I Live In Chronic Pain And America's Healthcare System Is Failing Me

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 

I’m a 24-year-old mom to two sets of twins. But I don’t feel like Mom is what defines me anymore. I’m a chronic pain patient. And this is what’s controlling my life in this current moment.

It’s true, I’m a newbie on this journey. And I pray that this label won’t follow me throughout every road I lead in life. But for now, I’m standing in the gap with those living in chronic pain to tell my story of how America’s healthcare system is failing me.

For background info, the root of my problems stem from a shitty spine. One day I was perfectly fine and then the next… pain unlike anything I’ve ever experienced riddled my body.

Once my injury’s full effects set in, it took (thank God) only four days to diagnose my ailment. But it also took three emergency room visits, four doctors, and me frantically and aggressively screaming, “Why won’t you people help me?!,” for anyone to even pretend I was seriously in pain.

Once my issues were addressed and clinically diagnosed, it was decided that surgery was the best bet, even though I was pretty young for this type of a procedure. (Or so I was told over and over again.)

But at the same time, my concerns were always hushed by nurses reassuring me that I should bounce back fairly quickly… because of my age.

Now, I curse them for handing me such idol promises. Because let me tell you, this recovery has been anything but easy on my young body.

My plan was to be off of my pain medication within the first few weeks after surgery. But here I am, five months later, still loyally filling my much needed prescriptions while dodging the pharmacist and nurse’s judgey looks along the way.

That’s another thing–the opioid epidemic is an absolute nightmare for chronic pain patients who are truly living in pain and in desperate need of opiates. In order to receive any type of narcotic, I damn near have to hand over my first born child.

I understand why they have to be this way. What I can’t understand is why some of my healthcare professionals treat me as if I’m drug-seeking when my own surgeon and pain management doctor acknowledge me as a chronic pain patient.

Believe me or not, I don’t want their habit-forming pills. I just want them to fix me. Or at the very least, I want more effort put forth into figuring out the source of my pain that shouldn’t be persisting.

I want to play with my kids the way I used to again. I want to go to bed and not have to wonder if I’ll be dipping into the bath four times throughout the night just to mundanely dull the surface of my pain.

Dammit, I just want a portion of my old, pain-free life back.

It’s absolute horse shit to give me the rigmarole that I should be healing properly because of my age. Because when they do that, they aren’t looking at me as an individual. They are looking at me like I am a walking statistic.

This physically painful mess wreaks emotional havoc on my being, because this is my livelihood that I am dealing with here.

I don’t spend week after week at the doctor or calling the doctor purely for my own shits and giggles. No, I live in constant, unanswered pain. And I’m seeking help. Scratch that, I’m demanding help.

Not only do I have less than concrete answers, but I’m financially poor from my drawn-out attempts to discover the source of my pain. Due to this shitty healthcare system Americans live in, I’m drowning in debt because my insurance handlers believe they know more than my neurosurgeon.

I feel stuck and doomed to live in a shitty body. Worst of all, no matter how much I say these words, I feel like nobody believes me because I look otherwise healthy on the outside looking in. I am screaming into the void.

When I call my surgeon’s office, I feel like the nurses treat me like a hypochondriac. As if they’re thinking, “Is that Caila….. again?”

Yes, hello. Ring-Ring — It’s me, Caila… again. And until we figure out the source of my pain, I have four words: Get. Used. To. It.

I won’t be handed off just because my pain proves difficult to further diagnose.

And I promise, none of this is fun for me. It actually feels like a colossal waste of my flipping time. But I’m still trying. I’m still seeking help through professionals sworn by oath to heal.

To state the obvious, I am not a doctor or a nurse. Even if I’m made to feel like a burden, I need help for this. I will not back down or let my voice settle into belittlement. This is my body, this is my pain. It is real. I am worthy of treatment just as much as every other “easy patient.

I want answers to my chronic pain. And I want them before I’m riddled with a pain that cannot be fixed.

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