Opioids, Cannabis And Complimentary Therapies


When our Attorney general, Jeff Sessions told the pain community to take an Aspirin and tough it out; I hope he didn’t mean those living with cancer pain, A.S., CRPS, E.D.S. and many of the high pain chronic illnesses? I’m guessing that he must have meant that more for someone who strained their back by lifting a TV or a dresser that was too heavy? Maybe not? But that’s my guess. Along those same lines are “Complimentary Therapies”. In my personal opinion, if Acupuncture works for your kind of pain, that is great. If something called “grounding”, where walking barefoot and reconnecting with the earths energy can help your pain, thats wonderful too! Whatever works to diminish your pain, that’s what matters most. Insurance companies should be more than willing to pay for these complimentary therapies ahead of any major or minor invasive or noninvasive surgeries! There should be choices available to those who want and need them. But as much as mindfulness, guided imagery and “thinking your pain away”, are awesome ideas; I don’t think they generally help to curtail certain high levels of pain and pain illnesses.

Medical cannabis is helping many chronic pain patients with nausea, physical withdrawal symptoms and chronic pain. The Marijuana Effective Drug Studies (MEDS) Act, introduced by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). He has proposed a bill, (S.1803) to encourage scientific research on cannabis as an effective and safe medical treatment. We need to advocate for this bill because Medical cannabis can be helpful to some people who live with chronic conditions. The U.S. Pain Foundation along with the American Pain Society support this Act.

We are fighting for a variety of methods to help those with high pain illnesses to deal with their pain. I’ve read that Kratom is another plant based fighter against chronic pain. These can be wonderful tools to help many persons. We need to keep fighting for many different methods to help with chronic pain, because we are all individuals and what works for one person, does not always work for another. Pain patients should be able to use whatever method of pain relief works for them because individual metabolisms vary. The therapies available to us, help many different kinds of chronic pain. Each method contains various medicinal qualities that work differently in each patient. It’s also true that one specific method of pain relief doesn’t help everyone. Nobody should be forced into taking or doing something that they don’t feel comfortable with.

The same is true with surgeries and injections. In my personal opinion, these continuous injections into the spine, are just “money makers” for the chronic pain clinics who are now too afraid to prescribe opioids. Even though the CDC told us that the 2016 guidelines

were just a “guide” and they are not the law. It seems as though the majority of pain clinics and Doctors jumped on the bandwagon to demonize opioids after the guidelines were disclosed. Now we are seeing suicides go up with the decrease in prescribing of Opioids for chronic pain illnesses. It seems as though there is a correlation between the lowering of Opioid prescribing and an increase in surgeries for Spinal cord stimulators, pain pumps and nerve ablations. But no one should EVER be forced into having an invasive surgery that could possibly cause more pain and stress for these already medically fragile human beings. My physical therapist told me that the SCS means surgically putting a catheter into your spine to give small electric shocks in order make you think of those shocks instead of the pain! She told me that our brain cannot think of pain and pleasure at the same time. I’m guessing that some think these electric shocks are pleasurable? I had a T.E.N.S. unit soon after my car accident and it did help with muscular pain and soft tissue damage, slightly. I have read that they’re (SCS) most helpful in people who have low back pain, leg pain or one area of pain and not multiple pain issues (http://aansneurosurgeon.org/features/neurosurgeons-rise-address-opioid-crisis-america/).

My previous pain clinic physician informed me that the intrathecal pain pump administers approximately 1/300th of the amount of oral medication needed to relieve high amounts of chronic pain. But this is also living with a literal “hockey puck” inside of your gut forever and and depending on one person to fill it! That same Dr., told me that I would be “married to him” as a patient, for life. In my research, I have found that if your physician leaves his practice, retires or if you have complications in another city/state or country; your pretty much out of luck, in all honesty! Emergency rooms and other physicians won’t normally touch another Dr’s patient with a pain pump! Again, this is another invasive surgery where your body is being cut and something is put into your spine. Complications stem from worsening pain to paralysis. Here is an article that speaks to some of the complications (http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/health/to-your-good-health/implanted-back-pain-pump-is-an-option-for-very-few/article_474eed95-3f54-59ca-9b9b-9f8f941c0300.html). The nerve ablation or Radiofrequency Neurotomy, means literally “burning” nerves to “create a heat lesion”, thus, making the nerves lose functionality (https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/injections/radiofrequency-neurotomy-facet-and-sacroiliac-joint-pain). Each person feeling relief from chronic pain, is all that matters. We should be able to have choices available to discuss with our own physicians.

