Inhumane Treatment Of Pain Patients In USA


I opened up My friends blog today (“Pharmacist Steve”). It is Steve Ariens Blog; and I saw a story of torture. There is torture going on in America! I’m seeing it every day now on the Internet! More & more chronic pain patients are being treated like common criminals! This is despicable! My God, are we living in North Korea, Afghanistan or in some 3rd world country (whos people , by the way; don’t deserve this kind of treatment any more than we don’t!!)?

How can the news media @Foxnews.com, @CNN, @MSNBC and all of the rest, be so one sided? Please, I implore you @POTUS, @GovChristie @PetersforMichigan (Senator Gary Peters), @NYGovCuomo (Governor Andrew Cuomo), @onetoughnerd (Governor Rick Snyder of MI). I implore you to think of the forgotten legitimate chronic pain patients. People are now living with daily chronic pain and receiving no treatment at all. They being totally forgotten & considered collateral damage of this “fake war on drugs” ! It’s a war against the chronic pain community; because they’re the ones who are dying. The pain community is stuck with zero semblance of a life as all of this is crashing down around them/us! The posted video is not just sad, it’s torturous to listen to. It’s terrible to watch. But it’s true and it’s happening all over the United States Of America! This is a story about a young mother, wife and daughter; who’s going through sheer bloody hell in Albany New York Trauma Center!

“Amy” Amy’s story of Human Torture in a NY hospital! is a young woman who just went through a painful stomach surgery and her stomach ruptured as well! The contents are therefore spreading throughout her body inside and this causes not only sepsis, but horrible excruciating pain! My husband went through it years ago, but they gave him a Morphine pump while in the hospital for several days following surgery. He was given pain relief, as any HUMAN BEING or any living, breathing animal should have!!

This is torturous and despicable treatment of anyone in a hospital, or any patient care facility; let alone, following a stomach surgery! How can the Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, allow their patient to be treated in such an inhumane manner??? The behavior of the nurses who pledge also, to “care for the sick” and to “do no harm”; is unforgivable! This sort of treatment to other human beings deserves termination. Those so called patient care employees need to be fired and they should never be allowed to not care for another patient! This woman, who has a name, a face, a husband & a family; is living through hell!

You know what though? This is entirely preventable! She is not a prisoner of War! This is a young woman who’d much prefer to have a “normal” life! This young woman has a name, and that name is “AMY”! She has a young child and a husband. I’m guessing that her husband had to leave her to go home and take care of their little one! He had to do that and he thought he’d left his wife in the care of a reputable hospital facility!! Obviously, he was mistaken and that’s really sad!

What if Amy was unable to show us this video? What if she was incapacitated and couldn’t tell anyone what’s happening to her? Please share this video and Amy’s story. Write to your legislators and put a name and a face to all of our stories. Nothing can change if we cannot be brave and do something to help ourselves and to help Amy!

Our government leaders, the news media agencies and society need to as many faces and hear as many stories as possible about us! The chronic pain community being left behind and treated as though we are just collateral damage in the war on drugs! This has taken a turn for the worse. It’s gone from a “war” against illicit drugs to a war against the legitimate chronic pain patients. We will lose & continue to lose if not for people being brave like “Amy”.

Please speak out and tell everyone your story and the stories like this one! Get the word out about how chronic pain patients are not drug addicts. We are not addicted at all! Ask them if they can remember a time when they had lived through their worst pain imaginable? Then ask them to think about that pain never ceasing! Tell them this is what it’s like for us, for you!

Please pass this story around. Know that I received Amy’s video & story from Pharmacist Steve Arians Blog, at: PharmacistSteve.com….. It is posted in several places on Facebook. He asked if we could “please make this video go viral”?

Thank you for your help! Please…. let’s all help Amy & all of the other “Amy’s”! Thank you Steve Ariens too!

