Here’s the link to Pat Anson’s Pain News Network article week of 5-12-19:Misappropriation of funds by the US Pain Foundation
I’ve had some things weighing on my mind lately. I had thought about keeping them to myself because I’m not a person who likes to be in the midst of turmoil. I try to live as drama-free as I possibly can. But a few months ago, I was contacted by Pat Anson, from the “Pain News Network”. I declined to speak about the events hovering around the US Pain Foundation & decided to take the high road and not allow my feelings and emotions take flight. It’s been an entire year & I let “the dust settle”. I waited an entire year to post my story about this. I didn’t want this post to be written with anger or any feelings of revenge. But there are a few issues that have been tugging at my heart and bothering my mind. These continue to nag me in my thoughts.
Since Pat Anson’s articles have surfaced; I’ve read several pieces of information that are now public knowledge. I’ve decided that there are some things I’d like to share because I do have a story to tell. I will only share with you my personal observations, opinions and experiences.
First, I must share that when I was added to the Board of Directors of the US Pain Foundation,(officially on January 31, 2018), I was excited. Around that time, I decided to call one of the persons whose photo I’d seen on the USPF website listed as a Board Member. She was also director of their Medical Cannabis program. I’d been told she was a veteran Board member. I called to ask her a few questions, such as: “What was it like, being on the Board? What do we do as Board Members etc?” She laughed & told me that “there was no real Board of Directors”. She added that they’d never even had a board meeting! I was a bit disappointed at hearing this news. But it was soon confirmed. The Board of Directors of the USPain Foundation, were actually just photographs on the USPF website, prior to January, 2018. There was no true Board of Directors. There had been no board meetings or elections. So….I’m guessing there was there no secretary or treasurer? I’m guessing this means that nobody had to get permission to write checks? Didn’t they have to answer to anyone about how or where to spend donation monies? How does the President, Vice President & Executive Director & other upper management, not know what & where money is coming in and/or going out?
(*I’d been a “volunteer ambassador”since November 2015. I did Awareness events and fundraisers. All the while I thought I was doing something good. I wanted to be a good advocate and help people living with pain, like myself.)
In looking back, in my opinion, It seems to me that when upper management realized that things had somehow gotten out of hand and that the USPF might be slipping away, they decided to get lawyers and accountants involved in an attempt to “fix” a situation that they’d created. It seemed to have finally become something larger that they could no longer handle alone. Again, this is just me looking back, trying to make sense of the entire debacle.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The first meeting was in California, in January 2018. But I was too ill to travel that far and watched it as a Zoom meeting. Nothing of super importance was discussed, from my recollection. After being recruited to the Board, I still had no knowledge of any significance until much later in the year. Also, in January of 2018, they wouldn’t allow me to make it public, that I’d been appointed to their Board of Directors. My volunteer position as Board Member was not added to their website until March that year. Over the following months, I found out what a mess things were and I immediately wanted to resign. I was advised by one of the attorneys, that “it wouldn’t look good” for USPF, if anyone on the Board resigned during that time. (*Even though Dr Abaci immediately resigned from the board when he found out about the misuse of funds in the past).
I was told that we should all stay and help to reorganize & rebuild USPF. The attorneys explained that it wouldn’t really look good for any of the Board Members to resign in the midst of this reorganization. Therefore I stayed for as long as I felt that I was doing something good. Even prior to becoming a Board member, I was given “busy work” & then asked to do research & write two articles for the “Learn About Your Pain” portion of their website. I was asked to research, write and include links with graphics about S.I.B.O and Dysautonomia. I turned in several pages of completed research. Almost a year later, I inquired about when everything that I had done was going to be posted to the “Learn About Your Pain” website? I received angry emails from several members telling me that with everything that USPF was going through, how could I even think about myself? (In Spring of 2018, I was also asked to make a video about RSD/CRPS, that I in fact made and it also was never used). I was asked (3) three times, to be a part of the USPF “INvisible Project”. A 4th time, I was told that I could tell my husband that he was going to be a part of the “Caregiver” edition of the INvisible project. Each time I was invited to be a part of that, I signed video/photo releases and I answered 10-12 questions in complete sentences. I gathered photos etc., and turned them into the USPF’s person in charge of that project with the interim CEO. Each time,within days of handing back my completed tasks (*just remember that I am also a chronic pain patient and was an unpaid volunteer), I received an email from the person helping the interim CEO with that project. She just told me things like “Ooops, My Bad?? I guess the interim CEO has something bigger in store for you later”! This went on for over a year.
In getting back to the true issues at hand, in Or around early Spring 2018, we asked the former CEO to resign. The Board meetings were only and always about the situation that USPF found themselves in, regarding the former CEO. Then in July, 2018; my Pain Management doctor told me that he was going to immediately remove me from my long acting/extended release pain medications (after almost 14 years of doing well on them). He said it was because of the CDC Guidelines.