Someone who knows our past history of illness and our current diseases. A Dr. who can discuss these different methods with us and help us determine which route is best for each individual.

This past week I read an article in “Clinical Pain Advisor” (https://www.clinicalpainadvisor.com/treatments/epidural-steroid-injections-postmenopausal-women-bone-mineral-density-vertebral-fractures/article/739080/) that touched on the issues with the Epidural Steroid Injections. After having many of these injections in the first years following my car accident, now I find out that they cause decreased bone mineral density and increased risks for vertebral fractures. It appears that there are complications with every method of pain relief. We just need to be able to choose what is best for our own body. Nobody should be forced into surgeries, Acupuncture, Marijuana or Opioids. On the other hand, if one method, such as Opioids, have worked for you and you’ve literally tried many other methods of pain relief, then you should be able to continue. Taking a pill that has little or no side effects for a group of people who are doing well with Opioid therapy, should be still allowed and not demonized. I believe there will always be a place for Opioids for the relief of chronic pain. If you have been taking them for many years and are stable, then obviously you are not “addicted”. Don’t forget that there is a difference between addiction and dependency. Also, don’t forget to support the “Opioids and Stop Pain Act” (S.2260/H.R. 4733), introduced by Senator Schatz and Representatives Welch & MicKinley. The U.S. Pain Foundation, along with 30 other Pain organizations support this Act. It will provide $5 billion over 5 years for research of the NIH into the understanding of pain and the discovery and development of therapy for chronic pain.

Becoming Incurable Crowdfunding Campaign


Please watch this short video and see how this film producer is bringing awareness of Chronic pain and Chronic illnesses to the big screen!

If you prefer to visit my advocacy YouTube Channel to watch this, you can visit: WWW.YouTube.Com/Suzydukettes….

BUT my newest Youtube video is right here for you to watch -and it’s only about 4 minutes Long: I hope you will enjoy, learn & help in any way possible with the crowdfunding campaign, at: http://www.seedandspark.com/fund/becomingincurable

Here is a very short 4 minute video: (Thank you for Watching):

Becoming Incurable Crowdfunding Video

Human Rights Group Addresses Opioid Issue


 

I was uplifted to see that someone is finally standing up for the rights of 100 million chronic pain patients in these United States of America. We’ve been waiting for a group, a person, a physician or anyone to stand of for this group of people who are mostly too busy worrying about Dr. appointments and just carrying out daily tasks of living to advocate for themselves . Those who deal with daily pain are often too weak to form a huge protest, fight with signs and stand on Capitol Hill for days or hours at a time. Many of us have written letters and tried to encourage people to respond to the FDA docket. Many people have done what they could do to help, while living with illness, chronic pain and debilitating fatigue.

This past week I was so happy to find that a Human Rights group called “Human Rights Watch” has taken an interest in our cause. Someone has finally noticed that ignoring a large group of citizens who live with chronic pain and who are being largely untreated or under-treated, is inhumane! This Human rights group has reported on other forms of torture throughout the third world countries as well. They are based in New York and at last, they are looking towards helping the people at “home”, in the USA. They were doing research on cancer patients and were shocked to find that so many had lost their pain control/relief. This is considered torture in many other countries. Before this Opioid issue began, I never would have believed that the USA would want to torture their most fragile citizens? Hopefully this advocacy group will truly help this cause. They could begin by reversing the effects of the CDC guidelines and by helping to keep the government (and politics) out of practicing medicine. In my opinion, it feels as though some legislators who may want to be re-elected, make a name for themselves or get news media attention have been “using” the chronic pain community for their own gains. One example of politics mixing with medicine is the “Lifeboat tax”. A group of Senators want patients who are taking Opioids, to pay for addiction treatments centers by forcing a tax of .01 cent per milligram of Opioids prescribed daily. But the majority of people who are legitimately prescribed Opioids are not “addicted”. This is wrong and someone has to take a stand, be brave and help those who truly cannot always fight for themselves. Living with untreated and under-treated chronic pain is definitely a human rights issue because people can and do die from it! They pass away because increased amounts of pain can cause very high blood pressure, high glucose level, stroke and a heart attack. But it’s the “living” without pain relief that is the torturous part.

