Please Help, Your Comments Are Needed


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Andrew Kolodny, the Executive Director of PROP (physicians for responsible opioid prescribing) has filed a peitition on behalf of PROP, to the FDA.  He/they want to limit the amount of milligrams in certain herigher milligram opioid tablets.  Kolody/PROP continue to make very wrong, bad and unproven claims, in my opinion and in the opinion of many other health advocates, pain physicians, general physicians, pharmacisits and chronic pain patients. They are trying to get these higher doses banned altogether, which could make the chronic pain patients lives even more difficult and their ability to get prescriptions filled an even more arduous task.

The American Academy of Pain Medicine has written their comments regarding and opposing the afore mentioned petition by Kolodny and PROP. If you aren’t convinced that what’s happening to chronic pain patients is totally wrong and cruel, then please read the full comments written by this AAPM and the comments of all the other patients, physicians and more; already posted for the public to see. Here are a few of the points that the AAPM makes:

  1.  They state that there are false and misleading statements in this petition. That the writers of it have stated that the “CDC’s consensus was that increasing dosages to 50 or more MM#/day increases overdose risk without necessarily adding benefits for pain conrol or function”…..THE CDC made no such conclusion whatsoever. They just said that there wasn’t enough evidence base for the benefits of long term use.  The CDC guidelines were supposed to be for chronic opioid use in primary care settings and do not discuss at all, the use of opioid therapy in the pain management physicians setting.
  2. The AAPM shows us how Kolodny and his minions lied, just outright lied when they said the AAPM had explicitly endorsed the “notion that opioids should be prescribed without an upper limit”.  They never said that, it is a false statement.
  3.   They say Kolodny and co. seek the removal of “ultra-high doasage unit” opioid formulations.  But there is no definition of this at all and it is, according to the AAPM, just a “creation by the authors”. They also say how Kolodny & PROP limits their request and exludes the transdermal medicaions, and this demonstrates the “idosyncratic nature of their concept”.
  4. They prove how Kolodny and PROP literally lie about how children die from these higher doses but actually AAPM says children can die of respiratory distress even at the lower dosages.  They say that these guys are assuming that children are less likely to ingest several lower dose pills instead of a single higher dose pill and that is just a guess.
  5. The American Academy of Pain Management understands that there should be provider and patient education regarding opioid therapy.  There should also be interdisciplinary care for chronic pain patients.  But they also agree that there are times when Opioid therapy is indicated and there can and should be safety measures in place for inadvertent exposures. Things such as Naloxone can be used but not just arbitrary dose manipulations.

There’s more, but I think you get the idea.  The AAPM even states in their comments, that Kolodny & crew have set some dangerous ideas with their “cavalier assumption” that when higher dosages of opioids are required in some patients, that Kolodny thinks that reducing or taking the opioids away from these patients would be “unlikely to result in a significant inconvenience or hardship.” The AAPM says “this could not be farther from the truth”.  In Summary, the American Academy of Pain Management states that Kolodny’s and PROP’s petition, “if implemented, would cause great harm to our nation’s health.”

Please read the petition at the following link:  https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2017-P-5396-0001

Please, I am asking everyone who sees this blog post, to pass it on to another person. Then to each person, I therefore ask you to please write your comments in right now. All comments must be in place before February 2018; when comments will close.  But I warn you that if you don’t do it now, today; you may forget and miss a chance to get your comments written and read.

Below are my comments posted October 18, 2017:

Suzanne Stewart wrote:

It is wrong to do this as we are not a “one size fits all” society. Everyone is different and has different needs  I have many allergic reactions to other medications. I have long QT syndrome and so I am unable to take many many medications. Legacy patients should especially be exempt from this craziness.  Also exempt should be anyone for whom a licensed pain Management physician  feels should be exempt! Pain Dr’s went to school  for many years, a very long time, and they specifically learned about pain and how to treat it.  This man, Andrew Kolodny is not a pain Dr. and he did not go to school to learn anything about pain or how to treat it.  He should in no way be directing what is to be done with the chronic pain community.  The pain community is falling through the cracks in this “opioid crisis”.  This crisis is that pain patients are dying daily and committing suicide because of our lack of access to opioid pain medications.  The Cochrane report of 2010, states that “only 1% or one half of 1% of chronic pain patients ever become addicted!”  This man, A. Kolodny is also trying to state that cancer pain is different than non cancer pain. That cancer deserves pain alleviation but chronic pain does not.   But the FDA said that “theres no scientific evidence to this” and they disagreed with him!  So please realize that he is not doing this for any good or helpful reasons. He is not a “good Samaritan” looking out for all of mankind. He has his own best interests at heart and his own treatment centers to make money for him through this crisis for chronic pain patients.  Sometimes the oral transmucosal opiates or the higher dosage of opioids might be somethng that a legitimate schooled pain physician feels is the best for his/her patient(s).  I don’t think there are any pain management Doctors that would give those out lightly.  There would be a reason and they know the reasons why they would be using these medications or analgesics.  If a legal legitimate pain management Dr. feels this medication is appropriate, then allow him or her to be the Doctor! The Government of the United States of America needs to stay out of the Doctors office and out of the patients rooms and records!

The link to go to for making a comment is below. Please, I am begging each and every one of you to go to this link and make a comment against this petition by Andrew Kolodny and the PROP physicians.  All comments are Due by February 18, 2018.

LINK:

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2017-P-5396-0001

Thank you so much!

