Friggin' Doctors

A Troublesome Post:
I was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago. I was scheduled for surgery and decided, stupidly, that I would go off Suboxone myself before the surgery. My surgeon checked my records with my gynocologist before I had a chance to tell him myself, about the suboxone and my heroin addicted past. I went from being a normal person to a piece of garbage in his eyes. I didn’t have the surgery and haven’t done anything more about the cancer. I don’t think I can find a doctor who would not treat me like dirt. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you,  XXXX
My Response:
I wish I could say that I am surprised by what you describe, but I’m not surprised at all.  I have shared my story several times and talked about going from weekly dinner parties at the homes of other physicians to ‘persona non grata’ in the local medical community;  the sting of such silly ‘snubbery’ (my own word– maybe a cross for ‘snob’ and ‘buggery’?) is one thing, but actions and attitudes that place a person’s life at risk… I apologize for the profession.  I teach addiction at one of the medical schools in my home state, and do my best to carry the message that opiate and other addictions have the potential to hit EVERYONE.  It is no wonder that the recovering docs I have come to know are some of the most compassionate physicians around, as they have learned the hard way that doctors are not ‘above’ anyone else in that regard.
With that in mind, perhaps you can find out if there are any recovering physicians in your area;  they would be more understanding of the illness of addiction, assuming of course that their own Recovery house is in order, as an actively using physician is not going to do you any good.
You may want to get involved with the local NA or AA communities;  there you can ask about the doctors in your area and find out who is more decent and who should be avoided.
The treatment you received only pushes patients ‘underground’, not a good situation especially when surgery is necessary!  As a former anesthesiologist, I have to encourage people to be upfront with their physicians about their history, even in the face of the horrible way you were treated– because the risks of keeping things secret are just too great.
I wish you the best in your search.  If you are still dealing with cancer I will state the obvious–  don’t hold off getting help for fear of being judged.  By all means get yourself treated– hold your nose in the presence of a jerk doctor if necessary, but get treated.  I wish you the best.
SD

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