Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Movie "Cake" Comes Out and Receives Reviews - I feel Jennifer Aniston Brings Light to Chronic Pain Patients

I noticed several "not so great" reviews of the movie. None of them were really putting down Jennifer Aniston and her role that she played, but moreover it seemed like the critics viewed the script as being "watered down" from its original writing. I believe originally it must have went out on a limb even further to depict the life that so many of us totally understand. This is NOT some fairy tale, or some kind of "mystery novel", or just another movie. It is depicting a very true sense of what any and all of us have been through chronic pain and/or chronic illness have in our own reality, daily. We live this over and over again. The pain, the anger, the place and time we want to throw in the towel, give up, and say NO MORE! 

Anyone who goes through pain such as this nagging, agitating, never ending, daily, grinding, aching, stabbing, just RAW type of something you know you may have to continue to live with day after day, month after month, year after year.... there comes a place for many of us, that we must stand back, and kind of "observe" what is happening to us. You add in the amount of stress, of trying to hold it together for a job, for a family, a spouse, or for the world "outside". 
No one ever wants to appear "weak"... and some where down the line, we have had hammered into our brains, thoughts, and reality that showing "pain" in any form is a true sign of weakness, of not being able to weather the storm, of being someone "less than", and rather than be draped in understanding and help, we wind up totally alone, all of our friends and family suddenly disappear, and we seem to be just a heap of flesh and bone, that others can't deal with. 
You will find in your own walk with pain, that others, whether it be family, a spouse, close friends, even your doctors and medical professionals want to "shed" themselves of you. The idea that they have to watch "you" in such pain, brings them to think about their own life, and they almost act as if "pain" is contagious. You are carrying something around they can "catch" like the flu or a cold, so they shun you. 

I've had to deal with physicians back over 20 years ago, when I began having migraines. At that period of time & even to this modern day of medicine, some physicians have this "ideology"  that "women" are complainers. Either they want to blame our pain and illness on "stress" or another huge one was "depression", or that it is "hormones", and many often just wanted to press that the female gender were more likely to use "pain" as a crutch. I've even on more than one occasion dealt with physicians that actually believed I was just some woman looking for "drugs" rather than the reality I was in horrid pain. 
Men as a whole, have always been taken more seriously when it comes to pain. If two people, one a woman, and one a man, came into the emergency room complaining of severe pain, you used to be able to bet the man would get "treatment" not only more quickly, but probably medication and help that would be able to help with the pain. The woman on the other hand maybe sent away, with some kind of excuse, and told to see their doctors the next day and so forth. 
Things have changed somewhat in the past 10 to 12 years, and we as the female species tend to be taken more seriously when it comes to pain. I can recall the day I drove myself to the ER, having a heart attack, in pain. and they actually took me seriously. 

Yet, I had been to that exact same ER on many occasions before that with a severe, intractable migraine, and depending on which physician was on duty at that moment, it was a crap shoot as to whether I would receive the proper treatment, or be a "guinea pig" for something I knew would not work, and then sent home without the help I needed. In the years from about the age of 21 through my early 40's I watched this happen again and again. Whether it was the ER, my doctors office, or a clinic, I never quite knew how I would be treated. Like I said above, I had been given just about every crack pot diagnosis there was because of being female. I am sure many doctors out there will deny that, and most of them are probably now retired or have passed away. Yet, I've ran into the exact same mind set recently. You can guarantee, with the ongoing health issues I have now, if I get even a "hint" of being put off, or not taken seriously about my health problems , I am out of that office, down the road and looking for a new physician. 
I've learned no one has to take being treated as if they are not telling the truth, or not being taken seriously. 

I've had to learn the lesson that physicians' are also humans. They have been looked upon as some "special species" that make no mistakes, everything they tel us we should take to heart very seriously, and that you NEVER not do as your doctors advise. I am here to tell you, doctors are not PERFECT. The "advice" they give us as patients is "advice". Just because a physician recommends a certain test, treatment, medication or a specialist, does NOT mean you must bow down like he is the "Lord" himself and rush off without questioning the reasons behind what he or she is doing. You, as the patient, have MANY rights. First of all, you have the right to be treated as an intelligent human, with either symptoms you are concerned about, or a chronic illness or pain that you are there to follow up on. You have all the rights that are in the "Patients Bill of Rights" to ask every question you wish. If it is about a medication, and you feel it may not for one reason or the other be something you need to take, then question why that drug is important. If there are tests to be done that your medical professional is "suggesting", whether lab work, nerve conduction studies, X-Rays, MRI's, CT Scans, and many others, you have the absolute freedom to ask why that particular test is being performed. What will it help to either show, if anything is wrong, and if you have recently been through the "exact same" type of test within a few months of one another, then you SHOULD be asking them what is the importance of doing a procedure you just did a few months back.

