A hidden consequence of not having a family doctor in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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A hidden consequence of not having a family doctor in Kamloops

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A Kamloops man has found himself deprived of much-needed prescription medication because he doesn't have access to a family doctor.

Hugh, who is 31 and lives with a mental illness and painful arthritis, said he accidentally dropped his medication down the drain in his bathroom. He's now booked multiple telehealth appointments and visited his pharmacist to try to get an early refill, but he's been met with skepticism and was laughed out of the appointment at least once, he said.

"It's humiliating. I'm honest to the point of being abrasive in my honesty, and I really struggle when people are treating me with blatant disbelief," he said. "I'm not trying to score a bottle of pills."

He managed to pull a few pills out of the pipes with a drain snake. Because they were then contaminated after falling down the sink, he reluctantly emptied the pill capsules and separate the powder into a dose for each day for as long as he could make it last, he said.

Hugh is his middle name, and he asked to remain anonymous because he doesn't want to be deprived of any potential service by future or past doctors by sharing his story publicly.

He lives with ADHD, which was diagnosed late in his life.

"It affects everything in my life," he said.

He could never understand why his lack of focus on certain tasks affected his life so severely, or the feedback loop of obsessive thoughts and shame when he fails at something, until his eventual diagnosis in his late 20s. It's cost him at least one serious relationship and he dropped out of university at 18 because he simply couldn't concentrate on the work before finally getting the right medication.

His own family doctor in Kamloops, who has since retired, was hesitant to diagnose him with ADHD. He finally got the diagnosis in August 2018 from an ADHD clinic in Vancouver and he was later prescribed Ritalin. It didn't work.

"Anytime I'd talk to a doctor about side effects, he'd up my dose. It was blanket no to other medications," he said. "I just spiraled."

He found it difficult to make important payments on time or perform at work and frustrated his partners to such a degree they left him. That was until he finally found the drug he needed. He was prescribed Adderall, which is a highly addictive amphetamine.

"All of a sudden, things in your life are falling into place," he said. "There's a lot of opportunity for people to abuse it, and that's why it's such a complicated problem. That's why having a doctor who knows me is so important."

He's seen multiple doctors through telehealth options like Telus Health and he tried to get an early refill on his pills from his pharmacist, but none of them believed he actually dropped his pills down the drain.

"It sucks for people to look at you like you're an addict, a junkie or like you're manipulating them," he said.

One telehealth doctor laughed when he asked for the early refill asking, "How stupid do you think I am?"

He's had multiple people people suggest he buy pills illegally to get him by, which he's so far refused to do.

He suggested to doctors on his own that he go to the pharmacy once per day to take his 25 milligram dose, similar to an addict taking methadone, but that was turned down.

Although it only amounts to a few weeks without his medication, he struggles with regular tasks without his pill each day. Hugh believes his struggle would be alleviated if only he had a family doctor that knows him, but he's left to rely on the few options Kamloops residents have for their non-urgent needs.

He's one of roughly 41,000 people in the city who don't have a family doctor. Instead, it's a choice between telehealth, the Urgent and Primary Care clinic or the Royal Inland Hospital emergency department.

"(My doctor) left in 2020 and I've been waiting on 8-1-1 ever since," he said. "Getting a doctor is like pulling teeth. It's impossible."


To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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