All You Ever Wanted To Dysautonomia


Definition:

  1. Dysautonomia refers to a malfunction or disorder of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This is usually involves failure of the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system; but it can also mean that the ANS may be overactive. Dysautonomia refers to the “involuntary” systems of the body. This can include: body temperature, blood pressure, respiratory/breathing, sleep, heart rate and more. Dysautonomia can be considered “Local” as it is in many cases of CRPS, or it can be a total Autonomic failure. Sometimes Dysautonomia is considered to be “acute” and reversible. Other times it may be chronic and progressive (as in Diabetes or Parkinson’s). A person may be diagnosed with Dysautonomia by itself, as a condition. It can also be associated with degenerative and neurological diseases. Dyauatonomia is actually an “Umbrella term” used to describe many different issues that occur due to the malfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System.Lastly, Dysautonomia is responsible for our “fight-or- flight” response. This is what gets our body ready for stressful situations. When the nerves of the ANS are damaged, you can get Autonomic Neuropathy as well. These dysfunctions can range from mild to life threatening.
  2. What People Are Saying: people are saying that Dysautonomia is a common ailment among people with autoimmune illnesses, CRPS, Chiari, Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and even Diabetes. The most common symptoms that people in the chronic pain community speak about is a fall in blood pressure during standing or “Orthostatic Hypertension” or a rapid pulse rate. Other things that are said about Dysautonomia are that it causes abnormal sweating, emotional instability and motor incoordination.
  3. Symptoms: Some symptoms of Dysautonomia *(aka Autonomic nerve disorders) are: syncope (fainting), Orthostatic Hypotension and/or intolerance, POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), Gastroparesis, Intestinal Dysmotility, constipation, Erectile daysfunction and neurogenic bladder. Other symptoms include: fatigue, light-headedness, weakness and cognitive impairment. In Dysautonomia involving the Gastrointestinal tract, the patients often feels nausea, bloating, vomiting and abdominal pain, when the ANS malfunctions.
  4. Possible comorbidities: Possible illnesses that go along with Dysautonomia can include: CRPS, EDS, Chiari, Gastroparesis, Autoimmune illnesses, Lupus, POTS, NCS (Neurocardiogenic Syncope). Other co-morbidities include: Multiple Sclerosis, RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), Celiac Disease, Autonomic Neuropathy & Sjogren’s Syndrome etc. The worst form of Dysautonomia, which is a fatal form that occurs in adults ages 40 and up, is called MSA. This means, “Multiple System Atrophy”. It is similar to Parkin-son’s disease but MSA patients become fully bedridden wishing 2 years of diagnosis. But please note that this is very, very rare and only about 350,000 people have the MSA form, worldwide.
  5. Treatment options: There is no cure currently for Dysautonomia at this time but secondary forms can improve with treatments for the underlying disease. You can help the Orthostatic hypotension by elevating the head of the bed, rapid water infusion (given rapidly in an IV) and eating a higher salt diet. Other treatments may include exercise and healthy diet.
  6. FDA approved medications: Midodrine is an FDA approved medication that helps with the syncope and collapse.
  1. Complimentary Therapies: Biofeedback and exercise with the right amount of salt may help some of the symptoms of Dysautonomia. Biofeedback can teach you how to calm yourself of anxiety which often comes with this illness. There was a Webinar back in early Winter 2017, that US Pain hosted. It was about “Earthing” or “Grounding (”http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads%2Fi-think-earthing-cured-my-dysautonomia-pots.24992%2F and this therapy has been known to help this person; who wrote her experiences about “Grounding” helping her symptoms of Dysautonomia. *I was also prescribed a “cooling vest” to help with the feeling of overheating inside of my body
  2. Best nutrition: higher salt intake and staying hydrated are the two most important things to remember with Dysautonomia and nutrition.
  3. Best exercise regime: Exercise can be difficult when you feel very fatigued and barely able to stand at times. Also, you need to get the permission of your Physicians before starting any exercise program. Also, staying hydrated while increasing aerobic exercise, lower extremity strengthening, increasing fluid/salt intake and psychophysiologic training for management of pain and anxiety, along with family education. People also say that exercise intolerance is part of Dysautonomia but it is essential to helping with it. Start off slowly and avoid exercises that cause orthostatic stress. This includes minimal or no vertical movement, including rowing, recumbent biking or swimming.
  1. . Local Support groups: Local support groups can be found at the website: “Dysautonomia International”, here: Dysautonomia International and you may email Dysautonomia International at: info@dysautonomia for online support group resources. They do not verify the accuracy of information posted in the groups*.
  2. . Links to other organizations and websites and additional info: The best website with a lot of information here: ( Dysautonomia International ) at “Dysautonomia International”. They have links to support groups and online support, as well as diet and exercise tips.
  3. : Personal story for someone to connect with: Dysautonomia is something that I was likely born with. I was involved and injured in two automobile accidents that have inevitably made it much worse. First in 1983, I was hit by a drunk driver while sitting at a red stop light. Secondly, in 2002, a man in a pickup truck, ran through a red light and I suffered multiple injuries and had many surgeries. I also suffered an MTBI or “MildTraumatic Brain Injury”. One of my treatment team of Dr.’s is a Neurocardiologist, and he told me that my Dysautonomia was made much worse due to the “sloshing” of my cerebellum against the skull wall. I do have severe systemic CRPS, Chiari, RA, Autonomic Neuropathy, Polyneuropathy in Collagen Vascular Disease (aka EDS type 4/vascular) and Gastroparesis. These are all hallmarks of the umbrella illness of Dysautonomia. Following the auto accident in 2002, I was fainting quite often. We found out that my brain was not telling my heart what to do, because I have Autonomic Nervous System Failure. I ended up requiring a dual changer pacemaker. It now does 87% of the work for my heart. I am very lucky to have found a wonderful specialist in Dr. Blair Grubb, MD at the University of Toledo Medical Center. He is known around the world as far away as the UK!