Pain Acceptance, The Newest Lie


As I was listening to the Vox.com podcast a few days ago, I heard the voice of PROP’s president, Jane Ballentyne, surprised and complaining about how she’s been treated recently. After hearing about her belief regarding the “acceptance of pain”; several pain patients wrote negatively to her in the comments of articles and a podcast.  Some people even wrote to her employer at the University of Washington and wanted her fired, she says. I’m wondering, why she is so surprised? But obviously those who agree with her and think this is a good idea, have not lived with daily, unrelenting, horrible pain such as the kind that comes with  illnesses like:  CRPS, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Ankylosing Spondylosis and many others.

What I don’t understand is that in these modern liberal days of persons not having to accept anything else about themselves, why are pain patients being forced to “accept” their pain? Today in 2017, people are allowed to change their gender, nationality and  their bodies.  There’s nothing wrong with a man becoming a woman, or a Caucasian man becoming a Filipino woman; as I saw on the news the other night. In 2017, there’s nothing wrong with a woman getting liposuction on her hips, if she feels they are too big, or breast implants if she feels those are too small. If other human beings are “allowed” to do all of this, then why are chronic pain patients supposed to or urged now, to accept their torturous, horrific daily 24/7/365 state of living with chronic pain?? Now days nobody has to “just accept” anything about themselves. Something is really “fishy” here? In my own personal opinion, I feel like the United States is trying to kill off it’s weakest and most vulnerable chronic pain patients. Why do you think this might be the case? Again, my thoughts are that it is because they are concerned that the “baby boomers” are going to deplete the Medicare/Medicaid system and there won’t be anything left soon. Why not “get rid of” the sickest and most weak of Americans to save some money? I don’t know this of course, but it sure is a scary thought when everyone else is allowed to surgically change everything about their gender, race and body; but the chronic pain patients are now not allowed to have the simplest pill that can help to lower their chronic pain.  Suddenly, opioids are now being considered evil and all must be destroyed.  We must learn to “accept our pain”.  I don’t want to just accept my pain, anymore than someone who feels that they were born the wrong gender, should have to stay that way forever and just “accept” it.

So I’ve been researching other countries and speaking to other chronic pain patients around the world, thanks to the internet.  I was discussing the “opioid crisis” with my friend in Israel.  He sent me a piece of information about a University of Michigan Coursera. You can look at what I looked at here:  Teach-Out: Solving the Opioid Crisis/Coursera.  He told me that he had been seeing what’s happening in the USA and how concerned we are about the topic of Opioids.  He wanted to know if this was truth or not?   Naturally,  you must take the course to learn about what they want you to know. But just from the introduction that I read, it is packed full of disinformation. They tell the same “lies” that were exposed in Andrew Kolodny’s article “The Opioid Epidemic in 6 Charts”. Josh Bloom, a journalist and PHD, exposes how Kolodny, those that follow him, and some of the media (it seems), are changing the truth to their advantage. In his article, The Opioid Epidemic In 6 Charts Designed To Deceive You , Josh proves how in Kolodny’s orginial article, The Opioid Epidemic in 6 Charts, deceives us with false numbers.  The first sentence that Kolodny writes in his editorial states “drug overdose deaths” are about 60,000 annually. When we see that we immediately think that he’s talking about prescription pain medication overdoses. But, Josh Bloom points out that actually 30,000 people were killed.  This included all opioids including heroin.  The actual true number of deaths just from prescription pain medications or opioids used for chronic pain; was about 17,000.  Also, in Mr. Blooms article as cited above, he states that the number of 17,000 is “half the number of accidental falls”.  But 17,000 is not exactly right either, because that includes all opioid overdose deaths which were in combination with other medications.  The true death by opioid pain medications is about 5,000, according to this same article.  That is much less than Kolodny’s original “60,000 deaths”, scare tactic, from drug overdose.

Also, why are we not looking into the deaths by alcohol?  According to the NIH (National Institute of Health), the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) and this article Alcohol Facts and Statistics, “88,000 (62,000 men and 26,000 women) people die from alcohol-related causes annually”.  This makes alcohol the third  preventable cause of death in the United States. Do you know that the first and second causes of preventable deaths are from tobacco and poor diet/physical inactivity? So why are we not talking about the Alcohol and/or tobacco related death epidemic? Do you want to know why? I know I sure would like to know the answer.

