A beautiful song was in my soul today! I went to church and asked if I could use the chapel! So this is “How Great Thou Art” sung by Carrie Underwood! I hope you get chills like I do!
If you visit the Emergency rooms in Michigan, you see and feel many horror stories. I don’t visit the ER and have not since 2007, when I was diagnosed with CRPS. I had chronic pain even before that, from several chronic pain issues and illnesses stemming from a car accident and other reasons. But the last time that I went, I was treated like a pariah because I was taking pain medication. They never asked me about all of the different therapies and non-Opioid medications that I’ve tried. They don’t know all that I’ve been through. They also don’t even ask me if I’ve ever been addicted to anything in my life. The answer would be “NO”. I’ve never smoked anything and I don’t even drink “once in awhile” socially, not ever! Yet, the Dr.’s and nurses treat people that take small amounts of pain meds as if we are someone to be scorned. The amount has gone down but it’s not ever going up. It works for me and for about 25% of the chronic pain population. Only 1% of legitimate chronic pain patients ever become addicted to pain medications given to them by a pain management physician. For some people this is what works after numerous other medications and therapies have failed.
I want to share with you just an overview of something I read in a Detroit Newspaper article yesterday (Link to Detroit news article . This is what is happening in Michigan in 2017. I’m praying for change and I’m going to advocate to help the legitimate chronic pain patients. I have already written to and gotten a response from the other letter that I wrote to the White House and Governor Chris Christie. All that I got in return was a fancy form letter from “The White House”. I can’t give up. I refuse to give up hope, without hope, we have nothing left. We must not give up and we need to keep hope alive.
This is just the summary of what actually happened to a family in Michigan. I read in our Detroit, MI newspaper recently, and it is just a summary: “Over on a gurney, a woman screams out writhing from pain. A Dr. stands idly by, just watching a monitor. He stood away from her as she was doubled up in pain, screaming about pain in her abdomen. Her husband walked in and saw this and he new about his wife’s chronic pain condition(s), but had never seen anything like this from her. The Dr. was expressionless, as if she was not even in the room and as though she was a non-feeling “thing”, a non-being person with feelings and a soul”. Imagine if it was his wife, his mother or child? Would he still feel the same?
So moving on, …”as the husband approached this so called “Dr.”, the physician was startled and reached out his hand to introduce himself. He said to the husband, “yes she’s “complaining” about pain. He said “we will “try” to address it. Next, he said something horrifying, but not new to our American chronic pain communities. He said “addicts often come to the emergency room looking for opioids”. The woman’s husband knew about her medical condition and he knew enough to realize that something must’ve gone terribly wrong after the nerve block procedure she’d had done earlier that day, while he was at work. They’d been to Cleveland and Mayo clinics and even to the U of MI hospital. This poor woman had gone through numerous medical procedures and attempted over 40 medications. They finally had found a regimen that worked to relieve enough of her pain so that she had some semblance of a life now and then. The only effective regimen was very complicated but it included Opioids”. The way she was treated just recently, in 2017 is barbaric to say the least.
This is happening not only here in Michigan, but all over the USA. Just today, 9-17-17, I read an article that was sent to me through my email. The article written by Julie Mack in “MLive”, discusses many statistics about Michigan deaths from “overdose of Opioids, including Heroin”. Opioids for legitimate and suffering chronic pain patients and Heroin, should not even be compared in the same sentence; let alone included together in the same article showing numbers of deaths. The article even states that “these numbers are based on death certificates and list only deaths that specify “Opioid and/or heroin” as a factor”. I want people to see the difference here. Legitimate chronic pain patients who’ve been doing well, taking opioids, after trying many other methods to relieve their pain; are not even in the same same category as heroin addicts. Unfortunately, from the death certificate, they just lump everyone into one category and that’s hurting the pain patients. We are suffering due to the ignorance of certain Government officials and the paralyzing fear that has been put into our legitimate and caring Pain management physicians.
In Michigan, a bill was recently introduced into the House of Rep. This HB 4601 would put absolute limits on the dosages that chronic pain patients may receive. The patient’s medical history, illness(es) or lack of any proof of abuse or addiction are suddenly irrelevant. The Government would be mandating that “no doctor may prescribe opioids to a chronic pain patient exceeding 100 morphine milligram equivalents per day.” No matter what! Oh my goodness, everyone’s bodies are different and dosages can affect people differently. If this bill goes into law, legitimate pain patients will be bedridden and writhing in pain. Please help us and learn about this side of HB 4601. Our Michigan Government needs to step in now, to help other government leaders and those in Washington D.C., to understand this huge gap between pain patients and drug addicts. There are two distinct groups included in HB 4601, but we are being “lumped together” as one.