**Various other personal stories for me are found here at my blog “Tears of Truth” and at: tearsoftruth.com:

A). Dysautonomia/POTS & S.I.B.O. and this one: Article about Dysautonomia/POTS & SIBO

B). Another article for you!Https://Wordpress.com/post/tearsoftruth.com/9263

Helpful YouTube Videos:

A. Dysautonomia/POTS

B.Dr Blair Grubb on POTs

***Informational Sources:

1. Dictionary.com on Dysautonomia

2. Medical News Today in Dysautonomia

3. Dysautonomia International

4. http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads%2Fi-think-earthing-cured-my-dysautonomia-pots.24992%2F

5. Dysautonomia International more on Dysautonomia

6. Mayo Clinic on Dysautonomia

7. Healthline.com on Dysautonomia

8. Clevland Clinic on Dysautonomia

9.WordPress blog “Tears of Truth” on Dysautonomias

We are Not Addicts! Get it Through Your Heads!


The Head of CDC says “this is personal “

Read this article and then read my comments here afterwards- please. This is outrageous!

When will they get an unbiased person to take over this “so-called” crisis? An adult, teen or child who willingly takes cocaine or heroin, laced with the bad cara-fentanyl or any fentanyl is wrong for making the choice to do so! This is 100% totally separate from a chronic intractable pain patient getting a prescription from a legitimate pain physician. It’s different because it’s not just a choice, it’s necessary & something many chronic pain patients need to even have some semblance of a life!

If this is such a “personal” matter, then keep it that way! It’s “personal” and those affected by illegal drug use should get the help THEY need; without killing all of the chronic intractable pain patients in the meantime! If we don’t die or commit suicide from living an agonizing “1/2-life” of horrible daily pain, then we are just living a tortured existence of pain combined with fear. Innocent chronic pain patients are also being made to feel like criminals! This is insane!! Please, legislators and others in positions of power over the chronic pain population of this country, take the “personal business “ out of the workplace! Put yourself in the position of knowing that any day you could be hit by a guy who runs a red light, as in my situation! Any one of you or your loved ones could be living with unbearable pain from any number of accidents or illnesses that come up each day! If it was “personal” chronic intractable pain, I’ll bet we’d be getting a different story & a different swing on things!!!

Keeping Hope Alive is Tough!