Suzanne Stewart,

Patient Health advocate, RSD/RPS patient mentor, US Pain Ambassador, WEGO patient Leader and member of ATIP (Alliance for Treatment of Intractable Pain)

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Introduction To: Inside Incurable Lives


We see so much in print these days about the “addicted”, the “overdoses”, the “bad guys” that are posting incorrect information all over the internet and about the opioid crisis.  Of course it seems as though only those of us living with daily chronic pain, truly understand that the “crisis” is indeed one of the pain patients “falling through the cracks”. Being-untreated or under treated and then committing suicide or having to spend the rest of their lives in agony.  This is the true “Opioid Crisis”.  But then I saw a short clip of a very well spoken, kind young woman named Victoria Suan.  She was asking for volunteers to help with an upcoming video compilation called “Inside Incurable Lives”, that she was doing for Social media.  She was going to follow a few stories of persons living with daily chronic pain and show how it affects their lives. I responded to her request and sent in some video clips; as did several other chronic pain patients. The first Social media video compilation called “Inside Incurable Lives, Episode 1”,  came out in September 2017.  In the second video compilation, Victoria was asking if chronic pain patients would be able to tell her “What one pain medication, would they not be able to live without?” Secondly, “If your Dr. Could no longer provide this, what would you do?”  The second video compilation project, “Inside Incurable Lives Episode 2”, focused on the voices of pain patients and their views regarding access or lack of access to opioid pain medications as well as medical marijuana. Episode  2  finished and posted in October. I was happy to be able to participate in both of these projects. I’m trying to help with this crisis in any way that I can. Later, I will be providing the links to these 2 video compilations for Social media. But first, I want you to introduce you to Victoria Suan, and her feature Documentary “Becoming Incurable”.

Victoria lives in California and since High school, she was interested in becoming a filmmaker. She graduated from Sacramento State with a Communications degree. She started creating short documentaries during college and then afterwards she decided that she wanted to make a feature documentary. She started researching blogs and video’s on YouTube. From there she discovered the chronic illness community. Victoria found through her research, what she describes as “a wonderful support network of people who are giving one another validation as they deal with the frustrations of chronic pain.”  She told me that she was thrilled by what she saw, and inspired. She decided to create a feature documentary about “chronic illness through intimate stories of real people living with chronic pain”. Starting out with her cousin who lives with Dystonia and a friend with another incurable condition, she then found her third featured person for the documentary. She describes the 8 or 9 months of filming as a “wonderful journey”.

The two video compilations on social media, that I participated in, were an extension of her feature documentary. Victoria then made a Facebook page and it became a platform for the chronic illness and pain communities.  She has become a “voice” for those of us who live with pain & chronic illnesses and she is showing our side of this painful journey.   She also wants to do whatever she can so people learn about her feature documentary. 

Before we get to the two video compilations in which the chronic pain communitiy on Facebook participated; I’d like to share some of Victoria Suan’s views about the opioid crisis.  I feel that it is very important to listen to the views of others who are neither patient, politician nor physician. Now that she has become close to several of us from the shorter video’s; I asked what her thoughts and feelings are, regarding what is happening to the chronic pain community? Her response was very heartfelt and thoughtful. Victoria told me that regarding the opioid crisis, she “really feels for the families and individuals that are dealing with addiction. Sadly, there aren’t enough ways to treat addiction without affecting the millions of chronic pain patients in our society.”  She told me that she’d read that Governor Chris Christie blames hospitals and physicians for starting this opioid epidemic. She wondered “how would a person dealing with chronic pain feel about this? How ignored and betrayed they must feel.  Is it wrong to eliminate a torturous level of pain by taking medication as prescribed by Dr.s?”  My own feelings are that politicians seem to not really care as long as it doesn’t touch them or their own families.  Victoria agrees that they just don’t want to listen to this. She feels that as chronic pain patients, we should not have to fight so hard just to be heard, really listened to.  But we are trying to fight because our very lives depend on it.

Victoria feels that it is “sad that one governors personal opinion can do more to influence legislation than the voices of millions of chronic pain patients.” She is happy that there are News outlets such as this and others, along with non profit organizations, such as the U.S. Pain Foundation; that are educating the public about chronic pain.  Victoria thinks that the film industry; especially a film called “Unrest” that is touring worldwide; and her documentary, “Becoming Incurable”, show that efforts are being made to educate and inform the general public about chronic pain.

Lastly, I wondered what she has learned from doing the 2 video compilations and the documentary film. She mentioned that she hadn’t realized before doing this, how difficult it is for people living with chronic pain to “do normal tasks, such as getting out of bed and/or going to the grocery store”.  I think that it taught her and hopefully will teach others about “Invisible Illnesses”.  She says that actually seeing these people in their pain, made her “truly acknowledge what life is like with chronic pain and illness”.  She feels that these projects taught her that each person has their own unique story to tell. She has figured out through these projects, that we are united in our pain yet each of our situations vary widely. I want to share with you in Victoria’s words, what she wants people to learn from watching “Becoming Incurable”. She hopes that people “will see these video compilations showcasing pain patients and stand with organizations that are fighting for the chronic illness community.  If our government continues on this path of neglect, I’m certain that chronic pain patients will be forced to fight a human rights issue.  I think this has already begun, as we are learning the numbers of chronic illness patients committing suicide.  It is important that we speak and act now in order to invalidate a campaign that deems anyone taking opioid medication as a suspect of the addiction problem.