In Oakland County Michigan, the Board of Commissioners has taken a stand against this historically old proposal. They unanimously passed a resolution stating that HB 4601 “infringes on a doctor’s ability to care for patients by substituting the Legislature’s opinion for the opinion of individual medical professionals.” The board also advocated a balanced method “that specifically targets addiction and abuse while protecting the rights of patients for whom these prescriptions are medically necessary”. Please help the chronic pain community. We are human beings and we deserve our rights and our lives protected by the state of Michigan and the USA government as well. Please don’t take the rights of our educated physicians away from the decision making process. Educate them more in the area of chronic pain management, but the doctor patient relationship should still stand. Our Senators, Governors and even our President, need to be educated in this area. They need to understand the differences between addiction and dependency; along with the difference between drug addicts versus legitimate chronic pain patients.
I implore you to help stop this in Michigan and everywhere. I understand that balance is hard, but we need to think of the real people that HB 4601 affects. Slashing dosages of opioid pain medications or taking it completely away from people that it has been effectively helping is cruel and abusive. This is America! What is happening to us when the government steps in and takes away a doctors right to treat his patient effectively? If we can focus more on the people, we would start tailoring laws to address societal harm and avoid legislative dragnets that sound good in headlines but bring danger and harm to too many citizens. We need to do better for the legitimate chronic pain patients for whom all other methods have failed.
We ARE here, we ARE in the room. Please join me in helping to make the government and elected official listen to our plea!
Excerpts taken from DetroitNews.com
9-12-17 “Opioids Treat Real Pain; Don’t Limit Drs”
September is Pain Awareness Month – and people should be aware of what chronic pain patients go through.
To read the media, you’d think we are pill-popping complainers. We aren’t addicts, and it’s definitely not all in our head. We are real people living every day with high chronic pain illnesses. We do whatever 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 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, has done studies that say “75% of all opioid misuse starts with people using medication that wasn’t prescribed for them” but obtained from a friend, family member or dealer”. ? As Maia Szalavitz wrote in the Scientific American, “Do you know that new addictions are uncommon among people who take opioids for pain in general All of this means that steps to limit prescribing opioids for chronic pain run a great risk of harming pain patients without doing much to stop addiction.”
We have seen our lives change in the last couple of years – and not for the better. There are things that are happening around us that we feel no control over. Our feelings are correct.
The people who use opioids are under attack and the lead attack dog is Dr. Andrew Kolodny. I read an article where he says that Tylenol essentially works to combat pain as well as prescription pain meds.
“And medications that can be just as effective as, or even more effective than opioids are Tylenol and Advil”. He says that these two OTC medications “work differently, so it’s safe to take them together.” He also states in this same article that “They really are safer than opioids, and we sometimes forget how helpful they can be”. In another article, “Kolodny states “many Americans are truly convinced that Opioids are helping them”. They can’t get out of bed without them”.
One would surmise, after reading several of these articles, that Kolodny thinks that we as pain patients should just accept the pain as if it is just a nuisance. If it were as easy as taking a Tylenol, (which on the bottle it actually states that it’s for “minor aches and pains”); there’d be no rising suicide rates within the pain community.
In 2015, the New England Journal of Medicine published a commentary in which two physicians, Dr. Jane Ballentyne and Dr. Mark D. Sullivan argued their position on chronic pain and acceptance. Our own National Pain Report published an article on November 29, 2015, “Accepting Pain More Important Than Reducing Pain Intensity Because Opioids Are Harmful, Docs Write in NEJM Commentary”. The first line of the article is “People suffering in chronic pain need to learn to accept it because achieving a balance between the benefits and potential harms of opioids has become a matter of national importance. Dr. Bellantyne, the president of PROP (Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing), says that “patients should pursue coping and acceptance strategies that primarily reduce the suffering associated with pain and only secondarily reduce pain intensity. Dr.’s Bellantyne & Sullivan (Dr. Sullivan is the Executive Director of Collaborative Opioid Prescribing Education (COPE), stated that the patients who report the greatest intensity of chronic pain are often overwhelmed, are burdened by coexisting substance use or other mental health conditions. Instead of opioids, these doctors say that an interdisciplinary and multimodal treatment coupled with coping and acceptance strategies are critical. In addition, they conclude that a willingness to accept pain and engagement in life activities despite pain, may reduce suffering and disability without necessarily reducing pain intensity. The two Dr’s also said that “patients should not focus on reducing the intensity of their pain, but their emotional reactions to it” (NEJM 2015 Commentary). I’m thinking that maybe all of those who, in my opinion, feel that we just need to accept and cope better, need to take a “pain challenge”.
Maybe they should volunteer to 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?
Kolodny and his minions appear to 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.”
Dr. Kolodny this is 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 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”. 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.