You never think it will happen to you, until it does. I have been helping others and advocating for them for many years now. I have been writing for the National Pain Report and in my own blog (tearsoftruth.com) for several years as well. I try to give advice to others to help keep their hope alive. On my WEGO Health profile, my favorite words are posted. These are words that I try to live by and a phrase that originated with me, “Hope is a verb, You have to DO something in order to have it”. Now I have to practice what I have been preaching.

I think most of you know that in March 2018, I visited my pain Dr. And he did the usual random urine test. I was told in April that it showed a positive for PCP and something else, I cant even think of right now? Probably because I have no idea what these are and did not ever take them. It ended up being a “false positive” after we were charge $300.00, because HE forgot that I was taking a migraine medication that did not show up on the MAPS. He says it shows up sometimes, not others?

My PTSD symptoms have gotten worse prior to each upcoming pain Dr. visit. He has become less respectful towards me. I used to feel a mutual respect between us. I stopped taking some other cancer pain medication that was prescribed to me before I started seeing him in 2015. I felt that he respected me for being able to do that and go through the withdrawals process. My brain did not ever care about the medication, but my body got very sick when I stopped it.

The past few appointments I have not felt that respect that I had felt in the past. My Dr. was treating me differently. He got angry if I got weepy at all and he yelled at me for crying. Something changed in him and I could see it and feel it, but I was not sure what it was or why it was happening? This week I went to my appointment on Monday, 7-9-18. Things were pretty “normal” during the visit, but he was kind of “short” and “quick” with me, when he used to chit chat a bit and even smile when he told me about his children. At the end of the visit, he said this to me “so we are stopping your Fentanyl patch”. I was stunned because I’ve been on it for 15 yrs and taking less now than I was in 2015. I’ve had some semblance of a life with my husband, kids and grandchildren. I’ve been doing quite well and now he was taking away something that I’ve been doing very well with. Then came the “big lie”; (*which I know is untrue because I asked my Neurologist and Cardiologist and I was told it was not true whatsoever). He told me that I was “probably not getting more than 30% of the medication anyways because I’m not “fat” or “heavy enough”. That the fentanyl patch works better on “fat/heavy people” or “people with more body fat than I have”.” I questioned him, but I knew enough not to question him too much. I did not want to make the person that I depend on to have some kind of life at all, angry with me. My husband brought the empty bottle of my Migraine medicine to show him that I did have an 8 month old script and recently got a new refill. It was not showing up in the MAPS and my husband asked him if we should ask the pharmacy to make sure it is in that system? He told us that “they don’t like if you know too much, its best not to say anything”. What the heck is that all about? We are supposed to be lambs/sheep and follow orders and jump off the cliff if told to do so, without ever asking any questions? I’ve always found it better to be knowledgeable in my own treatment and healthcare. But this is not the case today, I guess?

Lastly, I put myself into old “abuse mode”. It was the same as the “old days” and I put myself in another place, disassociated until we could get the hell out of that room. All I wanted to do is cry and be hysterical for a few moments with the one person who loves me and who protects me to the best of his abilities and who is my soul-mate, my husband. I heard him tell me that he was taking away my patch and that I could take a different extended release medication “MS Contin”. But, I told him that I am unable to take that medication because I have Gastroparesis and even before I was diagnosed with GP, I could not take that medication because it made me sick, violently ill. That was the only choice I had and he gave me “one more month to be psychologically ready” but my dose was lowered and spread out for another full day. In one month I will be taken off of my patch after 15 years, with no tapering and nothing that matches the strength and pain lowering levels of what has worked for me for so long.

We are now at the mercy of the government in our patient rooms. He says that the state and federal government are making him do this to me. But there is no “law” that I can find in Michigan yet, stating that all persons taking Fentanyl for chronic pain must be removed from taking it now. I’m sorry that I don’t believe that you must be “heavy person” in order for the Fentanyl to work, because I was pretty much anorexic when I started it and it’s always worked for my pain. I have never had a “high” or any feelings except some relief from the pain of the several high pain illnesses that I live with and have lived with for many years. He also told me that “only those who have cancer are allowed to have these fentanyl patches now”. There is no evidence to prove that cancer pain is any worse than the pain that many of the chronic pain patients have to endure. I know there is a NORD website quote or a quote from the AMA, regarding this but I’m too sick right now to try and find it for you, I apologize. It’s easy to give advice, hope and love to people going through this, but when it is YOU who is going through it, all the love, advice and hope won’t make it better.

