The New Cruelty Rolls On

(Editor’s note: Rob Hale is a 52-year old Missouri man who lives with late-stage Ankylosing Spondylitis, a degenerative and incurable form of arthritis. We’ve written before about Rob and his difficulty in getting opioid pain medication – what he calls the “New Cruelty.”)

By Rob Hale, Guest Columnist

I’m here to talk about what happens when someone like me, who already is criminally undermedicated, gets seriously injured and must deal with the new procedures for treating chronic pain patients.

On August 16th of this year, I slipped and fell, breaking my neck.  I know, I know – bad idea. 

When I was brought into the hospital, they immediately hit me up with a dose of Narcan (naloxone), a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses. Narcan takes all the opiates out of your system in about 20 minutes, so you can feel every last iota of pain in your body. You also get to go through about a week’s worth of withdrawal pains in just under a half hour. Narcan is now standard operating procedure for any patient who comes into the ER with any form of opiate/opioid in his or her system. 

Anyway, back to the fun.  I was drifting in and out of consciousness due to the pain, while they took x-rays and CT scans of my neck. It turned out that I had a minor fracture, so they decided it was time to slit me from my skull to my mid back and put two, 12-inch titanium rods and 13 fittings and screws into my spine. 

I vaguely remember agreeing to this and putting my ‘X’ on some sheet of paper saying they could do it.  One thing I do remember clearly is I made damned sure that once the surgery was over and I was sent home, that I was going to get at least 6 and probably 12 days’ worth of pain medication.  I was assured of this not only by the neurosurgeon, but by all the interns and nurses who were attending me. 

bigstock--156251003.jpg

I only spent 4 days in the ICU recovering from this nightmare of a surgery when they told me I was ready to go home!  I was shocked since they had just removed the wound drains that very day.  

But I really did want to get home and see my dog and my family, so I thought, “Okay, they must know what they’re doing, right?” 

I want you to guess what happens next, kids!

You guessed it – they were finishing up my discharge papers and I asked about my scripts.  They said that because I already had a pain management doctor, that is was up to him to provide me with the meds that I would need to recover from the surgery.  I explained, just as I had before the surgery, that my pain doctor was not going to be able to see me for several weeks, because his primary clinic is three hours away in Park City, Kansas and he is only in Kansas City one week out of the month.  Of course, I called him and begged for help, but to no avail. 

While I was recovering in the hospital, I was getting long-acting morphine 3x daily, plus immediate release oxycodone every 4 hours.  When I was released from the hospital, they gave me oxycodone to take every 6 hours, and no long acting morphine at all. 

Within 3 or 4 days, I lost the ability to use my right leg at all.  Having no other medication, nor any other recourse, I decided to use some of the methadone that I had left over from my last palliative care doctor. Unfortunately, it was about 10 years old.  But what was I to do?  It was that or hit the streets and try to get some illegal medication, which might have killed me since that crap is often loaded with illicit fentanyl. 

I was very careful to keep track of what I was taking, but I am guessing the methadone had gone bad, because I had a serious reaction to it and my dad called in the paramedics again. 

So, it was back to the hospital for me! Four days in ICU and 5 days in a semi-private room with a roommate who had pneumococcal pneumonia and a toilet that didn’t work, before I was  transferred to a nice, private room.  Only 2 days there, before they sent me over to a physical therapy facility across the street, where they tried to get my leg to work. 

All the doctors there were totally on board with the New Cruelty.  One actually told me that people who took more than 90 MME (morphine milligram equivalent) were at a much higher risk of death! It’s amazing to me how quickly they have disseminated this propaganda, and how completely the new generation of doctors have accepted it as the truth! 

This nonsense has gone on for years and I am becoming more and more despondent with this opioidphobic world. If you know me, you know that I live with chronic pain.  Not just any old pain, mind you – it’s really bad.  I have Ankylosing Spondylitis in its most advanced form, which more or less means that my spine, neck and sacroiliac are completely fused.  This has caused me daily intractable pain. I’m talking about pain that would drop the average person to his or her knees, praying to God to take their lives away just so the pain would stop. 

Adequate Care Phase

I am not attempting to elicit sympathy. It does nothing to ease the unending, merciless, wicked, 9 out of 10 pain that I live with day in and day out, 7 days a week, and 365 days a damned year. 

