reflections on drug usage and the NHS since becoming abstinant

By misskatie · Jun 28, 2012 · ·
  1. misskatie
    Hey there, for those of you that dont know, I have given up recreational drug usage this past month or so (including tobacco) and have been trying to live healthily with plenty of excercise, careful dieting, and advice on my current health from my GP. I will start by saying that with the exception of some psychological aspects such as anxiety and mild hypocondria (sic) I am perfectly healthy. blood pressure, oxygen levels, heart and brain function, cholesterol, liver function, platelet levels, i have been tested for abnormalities in all of them and have been constantly reassured that I am perfectly healthy..

    Ironically I have however been diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome in my left arm, whuch is totally unrelated to drugs and is instead caused by my sleepung posture (arms tightly folded under the pillow) and by my constant mobile phone usage :p

    Essentially it means a chronic impingment (sic?) Of the ulnar nerve in the affected arm that may or may not improve with correctional behavior and can lead to paralysis of the little and ring finger of the affected hand.. so much for playing guitar then lol.. :p

    Anyhow this isnt the reason I'm writing today, I wanted to write to give a kind of warning (or at the very least advice) to UK drug users about one of the potential pitfalls of their drug abuse should problems arise... I'm talking about NHS doctors..

    It doesn't really matter if you are visiting your GP or getting treated in an emergency room NHS doctors are potentially fatal to drug users who run into problems. How? You ask.. well the following reasons are something ive encountered personally through various trips to A&E and appointments with various GPs during my drug abuse period. Bear in mind the fact that I, like a lot of people using drugs (especially RCs) had researched in great detail the kind of problems that can arise from each particular substance and would always present a no BS account of exactly what I had taken and exactlt what problem I was experiencing to the medical professionals,i was seen by. I also want to point out that when suspected trouble arose i didnt sit on DF posting 'Am I in trouble?' I immediately sought medical attention which obviously I would urge others to do too.

    Ok so here's what I've learned:

    1. Doctors like to be the smartest person in the room

    When you find yourself in an ER explaining that you may have Bromism from a week long binge on DXM HBR you might find that the doctor on shift dismisses your assesment in favour of something more 'likely' or common (mine didn't even know what bromism WAS, and delayed my treatment for said condition considerably while he went to look it up!)

    On another occasion I was requesting a referal to a neurologist from a GP over concerns of possible excitiotoxicity following discontinuation of NMDA receptor antagonists (as what occurs with alcohol withdrawal). To which the GP in question replied: "I'm sorry but you know more than me about that"..
    Yes. That's WHY I NEED TO SEE A NEUROLOGIST!!. Needless to say my referal was not made.

    The point being that doctors deal with people all the time talking about the possible conditions they might have and in my experience they favour the 'odds on' diagnosis over something that is very situation specific.. even if the patient has been through that EXACT experience.. remember people, these professionals are who you are trusting your life to if something goes wrong..

    2. NHS professionals know almost nothing about recreational drugs

    During my drug abusing period I have had a few trips to A&E with various overdoses or bad reactions.. now, its understandable that your average healthcare professional may not have any knowledge of the latest RC to hit the market but when you find yourself explaining to a professional doctor what common (or even pharmacutical) drugs are like DXM or ketamine are then you start to get an idea of the average knowledge of the healthcare professional YOU may be depending on has.. for some reason I had the assumption that ER staff would have a greater knowledge of drugs than that to ensure they could treat their drug abusing patients correctly.. well I was wrong there, infact, when explaining DXM to one such doctor i got the response "oh! So its like codeine?"..

    3.Some hospitals are better than others

    This really is worth knowing. I live an equal disanxe from two hospitals, one is awful, one is fantastic. The awful one will have you sitting for hours regardless of your condition before being seen to, the good one will have you seen by a panel of specialists as soon as you arrive. The bad hospital will provide a doctor who it seems is yet to finish med school, the good hospital will send you a team of consultants and specialists who, while observing the first two points, will at least get you tested for every kind of damage possible. The shitty hospital will throw you out to find your own way home during the early hours (to be fair this is probably deserved given its your own fault you are there) the goid hospital will provide a free taxi right to your front door..

    4. The costs of tests may out weight your health to your GP

    Ok i will admit this last one is speculation but in my experience doctors have been overly eager to dismiss tangible symptoms as simply psycholigical and it has taken some considerable fighting on my part to get the tests done.. remember that while we have the luxury of free healthcare we are also in a ressecion and doctors ate aware of the costs to the NHS for your MRI or CT scan.. doctors seem skeptical at the best if times regarding a patients account of their symptoms and perhaps would be willing to 'see how it goes' before allowing a decent investigation into the root of the problem..

    Anyhow that's all I've got for now, these are for me just a few more reasons why i am glad to be going clean.. its a pretty sobering thought that those you might rely on to help you might not have any idea whats actually wrong with you (especially true for RCs)

    I should state in the interest of fairness that these are only my experiences with the NHS and its related services (I.e NHS direct) and obviously I don't mean that EVERY doctor is like that. I'm sure there are as many good doctors as there are bad.

    so anyhow, i will be sure to touch bases again soon with my progress..

