By Deborah McDonald, Guest Columnist
The government and other entities in power (FDA, CDC and PROP to name a few) keep passing laws, creating guidelines and scaring the crap out of doctors, because of the opioid epidemic and overdoses that happen when narcotics are taken recreationally or not as prescribed.
The panic and media reports are slowly succeeding in taking narcotic pain control away from those who are in legitimate pain. People in pain are finding it harder and harder to find treatment, and if they do they are increasingly being treated as if they are guilty until proven innocent.
There are pain contracts, extremely costly drug tests, pill counts and monthly doctor visits. Pharmacies that profile patients and refuse to fill legitimate prescriptions, causing sick people to go from pharmacy to pharmacy to try and get their medications. It might not sound like much, but when you are in pain, weak, have trouble walking or driving, on a limited income, disabled, elderly or a veteran, it is time consuming and very costly.
Oh, and don't you dare ever plan a vacation, because if they call you for a pill count and you aren't there in 12-24 hours, you are dropped as a patient, no excuses. Visiting Hawaii on a once in a lifetime vacation? You can prove you're there and not just dodging the call-in, but that doesn't matter. Better hop on a plane ASAP and be there for that pill count.
Faulty drug screen? Chances are you won't even be given the option to retake it, even though urine drug tests have significantly high false positive rates.
This all needs to stop!
I have no pain control, I can't get narcotic pain medication (the only thing that works) and I have a stack of medical records that show my legitimate, unmistakable multiple pain conditions: spinal birth defect, stenosis, nerve compression, significant osteoporosis and arthritis, just to name a few.
This lack of pain control is causing severe high blood pressure and adrenal issues. The stress to my central nervous system is immense. I've been told by two doctors that I am at risk of a heart attack and stroke because of this stress.
I haven't been posting much publicly about my health issues on my social network. I figure it's my cross to bear and who wants to be around someone who complains all the time, right? But I'm wheelchair bound and essentially bedridden now and something has to give. Not just for me, but for the millions of other Americans who are like me. A life of untreated severe nonstop pain is pure torture and the stress on your system will eventually kill you.
Let me be clear as I share this. I am not looking for sympathy. Sympathy and a cup of coffee gets me… a cup of coffee (my own saying, like it?) but I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep going without help, as it's 24/7 pain and goes from OMG this hurts to excruciating, and I am begging Johnny to put me out of my misery and all points inbetween.
That's the physical part. I won't even get into the mental issues that come from losing your ability to do and be who you are. When you lose your ability to do the most basic things, like cook, clean, walk, and get deep restorative sleep. The things that others take for granted become the ruler you measure yourself by. Inevitably you can't measure up to that, so you feel like a failure, over and over without a break.
Having adequate pain control helps a person hang on and hang in and helps them salvage a bit of who they were. Nothing takes all the pain away, but a break from it here and there is the Holy Grail to people in pain.
We keep hearing the stories of those who are addicted and take narcotic medications to get high. Congress is even considering a tax on opioid pain medication that would be used to fund treatment for them.
When are they going to start telling our stories? Stories from those of us who need pain medications to have some quality of life? Those who don't take opioids for any type of high? Where is the panic and media coverage about us? Why are we slipping through the cracks? Why are the suicides not being reported? Is this truly a way for our government to thin the herd?
Face it, disabled people are not a top priority and the government would save a lot of money if we all killed ourselves and quit needing benefits. (Benefit programs that most of us have paid into. I'm just stating a sad truth here.)
And let me be clear on another point. I am not downplaying the needs of those addicted to narcotics. I realize they are dying and need help too. I just wish the pendulum hadn't swung so far and so hard against those who need opioids for any quality of life.
Chronic pain patients are being left to suffer and yes, sometimes die, without the medications we need.
Deborah McDonald suffers from a spinal birth defect, spinal stenosis, arthritis, whiplash injuries and severe osteoporosis caused by a rare vitamin D malabsorption disorder. She lives in Alabama with her family. Before becoming disabled, Deborah owned and operated two boutique inspired second hand stores that centered on an outreach program that helped seniors and families on limited or fixed incomes.
Pain News Network invites other readers to share their stories with us. Send them to: editor@PainNewsNetwork.org.
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.