My aunt was dying of cervical cancer and toward the end, they were eking out her allowable opioids with acetaminophen and aspirin.
While I’ve not had chronic pain, I did have a back injury that was acutely painful for about 4 years and for which I required pain killers. It was agonizing to walk – I was reduced to the parkinson’s shuffle – sit, or lie down. If I got in the right position, standing wasn’t too bad, but everytime i would shift my weight I’d get shooting pains in my back and left leg.
There is nothing I would like to see more than the DEA policy types afflicted with severe chronic pain and then be made to suffer the bureaucratic sadism that they themselves inflict. Hell, I’d pay money to see that. But of course, being a higher species than the rest of us proles, they’d find their own way around their restrictions. And probably at taxpayer expense to boot.
Richard DeBenedetto MD |
March 10th, 2012 at 9:56 pm
I recently read your excellent and informative and well-balanced article on the imbalance in this country’s unreflective reflexive attempts at controlling the precription drug epidemic. I am a physician who until recently had been treating individuals with opioid addiction. I have lost my two offices and spent the past 4 months in Kerr County jail under an oppressive 1/2 million dollar bond. I read in the local paper of an elderly man killed by a hit and run driver who was charged with manslaughter. Her bond was set at $15,000 dollars! The epidemic while real has released the same beast that haunted J Edgar Hoover and spawned the hatred and suspicion of the McArthy Era, imprisoned WWII Japanese -Americans and delighted Prohibitionists. I would like to share more of my story with you.
I can add my testimony to the pain story. I had surgery two weeks ago in Florida and the first 24 hours was terrible for pain. I asked the nurses for more pain medication several times during the night but they couldn’t do anything to help me.
The next day the pharmacist, my surgeon and his PA all happened to be in the room at the same time with the charge nurse. I gave them an earful about my pain-filled night and the pharmacist came right out and told me that they are underprescribing pain medications because of all of the crackdowns. Everyone agreed that two years ago they would have given me much stronger medicine and a lot more of it. But because of all of the prosecutions for pain pills in Florida they don’t do it anymore.
So it isn’t even an open secret… it is openly acknowledged by doctors, pharmacists and nurses in hospitals down here. For me it was only 24 hours of unnecessary pain. I’ll get over it. But I can’t imagine what it would be like to have the much more serious and unrelenting pain that goes with cancer or serious nerve damage and have them give me a half dose of Tylenol III instead of a heavy shot of morphine or Oxycontin.
I often feel guilty about this. Because I had a problem, an [herion] addiction problem, and because of the existence of people like me, pain patients are now made to suffer.
In other words, if _heroin were legal_, pain patients could be properly treated with percoset.
And the word “addiction” has just become too negative and too overbroad. I’ve been a daily pot smoker for 30 years, certainly qualifying for addiction under the official criteria. And yet, I’ve tried all kinds of other stuff and nothhing stuck. I’ve smoked crack but was never big on coke so I guess that wasn’t for me. When I had an ACL replacement 10 years ago, I was prescribed 40 percs. When my now ex-wife forced me to take me 4th dose on the 3rd day and I had pooped since before surgery and everything was dark for 3 hours, hazy for the next, then pop another. I hated it. I like to drink beer and like some wines but cannot drink scotch. I like to be drunk but can’t imagine a situation where I’d break out the Dewar’s to get it done.
My point is that addiction is not some sort of one-size-fits-all phenomena. I’m an addict but would not likely become addicted to pain killers because I don’t like that feeling at all.
And as long as we continue to ascribe addiction to the properties of substances that we ingest, we will continue to misunderstand other related behaviors such as anorexia, nimphomania, and compulsive shoplifting, say. They’re all just coping behaviors for people whose brains likely aren’t wired the way most of the rest of yours are. The real health epidemic is that, by demonizing addicts, we’ve forced all kinds of OCD stuff under the rug. The system will never change as long as we treat drug users more harshly than bulimics.
“Kolodny says there’s no evidence to support the idea that long-term opioid use is effective for a significant population of patients. “The people advocating for this kind of treatment are advocating a treatment with substantial risk. And there’s just no data showing that it’s effective.”
Of course there’s no evidence to support that long term use is effective for chronic pain patients – nobody wants to take the time to actually do the research to prove that fact. They would rather sit back and point fingers and persecute the people that need this treatment to survive on a daily basis. That is the the most basic, fundamental aspect of existence; prey on the weak, survival of the the fittest.