The same day that this happened, I awoke at 4:00 am with a feeling like someone was pressing on my left eye. When I opened my eyes, I could not see out of my left eye at all. It was totally pitch black. After a few minutes of screaming hysterically and my husband rushing to my side, I started to see patches of light in a dark mass. Then patches of the living room came into focus. After about 5-10 minutes, I could see again but not as sharp as usual with my glasses on. I went to sleep and in the morning I had a dull ache in my left eye and went to the hospital’s eye clinic that day. The Dr. Said that I had a “mini stroke” or “TIA of the eye”. My blood pressure had been high at the pain Dr. Appointment and my heart rate was 100 bpm before he even came into the room to tell me the news. He told me it was probably from stress and nothing they could do for me after all of the special testing that they did, they sent me home. I visited my heart specialist the next day and filled him in. He concurred with the eye clinic and said it could even have been an Ocular Migraine, but either/or both are from stress and can be a dangerous precursor to a stroke. I had a CVA or stroke in 2006, so I’ve been there and done that already. Today, we are like lambs going off to slaughter and nobody cares if we live or die. As my kind-hearted specialist physician of 15 years told me yesterday, “unfortunately you and people like you are collateral damage to the hysteria taking place right now”. I guess now it is up to me to see if I am able to follow any of the advice that I’ve been giving to others in this same predicament? Will I have another heart attack or another stroke because the legislators don’t care about me as an individual? Will I live to see my granddaughters and new grandson’s lives evolve or will I be a statistic? I guess only time will tell and all I can do is try to “keep hope alive”.

Some  Facts About The U.S. Pain Foundation


Hello Luvs,

First off, I want everyone to know that no one asked me to write this piece. I’m sorry that I’ve had a bit of “writers block” recently. Nobody at US Pain Foundation even knows I’m writing this piece. I promise you it’s not a “promotional” blog post! But when things stick in my brain and really bother me, I need to get them out on paper, in a manner of speaking.

Recently, I’ve been getting asked the same question over and over again. People know what the U.S. Pain Foundation is, but they ask me “what does the U.S. Pain Foundation do for the pain community? I’m writing this as a patient advocate, a pain ambassador and as a chronic pain patient. I’ve only been on the Board since January of 2018. But I’ve been a member of this lovely community since 2015.

The U.S. Pain Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization who is dedicated to serving those of us who live with chronic painful conditions and illnesses. They also serve our care givers. They not only help with finding resources for the pain community but they help to provide inspiration for us as well.

They are leaders among the pain community and they are pain patients. They empower, educate, connect and advocate for people living with chronic pain. To me they offered Hope. They have many programs going on simultaneously as the U.S. Pain community works daily to help people in all age groups.  They serve as advocates at the state and federal levels as they fervently work to keep track of and help us with the various Bills and laws at each level. They have people who go and testify and help with many of the situations that affect the pain community now. They even have a pediatric pain program.

Did you know that you can visit the U.S. Pain Foundation Website and find your pain condition to learn more about your illnesses? They have a program called “Learn About Your Pain”. You just go here:  https://uspainfoundation.org/programs/eductional/ .  Also on that same page you’ll find “Pain Medicine 411”, where patients can learn to make informed decisions about their medications.  They can also visit the National Coalition of Pain Providers & professionals. There they can network, educate and give referrals for pain care providers and more. Theres also information about the “Knowvember” project; which is an educational campaign done each November.  It has free webinars with experts, Twitter chats and daily facts.  Lastly, at that same page,  you will find “Take Control of Your Pain”. These are events or education days held at various locations throughout the country. These help patients and caregivers by empowering them to take control of their pain and medical journeys.