I left the appointment that day in tears. I feared for my life and what the future was going to feel like. I arrived at home to an email from the US Pain Foundation. It was a survey asking people to tell what they know about Bupenorphrine. Being a board meeting member, I immediately called the interim CEO. I shared with her my shock & dismay about this email that went out to the pain community; the very people who I try to advocate for and protect. I asked her, what prompted this survey? I found out that the foundation had received a donation from the company that makes Suboxone/Bupenorphrine ( Here’s a list of the medications that RBI makes). My exact words to her were “How could you allow USPF get in bed with Andrew Kolodny?” She tried to assure me that Suboxone wasn’t anything like Bupenorphrine (*see photos that are included with this article). I was told I didn’t know what I was talking about and I was mistaken. She went on to explain that one condition of the donation was to get the public to have more knowledge, or to see what the pain community actually knew about Bupenorphrine. Next, I asked the interim CEO if she knew that the drug Bupenorphrine was not FDA approved for pain (at that time), in the USA? I told her it was an addiction medication and that people are labeled an addict once they’re put on Suboxone/Bupenorphrine; even if it’s for chronic pain! She told me that members of the pain community should have access to all different kinds of medications and therapies. I was very upset and I decided to do more research.Bupenorphrine is a weak analgesic that may slightly help those who have chronic pain AND addiction
Along with many among the chronic pain community, I had already been personally feeling that USPF has not been supportive of opioids, for chronic pain. I have written two articles about these medications: About Suboxone/Buprenorphine-and-naloxone and More About Bupenorphrine/Suboxone. I wrote these articles because I felt that the pleas of the chronically ill, the disabled and those of us living with daily ongoing high pain illnesses/issues; were not being listened to. We were not being heard by our Drs, the government or our own US Pain Foundation.
As soon as that conversation with the interim CEO ended; I knew that my time volunteering with USPF was coming to an end. I had been already feeling that they “push” complimentary therapies and medical cannabis without any support for a portion of the pain community who relies on opioids for pain control. They portray complimentary therapies as though they can actually end chronic pain without any help from medications. They publicly & actively support their medical marijuana program. If they can support a Federally illegal substance; (which I’m personally not against when & where it is legal; and only for medicinal purposes), and if they support all methods to alleviate pain, then where’s their opioid program? I feel that people should be able to use Marijuana, Kratom, acupuncture or opioids to alleviate their daily chronic pain. But opioids have been taboo within the USPF. Possibly for some political reason in my opinion.
Another occurrence that helped me decide to resign after only 8 months of being on the Board of Directors, was when I found out about the movie/documentary that the interim CEO was making with Actress, Karen Duffy. It just feels to me, like she & other upper management persons within the US Pain Foundation are more interested in publishing books and being in movies, than actually helping the pain community. My sadness grew deeper when I watched the movie trailer: Balancing The Pain Scale, a documentary with actress Karen Duffy & interim CEO of USPF . Some of words taken directly from the trailer are “getting beyond the pill bottle”. Once again, USPF was demonizing opioids. I’m not the only one who saw this either. Here is an article that I found from A prominent advocate for the pain community : A Blog Post from Steve Ariens, “Pharmacist Steve”.
The very last straw for me was when the Interim CEO & the rest of the Board, contemplated not telling the USPF “In-person” support group leaders that they were no longer covered by insurance. I was the only Board member who said that I’d have no part of that! If you’d like to read my resignation letter (redacted items are the attorneys names and anything that was not my information to share), it is here: Why I Resigned From The US Pain Foundation
I still find it difficult to believe that nobody else who’d been in upper management of the foundation for several years, knew anything regarding the going out and coming in of money/funds?
After my resignation, I started hearing stories from ex-Ambassadors that involved a couple of upper management persons being involved in some behavior that in my opinion, was inappropriate. Some of this allegedly took place during a few USPF sponsored events. In 2016, July; at the University of New England, “Pain Summit”, my husband and I stayed overnight at a nearby hotel instead of staying at the dorms. It appears that we missed seeing anything first-hand; but according to at least 2 eyewitnesses (one that actually called & showed me some videos), there were high ranking members involved in behaviors that I would consider inappropriate for anyone, let alone, upper management of a non-profit. Especially not during an event sponsored and run by that same Non-Profit.
All of this has been on my mind. I didn’t want to lose my integrity by talking to someone else about all of this. I decided that this is my blog & my own story to tell. I’ve given you my observations, opinions & truth to the best of my knowledge.
**BELOW IS A 1 MINUTE VIDEO SHARING MY CREDENTIALS. THIS VIDEO SHARES ALSO THE VIEWS OF US PAIN ABOUT ME & MY VOLUNTEER WORK WITH THEIR ORGANIZATION FOR ALMOST 4 YEARS: