Emma featured in USA Today
I didn’t want heavy painkillers after surgery — but my hospital pushed opioids on me anyway
This is a story about how the health care industry effectively forces patients into opioid use. I know, because this recently almost happened to me. And it could have cost me my life.
A few weeks ago, I had a major abdominal surgery. I have had two similar surgeries before, which taught me how well I tolerated both pain — and painkillers. Pain, while uncomfortable, was not unbearable. Far worse were the drugs, which caused uncontrollable nausea, dizziness, vomiting and overall malaise. That was not something I was keen on dealing with again, least of all following a stomach surgery. Before my procedure, I made sure to have these requests documented in my medical records.
That’s where the trouble started.
During the month before my surgery, every professional I met with did their utmost to assure me that this time would be different. This time, they emphasized, I should expect the very worst in terms of pain. Time and again, I gave them the same answer I had given in my initial consultation and had written in my medical file: “I prefer not to use any heavy narcotics outside of the necessary anesthesia.” And time and again, I was met with the same slack-jawed expression and incredulous response.
Oh no, they all assured me. No, no, no — I really didn’t understand just how painful this surgery would be.