Speaking of Morphine


infusion pump

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     It’s funny how you start to remember things.  On the same note as my last post, I’ll be speaking of morphine once again.  I don’t remember the particular reason for this admission but I do remember being on a morphine PCA.  A PCA is patient controlled analgesia, which basically is an IV pump with a button allowing you to administer your own pain meds as needed.  Now you can’t just hit the button willy-nilly, it’s programmed with your dose and the timing of that dose.

     What made this particular occasion so memorable is one time when the morphine syringe needed to be changed.  The nurse came in with the box from the pharmacy, sat in the chair next to me while she did some paperwork and then she opened the box.  The box appeared to unsealed and perfectly legit, but when she opened it, the syringe was completely empty.  The look on her face was one of genuine surprise.  I’m sure mine was the same.

     I do know there was a lot of paperwork to fill out, some of which I signed as well.  I never did find out what happened but I do know this seems to be a taboo subject.  I have read that there’s a fairly high rate of drug addiction among the medical profession, but it’s not really something I read about in the blog world.  I read quite a few blogs written by Doctors and Nurses, most of whom blog about all of the drug seekers among patients but I’ve never read a single post about drug use among hospital staff.

     There is so much disdain for the “drug seeking” patients, and I’ve no doubt there are quite a few of them, and I can only imagine what that would feel like day in and day out.  In fact this letter was posted in every patient room in the ER of the hospital I go to.   I was going to take a picture of it but didn’t have my camera with me.  This is the jist of it:  If you are here for chronic pain you will only be given non-narcotic pain relievers.  There will be no refills for narcotics or sedatives of any kind.  Every patient will have their prescription drug use for the past 24 months checked by the ER doctor on the state data base.  If you are not here for chronic pain and you need narcotic pain relievers you will only be given them if you have a licensed driver over the age of 18 to drive you home.

     So, I am aware of what the profession is up against, on the other hand I also try very hard not to appear to be drug seeking whenever I have to go there.  I never know if they suspect that about me or not.  I never ask for pain meds but I do have issues with some meds that might be a red flag.  I can’t take any NSAID‘s due to the severe GI bleed I had with one in particular.  It’s not an allergy, but it is a reaction, also I can’t take a lot of Tylenol because my liver enzymes are usually elevated. 

     I will say that all of these issues are well documented medically and due to my history the doctors and nurses know me pretty well.  In fact some of the ER docs know me so well that before they even see me, being busy with other patients and all, they’ll give orders to access my port, usually running fluids in wide open and in fact will order phenergan and dilaudid, and labs.  However when there is a new doctor he will examine me and usually order toradol, and I have to turn that down I always feel like there’s an immediate suspicion.  They’re also surprised when I give them my med list to find that I’m on dilaudid and morphine at home, and I have to admit to being a little defensive about it.  I guess I have to work on that.

     My philosophy on pain medication is that for me, it’s a tool.  It allows me to live and participate in my own life.  I can do laundry, and make my husband dinner.  I can jump out of the occasional airplane, and kayak, and next summer I want to try paddleboarding.  I’ve been on the same dosage for well over a year and so far it’s still just as effective. So, that’s where I’m at on that subject, as always I thank you for reading and welcome your comments.

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2 thoughts on “Speaking of Morphine

  1. Hi – I’ve been meaning to come over and read ever since you left the link and I could feel your frustration in that post. I’d be beside myself. I am also sorry for all that you have to endure. Writing is cathartic and I’ve found it really got me through the more challenging physical times with uro issues or mom dying, etc. I couldn’t possibly go running to people even close ones everytime I felt angst …but i could write. And of course humor is another way of venting.

    There is so much good med info in med blogs too and I appreciate the friendships as well. 🙂

    I worked with an ER nurse who had gotten addicted to demorol. It was in the 80s and before they had all the controls they have now with locked omni cells, etc. She wasn’t fired, but did have to go to rehab. And around the same time …a gastroenterologist had same problem and he left for rehab as well and still practices today. Then I had a doc who according to a nurse friend of mine in a different hospital said he had been so addicted to narcotics at one time that when he had his hip surgery ..the pain meds they gave him in hospital didn’t cover his pain. i should not know that. So much for HIPAA!

    And in summer 2008 ..I had a very nice lpn who’m I had a good rapport with just pull a percocet out of her pocket and hand it to me. No gloves on ..no cup in which package opened in front of me for me to use to take the percocet. just her bare hands pulling one lone pill out of her pocket with God knows what else contamination floating in it. And on her fingers. And I had had a ureteral stricture relapse and was on IV antibiotics to counter the pre-sepsis infection and was stented.

    I just met a friend who’s brother is in hospice because he is dying from a mrsa infection he got in hospital after a back surgery 6 mos ago,

    Stupidly …I took the med from her fingers and popped it in my mouth even tho the germaphobe in me was screaming on the inside. i did not wantt o make waves. an er nurse I used to work with told me I should’ve refused it. While I am an assertive person ..there is still a part of me that doesn’t want to offend someone or appear wimpy.

    I have wondered if she opened a pkg of 2, kept one because I usually only took one. ??

    i will never be afraid to speak up again tho …knowing what I now know about hospital acquired infections.

    Sorry I digressed. Thought of the story because I wondered if she took the other one. Obviously that was very suspicious to be empty. Also alarming to think of *high* medical staff.

    • I appreciate your reading and commenting, my husband has completely put his dad out of our lives and believe me we’re much better for it. Sometimes you just start writing and it takes you places you didn’t place on going. I absolutly agree with you about writing being cathartic, it’s really saved me, and a good sense of humor never hurts either.

      Last month when I was in the hospital, I had to ask the nurse to put on gloves before accessing my port.

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