My friends in other countries are telling me to come and live there. They don’t understand why this is happening over here in the USA? The friend that I was referring to earlier on, who lives in Israel; cannot believe that this is happening to the people he knows here in the USA.  He even said that he sent me the information regarding the Coursera, because he “had a feeling they were lying”. He asked me “Do you have any guess why they are doing all of these things to hurt all of you?” The only answer that I could come up with is, “Money”. The reason that I stated above, regarding Medicare/Medicaid and the baby boomers. I was embarrassed to say that to my friend, but I still did. His response was “this is horrible”. He said that “in Israel you can get as much as you need; as long as it is opioids and not medical marijuana”.  It is totally opposite of that here in the USA.  In Israel, the primary care doc can prescribe what he believes will help the diagnosis of his patients. Imagine that! Oh wait, that is how it used to be here in the USA also! But not anymore!  I asked my friend if his primary  or pain Dr. helps him more? He told me “My primary helps me, of course! She helps the most.  She is nice, caring and gave me the pain medication with out any pain doctors advice.  On her own, because she is a DOCTOR herself…..you know? AS it should be”! Also, as I feel it should be in the United States once again.

Gaslighting: How A Flicker Of Self-Doubt Warps Our Response To Sexual Harassment and pain 


I was so touched by this email that I received from my friend and colleague, Dr. Mark Ibsen, M.D.. I wanted to re-post this here in my blog, because I thought you would enjoy reading it.

**This is a guest blog post written by Dr Mark Ibsen MD***(He’s referring to this article: https://www.npr.org/2017/11/25/565729334/gaslighting-how-a-flicker-of-self-doubt-warps-our-response-to-sexual-harassment)

********

When I read this,

I could see how pain patients are often gaslighted

Out of their story, their reality

By the domination structure.

Not always male ( think Jayne Ballentyne)

But

Very similar to the harms associated with

Sexual harassment/abuse that is so currently in our national focus.

Whether male or female

Pain makes us doubt our own reality.

This is what makes it such a terrorist.

IMHO

Can we piggy back into the abuse conversation?

Can we make the case that those with arachnoiditis, for example

Were harmed by needle jockeys

Then

Dealt with dismissively ( no one will believe you)

Then

Cowed into submission by being threatened with loss of their medication?

Or

Cancer patients who survive,

Yet can’t get pain relief for their neuropathy,

And get the message:they should  be grateful to be alive…

Or

Wounded warriors who return from Iraq or Afghanistan with

Severe injuries and ptsd

Who must reinvent their entire persona?

Maybe there’s something useful in being with this issue in a new way…

https://www.npr.org/2017/11/25/565729334/gaslighting-how-a-flicker-of-self-doubt-warps-our-response-to-sexual-harassment

Or any kind of harassment.

I’ve been gaslighting myself for years in response to the attack on my practice by

The Montana BOME,

Along with the ptsd from hearings where my

Personality was attacked

My integrity impugned

And

My mental health repeatedly called into question.

Of course the financial disaster of

Loss of my business

Medical costs

Legal wrangling

Has been great,

But the greatest impact has been on my confidence

Faith

Optimism

And

Open hearted empathy.

Yet,

Overcoming these self doubts,

While a daily regimen

Has taught me to be more authentic

Has shown me that being Raw upgrades my intuition and healing skill set,

Making a wider range of emotional states available to me, as well as the opportunity to transform these states.

So- yes Pain IS an F/N terrorist.

And

While I have yet to develop gratitude for

Mike Fanning and the Board

Sarah Damm

Dea agents Addis and Tuss

Pharmacists who refuse to follow the CSA and refuse to fill my Rx

And

Others who ripped me off when I was reeling,

I also

Have learned the validity of Winston Churchill’s statement from WWI:

” nothing so enlivens the soul as to be shot at without result”

It took me 4 days of the Thanksgiving holiday to get to this place. Thanks to friends

Community

Therapy

And

Alanon

And Candy

Be well

Mark Ibsen MD

Helena Mt.