I would really love to know how many of these “finger pointers” have to live with a debilitating, chronic disease or illness for the rest of their lives, and how many of them take a simple Tylenol that cures everything. My guess would be that NONE of them do. They have no idea what it’s like to not be able to get out of bed in the morning, to not be able to work, or play with their kids. They don’t know what it means to not be able to take a step or a breath and be in excrucitating pain. So instead of trying to understand it and do something to help, they choose to mock and punish those that do have to live that way.
Of course there is risk in taking opiate drugs. There’s also risk in breathing the polluted air that we do every day, there’s risk of falling in the bathtub, there’s risk in driving a car. All of these can and DO cause death as well. For those patients that are responsible and follow their doctor’s orders, there’s no more risk than doing any of the above mentioned things. It just depends on how much you want to blow one aspect out of proportion compared to another.
And for the record, everyone keeps preaching on patients getting “addicted”, but there’s one very crucial point that they all seem to ignore – addicts will lie, cheat, steal, and even murder to get their fix. Legitimate patients who need pain meds in order to function have a dependency, but they aren’t out committing crimes in order to get high. There is a huge difference here, and I really wish people would make that distinction.
Some people drink coffee and energy drinks all day long, every day. Why don’t we put their names on a national database so every move they make can be monitored? What about those that sit down and eat a gallon of ice cream at a time? They are damaging their bodies – obesity causes many, many conditions that lead to death; let’s ban that too!
Doctors and patients need to be able to work together to establish a treatment plan that works for the patient. Government red tape is preventing that from happening, and the patients are suffering tremendously because of it.
If you want to punish someone, punish the drug dealers that are out on the streets pushing heroine, cocaine, ecstasy, etc, and who are driving around in Cadillacs and BMW’s and the like. They get a slap on the wrist & are turned right back out onto the streets to do the same thing all over again. These are the people who are fueling “addiction” in most cases – not doctors.
MSK Advocate; USF Tampa Project Facilitator
Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to sign my petition in support of MSK patients worldwide. At the time of this blog entry, we have 406 signatures. This is amazing, considering that most people have never heard of MSK! I wouldn’t have made it this far without you, and I am extremely grateful for what you have contributed so far. While this is a milestone, we still have much more work to do. I urge you to continue to promote the petition every time the opportunity presents itself, using every outlet you have available – email, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. I need to reach at least 500 signatures, and of course more would be better. If MSK is going to get the national attention it deserves, we must all come together as One Voice.
I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Mr. Radley Balko of the “Huffington Post” for taking the time to interview me for Part 2 of his series on prescription pain medications. This article, entitled “The New Panic Over Prescription Painkillers” mentions MSK specifically, and this is huge! As far as I know, this is the first time that TRUE MSK SYMPTOMS have ever been mentioned in a major public forum. If you would like to read the entire series, you can access all 3 articles here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/radley-balko/painkiller-access-debated_b_1332511.html. I’m working diligently on promoting MSK using other media outlets as well, and I feel it is just a matter of time before I’m successful in accomplishing this. You can follow Mr. Balko’s other blog posts here: http://www.theagitator.com/.
I would also like to thank Ms. Penney Cowan, Executive Director of the American Chronic Pain Association for taking the time to read the information I sent to her about MSK, and agreeing to list it on their website as a chronic pain disease. This is another huge step in the right direction! Unfortunately, she has to use the current available information when describing MSK, and sadly that information isn’t completely accurate. This just fuels the fire for me to keep pressing forward, so that I can get the correct information to her and she can update the site. We will get there! If you or someone you know is plagued by chronic pain for any disease or condition, check out the website at: http://www.theacpa.org – they have many helpful tips and resources.
I currently have several other exciting projects in the works to raise awareness about MSK. It is my sincere hope that you all will support these ventures as well. I will be rolling these out in the next several months, so make sure to check back for updates on my progress. In the meantime, if you have questions and would like to contact me, you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please insert “MSK” into the subject line.
Thank you again for all of your hard work and support – together, as One Voice, we will make a difference!
MSK Advocate; USF Tampa Project Facilitator
Richard DeBenedetto MD |
June 2nd, 2012 at 5:53 pm
Read your responses along with my own to Pain Treatment article by Radley Balko. But after continuing reading yours – what is MSK?