ER Horror Story

Donald Moore‎
December 23 at 9:17pm · Belfast, ME

I recently moved to Maine from Portland, Oregon… I have been in chronic, 24 hour a day pain for almost 15 years…

But the story I’d like to relate today happened to me last week at the St.Joseph Hospital in Bangor, Maine.

When I arrived in Maine about 3 months ago, I had about 6 weeks of pain medication remaining. I thought that, even under the worst conditions, I would be able to find a doctor to take over my treatment. I was mistaken. Because an outright “drug war” declared on Heroin and other forms of opioids declared by Governor LaPage, “opioidphobia” (not my word) has met, or surpassed Islamophobia in popularity. I waited six weeks for an appointment at a pain clinic, and after driving two hours and forking over nearly $400 of my own money, I was informed that it would be my only appointment there, as they had decided to close the practice. It’s a story that is repeating all over the United States: Doctors with hundreds of patients who come to them for the medications they need for legitimate medical conditions are closing down with little or no notice. Even as I sat waiting for my first and last appointment, three different people, coming for their monthly refills, were informed of the closure. One was in shock, one was angry and the third sat on the chair across from me and wept.

I called more pain management clinics. Several of them I spoke with were either not taking anymore patients, while several others made it very clear that they were no longer prescribing narcotic pain medications for chronic pain…PAIN CLINICS! …

So it was that I found myself forced to discontinue the regimen that had kept me a productive member of society for 15 years… As many of you know, the withdrawal symptoms were acute; I spent a better part of six weeks going form the couch to the bed to the chair to the bed in a losing battle to find some position, any position that would give me some relief from the pain. There wasn’t any.

Even though the withdrawal symptoms eventually eased, the pain didn’t. I now suffer from 8/10 to 10/10 pain that has no end. It is entirely life consuming. I can’t sleep, eat or stand long enough to shower. I’ve gone from a person who owned and operated a restaurant for 10 years, spent the last 4 years driving a cab 12 hours a day, and then drove, alone from Oregon to Maine, rented a house and moved myself in. Now I don’t go outside, can’t take care of myself, and literally stood at the bottom of the stairs and peed myself because the pain was so bad I couldn’t get to the top of the stairs.

Finally I could take no more and we drove the hour to St.Joseph Hospital in Bangor to go to the ER. In triage, I told the intake nurse that what I felt like I needed was an emergency neurosurgical consult and an MRI. My last neurosurgeon had instructed me that if I had new or worsening symptoms (the bottom of my left foot seems to have gone numb permanently, and clearly I am having some control problems with my bladder.) I told them I was scared. I told them I didn’t feel like my life was worth living this way and I felt like what I really needed was to be admitted to a hospital until a solution could be found.


For 7 hours, during which time I was not seen by a doctor, a physicians assistant, or a nurse practitioner. After 5 hours, and more repeated requests for a neuro consult and MRI, a nurse appeared and gave me two Tylenol, and two Ibuprofen. A man with 9/10 pain and multiple surgeries on my Lumbar spine was left to writhe on a 2-inch-thick foam pad on top of a hospital gurney, without so much as a interview, physical examination, or even a visit with an M.D…

Continuing to do my best to be “calm and compliant”, I asked again for a neuro consult, an MRI, or to be admitted. Dr. Matthew Duhl, M.D. informed me that I did not meet the criteria for a neruo consult or an emergent MRI. He went on to tell me that there was no way he was going to give me anything substantive for pain and that he believed that I was using a suicide threat “as a bargaining chip to get narcotics”

6 thoughts on “ER Horror Story

  1. I am so sorry that you had to go thru all of that, I do hope that you get better and that you are able to find the doctor that you need, my cousin lives up north and she travels to Alabama every month in order to receive her meds for her pain, maybe you can do the same. good luck to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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