It’s Time for Pain Patients to Speak Up

By Emily Ullrich, Columnist

By definition, journalists are ethically bound to present both sides of a story; to be unbiased, objective, fair and equal. Stories that are not labeled as opinion should leave it up to the consumer to determine the truth or which side of the controversy they agree with.

But since the media have become obsessed with the so-called opioid epidemic, these necessary fundamentals seem to not apply. We, as consumers of media, need to ask why they have fallen short on this topic.

The government is also supposed to consider all sides before making laws which will potentially be detrimental to the lives and health of its citizens. But the CDC only furthered the anti-opioid hysteria by not including chronic pain patients or the doctors who treat them in the initial drafting of its opioid prescribing guidelines.

In fact, the witch hunt has gotten so bad, that we have a bipartisan majority of U.S. senators who have organized to dictate the quality of medical care for the 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain. (see “Senators Seek to Silence Pain Patients”)

If senators from both parties came together to speak out for or against any other hot-button issue, like gun control or abortion, there would be absolute mayhem. But, not only do people not challenge the senators’ insensitive, unilateral, and fascist attack on pain patients, we sit quietly in fear.

These lawmakers propose that pain patients should not even be allowed to give their opinions regarding pain control when filling out hospital satisfaction surveys. Now our freedom of speech is under attack, too?

Elimination of pain patients’ rights has become the new American genocide. Patients and doctors alike sit in fear, watching as we are stripped of our right to happiness, our right to adequate medical care, and our ability to treat our pain in the ways we and our doctors see fit. When will enough be enough?

On top of the inequality, there are often discrepancies in the overdose and addiction claims of the CDC, government, and media. There are blatant attempts to hide the sources, research, and financial motives of those involved in the anti-opioid hysteria. There is a significant lack of research and evidence to support this drastic upheaval of our healthcare. Still, no one speaks.

There are so many things that obviously don't add up. No one is asking the right questions and no one is challenging this shady behavior. For some time now, I have been pointing out that the media and government both continuously lump pain patients and addicts together, call our pain medication “drugs,” and lump our meds together with heroin.

This is not accidental. By brainwashing the public to believe that all pain patients are drug addicts, and that pain medicine and heroin are one in the same, they have created an atmosphere of fear. No one wants to sound like they're pro-heroin. No one wants to be seen enabling addicts to get their fix.

There is a desperate need for more mental healthcare and addiction treatment in this country. Instead of addressing this need, the government and media (both funded by the pharmaceutical companies that make the medications deemed to be the “preferred” treatments over opioids) have diabolically created this carefully planned, malignant strategy to eliminate pain patients by making them addicts instead of pain patients. They will make more money by forcing us into rehab and putting us on drugs that will ensure that they keep making far more money than pain medicines ever would, all while making people believe that it's all for our own good.

Many of these “preferred” medications have not been around long enough to determine their long-term safety. They have side effect profiles a mile long and they will only keep us sick; thereby making us lifelong pharmaceutical consumers. Anti-opioid and addiction special interest groups stand to benefit from all of this.

The few times pain patients have been included in the discussion, they are immediately treated like criminals. Boston’s NPR station recently put the onus on a patient to defend herself with questions like, “How is a doctor to know the difference between someone who is addicted and someone with chronic pain that needs to be treated?”

Since when do patients have to defend the reality of their illness? When did being a patient become a defendant? And, if that is the case, what happened to innocent until proven guilty? What happened to doctors (not government and media) determining what is best for their patients?

It is an absolute outrage that our own government officials are dismantling our constitutional and human rights. Yet the stigmas of chronic pain and pain medication run so deep in this country that we keep quiet, knowing it's wrong, but afraid to be lynched for our insubordination.

Our disabilities often prevent us from having the physical fortitude to organize, march, and protest. They are counting on that. Our bodies may be weak, but our minds are strong. Our voices are ONE HUNDRED MILLION STRONG! We need to face our fears and SPEAK UP!

Emily Ullrich suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS/RSD), Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Endometriosis, chronic gastritis, Interstitial Cystitis, Migraines, Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, Restless Leg Syndrome, Myoclonic episodes, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, bursitis, depression, multiple chemical sensitivity, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Emily is a writer, artist, filmmaker, and has even been an occasional stand-up comedian. She now focuses on patient advocacy for the Power of Pain Foundation, as she is able.

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