If you go to the top right of the page, you can click on “find a specialist”. All you do is put in your location and what type of physician you are looking for and some will show up for you to choose from. You can also find clinical trials or connect with people from our Pain Connection group.  They can help you locate an in-person support group in your area. These support groups are lead by trained support group leaders. You can also share your story here:  https://uspainfoundation.org/get-involved/share-my-story/ …and become a pain Ambassador here: https://uspainfoundation.org/get-involved/pain-ambassador-network/ … You can also get information about medical cannabis here:

https://uspainfoundation.org/?s=medical+cannabis

There is also the “Invisible Project”, which tries to make the invisible illnesses more visible. They put names and faces with some painful invisible illnesses. You can read more about this project here: https://uspainfoundation.org/?s=invisible+project

No one from the U.S. Pain Foundation will bother you or send you information that you do not want or without your consent. If you become a “Pain Ambassador”, you will receive a little kit with some “goodies” in it and information. There is more but then this article would get too long. If you have any other questions about what they do, please contact them directly on the website at: www.USpainfoundation.org or by telephone at: 1-800-910-2462. I hope that this answers any of your questions about what the U.S. Pain foundations does for the chronic pain community.

Dear Senator


Hello Luvs,

Below is a copy of a letter that I’m sending to my Senator and possibly to a few other legislators. Of course, I will change it up a bit for the others.

Please give me any constructive feedback or ideas to add to the letter that I’ve written. Be kind and let me know what you think? Thank you so much! I appreciate it.

I have the letter that I got back from the Senator, in response to my first letter to her almost a year ago! So here’s my letter to her, straight out of my email draft! Thank you again.

*********************************

Dear Senator Stabinaw,

Thank you for your response to my 1st letter. Although I think it must have been a response to someone else’s letter to you? My letter was addressing the 26 million intractable chronic pain patients who now find themselves cut off from any kind of opioid pain relief therapy. There is a place for opioids, when many other methods of pain relief have been tried and failed for one reason or another. The opioid “crisis” has truly zero to 1% to do with chronic pain patients and has much more to do with the illegal fentanyl and Cara-fentanyl brought over to the US from China etc.

I was asking you to help the chronic intractable pain patients in our state and in the USA. They are being forgotten in all of this. The government needs to stay out of the Dr. /patient relationships & exam rooms. That’s a wonderful thing to stop drug abuse and substance abuse disorder. But not at the expense, loss and inhumane treatment of the chronic intractable pain patients lives.

The chronic pain community is seeing a rise in suicides with the gross reduction in opioid prescribing. We had another fatality just this week (April 2018), I will include a link to that story with this letter. A young mother who loved her 11 year old boy and her husband, was ill before & during every pain Dr. visit (due to anxiety/fear of upcoming appointment), most recently especially.

Patients are experiencing PTSD symptoms as they await the cut off and/or tapering of their safe and effective, long term opioid pain medications. These persons are not afraid of losing the opioid pain meds. They’re afraid of living with the excruciating & horrible intractable pain on a daily basis for the resting their lives.

Please help these patients by also alleviating the fear of career loss or even jail time; for the Drs who prescribe these medications. The pain specialist goes to school for sometimes 15 years, to learn how to treat these patients. But now, legislators are taking over this “specialist” role. If you’d like to sit down with me, hear my story etc; I’d be more than happy to come. I’d love the opportunity to speak with you and anyone else who can help the chronic intractable pain patients in Michigan & the USA.

Thank you for your time. I’ve enclosed the links to a couple of stories on YouTube , the Pain News Network & the National Pain Report.

1. https://youtu.be/u4vHSLeTe-s

2. https://www.acsh.org/news/2017/10/12/opioid-epidemic-6-charts-designed-deceive-you-11935

3.https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2018/4/30/death-of-pain-patient-blamed-on-dea#.Wuf0unJ0GX8.twitter=

4. https://.com/2017/12/14/pain-acceptance-the-newest-lie/

Peace & Hope,

Suzanne B. Stewart

about.me/suzydukettes

U.S. Pain Fdn. Ambassador/Advocate/Board Member, Recipient of Pain Ambassador of the Year Award‘16, Mentor for CRPS patients RSDSA, Staff Columnist/Ntl. Pain Report, Blog-“Tears Of Truth” @tearsoftruth.com, Patient leader WEGO Health, HoH/ASL

DISCLAIMER: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not recommend the self-management of health problems. We can not and do not give you medical advice. The information in this e mail should not be considered complete. Information obtained in this e mail is not exhaustive and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions or their treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this e mail. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. US Pain Foundation inc. does not represent to be an authority but is just helping pass information from other organizations, advocates and or websites.

