Unfortunately, I didn't feel up to updating you guys after my appointment, but better late than never.
As always, my doctor was kind and logical (even more so that I expected) while, unfortunately, medically impotent.
I informed him that the oxymorphone was effective for the minor flares, but that my around the clock pain is still out of control. I didn't even ask for a increase in Duragesic, I knew that I wasn't going to get it, so I purposefully dismissed the possibility. Instead, I asked for an increase in clonidine and a switch to the patches (1mg pill only lasts me 4 hours each). Since I reported the lack of side effects and my blood pressure was still high enough, my doctor put me on 0.3mg/day clonidine patch, but I highly doubt that it will work at that dose. However, I can't say for sure because haven't tried our yet(pharmacy had to order it and now I'm waiting for ride to pick it up).
I informed him that a recent urine test of mine was positive for THC & 0.48ng/ml hydromorphone. However, my test was false negative for lorazepam, dextroamphetamine/Dexedrine (Like Adderall), and oxymorphone (among others). I had also informed him that my wife tested negative for everything, despite being on oxycodone, oxymorphone, fentanyl, alprazolam, Adderall, and several others. I semi-frantically attempted to explain that I was baffled as to how it was possible that hydromorphone was in my urine and explained my theories and why they're unlikely.
The first thing that he asked me was whether or not they did confirmatory testing (a strong sign of a good doctor), but I informed him that the original test was GC/MS (standard confirmatory testing method), although I'm unsure if it was ever run a second time.
He was at least somewhat concerned about the negative testing given our ample doses of several of those medications.
He was also amazed that the lab didn't know that Marinol (synthetic THC) causes a positive test for THC, even under GC/MS. They apparently don't know the difference between Marinol/dronabinol and "spice", aka K2.
I was extremely worried about my doctor's reaction to the above information because he isn't very comfortable with my need for high doses. I was also worried because he is also a Suboxone doctor and seeing multiple addicts every day tends to skew your point of view, but our PCP acted sanely, rationally, and even respectfully.
I had also informed him that I switched from ranitidine/Zantac to Tagamet/cimetidine a while back and needed a prescription for that so that my insurance would cover it and I could stop purchasing it OTC. Unfortunately, it is a strong CYP450 3A4 inhibitor which would boost the efficacy of several medications that I'm on by slowing the metabolism. Despite informing him that I've been safely taking cimetidine/Tagamet for months and months, he wasn't comfortable prescribing it, so I'm going to try famotidine/Pepcid, again.
Despite the lack of opioids and trying a failed drug, again, the appointment went better than I had expected and I was reasonably satisfied.
As a checked out at the front desk, I asked to talk to the head of Managed Care (referrals department), if she wasn't busy. Thankfully, she want and I was able to handle a lot of things and gain some piece of mind. Unfortunately, she informed me that I'm out of options for pain management and she's unable to try again without risking the office's relationship with this offices (they get blacklisted).
You may be asking why I am writing all of this, after all this is an everyday appointment. While these little appointments may seem insignificant, they are the threads that make up the fabric of pain management and living with pain care.
While on a mini-rant of frustration, she (head of managed care, who I've known since childhood) attempted to defend our PCP for his inadequate treatment regiment by reminding me that he puts his medical license at risk and he's already pushing it with what he's prescribing now. Of course, I already know this and understand it all too well, but it is well worth remembering that it takes a very strong person to stand up even to the extend that or physician has and their livelihoods are at risk by helping us. The medical establishment as a whole needs to fight this so that doctors are not required choose between breaking their oath by letting their patients suffer and risking their medical license (and even freedom) because they prescribed longterm, and high dose, opioids to pain patients.
Although we need to fight for reform, we must also be appreciative of, and thank, the physicians who do risk their livelihoods to prescribe the medications that give us a life worth living, even off they aren't prescribing enough. I'm not saying kiss their @$$ for prescribing tramadol/Ultram/Ryzolt (antidepressant), Nucynta/tapentadol (antidepressant), codeine, hydrocodone (weak opioid), Percocet (oxycodone paired worth poisonous acetaminophen), or low doses of morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, or even fentanyl, but when they prescribe inadequate, but substantial doses of opioids, they deserve our gratitude.
My doctor irritated me when he refused to prescribe low dose methadone or continue to prescribe Actiq/OTFC/Fentora/Onsolis/Subsys/Lazanda/Abstral (immediate release fentanyl), but I owe him thanks for prescribing high dose Duragesic and moderately high dose oxycodone, and now oxymorphone. One of the more overzealous PMs that he sent me to told him to take me off potential drugs of abuse like lorazepam (seizures, anxiety, muscle spasms, pain, nausea, insomnia), dronabinol (nausea, vomiting, & wasting), Duragesic, OTFC (generic Actiq), oxycodone, and WELLBUTRIN XL (antidepressant). Thankfully, he completely discarded his advise.
Good luck to everyone out there and try not to overdo it this holiday season. Remember, Christmas is special without you overdoing it. Your friends and family need you healthy, the cookies, cleaning, cooking, and other baking van wait or be completely skipped.