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  1. DocBrock
    1. Doctors like to be the smartest person in the room

    And they don't like it when they aren't. Be an expert patient, put them on the back foot. One locum pissed me off when he said 'I do have a degree you know!'. I responded with 'I have three and they aren't relevant here either'.

    Socratic direction is the key.

    2. NHS professionals know almost nothing about recreational drugs

    During my drug abusing period I have had a few trips to A&E with various overdoses or bad reactions or fractured bones, or torn ligaments ( I'm clumsy when totally straight as it is ).
    Nurses are fantastic. They may not know about rec.drugs, but they -listen- and that makes a difference.
    Doctors?, clueless in the main. Patronising too. I don't want sympathy, but would like to be treated with higher accordance than excrement if you don't mind.

    Overall, in the many A&E I've made it my mission to visit, I hold all the nurses I've met in very high regard. Doctors?, well, some of the student ones seem quite clued up.
    What I've found is marked indelibly in my records, I am second class, even to an abusive drunk in their eyes and yes, we do know about what we've taken more than you do, which is why we're here.

    3.Some hospitals are better than others

    True. Not one ever kicked me out before I'd been seen by a social worker to make sure I had somewhere to go, but that is just A&E
    Ortho wards vary, but I.C.U is uniformly excellent -providing you speak to a nurse!- Serotonin Syndrome hits me every now and again. A nurse will look it up if unsure, a doctor may ( as happened to me ) just bluff and recommend a drug.
    Takes them back when the squirming, sweaty mess asks if that is in anyway an SSRI or serotonin agonist. The look on that pompous arses face when I said to the nurse '10mg ativan, monitor vitals, let me sleep' was priceless.
    Two minutes later ( felt like a day, but was clock watching ) and a needle in my arse. Whispered '10mg ativan, we'll sit with you sweetie (giggles)'

    Again, be the expert patient, but only talk to nurses. The nurse will translate when the doctor finally deigns to attend, and the look on their faces when a nurse presents them with fait accompli that you talked over with the nurse is sweet.

    4. The costs of tests may out weight your health to your GP

    MissKatie speculated. Cease speculating. It is all a business after all.
    I'm middle aged, unemployed, a former opiate head with some quite major mental health issues.
    I am treated in a curt manner. I am expensive.
    Someone who has started blacking out, has started petite mal and grande mal, oh, and I've sustained a number of head impact injuries in the past, had a Trans Iescemic (sp) close to an injury site, and this year I managed to fracture my skull again. Blunt trauma to the back of the head, I went grande mal and went down to the hard ground rigid. The x-ray was pretty. I don't need anything but an anti-psychotic. I don't, but some investigation as to -why- would have been nice.
    I am too expensive and fall into the wrong age gap. Adult onset of seizures?, doesn't matter.
    I cannot be that far off the Asperger scale -AND- that autistic -AND- bi-polar and survived this long, but sedation is cheap.
    I need my community nurse, but she costs a lot more than a prescription. She is effective though.

    Bottom line, keep 'em sedated. It's cheaper.

    Two counties down from me, my very good lifelong ( except cigs, totally clean all his life! ) buddy couldn't have a different tale to tell!. He was -turning down- additional offers of people based help for his head issues. Two things here. Two different health authorities. My records are littered with a history of recreational substance issues, being an awkward to medicate so-and-so and his aren't.
    Last time I lived in that county, I contracted pleurisy. I really don't recommend it; pleurisy that is. If it is on your list of interesting ways to experience agony, may I politely suggest stubbing each toe under a door whilst removing nasal hairs individually.
    I couldn't have been treated better.
    Up here, in the frozen North ( only a bit north, but it gets to be quite a heated topic ), I presented with acute chest pain ( not heart ) centred on my right lung.
    Ibuprofen!, no, that won't do it.
    Stop smoking!, I'd like to, but a bit unrealistic.
    What do you think it is then?...... See the difference? Turned out I did have a mild chest infection, but it was the two mysteriously broken ribs that caused the pain.
    I had to ask for a chest X-Ray. You couldn't actually feel the breaks, well I could, but there they were. My shortness of breath?, smoking. I know that. After much pushing -after- the ribs settled, checked again. COPD. Bugger.
    Matey two counties down?, reported shortage of breath under certain circumstances. Checked, and yup, another COPD.
    He was sat down and talked through all the implications. I got a leaflet. Woo for me. He got a follow up call from a community nurse. I've still got my leaflet.
    We've both been smoking since pre-teen. We are within a month of each other birthday wise. They can't seem to do enough for him. I'm still waiting. I know there isn't anything to be done, I accept that.
    Two different counties, two different attitudes.
  2. Cash.Nexus
    I'm getting dog-tags and bangle inscribed: if found unconscious: NO MEDS / NO FEDS
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