It stands as a well known fact these days, that "specialists" all too often want to have "their own" procedures, testing, labs done. Even though another physician may have just done all of the exact things a month or two ago, there is this "code" some doctors have that rather than look at whats already just been done, and work from there, it seems another "new" set of tests performed by their "preference" of labs, techs, and so on may be able to do it better; more efficiently, or possibly the others missed something when they did the test a month ago. I can almost guarantee under most circumstances there will be nothing different. Unless you have some type of health issue, such as cancer, or blood clots, or some other very fast moving type of medical problem, those tests that were performed a month or three months ago, will be the same. 
Tried and true this happens for a couple of reasons. First of all, doctors, especially "Specialist" tend to be arrogant, and feel they do the "best" surgery, best diagnosing; they are "best" at everything. So, never would someone that highly educated and knowledgeable take the word from another physician or whomever did their testing. Or it is something much more tangible than their ego. It is their "hip-pockets." Doctors, especially those in very highly specialized fields DO get "perks" from certain labs, MRI companies, certain pharmaceutical companies, from those highly regarded business that make medical equipment, such as pain pumps, knee and joint prostheses, and others. 

Now the first things that may jump into your head is that physicians cannot take "bribes", or money from "any" business such as that. Plus, they are not supposed to "favor" one company over the other when it comes to medications, medical equipment, and so on. Yet, how many times have you set in your physicians office, and the pharmaceutical representatives are there. Either they get to go back while you are sitting there waiting on your own appointment. Or they drop off "goodies", possibly even samples of medications. I know for a fact one of my Orthopedic Surgeons was taken out to dinners, or given other items of use, because he was using their prosthesis, over another company's. Now, it is NOT against a code of moral ethics for a physician to go out and dine with these representatives, or get pens, pencils, all kinds of office supplies from them, and accept certain types of goodies brought in for holidays and so on. But, of course it is certainly illegal on a moral, ethical, and the law side of money to change hands or preferential treatment from entities such as these. Then again, sometimes you have to wonder where some doctors get the money to drive very expensive vehicles, unless they are like the so-called "Opthamological Surgeon Specialist" that turned out to be the biggest ass, and the outstanding "quack" I've ever had the chance to see. NEVER, and I mean NEVER will I, or anyone I can convince NOT to see this so called eye specialist. He was as far as I'm concerned gone out of his mind. All the while he was raking in the money. When you can have an office of more than 50 personnel, and your "office" takes up an entire floor in an office building in Dallas, plus the staff was almost choreographed to play their roles in what seemed more like a "movie production" than a specialists office, you had better turn, run and never look back. 

So, all that said, I feel this movie and I hope more to come in the near future will truly bring out the very "real" challenges patients chronically ill and/or with chronic pain go through to get the help they need. For the most part, I know speaking for myself, I am flying by the "seat of my pants" when it comes to new symptoms that concern me, which physician should I go to for a particular new symptom, or should I first do enough of my own research to help speed up the process of me feeling better. Changes are fairly good, that I am better off trying to research my own symptoms, changes, differences that I'm experiencing BEFORE traipsing down to my doctors office. For one, I feel if I don't go well prepared, with a list of symptoms, and some information about what research I've done to possibly explain what is happening; I wind up not getting my "dime's worth" into my physician, he mumbles a few sentences, listens to my heart and lungs, and then off into the wild blue yonder he flies out, leaving me more confused than when I came in, with some "new" medication that is probably not going to be helpful, and I am as just in the dark as before, but worse. Again I've had my physician NOT listen, NOT hear, and NOT diagnose my problem. I go home upset, mad, and ready to rip someone's head off (not literally), because I feel cheated by the medical system again. 

I happen to be fortunate enough for the moment, because it can change in any given time frame of having a Primary Care Physician (PCP) that is young enough, extremely intelligent enough, and likes the fact that I DO research first, then bring what I feel maybe useful to him in order to find out what is going on with me. So, he LIKES informed patients. My Rheumatologist is definitely the same, if not more so. He LOVES the fact I have done research on medications, on the RA, paid attention and written notes about my symptoms, and come in as well informed patient, that can understand exactly what he is suggesting. Often times when I bring something in, say about new medications. More times that not will he be on the same page as I am. I leave there with what I felt might be the answer. And he seems grateful to have a patient willing to keep tract and give him as much information as I can. It is a win-win situation for both physician and patient. 

So, as I close this "chapter" even though I have only seem the "trailers" of Cake so far, I believe it is a giant step forward in the progress of educating everyone about chronic pain and chronic illnesses. It is a look into the human soul and just what a toll these illnesses take on us. My hopes are this movie will open the doors in Hollywood and be the start of something much bigger. If this film and others that could follow can help to educate all of us, to understand that something "chronic" means just that. It is "here" to stay, each moment, each minute, each hour, day, year and beyond with us. So, those that live with these many costly illnesses, the toll it takes on making some of us no longer able to do our jobs, take care of families, have our own "normalcy" of like back, and the cost on our nation alone in medical bills and lost wages. "Chronic Pain" all too often completely destroys the quality of life for the patient, spouses, and families, causing divorces, and destroys what many of us have built our life upon. 

My hopes are that you also will see the movie, and respond to it. We should let it be known that this should be the start of a much larger look into more and more "true to life" film portraying a life "taken" over by pain and suffering. 

 p.s. by the way the CEO of the Arthritis Foundation has endorsed this film and has told her feelings about it depicting all that patients deal with.

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