I Cannot Do Everything, But I Can Do Something


Don’t let anyone tell you that one person cannot help to make changes within our society. When someone takes the necessary steps to help make changes happen, they are assured to be part of the outcome. Let me make this less obfuscatory and explain it in a more concise way. Back in the Summer of 2017, I had read an article from a Michigan newspaper, that explained how a husband had gone to the emergency room of a hospital, to find his wife (then girlfriend) on a gurney, writhing in pain, while a physician stood by watching monitors. The emergency room physicians had “marked her as a drug addict”, before knowing any of her history or taking the necessary steps to find out. The Dr. told her husband that his wife was “complaining” about pain. Then in his next sentence, the Dr. said that “addicts often come to the emergency room looking for opioids”. The husband was very upset by this because his wife was not normally a person who “complains” often. He knew she’s had a “nerve block” procedure that day and something must have gone wrong. She has had damaged nerves in her back since a skiing accident long ago. She had had tried over 40 medications and a number of procedures. The only thing that had helped this chronic pain patient who was lying there in horrific pain, was a “complicated treatment plan, which included opioids”. The emergency room physician finally relented and gave her just a fraction of her regular dosage, but this was at least enough to get her out of there and taken home.

This story is not unlike many others that I’ve been hearing and reading about for the past couple of years now. Some of the stories ended much worse that this one. What if this woman had no one there to advocate for her? I was upset by this story and it stirred something inside of me. Not only does it tear me up inside to hear stories of others being treated badly, but also, I am a chronic pain patient. I had already written letters to the President of the United States, the head of Health and Human Services, to my two Senators, my Governor & Lieutenant Governor. I wrote about the under treatment and loss of treatment to the chronic pain community since the CDC guidelines were revealed and then used as if they were “law” of the land. I had found out about a new Michigan HB-4601 that was going to become a law in the Summer of 2018, if I did not try to do something to change it. I decided to write a “plea for the chronic pain community” a bit closer to home. I sent a letter to the representative for my district, in the Michigan House of Representatives. Instead of the regular “form letter”, I actually received a note from him; asking me “if there was anything he could do”? He told me to contact him, “if I had any questions” and so I did. I asked if he would meet and speak with me for a few moments regarding HB-4601(*this was a House Bill that was to become law on July 1, 2018. Stated in that bill, was a 100MME ceiling limit for all chronic pain patients. Mixed into that bill, were new rules about acute pain. There was a 7 day prescription limit & persons had to physically go into the physicians office after the 7 days were up; and then go to the pharmacy to get the new script if needed. There was a bit more, but that was the gist of it).

I met with my House Representative because I just needed to do something to try and change this upcoming Bill so that it would take become the law. I don’t like to complain unless I know the I’ve done all that I could do to help others and myself, if needed in the future. If passed, this law would make a 100MME for everyone with the exceptions being: hospice care and cancer care. But the FDA already stated that “there was no scientific evidence that cancer pain was any different than other chronic pain conditions”. (*This information is found by googling: fda-2012-P-0818. Then by looking on page 9, paragraph 3 of this “e-copy” response to Dr. Andrew Kolodny, from the Department of Health & Human Services on September 10, 2013.)

I went to my meeting with confidence, kindness and some research that I had done. Human beings metabolize medications differently, as do various illnesses. I spoke to him about the HB-4601 and I told him my own story. He saw a person and could put a face to this issue afterwards. For the first time, he was introduced face to face, with chronic pain in a real person who was sitting across from him, talking and sharing.

At first, he was taken aback that someone could be on a normal dosage of Opioid pain medication and not be groggy or sleepy or “high”. He told me that he had not thought about the difference between dependency and addiction. We had a very nice conversation and then we went our separate ways.

Afterwards, I sent him Kate Nicholson’s “Ted Talk” and the information from George Knapp’s video about Opioids and the “The Other Side of Opioids” . Whenever something that might help the pleas of the chronic pain community became available; I would send it to him. My hard work finally seems to have helped. On December 28, 2017, Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder signed into Law, SB-027. That Senate Bill which passed, is now Public Act 251 of 17. In researching that law, I found that there is allowed a partial fill of a prescription for acute pain. It limits a first prescription to 7 days and then a physician can verbally call in to the pharmacy or fax a subsequent prescription for acute pain, if needed. This is good news for the chronic pain community of Michigan. That HB-4601 is now going dormant and nothing more will move on that, according to what I was told by the House Reps secretary. The entire Law or Public Act-251 of 17 can be found here: http://legislature.mi.gov/documents/2017-2018/publicact/pdf/2017-PA-0251.pdf

The board, unanimously passed a resolution finding that the original 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 further advocated a balanced approach “that specifically targets addiction and abuse while protecting the rights of patients for whom these prescriptions are medically necessary.”

