Tonight I watched a CNN “Town Hall Meeting”, with Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Leana Wen and Dr. Drew . This was nothing like what a “Town Hall Meeting” is supposed to resemble! It was “one-sided” ……..and there was no one sticking up for the rights of chronic pain patients. Oh,I know that they were there. They were in the audience just hoping and waiting for their chance to get out “our” thoughts on the subject of Opioids. They’re being slowly taken from us as we writhe in pain and the so called “Dr’s against opioids” want us to “think our pain away”! Better yet, why not have a CRPS patient with Allodynia (hypersensinsitive to touch)/ pain patient, get a massage?? Once & for all, an “addict” is not the same as a chronic pain patient! Pain patients are not addicts. We do not “crave” our pain medications. We do not have overwhelming thoughts about our meds and we do NOT get any kind of “high” by taking our prescribed dosages in a responsible manner! This is what I’d like to say to the producers, Dr’s & Mr. Cooper, at CNN! Those persons who hijacked what was supposed to be a “Town Hall meeting”. But in real such arenas, you get to hear from both sides. This meeting was more like a documentary against the use of Opioids! At one point Anderson Cooper allows a long time Opioid user, who’s a chronic pain patient, to take the microphone. She says that she’s been having a better life while taking the Opioids responsibly for over 20 years! She was “cut off” mid sentence by Dr. Drew, who tells her and everyone else that “she us NOT the Norm”! It got worse and more against “us”/ the people living with chronic pain, as time went on! Here is what I’d like to say to them should I get the chance:
This letter is not only for CNN’s Anderson Cooper, but for Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Leana Wen & Dr. Drew;
First of all, I’m writing not only for myself, but on behalf of all Chronic Pain patients. Number 1: The Disease of addiction is NOT equal to the Disease of Chronic Pain! They are not one in the same! That so-called “Town a meeting” on CNN this evening was not one at all! A true Town Meeting is an open forum that promotes Democracy! Tonight, Anderson Cooper & CNN’s “get together” with Dr.’s Drew, Gupta & Wen; was more like a one sided opinion/discussion meeting! Only one true chronic pain patient got to speak! Not only was she interrupted, but then Dr. Drew had to make sure to say that she “was not the ordinary”!
I’ve been a patient with chronic pain since 2002 s/p a MVA! Then after those multiple injuries, 8 surgeries and more pain than I want to remember, I got the worst form of Chronic Pain, called “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome”(it is #43 on the McGill Pain Scale. It’s right up there with cancer, childbirth & amputation of a finger). It was then, that I truly knew what chronic pain was all about. Or so I thought, until my CRPS went systemic/full body, s/p another surgery in 2013.
Mr. Cooper, at your meeting,it was mentioned that “2 million Americans misuse Opioids”. But do you know how many Chronic pain patients take their medications just as prescribed? The majority of Chronic Pain patients are conscientious in taking their prescribed Opioid pain medications. We do not CRAVE or get a “high” from our prescribed pain meds. Nor do we allow our pain meds to control us or our every thought. On the other hand, an addict is controlled by his drugs! That’s one main difference between pain patients and addicts. I control my medications, they don’t control me! Dependence and addiction are completely different. Many meds can cause withdrawals when cessation begins, for example: blood pressure medications, anti-depressants, Beta Blockers and so on! Do you know that “WE” (Pain patients) get lumped together with Heroin addicts? What if your mother or sister suffered 365/24/7 with horrible fire-like burning pain, like that of CRPS? Would you be so quick to push them into a category with “drug addicts”? What if they were under a reputable Dr’s care and taking pain medications in order to function and be able to get out of bed in the mornings?
Untreated Chronic Pain kills too! Opioids have been prescribed for pain for many years! Why punish everyone for the actions of a some? When we are taking our pain medications responsibly and as prescribed. While we are under the care of a Medical Doctor who went to school for many years to learn his job; (whether he /she be a GP or Pain Management specialist). This Physician took the oath to “Do No Harm” and as long as they’ve been prescribing responsibly; then there’s no reason for any of this! It’s just the latest hype by those who are “on a mission”! The people who are up in arms about this subject, are those who stand to lose the most money if we are allowed to just continue taking the medications that work for some of us! I’m talking about The Private clinics that are getting $2,000 cash, per Ketamine infusion because insurance doesn’t pay for that. Desperate people in horrible pain are willing to pay cash to have some sort of hope or even short time relief!! (**Ketamine is a much more dangerous drug! It’s used in Veterinary medicine , to tranquilize a horse)! Others that stand to lose money are the manufacturers of the spinal cord Stimulators and pain pumps, along with Massage & Acupuncture centers. Why let us take an inexpensive pill that has worked for several years? If something is and has been working, please don’t take it away?
The Disease of Chronic Pain does not Equal the Disease of addiction! Lastly, people suffer because Chronic Pain is not only stigmatized but it’s under treated. Suicide rates rise & will continue to do so, due to this lack of treatment & lack of availability of the medications required for the relief of chronic pain. Also because physicians are “running away” and closing their doors on chronic pain patients because of the fear that they now have of being taken away to jail just for doing the job for which they went through many years of schooling and took an oath to “Do No Harm”!