You’ve got to read this if you’re on opioids for a chronic pain illness or illnesses! Also/or if you’ve been forcibly and/or quickly tapered or taken off cold turkey!!! via The Truth about Opioids Campaign is a Blatant Ignorant lie.
I wanted to write to you today to share with you something that I know many of us are dealing with these days. It’s about what happened at my pain management Dr. appointment on 11-8-18. First of all, every 30 days, I have to go and endure this treatment and I live with PTSD. It always rears its ugly head the day prior to my appointment with this Dr. or any new Dr. appointments. I’ll just refer you to my other article “Down the Rabbit Hole” if you need a reminder as to what has occurred up until now.
I arrived at the appointment which was in the late morning this time. I usually go in the afternoon because mornings are difficult for me, with my pain issues. But the past 6 months or so, I’ve had horrible anxiety when I know this appointment is drawing nearer. The closer it gets, the worse I start to feel psychologically and physically with the above symptoms on top of the pain. I decided to make this appointment in the morning because I thought it would not ruin our day so much. Just “get it over with” and be done; get on with our day. But it once again, did ruin my/our day.
I’ve had this pain management Dr. since July 2015, after my other Dr. of 15 years left suddenly. At that time I had been on the fentanyl patch and the lollipops for 10 years. This Dr. told me he would only accept me if I took myself off of the lollipops and I did it. I had to suffer through physical dependence withdrawals. I did it at home with my soulmate, my husband.
I’ve never rescheduled an appointment with him, nor have I ever been late. I’ve never run out of meds or asked for them early. He knows of every medication that I take or have taken and honestly, I don’t feel like its up to me to have to “remind” him that I sometimes take Fiorcet for Chiari Migraines. He and I had a mutual respect sort of Dr./patient relationship up until April of this year 2018. But that day everything changed and it turned out to be nothing that I did wrong. He had forgotten that I take Fiorcet and it doesn’t always show up on MAPS (Michigan Automated Prescription Service – *explanation found here*: https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-72600_72603_55478—,00.html) because its such a low risk medication and not a high class either. But whether it shows up on the MAPS is not up to me. Nor is it my fault in any way if it shows up or not, as long as he’s known from the beginning that I’ve been on it for more than 7 years. This one particular day in April, he started being rude to me for no reason whatsoever. I went to my appointments in May, June and July. But I was horribly anxious and very “ill” prior to each appointment, due to anxiety and PTSD symptoms.
This last visit was another horrible appointment and was the final one for me. I am done being treated like a criminal or an addict! I’m tired of feeling “put down”! I’ve never smoked or drank; nor have I ever taken any drugs. I received one more short acting script and now I will be tapering myself slowly off of the short acting medication as well. It will be horrible because it’s already horrible. It will be difficult and it’s already difficult. He lied to me in July, telling me that “in Michigan, Fentanyl patch is illegal for him to prescribe (he is a pain management Dr. and Anesthesiologist MD), unless someone has malignant cancer”. I know this is not true and he told me that “I am smart and should be able to verify this online”. I checked Michigan law and the fentanyl patch warning on the box. It says only that it is “for chronic long term moderate to severe pain that will not be going away.” If anyone has any idea where I can find this in writing; I welcome that information.
I got a letter from my GI Dr. (*see letter below) because he felt it was dangerous to take me off of the Fentanyl patch. With Gastroparesis, SIBO and Chronic Erosive Gastritis; along with EDS type 4/vascular and more, I am not able to metabolize the long acting oral meds. Believe, me, I’ve tried many things and either was allergic, got very ill, it did not help at all or it had large valleys and spikes. The patch just worked for my pain and it was the best match for me and my multiple co-morbidities.
Yesterday’s appointment he told me that “Chronic pain does not kill anyone”. I told him that I was in my recliner now 16+ hours per day due to the pain. He responded by telling me that my cardiologist should not have put me on Clonidine. I’ve been on it since 2015, but went off of it for awhile in between. He knew this also but apparently it slipped his mind because that must be what’s making me “tired.” But in reality, it’s the pain that’s keeping me down. Also, I only get about 4 hours of sleep on a good night.