As pain patients, we simply must fight back. The people at PROP have grabbed the initiative and turned concerns about opioid addictions into an attack on millions of chronic pain patients.
It must be pointed that people who own drug treatment facilities are benefiting from Dr. Kolodny’s efforts at demonizing the pain patient.
In the meantime, state agencies, federal bureaucracies and others simply stay silent on what will happen to pain patients if opioids go away.
We cannot allow that to happen!
**The views and research in this article are solely my own and may not necessarily be the views of the U.S. Pain Foundation.
During this September 2017, we have been urged by the U.S. Pain Foundation, to share our story on social media. I was reluctant to do this, but then I decided to share after a mini documentary that my husband & I were involved in was released. Let me explain:
I was recently involved in a video on Social media, called “Becoming Incurable”, directed & produced by Victoria Suan. I’ve had several people see that video, which shows only a minuscule piece, of one very small illness that I live with. People saw me with a nebulizer and now think I have only Asthma. Asthma isn’t fun even on its own. But between this and seeing me involved with the U.S. Pain Foundation during Pain Awareness Month especially; many people are assuming things that shouldn’t be assumed. None of us like being assessed by what we look like on the outside; with regards to Invisible illnesses. Several persons have told me that they “wish they only had what I have”. Others have said that “they wish they could do more & be involved more, like I am able to do “.
My name is Suzanne and I have been disabled since 1999; 1st from PTSD and stage two chronic Kidney disease. In August 2002, I was in a motor vehicle accident which caused multiple injuries,including: a Traumatic brain injury, hearing loss (I acquired 2 hearing aids), vision lessened & eye issues, many (approximately 8) surgeries, & 3 years of TBI rehab. I still suffer with short term memory loss and other effects from the TBI. In 2003, I had to have a dual chamber pacemaker placed for “Sick Sinus Syndrome” (it is a Bradycardia/Tachycardia Arrythmia), along with Dysautonomia/POTS. After seven or eight surgeries and a pacemaker, I was diagnosed with” Complex Regional
Pain Syndrome”, in 2007. It started in my right foot after surgery and it spread over the years to both feet & knees.
In 2005, I had an M. I. or heart attack. In 2006 after the heart attack, I was diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation and was put on Blood thinners. But, I suffered a CVA/stroke in 2006. I have Mitral valve prolapse, Tricuspid valve prolapse, mild Pulmonary Valve Hypertension,
In 2013, I had to have pacemaker replacement surgery (my first pacemaker was placed in 2003). When the Heart Surgeon got inside of my chest, they found that the entire pectoral muscle had to be totally rebuilt. The old pacemaker had been placed in the muscle instead of inside of a bag near the muscle. Over 10 years, It wore a hole right through my pectoral muscle and then had to be rebuilt during a long surgery, which was a very painful recovery afterwards. The Dr. informed me that aside from the Systemic CRPS, the continuing post surgical pain and Lymphedema in my left arm, is similar to the pain that occurs after a mastectomy. Though, I did not have a Mastectomy.
The surgeon, a Neurocardiologist, had researched RSD/CRPS & did an internal surgical wash of Bipvucaine to try and “head off”systemic CRPS, & prevent it from spreading. It ended up being unsuccessful and the CRPS progressed into “Severe, Systemic/Full body CRPS”. It’s spread everywhere including my eyes and my mouth.
I have a few other chronic pain illnesses, including: CKDII, Arnold Chiari Malformation I (with Chiari Migraines),
Degenerative Disc Disease, RA, OA, Gastroparesis, S.I.B.O., Chronic Erosive Gastritis, Autonomic Neuropathy, Polyneuropathy in Collagen Vascular Disease (EDS-4/vascular), multiple herniated & bulging discs (with L4-5 Radiculopathy) at L4,L5& S1 + C5,C6 & C7. CID (Combined Immunodeficiency Disease/an Autoimmune disease), Eczema, Prinzmetal Angina (aka “Coronary Spasms”), Lymphedema, Scoliosis, Asthma, CAD, Right Long Thoracic Nerve Neuropathy, Severe Dry Eye, and just too much to mention here today! But you get the idea!
I’m not the only one! There are so many chronic pain warriors with a list as long or longer! I’m not a candidate for a Spinal cord Stimulator or an Intrathecal pain pump, because of my “Combined Immune Deficiency Disease”. It could cause paralysis and/or infection in my Spinal cord. So I’m limited in what I can do for my chronic pain. I’m one in a group of chronic pain patients, who has had to resort to taking pain medications. But in doing this, I can have some semblance of a life outside of my bed or the sofa. Believe me, since 2002, I’ve tried many, many medications starting with Lyrica & Gabapentin. I went through 8 years of physical therapy. I had to go to TBI rehabilitation for 3 years. I’ve had many braces, therapies, tests, TENS unit (prior to the CRPS) and more! Depending on the day & how much I need to do; I have: hand braces, arm sleeve covers, 2 knee braces, 2 AFO’s, a wheelchair, Motorized scooter, walker and a cane. Right now the pain medications are what give me the ability to do some activities outside of my home, bed or sofa.
