the New Wowser that Australian press have adopted as “normal”. Arsehats.

Let me provide a little background. Ms T is known to some of you personally; for the rest, “Ms T” will suffice for her name. She suffers a serious, chronic immune system condition that’s required surgery – three times this year, including a 14-inch monster wound in the belly – and has tumours as a side-effect.

Pain relief is a fact of life where we live – and due to factors that make me rage helplessly, access to “pain management specialists” is severely rationed, which you may interpret as meaning “they promised many times to visit, and never made it because someone with a badge and an affiliation appropriated their time on behalf of a More Important Patient” (“You might say that, I couldn’t possibly comment").

And she doesn’t have an interest in this: Ms T can’t take any of the medications mentioned in the 730 episode. Anything with anti-inflammatory properties is, always and forever, off her list. Nurofen: no-go. Asprin: no-go. Paracetamol: ditto.

Catch that, if you’re used to popping some Panadol: there are people in the world for whom it’s banned. Even for a simple headache.

Back to 730: Yes: some people abuse legal pain relief. So: some busybody thinks this Must Be Stopped. Do you understand, even to the least degree, where that ends?

First: access to pain specialists. In some hospitals in Australia the waiting list runs to years. You might die waiting for a specialist to decide what pain relief regime is appropriate for you.

In the meantime, you’re stuck with whatever people are permitted to prescribe for you. Codeine might get prescribed if you’re allowed it; if you’re not, you’re left with the various forms of natural or synthetic opium.

Yes: painkillers are addictive. Ask Ms T, as I just did (to get permission to tell the truth in this post). Should her life outlast her pain, there will be a very bad period getting off the painkillers: so it goes.

But the mindless, knee-jerk, “ban it! It might be addictive!” attitude from New Wowsers?

If they don’t know what chronic pain is like – I don’t actually know first-hand – I’d be happy to provide lessons.

But what’s it like actually getting treatment for severe chronic pain? It’s another layer of pain. As I said, “pain management” teams in hospitals are hard to access. GPs have to jump through hoops to prescribe something effective – and the rules don’t take into account people who are banned from asprin or paracetamol. We’re about to encounter a new rule that will make it harder to get the pain relief that Ms T needs – especially because everyone from the top specialist to the lowly GP agrees (as we do) that she’s addicted to the painkillers.

So no: we don’t see how the “junkie angle” in a tabloid-style report from the ABC’s 730 adds one fucking iota of new, useful information to the debate. And a new outbreak of the new-wowser will only make lives miserable.

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