For many years, my pain was well controlled with morphine and hydromorphone. I was taking over 1,000 MME a day and never felt better in my life.  During this time, which I like to call my “adequate care phase,” which lasted almost 12 years, I never misused my medications and even went so far as to keep a journal listing every single pill that I took. My palliative care doctor can back me up on this. He was very surprised yet pleased to see how carefully I was using these drugs and how much respect I had for them.  I knew they were potentially deadly and dangerous, but while I was taking them – exactly as prescribed – I was every bit as lucid and well-spoken as I am right now. 

You see, when you have extreme amounts of pain, opioids go straight to the pain – they do NOT cause any type of high or euphoria.  I was able to participate in family functions, help around the house and assist my aging parents -- in short, to live a semi-normal, quasi-productive life.  I even opened my own little guitar shop out of my house, to make a little money to supplement my rather meager social security disability income. 

Then came the New Cruelty, in the form of a supposedly voluntary set of opioid guidelines from the CDC — or as I like to call them, the medical Gestapo.  According to the CDC, I was at high risk of overdose for over a decade because I was taking over 90 MME.

We are now at the mercy of a medical industrial complex that – in collusion with insurance companies and psycho-sociopaths in Congress – have created a fear-based campaign that they have dubbed the “opioid epidemic’ or “opiate crisis.” I firmly believe that chronic pain patients are being targeted for death by this campaign, either by our own hands or by medical complications that result from being woefully undermedicated. 

20150327_191823.jpg

Rob Hale lives in Kansas City, MO. He was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis at the age of 27.

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.

Help Us Get Our Lives Back

By Andrea Giles, Guest Columnist

I am a 49-year old disabled nurse living in Wyoming. Since 2010, I have been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, phantom limb pain and severe osteoarthritis with multiple major joint deformities.  My remaining knee is now bone on bone, requiring me to use a wheelchair. 

I lost my right leg and half of my pelvis after a total hip replacement due to the osteoarthritis, after which I developed a severe MRSA bacterial infection that resulted in the total hip disarticulation. I’ve had horrible phantom limb pain since the amputation. I also had 2 failed spinal fusions, leaving me with chronic back pain and nerve damage. Since 2010, I have had a total of 52 surgeries.

bigstock-Silhouette-of-man-on-a-wheelch-17395244.jpg

From 2010 to 2016, I was treated with opioid medication by a pain management physician, with a stable, safe, effective and legal regimen. I followed all of the requirements, such as urine drug tests, pill counts, using the same pharmacy, etc.

Then, at an appointment in 2016, my physician told me that because of the CDC guidelines, he would no longer prescribe opioid medication to me. I was forced off my high dose (120MME) cold turkey. I was lucky, as I didn’t experience withdrawal symptoms other than the reappearance of severe, intractable pain.

I tried to use NSAIDS for the pain and developed a severe, life threatening reaction to them called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. I came very close to death and was in intensive care for 6 weeks. Because of that, I will be unable to take NSAIDs for the rest of my life.

Because of the MRSA infection, no physician will perform any further surgeries or steroid injections on me because of the risk of activating another infection.

I have tried acupuncture, massage, chiropractic therapy, mirror therapy, physical therapy, water therapy, many different herbal and nutritional supplements, aromatherapy, music therapy, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and mindfulness. All without relief of the severe, intractable pain.

When I was forced off opioids, I also lost my career as a very good ER nurse. I went from a functional member of society to a home-bound, miserable person who hurts too badly to keep my house clean like I always prided myself on. Many days I’m in too much pain to even shower or complete daily activities of living.

My husband and children have lost the wife and mother they were able to interact with, go places with, share activities with, everything. I have gained 50 pounds because the pain has left me unable to exercise.

After I stopped taking opioids, I developed hypertension.  Before, my blood pressure had never been higher than 130/80. Now I take medication for high blood pressure and it is still usually around 150/90.

I also developed heart arrhythmia and last year suffered 2 sudden cardiac arrests. I only survived because both times they were witnessed by my husband, who is also an ER nurse, so he immediately started CPR. The cardiologist could find no underlying causes and told me that the arrhythmia and cardiac arrests were probably due to longstanding, untreated severe pain.

