My Life and the War on Pain Patients

By Suzanne Stewart, Guest Columnist

One of the arguments against gun control is that the "bad guys" will always have access and the “good guys” will die because their weapons are taken away.

That’s what’s happening now to chronic pain patients! We are fighting a war against being robbed of the very weapons we need to fight. I have complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and I’m fighting to live not "pain free," but with less pain and more living.

Those in positions to help, need to take the time to do so. All 50 states now have proclamations that explain the burning, fire-like pain of CRPS.  They discuss allodynia, or extreme sensitivity to touch, and the pain it brings.

But all of this means nothing if the government, FDA,CDC, physicians, and pharmacies take away the means of lessening our pain. We follow the rules, sign contracts with our pain doctors, and jump through hoops to get what we need to try and live some kind of life.  

On the other side of the spectrum are those who don't follow rules and who break laws. But they have a different disease called addiction and they ruin it for all of us. Only about 5% of opioid prescribed patients are addicted, yet they are making us all feel like criminals.

Would these same agencies and officials take anti-depressants away from the hopeless, or insulin from a diabetic?  

suzanne stewart

suzanne stewart

The CDC’s new opioid prescribing guidelines could make things a lot worse next year. Many physicians are already  refusing to give medicine for pain when it is truly needed. But those who who are true addicts always find a way to get what they need, while law abiding citizens, suffering daily, have no means other than self advocating. We need to rally and try to do something about this travesty.

Remember, we are not addicts! We are patients with chronic pain, who’s bodies are dependent on medications that help us live. Without proper pain control, there's nothing left.

It is despicable that some pain doctors are being forced to push invasive surgeries on more patients. Physicians who pledged to "do no harm" will do surgery,  instead of prescribing the medicine so desperately needed for the real chronic pain population.

There are new controversial prescribing guidelines coming and some already in effect. These are leading to more and more restrictions put upon our primary care physicians and even tying the hands of our pain management doctors. The CDC, FDA, and other groups think that they know more about pain and pain management, but when have they ever studied such things?

They are making a fake war on prescription drugs, when it’s really some kind of smokescreen for saving money!

I say pick on the real criminals, not the chronic pain sufferers. I went through an awful experience last year, when my doctor of 12 years unexpectedly left his practice under a cloud of suspicion. I never wanted to take any of these meds. I never smoked or drank!  I was just naive enough to think that I could finally trust someone in this life and then the rug was pulled out from under me.

I've read that they are taking most pain medications away from anyone with non-malignant pain. Who are these non-medical personnel, these agencies, to say that malignant cancer pain is worse than non-malignant pain? Unless they've experienced either, how would they know? CRPS is #43 on the McGill pain index, right next to childbirth or amputation of a finger.

These lay people and agencies are trying to tell us that  exercise and healthy eating habits, along with physical therapy and "behavioral therapy," are alternatives to pain medication. They say that the goal is to stop the overdoses and prescription drug abuse.

The “addiction specialists” scream "HYPERALGESIA" to everyone on opioids for any length of time. They say the pain meds stop working and that we all get addicted!  We are all individuals whose bodies may become physically dependent,  but that's very different from addiction. If it is working, then how can it be hyperalgesia?

In all honesty, if the doctor  is a good one, he or she will only prescribe the amount needed. Why take it away if the patient and doctor are doing everything right and when it gives some relief?  The innocents should not suffer for the crimes of a few.

Many patient advocacy groups have written to the CDC and the FDA and explained that they are not being transparent. They used biased teams to make up these new rules and guidelines. They didn't listen to the voices of the doctors and patients who live in the pain world. Many of the people who put these new rules together have a monetary gain.

One physician wrote in the Pain News Network that he has had patients on high doses of opioids for over 20 years and they have led quality lives. He also agrees that taking these meds from patients who've been on long term dosages is cruel and inhumane.

Sometimes people who want to change things to save a few dollars or get their products pushed, such as spinal cord stimulators and pain pumps, are not thinking of patients like me, who do not fit inside a nice neat box. My issues are different. I need these pain meds to survive.

So many lives have been lost because pain was not mangaged well! Chronic pain can kill you because it causes so many other issues and there’s a snowball effect when pain is not controlled.

Please use your voice and be heard. We need to form advocacy groups that will work together for the common good. Let’s stick together and not allow ourselves to be treated so inhumanely.

Suzanne Stewart lives in Michigan. She suffers from CRPS and several other chronic pain conditions caused by a car accident.

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The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.