Here are the links to the 2 video compilations of “Inside Incurable Lives” by film producer, Victoria Suan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjrJnriz6y8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CuFEgnz8yA

Help Spread Awareness of RSD/CRPS This November 2017


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    Imagine that one moment you are walking around, sipping lemonade at a Summer arts festival and the next you are admitted into a hospital after a man ran through a red light.  You awaken after a catastrophic motor vehicle accident feeling incoherent and in a lot of pain.  That was what happened to me in 2002.  I endured 3 years of brain injury rehabilitation, 8 years of Physical therapy, speech therapy and 8 surgeries. But this story is not about those days, it is about later getting diagnosed with RSD/CRPS.

     I went in for surgery on my right foot, in April of  2007.  Six weeks later I had my post-op check up. I knew something was wrong, before I arrived at my appointment.  I was in more pain and it felt as though my foot was “on fire” and had “exploded” on the inside.  I was told by the surgeon that day, that I “had a little RSD” and I was given Lyrica.  I could not take the Lyrica, as it made me very ill.  After researching “RSD” online, what I read sounded horrific!  I decided to get a second opinion. After visiting an Orthopedic foot/ankle specialist, I was told that I had “Classic RSD” and he sent me to a Pain Management clinic.  I did not go because I’d recently been through all of the “hoops” of the pain clinic, following the car accident.  I wasn’t a candidate for a pain pump or a spinal cord stimulator and so I was sent back to my primary care physician.  The pain Dr. had told me that “they are looked at under a microscope by the government”, therefore I had to have my primary Dr. do the prescribing.  I ended up getting medications to try and help with the pain.  I tried to finish up the PT but any touching of that foot was unbearable.

     I was getting by, just trying to live day to day. Then in 2013, what was supposed to be a pacemaker replacement surgery turned into a total pectoral muscle rebuild and more. I was diagnosed with “severe systemic/full-body CRPS. I am very lucky to have a Neuro-Cardiologist who’s done research on RSD/CRPS. He tried to head off the full blown systemic CRPS by taking several precautions. Unfortunately, it did not work for me.  Now I’ve explained how I got the CRPS but I’ve not told you about the depth of pain people endure when living with this Neuro- Inflammatory Autoimmune illness that is #43 on the McGill Pain scale.  The copyrighted flame CRPS awareness ribbon is a perfect example of what it feels like. Personally, it is as though the entire left side of my body, inside and out; is on fire.  It feels like a deep burning fire within and yet I feel and icy coldness as well. My knees, feet, hands and chest feel as though they might explode at any given time. This is only one of 8 or 9 high pain chronic illnesses that I live with. I think it is the illness with the worst kind of pain.

     November is the month dedicated to Awareness of RSD/CRPS, also known as “Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy” and “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome”. Health advocates and patients join with non profits, such as RSDSA (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association); and we spread awareness. This is a complex and somewhat rare high pain illness. It is classified as a rare disorder by NORD (National Organization of Rare Disorders) and the FDA, but about 200,000 people are diagnosed annually.  According to the RSDSA website, “CRPS occurs when the nervous system and the immune system malfunction as they respond to tissue damage from trauma. The nerves misfire, sending constant pain signals to the brain.”  Usually it follows a surgery, a period of immobilization after a musculoskeletal trauma or some kind of injury to the nerves.  It steals the very life out of so many people who are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with it. Early diagnosis is the key to some instances of remission. Sometimes it takes years to even get a true diagnosis, due to the fact that many physicians don’t even know anything about it.  But there are some people who can help.  RSDSA  is a 501(c)3 non profit organization based in Connecticut and was founded in 1984.  I’ve come to know and love, the Vice President/director, Jim Broatch, MSW.  Annually, during the month of November, we have quite a campaign going. RSDSA is always there to “provide support, education and hope to all affected by the pain and disability of RSD/CRPS”. They are always striving to do more research and develop better treatments.

     Some of the events that I have going for this month, include a campaign that I call “#wearthemsharethem for RSD/CRPS”. You see, when the former RSDHope.org closed their doors in June 2016; there were many treasures “gifted” to me by my “adopted” family, the Orsini’s. I was given a number of temporary tattoos with the copyrighted CRPS flame awareness ribbon on them. I have put those to good use 2 years in a row, now. I ask people to just send in a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). I return their envelope with several of the temporary tattoos inside.  I only ask for them to send me a photo of themselves or someone they love, wearing one of the tattoo’s, so I can post it to my Website  “RASEforCRPS” (R.A.S.E. represents: Research, Awareness, Support & Educate). I use the hashtag #wearthemsharethem and we post to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, in order to raise awareness. Also I have gotten a proclamation from the Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder every year since 2013. The proclamation declares that in the state of Michigan, we recognize November as the month dedicated to the Awareness and support of RSD/CRPS. Then there are 3 fundraisers that I have going on this month:  a Facebook fundraiser lasting all month, a LuLaRoe Album sale on Thursday, November 16th through Friday, November 17th for 24 hours, and a Pizzeria fundraiser and Awareness event on Thursday, November 30th from 5:00pm until 8:30pm. One more activity for Awareness and education that I did last year and am doing again this year is the “#30factsfor30days of November”.  I post a daily fact about RSD/CRPS on each social media site.  All facts are taken from the RSDSA website, with their permission of course. 

