Hospitals and Junk

sayarsan's picture

Considering junk is a term referring to that group of drugs derived from opium I could be forgiven for thinking that hospital is a place where there would be some expertise in coping with the stuff but it seems nothing could be further from the truth. My first experience of this was after I came off a motorcycle landing in the bush on Mt. CootTha with multiple fractures to my L leg. In emergency at RBH I was given 100mg pethidine i.m. when I asked for something to alleviate the pain. After 20 min I asked again and said that "I have a tolerance to opiates and the first shot was not sufficient", and went on to elaborate that my usual dose of pethidine was about 300mg or more " I have been using for only 2 weeks so I am not addicted but I do have quite a tolerance". This was my big mistake. Thinking that under such circumstances a policy of simple honesty and full disclosure is the best for all concerned is fallacious. I was immediatiely told that as a drug addict I was not entitled to any opiates at all, this was recorded and there is no going back not even deed poll can correct this mistake unless you can do something about your medibank number. So I am proud to say I suffered having my bones manipulated and cleaned then sewn up inside their skin then my heel drilled to allow insertion of the pin to which the traction rope was tied without a general anaesthetic and without crying although I did whimper after a few hours of being told they could do nothing for the pain and a kind nurse squeezed my hand. True enough I did have a spinal cannula through which I was given some local but that does nothing for the distress and misery which went on for some days as each move of my body led to the sensation of bones moving where they shouldn't. I still wonder what leads people trained in the administration of these drugs to use such lame excuses. After 30 odd years during which I have been a patient in various wards, studied nursing at Uni and numerous hospitals, and innumerable discussions with various health professionals and lay people I am still being reminded that nothing shows any signs of change and that dishonesty is still the best policy is something I refuse to accept. The sum of my experience leads me to believe that the people who use the drugs are the ones who know best but this is very dangerous thinking as we are all too familiar with the urban myths and sloppy thinking among users and abusers who often want nothing more than a rationalization for their own silly behaviours. The best I have heard was from the psychiatrist who was assigned to me when I was admitted to RPA in Sydney to have an enormous abscess drained, debrided, and dressed. The first trip to theater when the offending region was cleaned up and packed was before withdrawal became a problem but they needed to take me back to theater in a few days to have the pack removed and the anaesthitist didn't want my basal metabolism going haywire so I was told "If anyone asks this is for pain" and I was ordered morphine 50mg i.m. qid which is quite a hefty dose but this was before the tax file number when a bodgy name meant something. By the 3rd day I was leaving 18 hours between injections although I could have had one every 6 and after my 2nd trip to theater no longer needed anything more than 10mg methadone p.o./day and all this in collaboration with the doctors. Oh for the days when there was still some lattitude for the medical profession to do their job outside the endless scrutiny of the controllers. My experience overseas confirms my suspicions that many in the medical professions do not agree with the simplified thinking that leads to these intrusions into their work practices but along with a general demystification of junk we are confronted with the rollout of 'control' and all the horrors that implies for everybody.
In the end I have decided it boils down to "whoever pays the piper calls the tune" so if you are depending on public patient care and consider a medibank levy to be sufficient perhaps you should think again. A habit is a very expensive thing and doesn't fall under medicare except to provide the most rudimentary consideration by a system hopelessly underfunded and short staffed. Under these circumstances it can become quite scary as there are so many cases of serious neglect leading to deaths in the hospital system and a habit is something that most consider to be a voluntary thing. Maybe it's true.


felix's picture

This is what it's all about, sayarsan, thanks.