On Jan 30, 2018, at 5:36 PM, Senator Debbie Stabenow <senator@stabenow.senate.gov> wrote:

Dear Suzanne,

Thank you for contacting me about the treatment and prevention of drug addiction. I share your support for strengthening programs that help individuals overcome addiction and lead healthy and productive lives.

That is why I cosponsored the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA), which was signed into law on July 22, 2016. CARA expands and strengthens substance abuse prevention, education, treatment, and monitoring programs around the country.

Substance abuse and addiction have devastating physical and mental consequences for millions of Americans. Drug abuse has increased dramatically nationwide, and in Michigan, the drug overdose death rate is above the national average. That is why I fought for passage of a demonstration project based on my bipartisan bill, the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which will expand access to mental health and substance abuse services in the community and ensure that more people can get the quality care that they need. I have also fought to strengthen substance abuse prevention and treatment through the efforts of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please continue to keep me informed about issues of concern to you and your family.

Sincerely,

Debbie Stabenow

United States Senator

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow

The United States Senate •Washington, DC 20510

stabenow.senate.gov

Nowhere To Run



Going to the doctors office has never been one of my favorite things to do. When I was 5 years old, I filled my suitcase and “ran away” because I was afraid to get my Kindergarten vaccines. Now, I’m all grown up and looking forward to retirement; but I’m still that 5 year old deep down inside, more afraid of doctors than ever before. Why do they have so much power over us? Why do some use that power to make us feel inferior? Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can makes us feel inferior without our consent”, but I feel it and I don’t remember giving anyone permission? We are living in difficult times for anyone who has debilitating, intractable chronic pain. There also is no place to “run”, no matter how big your suitcase is or how much money you have. There’s no grandparents at the other end to scoop you up and tell you that “it’s going to be OK”. Mostly, because it’s NOT OK.
Have you ever seen an action/crime movie where an innocent person was being tortured and/or thrown in jail, for something they did not do? A person being “beat up” but totally innocent? This is what is happening to the chronic pain patients in America today. I’m going to share a short story about what happened to me the other day. We always think these things only happen to “other people”. That “it won’t happen to us”. That is wrong and untrue. We live in a civilized nation, or do we? How can they treat us like this?
Here is a summary of what happens to me every 30 days. Each time I have to visit the pain Dr.’s office, I get physically ill, worse than usual. A few days prior to my upcoming appointment, I get more frequent stomach aches. I want to stay inside more and just sit in my “Lazy Boy” chair, with my blanket and with my cat cuddled up next to me. I wonder if “this will be the visit that “it” happens to me”? As the appointment time gets closer, I get more clingy to home and all things comfortable to me. A fear deep inside of me grows worse and worse. Then the morning of the appointment comes. I get nausea, dry mouth, diarrhea and I don’t want to leave my house. I cannot leave because no matter how much I talk myself out of these feelings, they won’t go away. My blood pressure, which has normally been low to normal, is very high for me at about 150/95 to 155/100. I feel sick and afraid. But I’ve never smoked anything and I have never taken any kind of medication or “drug” that was not specifically prescribed to me by a licensed physician.
The time of the appointment grows closer and I get even more distressed. Sometimes I cry and I just verbalize to my husband that “I don’t want to go”. I wonder why is life so cruel to those who are already living with agonizing pain and illness? I’m not one to feel sorry for myself. I really trust and like my pain Dr. too, don’t get me wrong. But I know he’s not my “friend”. He has heard every excuse in the “book”. He has no reason to believe anyone and he must go by what he sees in text. All day long other people have ruined it for the “good patients” who don’t deserve this kind of questioning, contracts and treatment.
It’s time to leave the house. But I cannot leave the bathroom. I take a bucket with me because I don’t want to vomit in the car. It’s a 30 minute drive and my painful RSD/CRPS feet are shaking even though they hurt. I cannot control it. My husband chuckles, kindly telling me that I’m “shaking the entire car”. We arrive at the pain Dr.s office. There are cameras everywhere, in the parking lot and in the office. For all I know, theres one in the restroom? I know that I left a urine sample last time, so I feel pretty calm about that not going wrong. I had not heard from them, so Im just sure that there’s no “false positives” with me. That only happens to other people, right?