     Aside from what I am doing, which also includes writing, posting, blogging and sharing; RSDSA has many events taking place during the month of November also.  They have an “event Calendar” on the website, but just to name a few:  there is the 4th annual Central New Jersey RSD/CRPS Walk for Hope, Saturday, November 4, 2017, the 5th annual Fight the Flame 5K, in Charlotte, NC, on Sunday, November 5th, 2017, the Fight the Flame 5k, Mentor, Ohio, Sunday, November 5, 2017, CRPS Meet-up and Scavenger hunt by CRPS Forum, Los Angeles, CA Monday, November 6, 2017, Charity Ride for CRPS, New York City, Saturday, November 11, 2017, and Color the World Orange, World Wide, Monday, November 6, 2017.

   Please help us share this information and raise awareness and support for this painful illness. The RSD/CRPS community truly comes together at all times, but mostly during this special month.  We are not ones to sit in the side lines. This community comes together and creates a beautiful month of togetherness, awareness, support and raising money for the much needed research.  The monies raised, also helps RSDSA provide patient assistance.  One of the funds that helps RSDSA assist CRPS patients is the “Maria Lane Fund” and another is the Brad Jenkins memorial Fund.  You can find out about these assistance programs at the RSDSA website as well. There is also an RSDSA informational YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/RSDSAofAmerica. The other part of RSDSA’s mission, is to fund research. They have funded more than $3 million dollars in pilot studies and pain fellowships.

     Lastly, I want to personally thank Jim Broatch and RSDSA for the letter that they sent out on October 9, 2017.  I was touched and I stand along side of many other RSD/CRPS patients/advocates. This letter that was emailed to it’s members, states that they “Oppose Cigna’s decision to Not Cover the cost of OxyContin in 2018” and they wrote also “We will continue to stand with our community during the War on “People in Pain”. Thank you to all who are doing their part to spread awareness and try to educate the medical professionals and the public regarding this illness.

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We Are Not A “One Size Fits All” Society


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I’ve had a few interviews recently, with people who want to know about “my story” mostly. But I’m finding out more and more that so many in mainstreamed society do not understand chronic illnesses or pain whatsoever.  There are 100 million people living in the USA, who live with daily chronic pain. We truly need to “talk about” this.  I’ve even been speaking with legislators to try and get some of these House Bills to NOT be permanent law. The people who are sitting on these committees do not understand anything about chronic pain, yet these are the persons making the medical decisions for us instead of our physicians. Most or many chronic pain patients visit their pain management physicians, now monthly. The pain doctors are the ones who went to school for many many years to learn about how to treat people who live with real pain on a daily basis. Why are these Bills being turned into laws without the consent of a pain Dr.? Why were there no pain management physicians sitting in on the meetings when the CDC guidelines were being discussed?

The CDC guidelines that were put into place in 2016, were done behind “closed doors” and in “secret”; without any pain management physicians there to guide them at all. No, there was only PROP (physicians for responsible opioid prescribing), including their guy, Andrew Kolodny; who is a Psychiatrist.  He is an addiction specialist, not a Physician trained in the treatment of chronic pain. Why would the CDC set guidelines like these and allow them to be done like this in secret, by a person who is not even trained in the management of pain? Next, these guidelines are supposed to be just that, “guidelines”.  Somehow they have become the “law” without actually going through the right chain of events to become a “law”.  Physicians, pharmacies and others are now adhering to these “guidelines” that were meant for general physicians, not even for Pain physicians.  But some pain management Dr.’s have seen their colleagues have their livliehoods taken away by the DEA now, and they are fearful.  They fear losing their practice and everything that they went to school all of those years  to do.

These CDC guidelines are not the law but Dr.’s are being “bullied” into making them the law in their own practices.  They have famlies and a life outside of pain management. They don’t want to lose everything and I undertand that.  But someone has to stand up for what is good, lawful and right!  We need to remind our physicians that these are just guidelines and not anything that legally must be done right now.  The guidelines, after all, were also supposed to be about stopping the overprescribing of opioids right after an injury or a surgery.  They weren’t meant to take the very lives away from the chronic pain patients; yet that is what’s happening.  People are dying and suicides are rising even though in the last several years, the prescribing for opioids has actually gone down.  Did you know that legacy chronic pain patients, those who were already on an opioid pain medication plan that was working for them, before the  2016 guidelines came into effect; are supposed to be exempt from them? But that’s not what is happening in many cities and states.

Today, in 2017, in our United States of America; people are being tortured. Yes, it is true.  Our service men, the Vets who came back from combat, after fighting for their country, return home to live with terrible and painful wounds.  They were the first to be denied pain medications and now everyone else is following. How can a country let those who lost a limb or more, fighting for them; just live with pain and not try to ease that pain?  If you read the CDC guidelines in the link that I’ve provided above (in the second paragraph), you will be able to read that the guidelines spell out these words “reduce opioids UNLESS THERE IS HARM BY DOING SO”.  So many in our country are now being harmed by these guidelines that are being abused and played out as “law”. Do you know that the elderly in nursing homes are now being denied opioids and left to live out their days in agony and chronic pain at various advanced ages? This is called “torture” and “abuse” and it’s just wrong! Just as it is wrong to make everyone be at the same dosage of opioid pain medication.  We are not  “one size fits all” human beings. Just as 90MME or less, will not work the same for everyone. We all metabolizes differently.  Some physicians & legislators are listening again, to the non-pain management Dr.’s, who think that 90 MME is the highest amount that every single person should be allowed to take, no matter the circumstances.  This is truly torture for patients who are in need of more than that amount.  There are patients who must take more than that in order to have some semblance of a life outside of their bed. They are not groggy or high.  They are just trying to get by and live their lives the best way that they possible. To the surprise of the journalists and legislators that I’ve spoken with, the chronic pain community that I know and love, doesn’t want more opioids for pain relief.  They want only what is needed to get by;  to live some kind of life with lessened pain.  I was asked “If I could have more opioid pain medication, would I want more?” I responded vehemently, “Absolutely not!” If I did not need to take the medications that give me some pain relief, then I would not take them.  I don’t want more and more pain medications.  I only want the amount that is necessary for me to have some kind of life outside of my bed.