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 me because I write truth. I don’t use propaganda or say things that cannot be proven. 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”.

We ARE In The Room



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”

Pain Wars


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.

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Never Judge By Outward Appearances 




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


Preventable Suicide Crime Scene


Someone help this woman! This is a crime! They treat animals better than people so what’s wrong with this picture? This must stop! People are committing suicide because they’re being denied pain medications! Please watch this short video and it will open your eyes to the TRUE OPIOID crises going on in the United Stated of America! Someone please help this woman and the other 100 million chronic pain patients who are in agony now bcz of what’s being misunderstood as addiction, hyperalgesia and worse! This lack of opioid pain medication to true legitimate chronic pain patients, has to stop! We are not disposables! We are in agony and we are human beings with rights like every living soul! Please learn about the difference between dependence and addiction! Addiction is a non-stop ruminating, craving and a need to get high from taking some kind of medication or drug! People with Chronic pain get “addicted” 1% of the time, due to pain medication! We are “dependent” NOT addicted! Our bodies will go through a physical withdrawal when the meds are taken away! But we do not WANT to need the pain medications. We do NOT get high or euphoric from the opioids! We get to live some semblance of a life outside of a hospital or a bed in our homes! Please help because too many people have died already! Stop being hysterical and blaming real and legitimate pain patients because someone you know died from an overdose! I’m so sorry for you, but don’t punish everyone because you’re in misery! Find compassion in your heart and watch this woman’s story for about 3-4 minutes! Thank you!

Thank

Some Kind of Normal


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I would like to respond to an article from May 23, 2017; written by Steve Ariens, Pharm D, or as we know him, “Pharmacist Steve”.  I want to say “YES, Pharmacist Steve, WE ARE Quite Different”! This week I read an article entitled, “A Country of Drug Seekers” (National Pain Report, May 23, 2017).  In the article, the author, A Pharmacist who is known as “Pharmacist Steve”, stated that “we should look at those who take/use opiates and controlled substances… and consider those that take them legally and those who take them illegally-because our society will not allow them to obtain them legally, and ask “Are they all that different?
He goes on to say that “both groups are suffering from depression, anxiety and physical and mental pain.” Also that “both are trying to “improve” their quality of life….just that their own opinion/definition of “improve” may be quite different.”

I will agree that everyone, or the majority of the public want to “improve” their quality of life.  That’s a given, isn’t it? Whether you are a pain patient or an airline pilot, most people want to consistently improve the quality of how they live.  I vehemently disagree with his assumption “are the two groups all that different”?  Nothing is the same about these two groups of people. Persons with chronic illness do not obsessively think about and seek out something to make them “high”. A drug addict has a mental illness, along with an addictive personality; and does exactly that. I’m sure some chronic pain patients also have mental illness, along with some Dr’s, nurses, housewives and Scientists. I believe the number that research had noted was that less than 4% of chronic pain patients actually become “addicted” to their pain medications.  In fact a very high profile Pain management physician, Dr. Forrest Tennant, M.D. Cited that percentage in an article at NPR, October 2015.  I don’t agree that we “are all suffering from depression, anxiety, physical and mental pain”.  The mental anguish that “we”, the pain patients, live with now days; is from the fact of not knowing if or when our treatments/medications will be withdrawn! I would say it is more similar to a patient on dialysis not knowing if or when their dialysis facility is going to close and there’s not another one for hundreds of miles!  It may be similar to a Diabetic wondering if their insulin was going to be taken off the market completely? Then how would they live? What would they do? They would be in “mental anguish”.  Without pain medications, (*that some of us have been on for many years, doing well, with little or no side effects); how will we be able to tolerate the unrelenting daily struggle with high chronic pain illnesses? Some  of which are up to a #43 on the McGill pain scale? There are some people that are living with chronic pain and depression, but we are not all living with pain and mental illnesses. There should not be a stigma, by the way, to living with either or both of these issues.

