Protection For Chronic Pain Patients
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I am a chronic pain patient who has relied upon opioid pain medication for over a decade to provide a quality of life that I would not have without them. Not long ago, I posted about my serious concerns over this “war on opioids” that we have all seen in the news for the past year. My concern is for the countless numbers of chronic pain patients like myself whose meds might be denied them because of this push to get opioids out of the hands of those who find ways to abuse them, as well as street drugs.
Well, my fears have been realized. After many years of being on a time-release opioid that has helped me tremendously, I was denied my medication when I tried to fill it two weeks ago. I was also denied the short acting pain medicine which I keep on hand for breakthrough pain.
I have seen a pain management doctor for the past 15 years after sustaining injuries to my spine from a hit and run car accident in 2001 and a series of five spinal fusions on my back and neck, one of which was horribly botched and caused irreparable damage to my sciatic nerve and another which caused damage to my lateral cutaneous femoral nerve. I have also had brain surgery and a shoulder surgery in addition to these spine surgeries and all of them occurred within 11 years time.
My pain management doctor is amazing and uses many different treatments to help me. Opioids are just one of them. He randomly drug tests all of his patients and makes them adhere to strict compliance standards. He constantly has to fight insurance companies to help his patients, but this time, I am afraid we have reached a place where doctors are going to be overridden by insurance companies whose real motivation in denying patients their pain medications is a financial one.
I was not given the opportunity to taper off of my medications which could cause cardiac arrest and death in patients like me. I have been suffering through horrific pain for weeks and it feels like no one cares. As long as opioids are denied to everyone, eventually the addicts will stop using drugs right? WRONG! Just as prohibition didn’t stop people from making their own alcohol and banning guns in places like Chicago doesn’t stop gun violence, banning pain medication will not stop drug addicts from simply getting drugs off of the street dealers who are all too happy to provide them. This is unjust and cruel to patients like me whose lives will become unbearable when they have no way to treat their chronic pain. Please don’t send suggestions about alternative treatments because although I know that people mean well, most people like me have tried EVERYTHING possible to treat their pain. I am into alternative therapies and use so many of them that it would take an hour to list them all.
I lost my son to suicide. I spend my life fighting against this horrific epidemic and don’t want another life lost to suicide. One of my biggest concerns is for those chronic pain patients whose pain is so severe that they will see no answer besides ending their lives to end their pain. THIS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN!!!
Lastly, if there is an overdose epidemic now..... just wait until a huge number of chronic pain patients have their medications cut off (without any titration off of those meds) and are left with nothing but abysmal choices. We are going to see a drug epidemic like we have never seen in this country. Instead of opioids that are obtained legally from pharmacies, many will have no choice but to purchase the medication they need from the street dealers who easily obtain these drugs from Mexico and other places. No oversight, no quality control, no regulation. Many people will die. This is nothing short of a typical American knee-jerk reaction and common sense and compassion have been omitted in the push for an answer. The vast majority of these overdoses are from heroine and fentanyl which are STREET DRUGS.
I pray for everyone whose day to day life is defined by unrelenting chronic pain. Many are in so much pain that they can’t even function. I pray I don’t find myself in that situation. The last two weeks have been increasingly difficult. Very few people know that I live with chronic pain because I don’t like for people to see me as anything but resilient and strong... but those who live with me or are a part of my inner circle, know all too well what I am going through. I just wanted to share this because people like me need to have a voice in this discussion too.
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