My cardiologist told me to take 1/2 of only 1mg at night. He prescribed it for me and said it would help with the physical pain & dependence withdrawals. Thank goodness someone cared enough to help me a bit!
I tried to explain that I had resigned from many activities that I was able to do with the medications. He told me that none of this has to do with the medication for pain being taken away after 14 years. He went on to say that “Susan (you’d think after 3.5 years he’d get that my name is “SUZANNE” not “Susan), you and other chronic pain patients are hostages to the pain medications”. These are the same medications that he was fine with for the 3.5 years I’ve been going to him! He also knew that my history was even longer. I’ve been taking opioids since 2005, in order to have some semblance of a life. But just for the record, I’ll let you know that I tried everything else possible fir 3 years, before resorting to the opioids.
This pain management Dr. has told me all along that he cannot make my pain go away. But he can help lessen the pain by prescribing opioids. When he made the “hostage” comment, I responded with; well “instead , now I’m a hostage to the pain”. Yesterday he told us (my husband & me), that all of his patients still tell him they have pain “with or without the pain meds”. I responded by telling him “Yes, that is true, but I had a life with the meds and I have no quality of life now. The pain medication dulled the pain without ever giving me any kind of “high”. Now the pain is much more sharp, pronounced and at the front of my thoughts. I’m not able to concentrate much or put the pain in another place at the back of my brain.”
I started to explain to him that I have several “Physicians, pain physicians and nurses that are my friends online”. I added that this past week I was diagnosed after an echocardiogram, with “left atrium enlargement”. I’ve had a heart attack, a CVA and a TIA twice. I have Atrial fibrillation, Sick Sinus Syndrome and a pacemaker since 2003. I’ve never had CHF but that’s what this means. I told him that “chronic pain can kill and under treated chronic pain can make blood sugar and blood pressure rise”, which has been happening to me. He became very upset with me and started to pontificate about how “each symptom needs to be treated by a Dr. who takes care of that problem. If my blood sugar is high, I need to go to a diabetes Dr. and if my blood pressure is too high, then I need that addressed by a physician who takes care of that issue. He went on to say that “chronic long term pain does not and cannot kill you. Only acute pain can possibly make BP and HR etc. rise.” But from Dr. Tennant’s own account in his article (Practical Pain Mgmt. By Dr Forrest Tennant MD , from another article, by Pharmacist Steve Ariens, ( Harmful Effects of Untreated Pain ) and this article that I had written last year (that was also published in Ntl. Pain Report), “Chronic pain can kill” (Untreated Chronic Pain Can Lead to Sudden Cardiac Death ), he is the one who is lying.
It is with sadness that I write this blog post today. I would never intentionally hurt anyone. Therefore, any part of the following letter, that could in any way divulge information which I’m not at liberty to share; I have put “X’s” in the place of the words I had written. But I wanted my followers/friends in the pain community to know that this was the most difficult thing that I’ve ever had to do. I loved doing this volunteer work for USPF. They always told me that we were a “family”. Yet, the very day that I lost my Long acting/Extended release pain medication, I opened an email that was just the opposite of everything I thought we stood for. Since that email, I have contemplated resigning, but did not want to “hurt” anyone or do anything to leave them without enough board members etc. But from that day on, things just went down hill. Next, I saw a trailer for a movie that stars actress Karen Duffy and our Interim CEO, called “Balancing the Pain Scale”, that I found out has been in production for 2-3 years. As a Board member, I knew nothing about this movie until someone else alerted me. I went to the trailer and was saddened when I saw the words get “beyond the pill bottle” as I was losing the one thing that had given me some semblance of a life; and so are so many of you.
Lastly, I must add that in the past, I was sent copies of kind emails that pain patients would send in about me. I was also sent emails about patients who needed my help. I never received any emails/letters such as these since becoming a Board member. Not until a disgruntled pain patient who was removed from one of my groups for being disrespectful and unkind sent the interim CEO an email. This person spelled my name incorrectly as “Susan Stuart”, she obviously does not know me and did not know me at all. I felt belittled and reprimanded by being sent the code of ethics. Especially when the issues had nothing to do with USPF and I did not use my role in any conversations with that person. I did not receive a personal phone call, nor did anyone request any information or clarification regarding the absurd complaint; after my years of loyalty to USPF. Therefore, you can read the end result in my recent letter to the Board members below:
Dear Nicole, Wendy, Ellen, (XXX & XXXX,(*2 attorneys)
When I was initially asked to join the Board of Directors of the USPF, I was pleased and excited to be joining a group that I feel is doing wonderful things and representing the interests of the pain community.