There is no physician that I can find that will accept me as a chronic pain patient and my primary care doctor refuses to prescribe opioids anymore. I have literally tried every pain management physician in Wyoming and in Montana, which would have required a 6 to 7-hour drive for each appointment.

I, along with many other intractable pain patients, are working feverishly contacting our congressional representatives, federal government and civil rights groups, begging for help -- for anyone in a position of power to hear our cries of medical abandonment and neglect.

Our pleas mostly fall on deaf ears, as the government has convinced the media and the public that pain patients are all addicts and use opioids only to get high. They site false overdose statistics and refuse to acknowledge that while opioid prescriptions have declined -- causing devastating effects on the pain community -- the overdose rate continues to climb because the clear majority of overdoses are due to heroin, illicit fentanyl or polypharmacy with multiple drugs.

Many intractable pain patients are committing suicide because untreated pain takes away their quality of life and the will to live – something they had with legally prescribed and effective doses of opioid medication.

We are desperate. We don’t want to get high. We just want to make informed decisions with our physicians about our own healthcare, to regain access to opioid medication, and to get our lives back!

Andrea.png

Andrea Giles lives in Wyoming with her family.

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.

An Open Letter to My Senator: CDC Has Killed Me

(Editor’s Note: Charles Malinowski is a 59-year old Paso Robles, California man who lives with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), degenerative disc disease, ankylosing spondylitis, spinal stenosis and other chronic pain conditions.  He recently wrote this open letter to U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). We thought his letter worth sharing with PNN readers.)

Dear Senator Harris,

The CDC has killed me!

Let me repeat that: The CDC has killed me!

I have a severe neurological condition that causes me unspeakable and crippling pain. Pain medication is literally the only thing keeping me alive. But with the issuance of the CDC’s short sighted, so-called voluntary opioid prescribing guidelines -- which are being rammed down the throats of medical providers -- my pain management doctor has cut me off of opiates.

For the last 10 years, I have been subjected to nearly every type of physical therapy, medical treatment and medication applicable to my affliction. The one and only thing that has ever had any demonstrable benefit in even temporarily suppressing my pain to a tolerable level has, unfortunately, been opiates.

In early October, I was told that I would have to stop taking either the oral opiates or the intrathecal opiates, as it was now illegal for a person to receive two different types of opiates via two different delivery methods concurrently. This was a major problem, as even with both oral and intrathecal opiates, my pain was severely under-managed to the point where I was almost completely bedridden. I left the house only to go to doctor's appointments.

When I was told that my pain management regimen - specifically the opiates - was going to be cut in half, even though my pain was already grossly under-managed, I spoke out about this.

CHARLES MALINOWSKI

CHARLES MALINOWSKI

As a result, not only was I cut off from the oral opiates, I got kicked out of the pain management practice where I have been a patient for more than seven years. The doctor said he didn't want to risk his license - but was perfectly willing to risk my life - over the CDC opioid guidelines.  These guidelines are supposed to be voluntary and are not supposed to take desperately needed pain medication away from legitimate chronic pain sufferers such as myself.

I expect that within 60 days, I will be dead from either heart failure or a stroke due to my body's inability to cope with the stress of the unrelenting pain. My neuropsychologist, who has been treating me for nearly 10 years, has consistently rated my level of pain as moderate to extreme, even while being medicated with both oral and intrathecal opiates, which I am now denied.

I'm not dead yet, but within 60 days I expect that the CDC will have effectively killed me. I honestly don't see myself being able to tolerate the pain any longer than that.

Congress, in going along with this blindly, will be explicitly complicit in this negligent homicide - or homicide by depraved indifference, take your pick - of one Charles James Malinowski, that being myself.

I would like to thank you, Senator, and all the rest of your colleagues for murdering me.

To help ease your conscience, it is not just me that Congress is complicit in murdering, but thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people in like positions.

Sincerely,

Charles Malinowski

bigstock-Tell-Us-Your-Story-card-with-c-78557009.jpg

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.

Chronic Pain Patient: ‘They Are Killing Us Off’

By Pat Anson, Editor

Rob Hale isn’t sure how much longer he’ll live. Which is why the 51-year old Missouri man wants to share his story one more time, so people can see the impact the CDC's opioid prescribing guideline -- what Rob calls the “new cruelty” – is having on pain patients like himself.   

“That's it, man. I quit. I am too weak to continue. I'm beat. I hope some of you can live long enough to see some change in this new cruelty,” Rob wrote to me in an email. “Thank you so much, Pat, for providing me a platform in which to vent my frustration, pain, and anger at the system. I'm not sure if it helped anyone or not, but I hope it did.”

Rob first shared his story with us in a PNN guest column last December. At the young age of 27, he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative and incurable form of arthritis that causes severe inflammation in spinal joints.

As the decades passed, the joints in Rob’s spine and neck became fused, and he was disabled and bedridden by chronic pain.

Relief only came from relatively high doses of opioid pain medication – as much as 600 MEMs (morphine equivalent units) a day. It reduced the pain enough for Rob to start working again, do chores around the house, and take care of his elderly father. Rob felt like his life was worth living again.

ROB HALE

ROB HALE

Then came the CDC guidelines in 2016. Although they are voluntary and only intended for primary care physicians, Rob’s pain management doctors reduced his daily morphine dose to 120 MEMs, with the ultimate goal of getting it down to 90 MEMs – what the CDC recommends as the ceiling for high doses.

With his pain no longer being treated properly, Rob’s health deteriorated and he started taking high doses of Motrin, a prescription form of ibuprofen. He took so much Motrin it built up to toxic levels in his kidneys.  

“I was hospitalized in May, when my father couldn’t revive me in the morning. I woke up intubated, with IV’s and wires connected everywhere.  I was unconscious for 4 days, and when I finally awoke, I thought I had died and come back,” Rob said. “I was told if my dad hadn’t found me, I would have died within hours."

The cost to Medicare and taxpayers for that one stay in the hospital was $91,000 -- one of the unintended consequences of weaning or tapering a patient off high doses of opioids. Their healthcare costs often go up.

"None of that would have been necessary if I hadn't been denied my meds in the first place," Rob adds.

Rob was hospitalized a second time in June. His pain now grows worse every day, his health is failing, and he feels his time is running out.

“I nearly died, all because of this ‘opiate crisis.’ I just wanted to tell you that I’m home, albeit on oxygen, because my lungs are still filled with fluid, and I’m not sure how long I have to live,” he said.  “My old palliative care doctor and my current GP doctor think all of this that I’m going through right now is because of the trauma of the pain that I’ve been feeling since they started cutting me back.”

Rob feels he and other pain patients are being held responsible for an overdose crisis they didn’t create. He’s written letters to the CDC, FDA, DEA and to President Trump -- and only gotten form letters in return.

“The simple truth is this: They are killing us off - all of us chronic pain patients. We are, quite simply, a drain on the system, and the whole system would function much better without us. They'll get what they want, too. Before long, we'll all be gone - whether by our own hands, or by complications from our untreated pain, like me,” Rob wrote.

"I sure hope something changes soon. I’m not ready to give up the ghost yet, but I’m so weak that I can hardly type.  Why are they doing this to us, man?"

Living With Chronic Pain in an Opioid Hostile World

By Robert Hale, Guest Columnist

I am 50 years old and suffer from late-stage Ankylosing Spondylitis.  My entire spine has fused, along with my entire neck.  I cannot look left or right, nor up and down.  My shoulders are in the process of fusing.

I have a broken clavicle – broken in two places – that refuses to heal. I also suffer from peripheral neuropathy in my legs, which makes walking feel like treading on broken glass. 

My disease is degenerative, progressive and incurable. The only relief I can get is with opioids.  Taking long acting morphine and hydromorphone as a breakthrough medication, has literally saved my life.  I do not get any joy or “high” from these medications -- only relief from pain -- which is as close to a miracle as could be hoped for, for someone in my situation.

ROBert HALE

ROBert HALE

For the last 10 years, I have been seeing doctors, both in the field of palliative care and pain management. Early on, we managed to find a dose of opoid medication that was appropriate for me, and I began my life anew.