Honestly, removing Opioids from the bigger picture of high pain illnesses, is inhumane. I hope this Human Rights Watch group will help the chronic pain community, curb the fear in our physicians and stop the Government from creeping into our patient/Dr. Relationship and exam room. This group found that nobody has been paying attention to those suffering because their physicians “jumped ship” and abandoned them. They found that the testimonies given by some patients who have lost access to appropriate medications for pain relief, “were similar to those who were victims of police torture”( https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2018/3/15/human-rights-watch-investigating-treatment-of-pain-patients. We needed someone to be brave and step up to help our community.

If you want to help the chronic pain community and/or if you have a story of your own, please write to this group? Share your story in just a few lines. They have asked for people to send these stories to: Human Rights Watch, email researcher Laura Mills at millsl@hrw.org…They also have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HumanRightsWatch and they have a Twitter feed @HumanRightsWatch. The more true stories about increased pain and loss of treatment that can be sent to them, the better. The more real human faces that they can connect with this Cause, the more it will help to stop the continued torture of Americans who rely on Opioid therapy for relief of chronic pain Illnesses.

A “Call To Action”


I saw a “call to action” from my US Pain Foundation family in January, about the upcoming “Rare Disease Day”, on 2-28-18. I went to Rarediseaseday.org to check it out. There was so much information and 2 of my illnesses (CRPS & EDS -4/Vascular) we’re on the list! I downloaded the social media packet and started sharing in each of my groups & on all of my pages, Blog etc. I wrote to the event facilitators and they posted “my story” and a video that I had made, about CRPS.

(Here’s the link: http://www.rarediseaseday.org/stories/6082)

I was really excited to share more about this day as people started asking me more and more questions.

After calling around, I found a venue to host my own “Rare Disease Day” event. Within minutes, the Township Supervisor, Pat Williams (whose helped me with “Pain Awareness Month” proclamations etc.), found me a venue in the Canton Leisure Services building, called “The Summit”.

The event day finally arrived! But as I was getting things ready to take with me, I had a bad fall. In trying to maneuver steps without anyone else home, my foot didn’t clear the step and I stumbled while going upwards. I was in a great deal of pain, but I couldn’t let down those sho were counting on me. My husband and I decided to take my wheelchair, which I usually reserve for outings where I might be walking a bit more. I needed it and it helped me get through the evening.

This Awareness event turned out to be one of my favorites! It was in the lobby, so people were coming “in and out”. It was quite busy with people from the pool area and the gym.

Many people stopped and asked questions Like, ”What is Rare Disease day? What is the US Pain Foundation? Why are you here?” Etc. I had some medical professionals stop and we exchanged our “Rare Disease Day” online stories with each other! They showed me their photos and told me about the research they’re doing on a few “Rare Diseases.” There was another medical professional and a couple Physical Therapists who also were very interested in the INvisible project and other information that I had with me. I got the chance to give out my new chronic pain Support group information when several people stopped to tell me their “story.”

I had downloaded the Rare Disease Day info packet from the website and made copies. Those were also popular with a few High School students who stopped by my table, at first because the candy bowl caught their eye! But they told me about upcoming projects that they have to do. They wanted all the information that they could get. Not surprisingly, there were many people interested in the Migraine & Rheumatoid Disease editions of the INvisible Project. I even had the family of a Veteran, ask if they could take one of those editions home for a relative who’d been in the Korean War.

All in all it was the best event I’ve had and it felt like I reached a lot of people, answered many questions and listened to many sad stories. But I also gave US Pain Foundation information to several persons. It felt as though I was giving them hope. “Hope” for themselves or someone they love who lives with chronic pain due to a rare disease.

Lastly, I think that I recruited some new US Pain Foundation, Chronic pain Support group members. They seemed genuinely excited to have a platform to be heard and to talk with others going through similar situations.

Give Pain A Voice


By: Suzanne Stewart

(With excerpts from Tina Petrova)

Tina Petrova is a motivational speaker and an award winning filmmaker. She is also a person who lives with chronic pain and knows what it feels like. Along with many others, she agrees that pain is being under-treated in both America and in Canada.

She and film partner Eugene Weis are trying to bring awareness of the dramatic loss in pain-care through their new Documentary film “Pandemic of Denial. “ It is their hope that this film will help educate general society about what it is to live with a life long diagnoses of Chronic Pain.