Very quickly, (XXXXXXXXX) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX However, I decided to help shoulder the burden of guiding USPF through the trauma of the aftermath of XXXXX & more. Also to stay & help with USPF losing its founder and CEO. As time went on, XXXXXXXXXXXXXX kept adding up. I decided that it was my duty to stick by Nicole & the other Board members & our legal team, to help clean up this mess & help to guide US Pain Foundation in the right direction.
I have become increasingly frustrated because everything that was promised to me upon becoming a Board member has not happened. I was told that I could represent US pain foundation at Pain week in Las Vegas 2018. I was also told that I would be put on an advisory board and be given a program of my own to run and see through to the end. I have been told repeatedly that as a Board member I cannot officially run any programs, but others do. I feel that those things I’m most passionate about are marginalized. I feel that somehow I was inadvertently sought out & appointed to the Board, because somehow, some person(s) thought that I would just agree and not ever express my own voice and opinions. But I do have opinions and a voice. I’m sad that as a board member I don’t know who any of our donors are and I didn’t find out about the movie that’s been in production for three years, I was told? There’s so many things I don’t know but then XXXX told me that “there’s no one higher than the board”? It’s a bit confusing in all honesty. I feel “kept in the dark” about many things.
One big reason or probably the that I feel the need to resign from the board of directors of the US Pain foundation starting immediately, is due to the lack of insurance for Board members & support group members. I don’t feel “safe” being involved with voting on big decisions yet being “left in the dark” much of the time. I don’t really know where money is going or where n it comes from in all honesty. All the things that I used to love I’m not able to do anymore because “I am a board member“.
Last of all & sadly, I received an email today with a copy of the code of ethics from Nicole. A disgruntled pain patient from Canada, sent her note full of horrible lies & accusations. I was not consulted privately via a phone call or even given the benefit of the doubt. I have never had any trouble with not one person since I joined this or any organizations. I don’t speak or claim to speak for the USPF in any of my groups that I run. I only give facts with links to back up what I say as chronic pain patient.
For all of the above reasons and due to the fact that I don’t feel respected, I must tender my resignation from the Board of Directors of the US Pain Foundation immediately.
Peace & Hope,
Suzanne B. Stewart
Recipient of USPF’s Pain Ambassador of the Year Award‘16, Mentor & Social Media Assistant RSDSA, Staff Columnist/Ntl. Pain Report, Blog-“Tears Of Truth” @tearsoftruth.com, Patient leader WEGO Health, HoH/ASL, patient advocate for Deaf/HoH
“Out of suffering have emerged the most massive characters are seared with scars” ~Khalil Gibran~
Thank you for taking the time to let me share with you. I feel a deep sadness and broken at this time.
*********PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS MY ORIGINAL ARTICLE!!! WHAT GOT POSTED IN “NTL PAIN REPORT” TODAY (9-22-18), WAS EDITED AND CHANGED INTO SOMETHING ELSE. I’M NOT A WHINER NOR AM I WEAK! I HAVE A VOICE & I’M VERY STRONG!! I SENT IN SOMETHING WRITTEN FROM MY HEART & SOUL. IT’S BEEN CHANGED INTO SOMETHING UNRECOGNIZABLE! THOSE ARE NOT MY WORDS OR THOUGHTS AT ALL. THIS IS MY ORIGINAL ARTICLE AND BELOW, YOU CAN READ MY OWN THOUGHTS AND WORDS:
In this time of uncertainty for chronic and/or intractable pain patients please stop telling us to “make peace with our pain”. Until you have walked in my shoes, do not try to dictate what is best for my situation. If you hurt your back momentarily or you have several aches and pains, then by all means, use “mindfulness”, “accept your pain” and then “make peace with it”. I don’t care what you do with it honestly, but stop telling me/us to “make peace” with now, uncontrolled chronic daily pain at a 7/8, knowing that it’s forever. My health decline has continued year after year with increasing medical issues piled on top of the old injuries; going on 16 years now.