Government can and must think about and help to resolve the opioid epidemic. Too many people are dying from the abuse of painkillers. But more and more they are realizing that the problem is not the prescription pain medications given to legitimate chronic pain patients; but they are seeing more and more Chinese Fentanyl sent through the U.S. mail service. We need to address this but at the same time we should not have to sacrifice chronic pain patients lives in order to save the drug addicted persons. We don’t have to hurt someone in order to help another. We can protect people and not swing to the extremes, one way or the other. We can be thoughtful and diligent in helping those that suffer the disease of addiction without being thoughtless to the chronic pain community; a group of people already suffering.

I accomplished most everything that I have done, from the comfort of my own home and even my recliner. The only time that I had to go out of the house for any of this, was when I met with the House Rep., in early September 2017. He met with me very close to my home because I’m unable to drive more than a couple of miles for “personal errands’. We met in a coffee shop and had a very real conversation. We must let our stories be told and our faces be seen. Our government leaders need to hear true stories and see that we are real people who are suffering and who can and will be affected by their choices. In the words of my personal hero, Helen Keller, I say this: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Take Our Hand – The US Pain Foundation


Take our Hand- The US Pain Foundation

It’s the New Year of 2018 and I’m reflecting on this past year, 2017. Many people ask me about the US Pain Foundation. They ask me “what does the US Pain Foundation do? What are they doing to help with the Opioid crisis?” I thought I’d explain what they are doing and what kinds of things that I do, as an Ambassador for US Pain.

The first thing to know is that they are not about accolades nor do they have a need to be in the spotlight. They do so much for those of us who live with chronic pain. They rarely ask for anything. I have noticed that when I do fundraisers; they’re more interested in how many people were helped with “Awareness”?

But for right now, I’d really like to inform you of some of the different projects that are going on within this non profit organization. Right now there are so many people being affected by issue of chronic pain patients being under or untreated. They are also being quickly tapered off of their life saving and life giving pain medications. US Pain Foundation saw a need and heard the cries of the pain community and they responded. I also want you to know that they are not all about “rescuing” people; but rather, teaching and giving the tools so that people can help themselves. If you visit USPainfoundation.org; you’ll see a myriad of resources to help.

One of the many things they are doing for the chronic pain community is that they and 31 other patient & professional organizations/groups have submitted a letter to Congress. In December 2017, these groups sent a letter urging Congress not to repeal the Ensuring Patient Access & Effective Drug Enforcement Of 2016. If it is repealed, this would hurt protections for chronic pain patients. This law would stop the DEA from limiting controlled substance pain medication distribution in a transparent way; also lacking due process and/or safety! (see this article: https://USPainfoundation.org/news/-31-organizations-speak-repeal-Patient-access-act/ )

The entire move to repeal was ignited by the “60 Minutes”story”EX-DEA agent: Opioid Crisis-fueled by Drug Industry and Congress”, which was on TV in October 2017. The persons at US Pain who deal with many of these kinds of issues, are: Shaina Smith, the Director of state Advocacy & Alliance Development.and Cindy Steinberg, the National Director of state Advocacy.

The US Pain Foundation is being very proactive for patients during this time of unrest and uncertainty. They have devised a plan for patients.. This plan can be printed out and used by patients during an emergent situation; such as being dropped from their pain physician or if they feel desperate and/or suicidal. There’s an article and resource here: The US Pain Foundation is here to help. Here’s a plan to print out & use if you’re denied pain treatment .

Lastly, I wanted to end with this quote from this article: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2017/11/05/when-Patients-have-give-up-their-pain-medicine-Opioids/776067001 , that I truly was inspired by, “Legitimate patients with chronic pain are being forgotten,” said Paul Gileno president and founder of the US pain foundation. “The disease of addiction is taking over the disease of pain and everyone is forgetting about the Pain Patient.” It is the truth and the US Pain Foundation is trying to give Chronic pain patients the tools needed to feel more empowered. They also have designed a new app called “Ouchie”, where you can keep a log of your pain journey. Then there is Ellen Smith who is helping with another alternative to Opioids, which is medical marijuana. Ellen is a Board Member and she does webinars and teaches people about the correct use of medical marijuana.

