Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Mon, Sept. 16

Editorial: Pain part of the package with this insurance

Back when I was still using the original equipment and paying for it dearly in terms of daily pain, my misery led to a brief moment of recklessness.

I was coming out of the store and my knees were flat killing me. I'd probably already taken a pill but it hadn't kicked in, and when I plopped down in the seat I was so miserable I just popped the car into reverse and backed up.

I braked sharply about the time the little voice in my head told me I was driving stupidly. The stop coincided with a collision with a car driven by a kindly older woman who was backing up opposite me.

The damage to both cars was about a tie and strictly cosmetic, and she insisted we let bygones be bygones. We drove off and over the course of the next two or so years I had both knees replaced.

I'm in a better place now. At the height of my misery I was taking in 210 milligrams (seven pills) of prescription narcotics a day. Some days it wasn't enough, especially right after surgery, but it made the pain tolerable.

I was fortunate enough to have competent pain management professionals to look after me. Since the last knee replacement I've traded major pain for not-so-major pain elsewhere, but I've been at the point for a while now where I can get through a day without a pill and it doesn't bother me.

No pain, no pain pill. That's how it's supposed to work.

Why bring it up now? Because pain management is one of those things government decided about 100 years ago that we're not smart enough to do on our own. Before that we had cocaine in our cola and you could go to the drug store for morphine if you suffered from the vapors. Now we've got an insurance company that won't work with a local pain management doctor, and the result for his patients is, well, painful (see the Nov. 9 Miner for Hubble Ray Smith's story, or do a online search for Valpiani, as in Dr. Michael. He's the physician with A Better Life pain treatment center that the insurance company is ignoring).

It's almost impossible to go a week without reading somewhere that because government is clamping down and patients can't get Oxycontin, many of them are turning to heroin. The implication, I suppose, is that these people don't really need Oxycontin or Oxycodone and they crave the similar feeling heroin provides. Never having tried heroin I can't comment on that, but based on what is happening with Health Choice Arizona, it's dawned on me that maybe people are trying heroin because they are still in pain and there is no longer any other available relief.

I prefer a system where the doctor treats the patient and the insurance company handles the insurance. When an insurance company arbitrarily stops insuring its clients who are seeing pain management specialists, neurologists, neurosurgeons and ear, nose and throat specialists, you know someone is suffering needlessly.

That strikes me as reckless. And heartless.

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