I also strongly believe that chronic pain patients who sign a contract with their Pain Management physician, agree to take urine drug screening tests and take their medications exactly as prescribed for their legitimate diagnosis’:  should not be in the same “category” as those who are “abusing” and “using” illegal substances to get “high”.  We, the chronic pain patients are very different in that we don’t all have “addictive” personalities.  In fact, at my pain clinic, I went to see a Pain Psychologist and that Dr. told me and actually put it in writing, that I “do NOT have an addictive personality”.  I may not be the same as everyone else, but chronic pain patients are not the same as drug abusers who use Heroin and cocaine to get a “HIGH”.  We don’t get “high” from our pain medications.  I run several support groups for different chronic pain illnesses.  I have spoken to many chronic pain patients and I can speak for the majority of those who have been taking opiates for several years. We do not “crave” our pain meds, nor do we think about them all of the time.  We don’t sit around and wait for the next round of pain medications and obsessively ruminate about them.  Mental “Pain” and mental “illness” are not one in the same either, according to anything that I’ve ever read or heard in my lifetime.

I have made numerous videos on my advocacy YouTube channel and I’ve written several articles on the subject of “pain patients being lumped together with drug addicts”.  There is a difference between these two groups of people.  Time and time again I am making memes for Social Media, writing on the subject or speaking about it.  I’m really growing weary of having to defend my community of chronic pain patients against those in Washington and others with authority over us.  When Pharmacist Steve stated that “some groups try to draw a line between themselves as being chronic pain patients and those who abuse opiates.”  Well, of course we draw a line between drug seeking behavior, drug addiction and legitimate chronic pain patients who need their medications. Drug addicts live for their next dose or next “high”.  While the chronic pain patient needs their next dose of pain relieving medication in order to live.  We need pain meds so that we may have  some semblance of a life outside of our bed or recliner.  There is a “line” between us, it is like comparing “apples to oranges”.  How many times do we, the community of legitimate chronic pain patients, have to fight for our dignity and our separateness from stigmas that are put upon us?  If you want to “lump us together” with a group of people, why not “lump us together” with other medical conditions in which the patient is “dependent” on their medications?  According to Dr. Tennant’s calculations, as a leading expert in pain management; 96% of chronic pain patients do not become addicted to their Opioid pain medications.  Those of us who have been on a regular dose for many years and who are doing well, should be left alone!  We are dependent just the same as a heart patient is dependent on arrhythmia  or high blood pressure medications.  The group of people that we have the most in common with are those who take medications for a chronic illness.  The kind of medications in which their bodies are “dependent” upon in order to live some kind of “normal”.  We, the chronic pain community just want to “live some kind of normal”.  We are tired of being grouped  or lumped together with illegal users and abusers of drug seekers.  We must remember only two words.  These words are “dependence” and “addiction”.  They are as different as night and day, black and white and medication user verses drug abuser.

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Walking Through The Day With a Pain Warrior


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This is not just a story about me, but a story that many pain warriors live through on a daily basis. I know because I talk to many of them often.  Much of this is “our story”. …..I awaken each day; the first thing that I do is cry inside of my head. My body lay still too long.  Four hours is too long! I feel pain and don’t want to get up, or move because I know it will hurt. I’m so tired of the pain. I lay there and contemplate rising to my feet.  I hear my husband call my name.  He always says “Hello my Love, Good Morning! Time to rise and shine!”  He tells our Kitty, Luna, to come and get me. She always listens to him and she enters our bedroom and meows for me to get on my feet. Still lying there, I think about the day ahead and wonder if it will be a busy day?  Will it be one in which I have to do a few things? Or will it be a day that I can be a bit quiet?

After 40 minutes has passed from the time I took my medication, I attempt to get up.  First I sit up and I feel the pain in my back. The Degenerative disc disease, Scoliosis, Spondylitis and multiple herniated and bulging discs, make it almost an impossible feat. The medication does help. It takes the pain down from a 9 to about a 5; and I finally get up.  But then there’s the stairs to tackle. I hold onto the rail and then I lean on the wall. I fumble my way down the stairs, as my cat scampers past me, ready for her cuddles on my way to the kitchen. First, I sit on the ottoman and pet her for a few moments and then it’s time for breakfast. My husband has already made the tea and has my toast ready to go.

He goes to work and I go to my chair, my recliner. In my spot, there is a pillow and a blanket and a settle in for a look on the computer.  What fantastic things have happened overnight on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? I answer a few questions, maybe I help a few people in my support groups? People always volunteer to help me with my groups because they are becoming large for one person to handle on a daily basis. People mean well, but they are also in pain and have much going on in their lives.  Eventually they stop helping and I’m alone again.  I don’t want to give up, because some people just need someone to listen, anyone.  I like being that person. I want to help and do something of value with my life.

Maybe after awhile at the computer, I will either write a blog post, an article for the National Pain Report; or maybe I’ll sign a song that day.  I love the beauty of ASL and the way the emotions come out of my body, hands and face. I can feel something other than pain. Until I’m finished; and then the pain is worse.  I have to rest and take more medications. My husband comes home for lunch because he says that he likes to check in on me.  We’ve been married for 20 years and he always comes home for lunch. I am one lucky lady to have such a knight in shining armor at my side. He never complains about doing so much. He cleans, cooks and does the laundry; after mowing the lawn and fixing whatever needs repaired in the house. Still, he never complains.

In the afternoon, I may visit my granddaughters and my daughter who live only a few blocks away. I’m still able to drive for “personal errands” and for about 10 minutes at a time. If I visit them, I get lots of hugs and kisses and more love and life than you can even imagine. They are rays of sunshine in a world of pain.  They don’t understand that I am in pain and that’s a good thing for now.  I like to light up their faces and give them love and receive that same love in return. My daughter and I may do a couple of errands or have a coffee and chat. It seems like a nice day, right? It’s true, it’s the nicest day you could imagine. Then I come home and I sink into my recliner and sometimes my cat will come and sit with me.  Her love is unconditional and she seems to know when I’m in more pain than usual. She gives me comfort and love, unconditional love.  By that time it is 3:30 in the afternoon.  It’s been a full day and my pain has risen from the activities.  I can’t do anything else.  I don’t have the energy to make dinner anymore. The fatigue is deep and lasts for long periods of time.  I rest and sometimes I nod off in my chair. The cat jumps off of the chair and the back door opens.  My hero is home! The love of my life and my forever soul-mate comes home from another day at his job as a teacher. We muster up something to eat for dinner. Mostly, for him; because eating has become something difficult now. It’s not fun or anything I look forward to anymore. I have IBS, S.I.B.O., and Gastroparesis. There’s so much I’m incapable of eating now.  If I just throw caution to the wind, and eat to be social or “fun”; I suffer more.  There’s the nausea, constant nausea and burning whether it is high or low in my stomach; it’s awful either way.  Then if I eat just a tiny bit too much, I will be sick for hours afterwards. This is something that others don’t see or understand.  My husband sees and watches it from the other side. Then there are the others who I “talk to” on the other side of this computer. Many of them truly do understand.

Then, my friends; it is evening time. The sun goes down and we watch some Television together and maybe read or “play” on the internet for awhile.  All too soon, it is 10:30 pm and my husband goes up to bed. He. has to work in the morning.  He kisses me goodnight and tells me not to stay up too long.  I tell him that I will come to bed as soon as I feel like I’m able to sleep.  Time goes by and it’s one in the morning, then 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM.   I start to nod off as I’m messaging the other “night owls” who are my fellow pain warriors. They are with me at night, because they too cannot sleep either.  We try to give each other support and the strength to persevere.  Finally, the sparks of chatter start to diminish online.  I too, feel like I truly want sleep to come and save me from my body and the pain that is within. Much of the pain is physical, but there is no lack of mental anguish.