Of course, I understand that opioids normally are not the very first course of action for a chronic pain patient.  We have to go through the rigorous pain clinic “steps”.  There are the trigger point injections, different kinds of Nerve blocks, biofeedback and occasional trip to see their pain Psychologist. Once found to “not have an addictive personality” they will try different medications.  There are persons who have tried many non-opioid pain medications and either they got deathly ill from them, were allergic or they didn’t work. The next step is usually invasive and expensive surgery to either get an intrathecal pain pump or a spinal cord stimulator. People have varying views regarding these surgeries and the outcomes. I don’t think anyone should be forced to have an invasive surgery.  One in which a catheter or electrodes are stuck into the patients spine.  The patient is then given a remote control device that controls the amount of stimulation they receive for pain relief (if it works). Otherwise the pain patient has pain medication filled into a “hockey puck” -like device (pump) placed inside of the abdomen area.  They visit their pain Dr. monthly to get this pump filled. The intrathecal pain pump, I was told, is equal to about 1/300 of the amount of oral pain medication. It is dripped slowly into the spinal cord to help with pain. Dangerous granulomas can form and there may be other complications. I must also mention that afterwards, you are then “married” to that specific pain Dr. for the rest of eternity (for the most part).  I also must add that most everyone who has these invasive surgeries, still need oral opioid pain medication for “breakthrough pain”.

There are persons who aren’t candidates for one reason or another and they are not able to get a Spinal cord Stimulator or an Intrathecal Pain Pump.  After trying many non-opioid medications and not being a candidate for either of these surgeries; there are not a lot of other options.  But I want the decision to be between my Pain Dr. and me, alone.  I don’t want the government in my patient room, uneducated in pain management but trying to make all of the decisions.  I honestly believe that me and my pain management physician, who went to school for approximately 13 years, or more, to specialize in taking care of people who live with pain; should be the ones to decide whats best for me. In my opinion, no one should ever be forced to have invasive surgeries; if there is a pill available that has little or no side effects, when taken responsibly.  All medications should be taken responsibly because a person can overdose on insulin, heart medication or anti-depressants. It’s not just opioids that are harmful if too much is taken. Lastly, I was asked if I am “pro-opioids”.  My answer is “No, I am pro-patients”.

 

Invisible Disabilities Week 10-15 Through 10-21-2017, You Are “Invisible No More”


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Several years ago I was approached by a YouTube channel called “Invisible No More TV”. They had seen some of my advocacy videos for patients, chronic pain, RSD/CRPS and “invisible disabilities/illnesses”.  They asked me if I would like to be featured on their channel in a short video describing “invisible disabilities” and being “invisible no more’.  I agreed and I’ve been featured on that channel ever since 2012.  I later found out that this YouTube channel is a part of a much bigger organization called the “Invisible Disabilities Association”.  The reason that I’m telling you this today is because this week is “Invisible Disabilities Awareness week”.  I’ve always been a team player for IDA and have always supported them and they have always supported me, since we met in 2012.

First of all, let me explain that an “invisible disability”, according to the IDA website, which you can find by visiting: Invisibledisabili.org, is “a physical, mental or neurological condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities that is invisible to the onlooker.  Unfortunatley the very fact that these symptoms are invisible, can lead to misunderstandings, false perceptions and judgements.”  The Invisible Disabilities organization works tirelessly throughout the year to bring awareness to illnesses, diseases and disabilities that often times seem to go unnoticed.  One week during the year, the third week of October is the time to share your journey with invisible disabilities.  This year, that week is October 15th through the 21st, is “Invisible Disabilities awareness week”.  During this wek, we will be posing many interactive posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  These are where you can share your personal stories, advocacy, favorite people, places, pets and anything else like this that you wish to share. This is YOUR week to meet new friends, post a video or share  stories with others.  The reason for this is that we want to show you that you are “INVISIBLE NO MORE” and just because people say “but you look good”; doesn’t mean that nothing is wrong on the inside.

This is how this week will play out:  On Monday we want you to “share your story”.  You can post as much or as little as you wish. You can post a photo collage with a story underneath, or you can make a *short and sweet video (about 2 minutes is best). Please note that you can post your story throughout the week, but Monday is the starting date for this activity.  On Tuesday we will be sharing stories of why invisible disabilities awareness is important in your life. You can make a video or a photo collage about your life and the millions of others who live with illness and pain that goes unseen sometimes. If you have the Invisible Disabilites glow-in-dark wristband, t-shirt or lapel pin; please wear it (you can buy them at the IDA website at:  www.InvisibleDisabilities.org).  If you have none or some of these, you can just choose a blue hat, scarf and/or a blue shirt. Invisible Disabilities Association wants to “turn the internet blue for millions living with Invisible Disabilities.  IDA is on  Instagram at: http://www.Instagram.com/invisibledisabilities, on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/InvDisabilities and on Facebook at:  www.Facebook.com/InvisibleDisabilities. You can use the tag #InvisibleDisabilitiesWeek.

