i hear his footsteps approach the exam room, my breath catches as thoughts race. my pulse quickens, i feel slightly sick…
memories flood past…playing with my children, grandchildren, babies chortling, making music with friends, farming…further back..giving birth, weddings, falling in love, childhood..
all accomplished with some level of pain, the last twenty years with proper treatment. happy and still productive, at sixty now i am in school, volunteering, advocating, caregiving, loving…or was. the change in my life has been head spinning these past few months.
he interrupts my thoughts as he enters. without making eye contact, he announces my medication will again be cut in half. i protest. i can’t spend more time in bed. i like to walk with my cane. to move. moving is important to be healthy.
i remind him i am a caregiver. my son cannot speak or move. who will care for him? for me? what have i done wrong?
he won’t risk his license for a patients function, he says. nothing personal. he shows me a printout. says i’m over a limit that never existed before. that someone, somewhere, says now they know the risk of addiction. after over twenty years of none. liars.
he never took his hand off the door handle. bastard. he grins. buffoon. it will be a transition, he says. fool. death is a transition, i reply, that doesn’t make it a desirable outcome. he quickly disappears, leaving a nurse to pick up the pieces, and hand me my sentence. coward.
as i leave, a protesting patient is escorted out by security. an old man asks what ‘non-opioid treatment’ means for his cancer pain. my chest feels tight.
outside, the addicted continue to die in record numbers. their pain is not physical. the escape they seek is not with any medication i am prescribed, yet this is somehow laid at my feet. the world has lost its collective mind.