I’ve been using this drug intermittently but often for ages. More than 20 years, in fact, according to my GP, much to my surprise, and theirs. While my previous GP (Dr J) was at the practice, this was no problem. Whenever I was running out, I submitted a written request for more and picked up a prescription for 28 tablets. Then Dr J retired. Disaster! Now the new GP (Dr M) and the practice as a whole have gone all politically correct and are determined to ‘wean me off it’. My first consultation with Dr M was particularly confrontational and unpleasant. She eventually reluctantly agreed to prescribe 14 tablets per month but actually I’m only being given 7 tablets at a time, and that’s after I’ve begged, pleaded, cajoled and thrown a hissy fit.
This is ridiculous. And insulting. The argument is that temazepam is highly addictive and becomes less effective over time, leading to more and more frequent use and ever higher doses. I believe there may also be an NHS regulation that 7 tablets should be the maximum quantity prescribed at any one time.
It would be interesting to analyse the GP records and see just how many I was using on a regular basis. I reckon I used to get 28 tablets every 3 months or so, and I don’t think that rate increased at all over 20 years. I also tend to only take half a 10mg tablet when needed, very occasionally 1 or 1.5 10mg tablets in extreme circumstances of some kind. I’m clearly not addicted, because I’m not taking temazepam every night. And my frequency and level of use have not increased. So the standard, routine, textbook, bureaucratic arguments that are trotted out simply do not apply to me.
What is it with doctors and the system in this country that makes doctors congenitally unable to consider treatments on an individualised basis? Why are they incapable of thinking for themselves instead of slavishly following rigid guidelines? In particular, why are they unable to treat patients with respect, especially patients who have firsthand direct experience of living with chronic conditions 24/7? We know a good deal more than any general practitioner can about these conditions; we live with them, day and night.
Dr M, for instance, tried to tell me that chronic fatigue is ‘when you fall asleep all the time’. Er, no, it isn’t. And FFS, why would I be sitting here in front of you asking for help with insomnia if I was ‘falling asleep all the time’? Duh! In fact, chronic fatigue often means that you’re too tired to sleep! No amount of telling her that my conditions (antiphospholipid syndrome, Sjögren’s and, especially, hypothyroidism) all cause both insomnia and chronic fatigue cut any mustard with her.
They also don’t take account of the fact that temazepam not only allows me to sleep, it also improves the quality of that sleep, which means that I wake up refreshed as opposed to tired, that I have more energy to get through the day, and fewer aches and pains because my muscles have been relaxed overnight.
And, if they’re so adamant I shouldn’t take temazepam, where are the alternatives? None have been suggested. Nor has anyone shown the slightest interest in investigating why I’m having trouble sleeping. (I think I know why I’m not sleeping, but that’s not the point.)
Even more madly, I managed to persuade a naturopathic doctor to write me a prescription for 6o tablets. I was so desperate I was willing to pay for both a private prescription and to have that prescription dispensed. So I take the prescription to my local pharmacy and ask what the cost will be. The answer came back £27, fine, but they can’t fulfil the prescription because it’s on white letterhead – and should be on a pink form. Whaaaaaaa?!?! What insanity is this?! Bureaucracy gone absolutely bananas. And the ND didn’t have any pink forms and didn’t want to get any for her own private reasons. Amazingly and very fortunately, I think I managed to stumble across a locum pharmacist who wasn’t aware of these idiotic regulations and dispensed the drugs. Result! I’m now set up for months! But Jeez, what a frigging nightmare!