No longer bed-bound and useless, but able to function again, and become a productive member of my family and society.  I opened up a guitar shop and began working again – albeit at a gentle pace – and I really felt that my life was worth living again. 

I wasn’t happy to be taking pills every day to achieve this feeling of well-being, but it beat the alternative.  I asked my doctor, a wonderful, empathetic and kind doctor, how long I would have to be on these medications.  He told me, “Probably for the rest of your life”. 

Sadly, my awesome doctor left the palliative care clinic I was attending, and I was forced to move to a pain clinic in Overland Park, Kansas.  It is run by a highly respected pain management doctor, who took one look at me, asked me to walk down the hall and back, and knew immediately that I was a good candidate for the medications I had been taking.

For several years more, everything was fine – the doctors and nurses were great. Of course I had to sign a patient contract, agreeing to take my medications as prescribed (which I always do), not to take anything else, including illegal drugs, and not to share my medications with anyone.  I also was subjected to frequent urinalysis to prove that I was complying with my treatment plan. 

I never strayed from that plan, nor did I ever have a drug test showing anything but what it should.  I was, in the words of one of my nurse practitioners, the “perfect patient.”  I took the meds I was prescribed, exactly as they were meant to be used.

I am not an addictive personality, so I never was tempted to use my medications to try to get high, nor do I think I am addicted to my pain medications. I do have a tolerance to them, which is unavoidable in my situation.  I have been on large doses of morphine and hydromorphone for over 10 years. I’ve learned to respect these powerful drugs, and to treat them with great care.

The "New Cruelty"

Unfortunately, ever since the CDC opioid prescribing guidelines were released, stating that the maximum dose for any one person should be no more than 90 mg of morphine equivalent opioids per day, my pain care has changed for the worst.

The guidelines clearly state that they are meant for general practitioners, not doctors who specialize in pain management. However every pain doctor I have contacted see the guidelines as rules, and they have begun a relentless campaign of reduced opioid prescribing.  All of the pain clinics in my area have followed suit.  My pain doctor even went so far as to sell his practice to one of his partners.  I suspect this is so he couldn’t be blamed for the “new cruelty,” as I like to put it. 

It is very disturbing to talk to him these days – it’s like he is a completely different person. Gone is the compassion, the empathetic “do no harm” doctor that I had gotten to know over the last several years.  He now claims that the reason he no longer prescribes the meds we need is because of the danger of overdose.

If a doctor like him can be swayed by this propaganda, there are at least a thousand more around the country acting the same way. 

Some chronic pain patients have it worse than me, although it is difficult for me to imagine that, as my increase in pain levels has literally left me all but crippled.  I have told the pain clinic this, but they just look at me and say, “Oh, I’m sorry.  You’ll get through this somehow.”  But they know better. 

I have already had my medications reduced drastically, to about a tenth of the dose I have been safely taking for years, and I am absolutely miserable.  My days are once again filled with unrelenting pain, and on top of that, I am suffering from opioid withdrawal. I constantly feel like I have the flu, and can only sleep 2 to 4 hours every night.  I am back to being bed-bound most of the time, and it is physical torture to do the simplest things like dressing and showering. 

I cannot help around the house, to help my father who is 77-years old.  He just lost his wife, and my mother, to Alzheimer’s disease, and he needs me.  And I need him.  I can no longer play with my dog, Aya.  This breaks my heart – she deserves so much better.  

The worst part is, I’ll be back in the pain clinic next month, to have my dosage cut down again, because I have not agreed to have an intrathecal morphine pump installed in my body – an option that is not available to me, due to the fusion of my spine.  Other doctors have warned me not to have this procedure done, so it’s back to the clinic to get my meds cut down again.  Pretty soon, I’m going to be at a level of pain that the tiny amount of morphine they will allow won’t even touch.  What am I to do?

Here is a link to an excellent article on PNN, headlined “Pain Care Shouldn’t Be Political Theater” by Dr. Richard Oberg, a man whose disease is in the same family as mine.  

“The current hysteria over opioid pain medication is, without a doubt, the most unbelievable and difficult situation for patients I've ever seen in my 30 years of practice,” Oberg wrote.