There is a whole Myriad of options for programs and resources found on the US Pain Foundation website. We have Awareness programs, Educational programs, Support programs and fundraising programs. So please go and have a look around at www.uspainfoundation.org . You are welcome to always ask me anything, but please know that the US Pain Foundation is there for all of us!

(These views are my own & not necessarily the views of the US Pain Foundation)

Becoming Incurable Magazine Feature


Hello Luvs

I’m really excited to share this with you today! The US Pain Foundation has teamed with Victoria Suan, the producer, creator & Director of her Documentary “Becoming Incurable “. I’d written to you about 6 weeks ago regarding the feature film etc. But today I want to share this online magazine that she’s made to compliment the video compilations and her Documentary!

I am the middle of 3 persons being featured in this online magazine. I’m being featured for the illness of CRPS. This is thrilling and just so very exciting to be a part of this beautiful project to spread awareness of chronic pain and illness.

Becoming Incurable magazine feature

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.

Run Forest, Run!


This was written by Dr Mark Ibsen, MD, who has become a close friend of mine; as has Dr Tennant. My thoughts and blog post on this subject will be forthcoming ASAP! But for now, just for this moment, here are Dr Ibsen, MD’s words regarding this abhorrent situation with Dr Forrest Tennant:

Dr Tennant recently came to Montana to testify for Dr Christensen. Sadly, while in the home state of many of his intractable pain refugee patients,

His home was invaded and business ransacked by agents who allege he was “overprescribing”. 

Just what IS overprescribing?

And what would Underprescribing look like?

This term would imply that there is a ceiling dose of a medication that has been prescribed. 

It would also imply that there is a “Goldilocks Dose” that is not too high

Not too low, but “just right”. 

Dr Tennant,

An endocrinologist,

Has been on the forefront of research and therapy for the intractable pain that patients developed after years of medical or interventional management, or mismanagement. 

These are patients with adhesive arachnoiditis, complex regional pain syndrome, trigeminal neuralgia, failed back syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and various other accidental and iatrogenic pain syndromes. 

The law enforcement and regulatory agencies Who are threatened by the Obi-Wan Kenobi of pain medicine do not have the sophistication,

compassion,

Or training to realize that they are not dealing with El Chapo. Drug dealers don’t actually care how their clients are doing. In fact, when a drug addict dies of an overdose, sales most often go up. Dealing drugs that are unregulated and often fatal is not what doctors do. 

Most people who suffer cardiac arrest have some type of medication on board. We don’t arrest their doctor for prescribing a Statin or aspirin or blood pressure medication in an attempt to enhance or prolong a persons life. 

People have hypoglycemic reactions every day,treated for their diabetes. We do not arrest their doctor for “overprescribing insulin”.

All doctors are required by their oath to do no harm-to try to hit that “Goldilocks dose”

When cancer patients die,

Do we blame there oncologist for killing them?

There’s a reason medical doctors train for 12 to 20 years, then continue to study and research the literature their entire careers. Could it really be true that Dr. Tennant is sidelined by a DEA agent with 12 weeks of training?

Are doctors no longer protected by the regulations outlined in the Controlled Substances Act?

Dr. Tennant treats the sickest of intractable pain patients. I too have referred intractable pain patients to him, I have taken his courses and follow his protocols.

Now, who will testify for me and protect my patients?

According to the World Health Organization North America provides the best pain care management on the planet. Dr. Tennant has always recommended following the world health organization pain ladder. 

Doctors like forest Tennant, William Hurwitz MD, Ronald Myers, and Chris Christiansen are simply guilty of trying to relieve the suffering of their intractable pain patients. 

This often requires us to

“Increase the dose”

If we as a culture continue to punish pain patients and the doctors that serve them no one will be safe accessing the incredible medical system we have developed in the US. 

Yes, complications occur. 

Yes, people are dying. 

From heroin/ fentanyl injection ODs,

Not

From responsible informed and well researched treatment of those in intractable pain who have failed every other therapy available.

“Run, Forest, run!”

Conspiracies Against Wellness Radio Broadcast


Hello Luvs,

I was recently a guest on a radio show, “Conspiracies Against Wellness “. I was interviewed by Jonelle Elgaway and I spoke about the Opioid crisis. Please listen and answer my “call to action” plea at the end.

Please feel free to share this. I encourage you to share it so as many people as possible will learn about all that the chronic pain community is going through.

Here’s the link:

Thank you!

https://youtu.be/N8cBhUStCnA

Help Spread Awareness of RSD/CRPS This November 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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