This is my story…. it’s the “Readers Digest” short version.. It’s a long arduous and continuing saga of chronic pain and surgeries. But I just don’t give up HOPE. I make it a Verb and try to change negatives
into positives. Rather than do nothing, I try to do something. For fun, I make You Tube Videos of my favorite songs or stories translated into American Sign Language (@ASLSuzyQ).
I’m an Ambassador for the U.S. Pain Foundation. I write in my blog, “Tears of Truth” @tearsoftruth.com. I am a writer
for the National Pain Report. I also founded & run a few support groups for chronic pain & RSD/CRPS. I’m also a chemo-angel. I am part of a collaboration group to help with the Opioid crisis (the crisis being the lack of Opioids now & the government taking pain meds away from legitimate chronic pain patients). I am a patient leader for WEGO Health and a mentor for newly DX CRPS patients for RSDSA. Setting all of this aside, just as one of my previous blog posts/ news articles states: “There are no competitions and no winners!” (Can be read in this blog or here at the Ntl. pain Report: http://nationalpainreport.com/no-competition-no-winners-8833089.html)
In July 2017, I was certified by the U. S. Pain Foundation, to lead an “in-person” Support Group. Without having my wonderful, loving husband/caregiver, Craig; my loving U.S. Pain Foundation Family, my WEGO health friends, my friends, family and my writing, I’d be lost in all of this.
Here’s the link to my Facebook page for this blog. This link takes you directly to the video called “The Incurables”: https://www.facebook.com/TearsofTruth.SuzanneStewart/posts/1943805715875595
Do you remember the last time that you fell & you were bruised? Do you remember how badly it hurt, how distracting it was, how you couldn’t get your mind off of the pain? But after awhile you were feeling better and you were glad that the pain went away. You could get on with your life.
Now imagine if that pain, but worse, never went away.
That’s what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I have lived with chronic pain since 2002, after a man ran through a red light and “T-boned” our car. I’m not alone, because 100 million Americans live with chronic daily pain. That’s more than the number of Americans living with heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. In terms of impact, chronic pain is the leading cause of long term disability and its cost (including lost productivity and treatment expenses) is higher than $635 billion annually.
Pain has affected every aspect of my and my family’s life. I’ve not been able to work, and a large part of our expenses goes towards my healthcare. Also, the number of office visits has now doubled because of these new CDC guidelines. That means double co-pays, double the amount of time driving and having my husband leave work to take me to the Dr. appointments. My husband is retiring and instead of taking it easy, he takes care of all the household responsibilities. Therefore, I miss out in spending that time with him. I also cannot do the things that I used to love, like going shopping with my friends. Going out to lunch with the girls, and going for long walks. I’ll most likely never be able to actually walk on a beach while being barefoot in the sand.
Despite the prevalence and consequence of chronic pain, people with pain are very much overlooked and under treated. People who live with daily chronic pain are often labeled as “lazy” or over dramatic and not taken seriously. Very few treatments such as physical therapy and even most durable medical equipment are not fully covered by insurance. As of today, less than 1% of the National Institute of Health’s budget goes towards pain research.
It’s no surprise that those living with daily pain are suffering-and not just physically. In one survey, more than half of the respondents felt that they had little or no control over their pain and more than ¾ reported feeling depressed. In fact, research has shown that Chronic Pain patients are twice as likely to commit suicide as the average person. Many chronic pain patients feel alone with their pain and they become cut-off from society and friendships that they once cherished. I can speak from experience when discussing the feelings of aloneness. You can have loving people in your immediate household, but still feel alone with the pain. I speak of this from experience because I was feeling isolated and as though no one was listening to my pleas. That was until I got connected to and started volunteering for the U.S. Pain Foundation.
People with pain, like me deserve better. My family deserves better. Imagine if we took that $635 billion in lost productivity and health care costs and invested it in preventative care, new treatments, research and emotional support for pain patients? In honor of September as Pain Awareness Month, I encourage all Michiganders to join me in advocating for positive change for the pain community. Our Governor, Rick Snyder and the Supervisor of Canton Twp. Michigan have joined me in helping to raise awareness this month. They’ve each signed a Proclamation & a Resolution proclaiming that in Canton Twp.and in all of our great state of Michigan, they are recognizing September as “Pain Awareness Month” for 2017! To learn more or to become involved, visit: http://www.uspainawarenessmonth.org ,