***I come from a family that doesn’t know or care that I exist. They are called “M.N.’s” or Malignant Narcissist’s.  I try to stay away, keep my distance. For some reason, I cannot “let go” totally.  Maybe I feel that I owe them something for bringing me into this world. But truly it’s been nothing but pain and abuse as far back as I can remember. Then the failed marriages because I didn’t know how to feel love until I met my soul-mate, Craig. We’ve been married 20+ years now. I thank God for him every day because nobody has ever truly loved me until I met him. Some people ask me why I always go back for more abuse and more pain? I guess he’s still my father and one of my two brothers is still my brother. The other one, I cannot even discuss and won’t.  My oldest brother used to try and protect me, but one day he stopped.  It was the day that I told our family “secrets”. That is when my father took his revenge and turned everyone he could, against me.  I’m not sure why they listen to him? I’ve always been kind hearted, loving and as good a person as I can be. But now the entire family, including dozens of cousins, have shoved me “under the rug”. I am an an outcast.  None of them will talk to me or even look at me if we meet.

I don’t get invited to the very very large family reunions.  Even though I was the only one in my nuclear family that ever attended those functions.  I always took my children to them while they were growing up. I wanted them to have a sense of “family” and belonging. I helped my one cousin, the only one who is the same age as me. She is 6 months older and I always got her “hand-me-downs”. I went for food when she had her big garage sales. I helped her when the family turned against her as her mother was dying. I told her not to let them “punish” her and told her to hold her head up high. They were so mean to her because she couldn’t let her mother come and stay with her when she was very sick and dying. I felt her pain as she told me the stories of her abusive childhood;  we could relate to one another.

But **one day, in 2002, I was in a terrible car accident which started all of the physical pain. No one came for me except my husband. Again, my knight in shining armor there with me and at my side through thick and thin, good and bad.  ***My cousin said she couldn’t come to our house and sit with me for awhile so my husband could do errands. I couldn’t be left alone as I could not even go to the bathroom or dress/undress myself or.    cut my own food. She said that “seeing me in so much pain, made her depressed.  If she was depressed, then her family would suffer.”  Therefore, she could not see me anymore. I’ve not seen her again except at a couple of funerals, but she won’t even look at me. ****I went to my favorite Aunt’s funeral yesterday.  It was in a church and my dad didn’t come because he would have had to have been “nice to me”; and then they might know that we’ve tried to “talk a little bit now and then” again.  Only one cousin spoke to me and only one other even looked my way and smiled.  My Aunts children were welcoming. They knew that their mom and I had a relationship. My cousin, her daughter, told me “mom wouldn’t have had it any other way”; when I thanked her for “letting me come to the funeral”.

**I watched my family all sitting in the same church, singing “Let there Be Peace on Earth”. While the words came out of their mouths, there was no peace in that room.  Only a gathering of many who really don’t know each other anymore, but had one thing in common.  That one thing was the love for a woman who knew how to live and how to love. So you see, there is physical pain and there are other kinds of pain. Some of these exacerbate the others. We just have to surround ourselves with those who want us in their lives.  Those who want to give and receive; or share love with us.

When my head finally hits the pillow at night, I lie down and listen to my husband’s breathing. So glad to hear those sounds of life and know that this person beside me has truly shown me what real love is all about.  I never knew if I would have that, some people never get to know it.  People who are “damaged” like me, have a hard time very often knowing the difference between real love and hurtful kinds of “twisted” love.  I’m fortunate to know this man and lucky to have his love and to have him to love. I try to let the sleep come to me. Relax, sigh and listen to the breath sounds and the sound of the cat purring next to me. This is my real “medicine” in life.  They, along with my children and grandchildren are what makes me happy. I try to remember these thoughts as I fitfully sleep for a few hours, only to wake up to the “fear” of getting up on my feet once more again tomorrow.