rheumatoid arthritis and I’d rather take a valium


I’m having a lot of anxiety around next week’s surgery. I have an anesthetic phobia. Lots of people have phobias…heights, needles, spiders, birds even.  All common phobias.  Fear of anesthetic is also a common phobia.  Doctors know this.

I’m having anxiety attacks and making very poor decisions. I know, logically, that I am being ridiculous. But it’s a phobia. A real thing. Not at all logical. Very intense, irrational fear. It’s not something I can help or just stop feeling.

I can’t help what I feel. I can learn to manage my feelings and try not to act on them.  But these things take time.  And this is a short term problem.  So I went to the GP to ask for some valium to help me through the next week. I use valium regularly. She refused. She was much more concerned with me being addicted to a drug, than helping me with anxiety and irrational fear.

For me, valium is safe and effective. I’m having a megaflare day, but she mistook my demeanour due to high pain levels as depression. She said valium is very bad for depressed people.  Obviously she wasn’t my usual GP. I couldn’t get in to see him.  I doubt he would have argued.  He knows I’m not addicted. But I didn’t argue with her. If you argue with them they start making all sorts of notes about being argumentative and difficult patient. Clearly an addict getting angry about not being able to get their fix!

So I thanked her for her time, and got my blood pressure taken so that the appointment wasn’t a complete waste of time. (Still too high).  Then she charged me $166. Yes that’s right.  $166!  For lecturing me and helping me not one iota. Nice work if you can get it. I got most of that back as a medicare rebate. But seriously!

My usual GP understands that I’m not in a good place right now. I can’t start a new arthritis medication until I get down to 5mg of prednisone, at least.  And get my blood pressure under control.  My current rheumatologist is at wits end.  So I just have to deal with the pain and get to 5mg.  It’s not fun.

Because I’m walking and talking few people understand that I am in pain.  And no one sees me at night, and in the morning, when I can barely move and I can’t help but cry for the pain.  Before the oxycodone kicks in.  Every night. Every morning.  He knows that the pain levels would be increasing my anxiety. He knows that I don’t have any support at home. He knows that I am infact the only support for my kids, and they have high needs as well.  He knows I’ve taken a lot of hits lately, losing my hearing, needing a wheelchair, needing surgery…he would have understood that even if I were addicted, that’s the least of my problems, and just given me some valium to help me through the next week.  That’s kinda exactly what it’s for.

But this GP said no. She told me to go to my pain management specialist (six week wait…somewhat redundant).  Or come back next week and see my usual GP to talk about ‘other options’.  It’s a long weekend. That’s 4 days to get through.  *sigh*.

Fear of addiction is reaching crazy proportions. I don’t display any signs of addiction. I use valium regularly, but ad hoc. It helps with back spasms. It helps with PMS anxiety and mood swings. It helps with sleep. My use is not increasing. I am not asking for it for no reason. I ask for it when I need it. I don’t take it daily. I haven’t had any for a week, and I don’t feel any withdrawals.  I am not craving the drug. I just know that it takes the edge off anxiety very well, so I’d like some please.

Phobias and anxiety are real. I’d love to not have them. But right now, I do. I’m very grateful that I don’t suffer these things very often, and I have great empathy for those that live with these feelings daily. But anti-anxiety meds like lexapro or aropax and even cymbalta aren’t appropriate treatments for short term anxiety. Valium is. But doctors are too afraid to prescribe it. I know my oxycodone is next. If they stop prescribing that, it’s going to be a very long seven months while I get off prednisone.

Today is a high pain day, but I still have to function. I still had to go to the hospital, where they recognised my pain and were very helpful.  I still have to go to my neurosurgeon in half an hour. I have timed my oxycodone to peak for 2:00pm, when I need to make the 25 minute drive to his rooms. I’ll manage, because I have been using these drugs appropriately for many years, and I know exactly how they affect me. I know how long they take to take effect, I know what those effects are, and I know how long those effects will last. And I don’t take them for fun. I take them for pain.

But I will not have any valium tonight to help me sleep and to calm the churning stomach, and quell the rising, baseless fear that peaks with me becoming a sobbing mess, and asking the wrong person for a hug. Anxiety is real, and it sux.