Unless you actually live with daily intractable pain, don’t to tell me/us how to manage it. If you’re a writer, motivational speaker or a politician, stop giving advice when you don’t truly understand the nature of living with 8 chronic pain illnesses. If you have one chronic illness and “accepting the pain” or “making peace” with it works for you, then by all means, go for it!
Let me explain for those who don’t really know the person they are preaching to on social media. It’s not always Psychological, hysterical or a history of abuse that causes ongoing pain. Sometimes things just happen that cause a very strong person to live with very high pain. When that pain gets more complicated and worsens as time goes by, and it is forever; that is when acceptance, making peace with your pain, grounding and mindfulness don’t work very well.
I was a very active single mom with two young daughters. I had a career as an Interpreter for the Deaf at a major University hospital and school districts. I taught aerobics and was the jump rope team’s coach at the Elementary school. I visited different schools to share Deaf culture and American sign language. One day a man ran a red light and changed all of that for me. Afterwards, I worked very hard at 3 years in TBI rehab, 9 years of PT/OT, driver rehabilitation and speech therapy. I ended up with 2 hearing aids and prisms in my glasses for a long time. For 3 years I refused opioid medication due to the stigma or “taboo” of taking it. I did Biofeedback and the red line was “off the charts” showing that my pain was very high and I needed some other intervention. I was the woman who graduated with honors, never drank or smoked. I was not taking that medication. I worked with a pain Psychologist at a pain clinic. I had several epidural nerve blocks, trigger point injections, cortisone injections and other medications(*most either made me violently ill or I was allergic). I endured 8+ surgeries, including 2 screws and a pacemaker with a cardio messenger box next to my bed. They told me to “trust them” and take the opioid pain medication or I was going to stay in that hospital bed in my home. I finally accepted the fact that just as people with hearing loss need hearing aids and those with vision issues wear glasses and Diabetics take insulin; I needed to take pain medication to give me back my life, or some semblance of a life.
For 13 years, I’ve been as active as I can be. I don’t lay in my bed and wallow or feel sorry for myself. I have been a US Pain Ambassador, on the Board of Directors and even won “U.S. Pain Ambassador of the year 2016”. I’m a patient Leader for WEGO Health, have been on 3 different radio shows and I have been a mentor for newly Diagnosed CRPS patients. I have a popular blog and write for National Pain Report. I’ve done many fundraisers, awareness events and still currently lead several online groups while helping several non-profit groups with whatever they need help doing. I live with several high pain chronic illnesses, including: systemic/full body CRPS, EDS type 4/vascular, Chiari (with migraines), Right Long Thoracic Nerve Neuropathy, Autonomic Neuropathy, R.A., Dysautonomia/POTs, Coronary Spasms (Prinzmetal Angina), Degenerative Disc Disease with multiple herniate and bulging discs, Spinal Stenosis, Chronic erosive Gastritis, Gastroparesis, SIBO and multiple heart issues.
I’m at 25% of of what I was taking for the past 13 years. Two of my specialists wrote letters on my behalf, to my pain Dr.; explaining that with the multiple illnesses that I live with, the patch is and has been proven to be the very best thing that works for my pain. One of my specialist physicians wrote “why break what doesn’t need fixed? She’s been active and doing so well and this could land her inpatient and in declining health”. My pain Dr. said “this is Bullshit, his license is not any better than mine. If he wants you to have the patch then let him prescribe it”.
I continue to be quickly tapered against my will. I’m in my “Lazy Boy” recliner 16-18 hours every day.
This is what my “forever” is looking like now. I went from teaching aerobics, American Sign Language, being the Elementary schools’, Jump Rope Team coach and an active mother and then grandmother, to “living” in a recliner daily. I’m not focusing on the pain, in fact I’ve done everything to not focus on it. I went through 43 hours of labor and then a C-section, twice; while being sent home with Motrin 800 per my own choice. I’m not a “baby”, nor am I an “addict”. In fact I have a letter from the Pain Psychologist, stating that I “do not have an addictive personality”. So stop telling me to plant my feet (with open sores on them, by the way) into the earth to practice “grounding”. Don’t tell me to “make peace with my pain” or accept it; unless or until you have walked one full day in my shoes! If you haven’t experienced pain on these levels, then stop preaching to the choir. I, for one am getting very tired of defending myself and the rest of the pain community on the subject of opioid pain medication therapy. It does work for some of us just as Insulin helps the Diabetic to continue living.
