Chronic Pain

The problem with being an old, retired family doc is that, as your patients age along with you, your former patients die.  Years ago, I wrote an article about Ron’s hands.  Ron died on Tuesday; and even though I had not seen him since moving to North Carolina, I felt the loss. 

Ron was a paint contractor and jack of all trades.  In my hallway is the first piece of furniture I built.  I built it in his basement, under his tutelage.   Ron’s gift was his ability to make something out of nothing and examples of his work were present in my home and office.  Ron will be missed by many.

I have written several articles about the damage a physical job like Ron’s causes.  My carpenters, roofers, painters, etc.  built the homes and offices the rest of us lived and worked in.  Unfortunately, while building the structures we thrived in, they often injured their bodies, the cumulative effect leaving joint and back pain, as well as lung disease.  Convincing a young, healthy, strong craftsman that he needs to be cautious, wear protective gear and get help lifting heavy objects is not easy.

The result of years’ worth of repetitive injuries is chronic pain; and, unfortunately, current medical wisdom is to resist the use of “pain pills” and instead to treat the individual as if he/she was a “drug seeker” or had “psychosomatic” or “functional” pain.  So, what do you do if you find yourself in chronic pain from work related injuries and can’t find a doc who will treat your symptoms?

The answer is simple if you can get the doc to spend a few extra minutes listening to you.  Bring some of your tools with you.  Have your doc use a hydraulic impact hammer for a minute or two and then explain that you used it for 30 years.  A minute or two should cause a little discomfort and go a long way towards helping your physician understand the source and intensity of your problem. 

Each trade has its own culprits, so prior to seeing your doc spend a little time working on your presentation.  In 1984, I helped build my office.  I cut and installed ceiling tiles.  I did not wear a mask and quickly learned how necessary a mask was (I could have spat enough crap out of my airway to make a tile).  It was a valuable lesson.

I cut and installed the tile floors.  I did not wear knee guards.  Another valuable lesson.  I limped for weeks.  Cutting the wood for my furniture led to tendonitis.  Each experience helped me understand my patients’ pathologies and formulate treatment options.

Now all you must do is help your physician see your pain through your eyes.  Good luck.

Here is todays joke:

A sperm donor, a carpenter and Julius Caesar walked into a bar:

He came, he saw, he conquered.

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