Just to give you a little bit of background about I.D.A.; they were founded in 1996. Their mission is to “encourage, educate and connect people and organizations touched by illness, pain and disability around the globe”.  They believe that “together we can make a difference in our communities and around the world.”

But now I just want to tell you a little bit about my friend Sherri Connell was an actress, dancer and loved to dance and sing. When she was 27 years old she lost the ability to take care of herself. She was diagnosed with progressive Multiple Sclerosis and she was in a wheelchair paralyzed.  At first friends and family were understanding and supportive.  She has been able to regain some use of her legs with a lot of work and effort. She still finds it difficult to stand and walk around.  But because suddenly the other people in her life could no longer “see” how the MS was disabling, they stopped being as understanding. It was not the wheelchair that kept her from her career, but the disabling fatigue, cognitive dysfunctions, horrible pain and dizziness too.  She could not care for her own daily needs.

Sherri’s husband Wayne, decided to try and tell people; help to educate their friends and family about her disabilities and illness.  He published a few writings from her daily journals onto a website. They thought long and hard and then decided on the name “Invisible Disabilities Association”.  Sherri quickly found out that she was not the only one, because she received numerous emails from people all over the world.  These people reiterated that they too, had felt alone and felt like nobody understood what they were going through because sometimes it was or is “invisible”. Then it became Wayne and Sherri’s passion to help others with disabling conditions by first believing them, and then by being compassionate, supportive and hopeful.

So then, in 1996, Wayne founded the Invisible Disabilities Association (a 501(c)3); with a mision to “Encourage, Educate and Connect People, Organizations Touched by Illness, Pain and Disability Around the  Globe”!  If you have any questions, you can reach out to Sherri Mitchell Connell or Wayne Connell on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also find them through the IDA website listed above.  Let’s all have a great week of spreading the awareness of Invisible Disabilities, Invisible Pain and Illnesses that go unnoticed to others at times, but never to those of us who live with it on a daily basis.

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A Body Of Hope



Hello Luvs,

I was reading my news feed today, feeling very much alone in my pain. I have a wonderful husband who does so much and he’s my soul-mate. I have two lovely daughters and 3 granddaughters, ages 1,3 & almost 5!

We had the 2 older ones sleep over last night. So far we have only had the eldest spend the night. That was easy and awesome. I love them all the same! They are my little blessings. But now I’m in so much pain, that I read the following post with tears in my Eyes. I feel like I’m swimming against the current bcz I try so hard to be upbeat and as “good as I can be”! Today’s been really tough and I’m hard on myself ! This writing is beautiful and the writer is not only a long time friend & Facebook friend; but she’s a talented writer. I have reposted her writing here, to share with you her beautiful words. She has a blog called “A Body Of Hope”. I hope you’ll check it out! Without further hesitation, here’s Mary Mattio’s beautiful words:

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~If you’re having a bad day…this is for you
You have every right to feel overwhelmed, as though no one understands, maybe you feel afraid, or even hopeless. As far as I know, everyone living with long term illness understands these feelings. I know I do.

Illness, pain, long-suffering literally deprives the brain of the chemicals and hormones needed to feel happiness and at peace. It’s not pain or illness alone that causes depression, but the high levels of stress, constantly, over a long period of time that can inhibit the production of important nerve cells. The “optimistic” neurotransmitters like, serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine are no longer in balance to counter the feelings of uselnessness, loneliness, and hopelessness. What might be a passing thought, thanks to the rigors of chronic illness, becomes a spiraling pit of despair. Pain gets into your very soul, and exhausts every resource. 

This month is my 13 year anniversary with chronic pain (RSD/CRPS). When I became very ill 6 yrs ago, after several more illnesses struck suddenly, I felt as though I completely disappeared. Illness and pain swallowed me up.

If anyone is reading this and is being swallowed up, then you know it’s the loneliest feeling in the world to watch everyone go on and live happy lives while you fight for your own life in the shadows. Being drowned by an invisible adversary can seem like a practical joke. Everyone is in disbelief it could be “that bad.” But truly, aren’t we all in disbelief that it’s this bad?

I want to tell you what your brain would tell you if she were allowed to work at her full potential. I want to share what your soul is crying out for that pain has blocked. 

You have a purpose, you always have. Your purpose did not end when you were diagnosed. A calling is not just a job, purpose goes beyond the walls of a building. You are meant to be. 

You are enough. You are just as worthy and amazing as you always have been. Even though you might feel weak, you are gaining strength of character, wisdom, and you are learning things from this battle that no one can ever take from you. Please don’t accept the lie that you’re a failure, you are not. You are in the midst of the fight of your life. We can’t allow ourselves to believe we are losing. If your daughter, son, or grandparent were suffering from the very same condition as you, what would you want to tell them? 

You can do this. Though you may be exhausted and even fragile right now, you aren’t even sure how you’ll go on another day. The pain is pushing you over the edge of what you can bare…but somehow you have risen to meet every single day before this. Remember every treatment, surgery, and frustrating doctor appointment. Never forget how many miles you have walked already. You have overcome so many impossible days. Just get through this day. Tomorrow is not for today. 

