I decided that I was finally going to talk to my pain doctor about some questions that had been on my mind for quite some time but I was afraid to ask. I've gone in the last few times with great intentions of asking but chickened out at the last minute. It turned out to be the perfect time because I ended up having a drug test today to make sure that I was taking my meds correctly and nothing else.
We had our lets talk about my health part of the meeting. Yay me, I still have carpal tunnel (I guess I thought if I waited long enough it would magically fix itself, sadly, not so much). It's got to be fixed because it's interfering with my coloring and holding my camera. I'm hoping possibly bracing or OT will help, I'm really not up for another surgery. Even with my meds holding me well I still seem to be having problems. RA is vicious.
So, we finally got to the point where my PA runs out the door to get my scripts ready for me. I took a deep breath and jumped in. I was really kind of surprised at what I heard...
My first sentence of the conversation was "I don't want to seem like a drug addict..." Nice, Melissa...
My question was about the CDC/FDA guidelines and all of the information that I have been reading about on Twitter. I was shocked, he had absolutely no clue. He told me the guidelines would never pass because they didn't have studies and proof to back up what they were proposing (while I would love to believe this, I'm not so sure). He also said that they are in touch with many pain clinics in my area and not one word is coming out of any other pain clinic about the guidelines (I wonder if this is why it seems like so few doctors are standing up and fighting for the patient). He also said should these guidelines be made "law" that a patient like me with a long background of use with no issue of calling for meds early, a positive u/a for other than the drugs they prescribe me and the fact that we have just lowered my meds there shouldn't be any reason for me to stop my meds. He also went on to talk about any reason we might possibly need to wean me off my meds. He did say they would give me notice and slowly wean me off, it wouldn't be something that happened quickly.
My second question was the one I was really concerned about. I asked if they ever prescribed MMJ for any of their patients. I was stumped when he didn't know what MMJ was (he's been living under a rock). I quickly explained and waited for his answer. He said they don't prescribe MMJ (they had done their research which I thought was impressive) simply because they can't control how much you can actually get at the dispensary or know exactly what dose to write for due to lack of studies on MMJ. He did however know what the process was which impressed me. There are specialized doctors in the MMJ field, it's usually a 2 appointment set up at around $150 a piece (insurance doesn't cover these appointments). Then it's $100 for the card and $60 for fingerprinting. I guess what a doctors office like theirs would do is issue the card and then you would have to pay for the fingerprinting. They don't feel as if it's in their best interest at the time. However, he did say that he had no issue with my trying MMJ but I needed to let him know so he could wean me off the opiods first (I think this is state law but it might just be my pain specialist).
If you are keeping track we're at $460 for an MMJ card and we haven't walked into the door of the dispensary yet. I've heard from others who use it that about $60 a month was what it cost them and this was in another state, I have no idea what the prices are here. Since insurance does not cover any of this you can see why more people tend to go the med route. I did ask if this was an option if the CDC guidelines go through and he said definitely.
When we were all through talking he said that he hoped that he had eased my mind a bit and that I was also not the first to ask about MMJ (which made me feel better) and that he was glad I felt like I could talk about it with him. I thanked him very much for the information and help (and was very thankful that I didn't have to deal with judgement either).
All in all a great informative appointment and now I know for the future that I don't need to be frightened about what happens next if the sky does fall. I encourage you if you feel comfortable with your pain specialist to ask too. With all the craziness about pain meds it's very important to know how your doctor plans to handle things if they change quickly and drastically. I think I'll sleep a little more soundly tonight.