We sign in at the front desk. I answer the several questions that I am asked every 30 days now. For crying out loud, what changes in 30 days? It’s just too often to put people through this, aside from the cost. My name is called and my stomach is in knots. I’m sweating and sick to my stomach with my heart is pounding. I feel afraid and “guilty”. I hear the footsteps faintly coming down the hallway and then a knock at the door. I calm my inner fears and I tell myself “Suzanne you are a good person. You’ve never done anything wrong and you follow the directions exactly. This is crazy, why are you so afraid?” I’m afraid because of the horror stories of others who are also innocent. The pain Dr. enters the room and asks me the same questions each month. Every 30 days, the same dialogue. But this day I hear different mantra than usual. I feel as though I’m in a tunnel as I hear these words “Your urine test came back positive and I had to send it out to another lab. In case you wonder when you receive a $200.00 or $300.00 bill from an outside lab. I just wanted you to know.” I started to cry and then I was asked “why are you crying?” Next, I was informed that no matter how long he’s known me, if the test had ben positive, I would be kicked out of the practice with no place to turn. Innocent or not, I would have been “guiilty”. It doesn’t matter that these tests are many times false positives and false negatives. Nothing matters anymore. The truth doesn’t matter any longer. I was literally terrified just hearing those words come out of his mouth. I asked him “What could it be positive for? I did not do anything different?” He proceeded to tell me that I tested positive for PCP and Oxy-something? But I don’t take those! I don’t even know what “PCP” is? I had to ask and he did not answer. He could not understand why I was crying uncontrollably and inconsolably.
We had received a $265.00 bill from a lab just a few days prior. We were going to call because we thought it was a mistake. Now we are supposedly responsible for this very large bill. I never signed anything promising to pay for all of those tests? But what happens if I fight it? Next time there is a “false positive”,they won’t perform the tests, therefore I won’t be exonerated and I will be kicked out for no reason whatsoever? It was explained to me that no matter who I am, how exemplary of a patient I might be and no matter how long I’ve been going there with a perfect “record”. I will be treated as if it were my first visit and there are no second chances. We are perceived as “guilty, bad and lying” if the tests says it is so. Yes, there is a second test, but then you are hit with this grossly overblown bill and there’s no way to pay for it. The second test, of course, came back negative and I was exonerated. He told us that his regular office urine test has a “90 to 95% accuracy”. So that means every once in awhile there can be a glitch or a mistake. That means that every once in awhile someone gets hit with this huge bill, through no fault of their own.
I am tired of people telling me that I should not be on this medication. People who are supposed to love me or at least care about me. It feels like nobody understands the predicament we are in. I take medicine that still helps to relieve my pain even though I’ve been on it for quite awhile. I have almost no side effects and I’ve tried many many other medications and therapies first. This was a “last resort”. It helps and I don’t want to stop because it gives me some semblance of a life. I get the pleasure of being a grandmother. Without it, I would be in bed or in my chair 24/7. I’ve been there and done that. I don’t want to go back. I’m tired of being judged by people who don’t know me. I don’t get a “high”, and I never take more than prescribed. Why can’t I just continue to do what has worked for me? Why can’t we all? Why do we have to feel persecuted and judged? Why do we need to feel traumatized and terrorized every 30 days, to the point of feeling physically ill?
My story up to this point, ended on a positive note. My Dr. still had to send out the first test because he said that “it is the law”. I have never done anything remotely considered to be “bad” or “wrong” and definitely not “illegal”. I’m a good person who graduated college with honors. I raised my daughters mainly by myself for about 8 or 9 years. I worked full time and took care of everything and everyone who needed me. I try to be kind, thoughtful and I am always trying to think of new ways to help others. Nobody deserves to feel this way. Theres something definitely wrong with this and someone needs to fix it.

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.