You are beautiful. Sometimes we lose touch with our bodies, to separate and protect ourselves. Weight gain or weight loss, hair loss or teeth changes, swelling or skin changes…. we can look in the mirror and see a complete stranger staring back. You may not look or feel as you once did, but you can still get to know this amazing, lovely, and beautiful person. You are worthy of love. (PS. it’s ok to take selfies even if you don’t look like your old pictures!) People love you for all of you. You don’t have to appear perfect, no one is.

You are still the same person. Illness has a tricky way of detaching us from the longing of our past, splitting us apart from the face in the mirror, and isolating us from our loved ones. Who we were can float away, and illness begins to take us over. You are still her! You are still on your journey. Your path, your life, your experience is no less meaningful than anyone else’s. 

One last thing that I think your brain would want to remind you… Things won’t be this way forever. Chronic conditions change over time. Life changes. Our perspectives change. Yes, any day your condition could progress and worsen. Or any day, you could begin to improve or go into remission. The truth is that we hear about progression and complications 10x more (TEN TIMES MORE) than we hear about people regaining health and wellness. There is no doctor or article online that can assure you of what tomorrow will hold. As much as your body and mind yell words like “incurable, degenerative, progressive, comorbidities,” instead let HOPE be your weapon of choice. 

As illness continues to speak its lies to us, we must scream back truth to ourselves so loudly that every part of us can hear!

-Mary Mattio

@abodyofhope
“The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they may both lead to the same destination.”

-Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Enemy of The Pain War


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I know in my heart, that some of what I had originally written in my first “PAIN WARS” article (9/19/2017 see it in its almost original form below—I did still change a few small details. But for the most part, the original article is below ) in the National Pain Report), are Kolodny’s true “opinions”.   We all are aware of those; because he’s proven his opinions over and over again to all of us. But I made a mistake and there were two issues to which I could not find an exact citation. I rewrote the article with citations down to the details. This time there was no reaction; no response from him? The fact that he thinks Intractable and/or chronic pain patients should be able to be OK with Tylenol or Ibuprofen is just laughable. It reads on the bottle of Tylenol “for minor aches and pains”. Obviously Andrew Kolodny, the shrink/Psychiatrist; has not ever lived with chronic intractable pain. What’s interesting is that he doesn’t treat Chronic pain either!
IF he is not educated in the treatment of chronic paian, then how is it that he is able to dictate what happens to the chronic pain patients?

What I find also odd, in a way, its that he thought what I wrote in the original article was “unfair”? What about what he’s doing to a large number of chronic pain patients? I want to scream that it is UNFAIR that he is responsible for the rise in suicides due to the immediate drop or quick tapering of our pain communities medications that are & have been used as directed and in a responsible manner. He has our communities deaths from suicide on his conscience and on his hands. He is lying to the people, tugging at unknowing, good peoples heartstrings, so to speak. By telling them that these medicines are killing people and they are dangerous etc.; he is getting many of these people to side with him! They are only “dangerous” if misused or taken improperly, just like anything else! Water is dangerous and you can die if you drink too much!
The Dictionary’s definition of “enemy” is = a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something. Also it states that “enemy” is a thing that harms or weakens something else. Well, Andrew Kolodny M.D., may harm us and we may die due to suicide or increase BP and HR from higher pain levels; because of his opinions. This is on his conscience as well. But he will never weaken the strength of compassion and endurance in the chronic pain community of the USA.
What I don’t understand is why can’t the government officials see through him?
Why don’t they see him trying to have “saving the addicts” (certainly not saving the chronic pain patients) as being his claim to “fame”? Why can’t anyone else see that he owns treatments centers with a “revolving door” policy and he makes a ton of money off these poor people?

He tries to tug at the heartstrings of those who have lost loved ones to addiction. Chronic pain management and addiction management are two different areas. Those who have lost someone to an overdose want all Opioids gone now; because someone that they love has passed away due to addiction and /or the misuse of opioids. That’s horrible, terrible and unimaginable to say the least. But Well, now we, the chronic pain community are losing people daily; due to the quick tapering and abrupt ending of opioid treatment to chronic pain patients. Chronic pain can kill as stated in the National pain report article from June 20, 2017. The terrible true fact is that Opioids don’t kill people any more than guns kill people? If you misuse either of them, you can die. If you don’t follow the instructions of a legitimate pain management physician, then you have a higher chance of dying from overdose. People can overdose on insulin that they have in their home for Diabetes. Just as someone on High blood pressure meds, anti-depressants and other medications can overdose if they misuse their medications. We are not children and if we are responsible adults who are doing well on opioid therapy and do not get high, do not ask for more, are not groggy or foggy from the medications, and we don’t take more or less than prescribed; then we should have a right to live our lives in as little pain as possible! Nobody should be forced into having risky and/or expensive surgeries either.

Whatever works for each specific person, is what should be done to allow that person live the best life that they possibly can. If medical marijuana is legal for you and it works, then you should be allowed to make that choice. If acupuncture, yoga or meditation relieves your pain, then so be it. Everyone should leave you to do whatever works for you. But for me, with my complicated medical history, Long QT syndrome and more; the opioids have no side effects and they are still working, without raised doseages.

They need to totally get rid of the CDC guidelines and start over from the beginning. They need to do so with educated pain management physicians and not PROP and /or treatment center owners who stand to make money from the drop in pain medications. This entire conversation has the pain community afraid, panicked and in more pain because of their fear of living in pain or dying because they cannot live with it.
It seems to me that Andrew Kolodny will not respond to the National Pain Report because he knows that Ed Coghlan is an upstanding publisher. He doesn’t allow people to use propaganda or say things that cannot be proven. That Health News magazine has a great reputation and that is because many peoples voices are allowed to be heard. Andrew Kolodny was offered the chance to have his voice heard.  He wont respond because in the pain community, he is the “enemy” and not the “star”.

