It’s Not as Simple as it Looks!

Following a great Christmas with family and a close friend coming for New Year’s it’s time to squeeze in one little rant.  I can’t really say it is another matter of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.  It’s more indicative of further erosion of our rights and that right was the freedom to move around this fine country, also known as “portability”.  It is also good example of how a well meaning policy can have a detrimental affect on others.  The following is an example of both issues!

As many of you are aware I recently moved back to BC as sort of a support system to my mother.  Prior to actually moving I stocked up on three months supply of my prescriptions.  Precautionary but I also had a doctor who always gave me a three month supply of medications, after all there hasn’t really been a change to my meds in over ten years with the exception of Codeine Contin.  Those are a long lasting, slow release narcotic that was suggested to a way to manage my shoulder pain.  And they worked very well.  I take two tabs in the morning and I am set for the day.  In fact they worked well enough that I was able to give up Canada Pension Disability benefits and return to the work force.

So now I have left Alberta and come back to BC.  My prescriptions were running low and I needed to have my customary blood pressure check.  I am on a blood pressure medication so I do like to keep track of that.  Having been unable to find a family physician that is taking new patients in the Kelowna area I went to one of the many walk-in clinics (or in my case, wheel-in).  And I only reference the wheel-in because it was pretty obvious this place had never anticipated a wheelchair coming in.  The only place to park my chair was in the aisle of this very tiny waiting area.

Once they had collected the required information at the front desk followed by an hour wait (not bad really) I got into see a doctor.  I had brought my London Drugs prescription containers so the doctor would know which meds I was taking (there are only five of them).  She quickly wrote me out a prescription for four of them however, since it wasn’t offered, I had to ask to have my blood pressure checked.

When she got to the Codeine Contin she told me she would be unable to fill that one because in BC it is a controlled “opiate” and that only a persons family doctor could prescribe that.  These meds require a special prescription in BC but not in Alberta.  With that said it is also a drug a lot of drug abuser use so I do understand that part of the issue.

I explained I did not have a family doctor yet having recently move to BC but that I did need the medication.  When I’m taking it my shoulders hardly ever bother me but give me three days without and I quickly remember why I am taking it.  I explained this to the doctor and enquired why it was not a controlled substance in Alberta, thinking prescribed narcotics were federal jurisdiction.

Well to my surprise it is up to each province to decide how certain drugs will be dealt with.  So BC wants to error on the side of caution and not contribute to potential drug abuse.  I don’t disagree with that but I also have a hard time with any policy that is so rigid there is no room to accommodate those individuals that actually require this drug.  After all the pharmaceutical companies are not manufacturing this drug solely for addicts.   In fact I would put it to the medical community that monitoring me for my blood pressure is probably a better idea than worry about me being a drug addict.  By the time everything was said and done I had three months supply of my other meds and a two week supply of my shoulder meds plus an understanding that I would find a family physician to further prescribe these meds.

Once I was back at my computer I immediately checked the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons website and used their find a doctor page.  This was a process I had already been through twice so I was not surprised to discover that no doctors in my immediate area were accepting new patients.  Well now I’m getting frustrated because when you live with a disability you do want a permanent doctor and with the current issue over my pain meds it has become a little bit more urgent.

So I decide to take it to the next step and fire off an e-mail to the college expressing my frustration.  Well to the College’s credit I had a response the next day from a Doctor Galt Wilson, the Deputy Registrar (Complaints and Practice Investigation).  After exchanging a few e-mails (done over the Christmas holidays for which I very much appreciate this Dr. Wilson) he appeared to have a good grasp of my situation and will make a few enquiries for me.  Doctor Wilson was very appreciative of my concerns and supportive of the need for me to have a primary health provider (I use to just call them doctors) however I am sure if I had not of chased this down I would be no further ahead.  With that said I still don’t have a family physician…yet!

So to boil it down…shoulder pain = inability to function very well and dependence on a government support program.  Introduce proper medication = functional contributing member of society.  Different province = different regulations + no available physician = no medication designed to maximize functionality.  No functionality = dependence back on some government program and loss of independence.  Are we seeing a circle here?  All I want to do is live my life as independently as possible while not having my shoulders screaming at the rest of my body all day.  Who knows, maybe I am addicted but the bigger issue is that I am functional.

Just one man’s opinion and happy New Year!

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