**The Article Ed edited & changed totally & which appeared to be written by an illiterate 5th grader. Is in its entirety at the Ntl pain Report but for your convenience I’ve recopied what Ed Coghlan wrote in place of what I had sent to him:
Making Peace With Pain (by: Ed Coghlan)
Please stop telling me to make peace with my pain.
I can’t right now and haven’t been able to do for many years.
And it’s getting worse.
My health decline has continued year after year with increasing medical issues piled on top of the old injuries; going on 16 years now. If you have daily intractable pain, you know what I’m talking about.
It is not always psychological, hysterical or a history of abuse that causes ongoing pain. Sometimes you just hurt—a lot.
I was once a very active single mom with two young daughters. I had a career as an Interpreter for the Deaf at a major University hospital and school districts. I taught aerobics and was the jump rope team’s coach at the Elementary school. I visited different schools to share Deaf culture and American sign language.
Then a man ran a red light and changed my life. I have endured 8+ surgeries, including 2 screws and a pacemaker with a cardio messenger box next to my bed. They told me to “trust them” and take the opioid pain medication or I was going to stay in that hospital bed in my home. I said ok
For 13 years, I’ve been as active as I can be. I have been active with a national pain advocacy group and I contribute to the National Pain Report and have worked to advance the wants and desires of the millions of people like me—people who suffer from this cruel condition.
This “reduction” in opioid prescribing has hit me hard. I’m taking about 25% of what I was taking for the past thirteen years. Specialists who treat me have written letters to my pain doctor explaining that with the multiple illnesses I live with, the patch is the best thing for me. My pain doctor, feeling the pressure of the CDC guideline, refused to do it.
Now I’m in a “Lazy Boy” recliner 16 hours a day because I’m being tapered against my will.
Not what I want. Not what I’ve been.
I could tell you much more, but if you’re like me, you know.
It’s not fair.
Suzanne Stewart is a chronic pain patient (and advocate) who lives in Michigan. She is a contributor to the National Pain Report.
This Bio which is usually on all of my NPR articles, is missing today….. here’s what it normally says:
Suzanne has lived with a Systemic CRPS & several other chronic pain illnesses since a MVA in 2002. Prior to being disabled from chronic pain, she was an Interpreter for the Deaf at a hospital & worked with Deaf children. Since 2005, Suzanne’s been a patient Health advocate, support group leader & Mentor. She continues doing these things today, but also does public speaking, awareness events and she’s a Writer/blogger & an Ambassador for the U.S. Pain Foundation. The statements and opinions that she provides are her own and should not be taken as the stance, position or viewpoint of the U.S. Pain Foundation. For entertainment she creates advocacy videos & uplifting ASL cover song videos on You tube and she writes in her own blog Tears Of Truth. You can follow her here: TearsofTruth.com
This was my photo + Bio on them”staff columnists” Page under the “Our Team” Tab.
This is the email I rec’d from Ed Coghlan, after I was trying to let him know how upset I was that he “gutted” my (this) article. He added words that I hadn’t written. He changed the powerful message that was in my original story; to one of weakness and whining! Needless to say, I don’t want to write for someone that would call this an “edit”. Then send me an email at 12:05 AM, saying that he was going to publish this article in the morning (6 hours later); without ever allowing me to see the “edits”! I finally asked if I could please see the final copy and about 1:00-1:30 AM, I received the skeleton of my former original article. I begged him not to post it as it was. He’d gone to bed and scheduled it to post at 6:00 am! I was getting all kinds of comments from persons who recognize my writing when they see it and when they don’t! The rest is history!
PS- Btw, he couldn’t get hold of me on Saturday because I have recently been quickly tapered against my will; from my LA/ER pain medication that I’d been taking since 2005. I was in horrible pain from the added emotional strain from my resignation from US Pain Foundation Board of Directors & from USPF. Then the very next day this happened.
