By Gary Nations, Guest Columnist
I’m a medically retired police officer with over 22 years of service. I have been in chronic pain management for many years now and my condition will never get better.
Throughout my time dealing with workers compensation and the public employee retirement system in Mississippi, I have been examined by no less than five medical doctors. Unfortunately for me, the conclusion is my condition is progressive and will only get worse.
I’ve had four neck surgeries and one lower back surgery due to on-the-job injuries. For the past few years I have found a pain management regimen that allows me to have somewhat of a normal life, although I still experience pain 24/7. I would love to see a substance that relieved pain without the problems caused by opioid medication.
The recent upswing in deaths from opioid abuse is tragic. However, the guidelines developed by the CDC for doctors to reduce opioid dosages for pain patients like me will cause more problems than it solves.
I believe some of the actions taken so far have created a vacuum and worsened the epidemic, which I believe is about to get much bigger. Some people are going to abuse some type of substance no matter what. That’s an unfortunate fact that cannot be stopped.
Cutting the dose of medication for people in my position who need it will force them to violate the law to maintain their level of pain management and quality of life.
This could prove a disaster, as we know many street drugs contain powerful opioids such as fentanyl, which the DEA has been very unsuccessful in stopping. Some of these street drugs are counterfeit. They appear to be a medication that a doctor would prescribe, yet they contain other drugs that cause people to overdose and die. From what I read and understand, this is what happened to the entertainer Prince. Some patients may also tire of the constant pain and commit suicide with street drugs.
The Declaration of Independence endows each citizen the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe the CDC’s attempt to curb the opioid overdose and death rate is very noble. However, I also believe in the long run it will violate citizens’ rights, do much more harm than good and end up in the civil courts. As I’m sure you are aware, in some cases large sums of money are paid out each year in legal cases for “pain and suffering.”
There is no way the CDC can tell what medication and how much medication I or anyone else needs to attempt to maintain their current level of activity, quality of life and pursuit of happiness. Only a qualified physician with medical training, medical records and medical images can understand what a patient may or may not need. The CDC needs to remember there are many people with very legitimate needs for these controlled substances.
Last year was the first time in over ten years I could enjoy hunting and fishing again. I became active enough that I went from 255 pounds down to 215 pounds. I started feeling better and asked my doctor to drop my “breakthrough” pain meds from 120 to 90 per month. I’ve since realized I really need about 100 per month, but I get by.
The key here is I volunteered to stop taking 30 pills per month. Yes, my doctor was surprised. However, because of rule changes, I can’t get my pain meds from that doctor anymore. I have to drive one hour each way to a pain management doctor to get my meds now. The long drive is very painful and the cost is higher.
Cutting my current pain management regimen will result in me being in more pain than I am now. It will cause me to be unable to exercise my right to hunt and fish. It will cause me to be unable to do yard work, such as mowing the lawn. Not being able to mow the lawn will result in an additional expense of $80 to $100 per month during the warm weather months.
It will cause me to once again be unable to travel and engage in some aspects of the only hobby I can currently enjoy, amateur radio. In other words, much of my liberty will be taken and my quality of life heavily impacted. My only income is Mississippi Public Employees Retirement System disability payments. Some citizens that are currently able to work with proper pain management may also have to seek disability if their doses are cut.
As I stated, I believe the effort to stop drug abuse and addiction is very noble. However, the route to solving this opioid problem should not include violating the rights of our disabled citizens or cause some patients to become criminals while trying to maintain what little normalcy and quality of life they have now.
I’m seeking your help to stop the CDC from punishing citizens that need to be on long term pain management and to get the CDC to reevaluate how it is handling a very important problem. I believe it’s time for someone to help us by filing for an injunction or a class action lawsuit to stop this craziness.
Gary Nations lives in Mississippi.
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 represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.