Something is going to have to change, and fast, or a large percentage of the chronic pain patients in this country are going to die by their own hands, or be forced to find their medicines through illegal means, or switch to drugs like heroin and become statistics themselves.  I am just one voice, but I speak for thousands. There are so many of us who are unable to even summon the energy needed to type a column such as this. 

I just read an article stating that since the CDC guidelines were put in place, the rate of suicides among pain patients may be rising. I’m not surprised at all.  I think about it all the time now. The only thing keeping me here is the fact that I have people who depend on me, and the fact that I think suicide is a sin. I don’t want to wind up having to learn all these life lessons again. 

Please, for the love of God, listen to my words: Most of us are too weak and too sick to even make a plea, so I’m doing this on behalf of all those who are too weak to even type a letter to their congressmen or the people who can make a difference.  Stop treating chronic pain patients like drug addicts! 

We don’t even like the damned pills, but without them, we are in a living hell – an evil downhill spiral that can only end in madness, addiction to illegal drugs, or death.

Robert Hale lives in Kansas City, MO. He was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis at the age of 27.

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.

If I Had Cancer

By Vikki Towsey, Guest Columnist

I am not a junkie. I am not a pill seeker. I am not a doctor shopper. I am a chronic pain patient. I am a mother, a wife and a friend. I am a social worker. I work with offenders being released from prison who have HIV or AIDS. I am their advocate. I help navigate the healthcare system for my clients.

I find it odd that for my own healthcare needs I am often left on my own to mediate between my three treating physicians. No one advocates for me or helps me navigate through the labyrinth-like healthcare system. My doctors do not communicate nor do they collaborate with each other to make sure I am provided the best care possible.

I have Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), a chronic autoimmune disorder that has wreaked havoc on my body. I went undiagnosed for 20 years, but it was not from a lack of trying to find answers to the severe back and hip pain that left me bedridden for months on end.

To say I have suffered is an understatement. My children suffer, my husband suffers, and my career suffers. This is largely due to the belief within the medical community that women do not contract AS or they have no idea what AS is.

My diagnosis came too late to prevent the damage done to my joints, which is not repairable. Ankylosing Spondylitis has also increased my chances of early mortality.

The treatment prescribed doesn't work well. I am on a biologic, sulfasalazine, and a commonly prescribed NSAID. While inflammation has decreased due to the joint damage, my pain is still severe. It disrupts my life and causes widespread fatigue.

VIKKI TOWSEY

VIKKI TOWSEY

People with disorders like mine are often fighting not only our conditions but a system that has become adversarial for many of us. Our pain has become a scarlet letter that identifies us as junkies, pill seekers, and criminals.  The CDC's proposed opioid guidelines will ensure that this continues. We are imprisoned by our suffering and endure a sentence of constantly fighting a system that is set up to deprive us of treatment that provides some quality of life.

If I had cancer, there would be widespread acceptance of any treatment that would provide improvement to my condition and quality of life. No one would think twice about writing me a prescription for opioids. In fact, not prescribing opiates would be considered malpractice. If I had cancer, I would also not be put in a federal database and I would not be looked at with suspicion by my pharmacist.

It almost creates a sense of envy for the chronic pain patient. Aside from the fact that cancer sucks, life might get a little easier for us. Before you argue that no one should wish for cancer, you are right! Cancer is horrible. So is living every day with pain so severe that it leaves a wake of victims in its path.

I didn't ask for this. I didn't choose this life. I didn't ask to be dependent on pain medications that give me the ability to take my children to a movie on a Saturday afternoon. My husband didn't ask to marry someone who cannot participate in household chores without the assistance of a pill.

I relate to the fear of asking for pain medication that will label me an addict, pill seeker, or junkie. We are let down every day by a system that is supposed to provide care for us. We are failed by doctors who took an oath to do no harm. All I want is a pain free day.  Is that too much to ask?

My life is worth more than haphazard and limited care. I demand better. We all should demand better. Our doctors should demand better. If we don't demand these things, then we just create more victims. Write to your doctor, write your representative, senators, and please write the CDC and tell them enough is enough!

Vikki Towsey lives in Virginia with her family. Vikki is a social worker, professional life coach, and co-administrator of the Ankylosing Spondylitis Project, an advocacy group for people with Ankylosing Spondylitis and other chronic illnesses.

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.