So I’ll meditate and visualise and use relaxation techniques. I’ll play calming sounds – rainy forest sounds, waves crashing, rumbling thunder.  I’ll take a bath and listen to music.  I’ll breathe. Fine.  All of that works to an extent.

But you know what would work better?  Valium.


  1. I don’t know valium gives me a serious headache, then I want more valium which gives me a headache, which.. well you know.

    I do really like seeing my regular doctors I hate explaining these things to my fill in doctors.

    • LOL Rick. Valium is clearly not your friend.

      And you’re right, I shouldn’t have bothered when I couldn’t get an appointment with my regular GP. Silly me thinking that a doctor might look at my individual case rather than making gross generalisations.

      • Hello Arthriticchick.
        I’ve been reading your blog and I too have RA. I’m just wondering how you are feeling and have they taken your meds away from you yet? I’m so worried they are going to take mine away and then I will be a complete cripple.

        • Hi Christine, funny you should ask. I have to make an appointment this week to see my GP to discuss how to wean me off my pain meds. It makes me so angry! I have achieved quite a bit this weekend, thanks to 12mg of prednisone, and about 60mg of oxycodone. I’m still in a lot of pain at night and in the mornings, but during the day the oxycodone dulls the knives to aches and allows me to get a few things done, albeit with rest breaks and pacing. Now my doctors all think I’d be better off without the oxycodone which will condemn me to a life on bed or on the couch. There is NO logic to this. I am so angry and upset – they are going to take the 3 or 4 productive hours away from me. Because THEY think addiction is the Worst Thing Ever. THEY think. Even if addiction were a problem for me, surely this should be MY decision??? Sorry, off on a rant. Where are you located Christine? Are you in Australia as well? I’m sorry you’re facing the same things. Ignorant doctors. I feel like I have to fight this, or lose any semblance of a life. I don’t know how yet, but I do believe we can do more together! Have your doctors told you they are going to take your meds away?

  2. Hi everyone. I’m a newbie to this site and looking for somewhere to vent my anger with people who understand. I live in the UK and it sounds like the RA thing is the same worldwide. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with RA yet. I’ve had the labels of fibro, osteo, ehlers danlos and hypochondria. Do you know why? Yup, my hands look ok!! That old chestnut. I’ve sat in my doctors surgery sobbing and asking for her help only to be told that she’s given me painkillers (paracetamol and codeine) so what else did I expect her to do!!! She then suggested that I pulled myself together and went out for a nice long walk because it always helped her when she felt a bit achy!! A bit bl00dy achy, at the time I couldn’t feed myself or take my self to the bathroom. Anyhow, like all of you guys, I carried on. The flare passed, and returned and passed, again and again. On a less bad day my pain is in my neck, both shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, ankles and feet. That slow relentless ache that never leaves and makes it impossible to wash my hair or peel vegetables or lift anything really. Stairs are also pretty nigh impossible. On a bad day the chorus line join in: Hips, knees and lower back. Then that slow insidious ache is turned all the way up to 11 on the dial and the ba$tard with the ice pick keeps time on my joints. It doesn’t seem believable to anyone without these problems that the pain in your big toes can reduce a grown mother of 2 grown up mothers to the sort of mess that not even childbirth did. That’s where I am this week and why I’m reading and responding to the comments on this site. I gave up today and phoned the GP surgery in tears, begging for some relief. I explained that the only things that have helped this situation before were prednisone and valium. Like you I’m not addicted to diazepam, I can stop and start the drug regime, only taking it when I need it. I got the whole lecture of dependency, side effects and not suitable for long term use. My response? Unless you help me get through this immediate need there wont be any long term. I CANNOT STAND THIS ANYMORE. He must have heard the desperation in my voice as he prescribed a weeks supply of both. So, for now, there is hope… But what about the next time, and the many more next times that there will surely be when I am denied the only medication that has, so far, been effective. How much blood do these medical practitioners need to get on their hands when people like us really do run out of hope and have taken the last flare that they they can deal with? When will they understand that the ‘risk’ of addiction is a price worth paying for the benefit that these drugs bring. Odd really that we should have to have these discussions when you consider the side effects and addictive properties of those medications that they will happily prescribe. Sorry for the long rant. Its been a bad few weeks. May your god(s) be with you x


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