These are my own private views.

                 Pain Wars – Uncensored 

(*This article was posted originally and then removed because I made a mistake. I failed to post 2 citations.  I rewrote it, changed it a bit. I added some information and subtracted a few items. The end result was posted on National Pain Report on September 20, 2017)

There’s a lot going on with regards to chronic pain during the month  of September. There are events and fundraisers in the name of raising awareness for persons living with chronic pain illnesses.  These are good things and they help dismiss the myth of the chronic pain patients. We are not addicts; we aren’t complainers or whiners. We are real people living with chronic pain and high pain illnesses 24/7/365. The majority of the chronic pain population sees a pain specialist, a Dr. who helps with pain, or we visit a pain clinic and do whatever it is that is requested. Whether it be to urinate in a cup, give blood or jump through any and all of the other hoops asked of us, we just do it. The end result is to relieve our pain.
But our day to day life, as hard and complicated as it can be, is becoming more difficult. This doesn’t help with things such as depression and/or anxiety; which often go hand in hand with chronic pain, especially in these uncertain times. There are things that are happening around us that we feel no control over. Our feelings are correct. I read an article the other day that pretty much says, Andrew Kolodny, a PROP (Physicians for responsible Opioid prescribing) physician and Dr. Jane C. Bellantyne, the president of PROP; both feel that we all need to just, in other words; “deal with it”. Bellantyne says that “patients should pursue coping and acceptance strategies that primarily reduce the suffering associated with pain and only secondarily reduce pain intensity.” They both have said that “patients should not focus on reducing the intensity of their pain, but their emotional reactions to it”. I’m feeling that maybe the two of them need to take a “pain challenge” and be part of an experiment where they somehow feel the pain that many of us feel and they don’t know the time frame for how long they will feel that way? I’m not sure they would feel the same way afterwards, are you?

Andrew Kolodny is a proponent of a law that can detain pain patients against their will. According to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, 37 states already have statutes that allow substance abusers who have not committed a crime to be briefly detained against their will. Often they must find that the person being committed is a harm to themselves or others. Well, that is “substance abusers”, but Kolodny wants to increase that statute to include chronic pain patients deemed to be taking “too many” Opioids. But to Kolodny and others, this can be subjective, what is “too much”? Are we still living in America? If this is the case, then why aren’t we putting people away for having heart disease then, if they continue to smoke? We don’t institutionalize persons who are diabetic and who don’t manage their diets well? (Yes, I’m being facetious here but just to make a point).

Kolodny and his minions feel that pain patients and drug addicts are not two distinct groups. He says “the opioid crisis is about addiction, and the reason that overdose deaths are at historically high levels and the death rate for middle-aged white Americans is going up, is due in large part to the epidemic of opioid addiction with overdose deaths occurring most commonly in people with legitimate prescriptions.” Do we have a buzzer or a gong here? May I push it? Andrew Kolodny you are wrong! The problem is actually illicit, NOT MEDICAL, drug use. A Cochrane review of opioid prescribing for chronic pain found that less than one percent of those who were well-screened for drug problems developed new addictions during pain care. A more recent review put the rate of addiction among people taking opioids for chronic pain at 8-12 percent. What this truly means to us is that all of these limits on Opioid prescribing for chronic pain patients puts us, the pain patients, at great risk of harm. But guess what? It is not going to do much to stop addiction!

We, the chronic pain community not only have to live with physical agony but with this “Opioid Crisis”. The the true crisis is that the chronic pain community is losing access to reduction of their pain. This is affecting the patients work, if they in fact are still able to work. It is also affecting our families, relationships and at its worst, our sanity! The American Academy of Pain Medicine says that there is a “civil war” going on in the pain community. Their president, Dr. Daniel B. Carr, says that “One group believes the primary goal of pain treatment is curtailing opioid prescribing. The other group looks at the disability, the human suffering, the expense of chronic pain”. Our Pain specialists are saying that nothing can be done? We must continue to stand up and keep fighting for what we need. Andrew Kolodny says that in the end, chronic pain patients need more and more opioid medications in order to curtail the pain. But there are an abundance of pain patients who never increase their dosage of opioid medications throughout many years. They are are still getting pain relief. Stanford University’s Dr Mackey said that there are some risks for some people but that “nearly 15,000 people die each year from anti-inflammatory medications like Ipbuprofen. But people aren’t talking about that?” He also feels that “there needs to be a thoughtful balanced approach”. He said “Opioids are a tool-they’re more often a fourth or fifth line option.”

What’s happening right now with this crisis is that pain patients are having their medications taken away “cold turkey” or reduced greatly; thus causing them great pain and torture. All of this just proves how the PROP Dr.’s and others, are taking the CDC guidelines to the extreme and hurting and demeaning innocent people who already have to live with sometimes several chronic high pain conditions. What I find interesting from my own research is that many of these PROP Dr’s like Kolodny and Ballentyne,, have a lack of empathy and also have a stake in making money off of chronic pain patients; in that they own drug treatment facilities. We’ve got the medical wars on one side and then the government people stepping in, who have no idea what they’re doing. All that they know is that “drugs are bad”.