How CDC's Opioid Guidelines Killed My Mother

Sheila Ramsey, Guest Columnist

For the past year, I have been reading the heartbreaking stories being posted about the degrading and inhumane treatment of the elderly, critically ill and disabled persons by our government, healthcare institutions and physicians.

And all I can do is sit here and cry, thinking about the struggles that my mother went through for the last 25 years of her life. She was a diabetic for 40 years, had rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, high blood pressure, depression and cystic lung fibrosis. These conditions caused her much pain every day.

She was placed on a low dose of hydrocodone 20 years ago. It did not completely erase her pain, but made it manageable to where she wasn’t completely bedridden.

Then in 2016, when the CDC came out with their opioid "guidelines," her doctor reduced her dosage three times. I watched her suffer immensely and she pleaded with him to raise it several times. He would not.

Her life became more miserable than before and her depression worsened. She even had to stop driving, relying on me and a few friends to take her to appointments and grocery shopping once a week. Which were the only times she got out of her small one-bedroom apartment.

In May 2017, her lung disease got worse and it was hard for her to breath due to panic attacks several times a day. Her pulmonary doctor placed her on a low dose of Ativan to reduce her anxiety.



As soon as her primary care doctor found out about that, he immediately gave her a choice of which illness she was willing to suffer from: panic attacks or chronic pain due to her many incurable illnesses. She chose the Ativan and he immediately stopped her pain meds. She then had to start using a walker instead of her cane.

In June 2017, she had a friend drop her off to see her lung doctor. While waiting for the elevator, she tripped over her walker, fell and broke her hip. She went into the hospital for surgery, caught pneumonia and had to be placed in a medically induced coma. She also had congestive heart and kidney failure. She was waiting on a lung transplant but did not make it. We had to take her off life support on October 25, 2017.

This was all due to complications from being in the hospital for a hip surgery that never would have been needed if she did not have to use a walker and had not been taken off pain medication! If her pain had been controlled, my mother might still be alive.

That’s why it angers me that our government is denying medication to patients that benefit from them. How in America can our lawmakers let this happen? I’ve written so many letters. I don’t know who else to contact or what else I can do to help all the people who have been brutally denied pain relief and subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment. Please if there is anything I can do to help stop this neglect, I’m all in.

I just want to let everyone who reads this to know that I feel for each and every one of you who is suffering, and I hope this ends soon. God bless you all.


Sheila Ramsey lives in Ohio. Her mother, Janet Dixon, died last year at the age of 69.

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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 represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.