My husband called Ed in my place because I’m conscientious and would never just not respond. He told my husband that “he was not comfortable talking with him”! Well he’s also my caregiver and I wasn’t able to speak at that point. It all came tumbling down!
Please watch this informational video about the a patient removed from the only medication that helped lower pain. Also, much information regarding the dangers of Suboxone /Bupenorphrine.
I want you to really take a look at this post, please? I want you to “meet”, Tina Petrova. She is a fellow pain Warrior and a colleague of mine. She is not only a friend; but a friend/colleague in advocacy and awareness of chronic pain and people who live with chronic pain illnesses.
Honestly, Tina Petrova is an award winning film maker, a motivational speaker & chronic pain activist. This movie is about the real deal, chronic pain and everything that goes along with it! This movie has got to catch the attention of legislators and others who do not yet understand what it’s like to live with daily, unrelenting chronic pain.
“Pain Warriors- The Movie”, WILL catch the attention of anyone watching. But especially those who need to change the way they think regarding intractable pain and invisible disabilities. We need your help to donate and /or spread this crowd funding campaign. Please help to get more people involved in supporting this awesome film. The crowdfunding campaign will go through mid-September 2018.
Here’s the link to the Seed & spark crowdfunding campaign for “Pain Warriors- The Movie”!
*Pain Warriors – The Movie
Needs Your Help! Please Help Support This Beautiful Project!
Our story brings to light a deadly suppression of facts & figures. Chronic Pain does not discriminate against age, sex, or race; suicides in all groups due to under managed pain are on the rise. We are, all of us, only one car accident or one surgery away – from a life of chronic pain.
About The Project
PAIN WARRIORS ~ sets out to examine the invisible crisis of Chronic Pain in North America, and its devastating toll on society. Without proper and timely education of the masses this growing concern can and will reach a tipping point, beyond which there is no return.
Society’s lack of public information regarding Chronic Pain, has sadly forced this disease and its sufferers underground.
Not only are many denied adequate treatment , they are often looked upon by society as a whole as outcasts. We are , all of us, only one cancer or one car accident away from a life of chronic pain. As we age the numbers of chronic pain patients will only grow exponentially.
We intend to bring to light a deadly suppression of facts and figures. Without education and awareness, there can be no reform.
Compelling interviews showcase a broad cross section of pain patients, their loved ones and the doctors that treat them across North America. We share intimate, courageous and heart breaking 1st hand stories from pain patients in the trenches- the ongoing political and social issues they face and how they struggle to cope , just to get through another day.
In recent months, several American pain specialists have been targeted by the DEA and currently face loss of license and potential incarceration, for attempting to uphold their Hipprocratic Oath and serve the U.S. pain population. The lines between “pill mills” and legitimate doctors have become blurred and in many cases, unrecognizable to the general public and society at large.
In recent decades groups including breast cancer and aids patients have banded together formally with runs marches, rallies – telling their stories in the press.
Doing so has garnered more ambitious and imaginative solutions to treatment and health care reform. The best hope for pain patients, is to become more vocal and active in their own pain management.
The needed response to pain, it would appear, is to encourage patients to stand up and speak up.
PAIN WARRIORS plans to do just that – give voice to the voiceless. #givepainavoice #painwarriors
Pain Warriors ~ the Movie has posted an update!
11 Yr. old Hunter, battles courageously with a Chronic Pain condition, using Superheroe comic book characters – to inspire him to get up and fight yet another day. Pediatric pain is one of those growing pain conditions that is under- discussed and under- represented in the media.
Our new film Pain Warriors – seeks to identify and shine a spotlight on marginalized peoples and groups that have fallen through the cracks of both appropriate and timely healthcare and , societal compassion as a whole. In the pain community, we use the term” a slow death of compassion…” to denote societies overall shunning of chronic pain as a legitimate disease that steals lives, breaks hearts and destroys the very fabric of family life. There has been a deadly suppression of facts and figures for far too long. Pain Warriors the movie ~ dives fearlessly into the muddy trenches, where chronic pain patients & pain doctors who face a hostile regulatory environment live in apprehension, fear and suffering- of what is to come next… live in fear and suffering.