Tina shared with me “there isn’t any real “guide book” to give direction as to “what to do next,”when living with daily chronic pain”. The film follows the lives of families torn apart by suicides due to chronic pain, those who contemplated it during filming and those left behind to grieve.

Her pain physician in Canada believes intractable pain has to do with pain being an “outward sign” of a damaged or traumatized “pain system”. He believes that humans have a “pain system” just like the other systems in the human body; for example: lymphatic, cardiovascular etc. In his views, the chronic pain patients struggle to makes sense of their lives after being productive and then suddenly not being able to do what they once could do.

Tina shared with me , that she felt if a patient cannot make sense of such a dramatic life altering event; then how are our loved ones and colleagues supposed to do this?

We all agree that chronic pain can end dreams and even lives; especially with medical complications and now today, with the rise in suicides due to under-treated and untreated chronic pain. This film tries to help us all make sense of what is happening to one in four North Americans who live with daily pain.

The filmmakers have said that “this disease now affects more people than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined… It is no small disease, ”which is the reason for the title of their new film, “Pandemic of Denial”. There can be article after article to read about chronic pain and how it is affecting people even more so now with the “War on Drugs”. But when you turn the channel and a compelling film, with interesting footage, comes to life on your Television screen; you are more likely to become engaged with the story that is being told. We are drawn in by the images, voices, music and drama.

This film focuses on the main themes of “abandoned chronic pain patients, pediatric pain and the collateral damage of suicides due to under or untreated chronic pain.” The Filmmakers feel that while “addiction and overdose are important issues to tackle, Chronic pain is equally serious and important.”

This writer agrees that addiction is also important, but these are two very different illnesses being “lumped together” as one. While the addicts are being given clean needles at a free clinic set up in several cities; the chronic pain patients are being turned away by their Physicians, Pharmacists and lawmakers; to fend for themselves and live with horrendous daily pain.

Addiction is being talked about and it is a serious disease as well. But these abandoned chronic pain patients , the tortured existence of the lives they must now live, are not being discussed nearly enough. The film explores how these people could once work outside the home, even part time. They were raising a family and housekeeping. But now pain patients are left to be bed-ridden in torturous pain with no relief and no end in sight.

The film “Pandemic of Denial” also addresses the current hostile regulatory environment towards our medical professionals. It shows how the pendulum has swung much too far the one way; while marginalizing and making outcasts of one group of human beings. In this respect, they are talking about long term chronic pain patients and putting them in one small group, with a “one size fits all” mentality.

It also sheds light on physicians who have been also living with many losses; such as their practices, livelihoods and even their careers at times.

Some of them losing all of this and being “attacked” while still try to uphold their Hippocratic oath and continuing to treat those who live with the tortures of under and untreated daily chronic pain.

Without this kind of education, discussions and strategies on how to face this health crisis that we are already living in- we are going to be facing new hardships with a population that is ever growing and aging. Filmmakers like Tina and Eugene are trying to educate the public on this “Pandemic of Denial”.

NOTE: Tina and Eugene hope to have the film released widely in 2018. At this moment, they are “still seeking Pain organizations, Broadcasters and Distributors who would like to partner with them to reach the maximum audience for the biggest impact.” They are also compiling a list of interested persons who would like to co-host screenings in their local communities. For regular updates you can follow their official Facebook Film page, at: http://www.facebook.com/pandemicofdenialmovie. You may contact them at: pandemicofdenial@gmail.com

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.”

I Am Invisible No More!


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Hello Luvs,

I wanted to post the video that I made for Invisible Disabilities Association. I was hoping to ask you for a favor? I have entered this video in a contest, in order to spread awareness of Invisible Illnesses. Would you please be so kind as to just click on the video below and then watch the 3 minute long Video? Then right above the video, after you click on it, you’ll see the word “VOTE”! Please click on that word and that will cast your vote for me!

Thank you so very much! If you could, I’d be so obliged if you could SHARE the video on your Facebook pages and in your groups, Tweets etc. It would be really awesome to make Invisible illnesses more known! Thank you for your vote, in advance. I appreciate it so much! Ohhhh please always us the hashtag #Iaminvisiblenomore thank you !

My video “I Am Invisible No More” Is Right Here, When You Click!

http://woobox.com/yskmzt/gallery/0by3nprZkI0