OPEN LETTER TO ELECTED OFFICIALS & POLICY MAKERS
RE: An Open Letter From a Severe Intractable Pain Patient Regarding The Unintended Consequences Harming Legitimate Pain Patients in the Wake of the Illicit Drug Overdose Epidemic
Fellow Pain Warriors, Family Members, Caregivers, & Interested Parties,
Do our leaders have the mental capacity to comprehend the gravity of what people living with constant, unrelenting pain have to endure on a daily basis? Aside from the physical symptoms, the emotional and mental repercussions are unfathomable to most.
Our bodies are riddled with physical intractable pain and insurmountable limitations, but I often wonder if anyone actually stops to consider the mental aspect of living in a constant state of anxiety, depression, and fear of losing our doctors & our life saving pain medications.
I’ve had the unfortunate reality of living with several horrendously painful, incurable diseases and illnesses for over 25 years. I’ve undergone close to 20 surgeries and tried every last modality, treatment, and non-opioid medication under the sun to no avail. After all other avenues were exhausted, I made an informed decision to begin a strict opioid medication management regime approximately 20 years ago which had been a Godsend for me and afforded significant pain control & a moderately functional quality of life.
However, as a result of our government’s attempt to combat the nation’s OVERDOSE crisis, my nightmare began in February 2018 when my doctor was forced to REDUCE my pain medications by more than HALF (all at once), and decreased it every month since then. This drastic measure has ripped away the only relief I was able to achieve, which has left me mostly bed ridden and home bound.
Every week, we hear our Government Agencies boast about the DOJ/DEA raiding, shutting down, or sanctioning hundreds of reputable doctors across the country leaving thousands of patients scrambling to find another doctor to take over their pain management which is nearly impossible.
Unfortunately, my doctor (for the better part of a decade) was among the growing list of targets and in August 2018, his home & office were raided following a 10 month undercover investigation by the DEA and state medical board. Although the allegations against him were mostly unfounded, his license was temporarily suspended, leaving hundreds of his patients (myself included) with no meds and no doctor.
This inhumane practice is happening to countless prescribers and pain patients across this country. We are being discounted and overlooked for NO justifiable reason and through NO fault of our own. Which begs the question, why are legitimate patients & doctors being continually vilified and blamed for the overdose “crisis” which is admittedly caused by illegal street drugs and has nothing to do with legally prescribed pain medication? By now, I think most of us have figured out the answer to that question.
Below is my “open letter” to Policy Makers intended to ask these questions and to shine a light on the foreseeable results of how government intrusion is causing MILLIONS of pain patients to suffer the horrific consequences.
TO: All State and Federal Elected Officials & Regulatory Agencies
RE: An Open Letter From a Severe Intractable Pain Patient Regarding the Unintended Consequences Harming Legitimate Pain Patients in the Wake of the ILLICIT Drug Overdose Epidemic
Questions for Policy Makers:
Does anyone at the State or Federal Level realize the amount of damage and needless suffering these draconian, inhumane policies are causing and forcing upon millions of chronically ill Americans?
Where’s your OUTRAGE & FERVOR to protect the rights of 25+ million Americans who require opiate pain medication to have a functional quality of life?
Why is no one standing up and mobilizing, protesting, shouting, chanting, or speaking out about the atrocities being inflicted upon those of us in the pain community who are left to suffer in silence?
Pain affects people from ALL walks of life and can strike anyone at any time. I wouldn’t wish this agony and torture on my worst enemy.
So, why is it that not ONE single elected official is willing to CHAMPION our cause and fight for the lives of cancer patients, intractable pain patients, disabled veterans & wounded warriors, post surgical, trauma & accident patients, or palliative & hospice patients because of the infinitesimal chance (which is less than 1%) of possible addiction?
The AMA, Human Rights Watch, and HHS Pain Management Task Force recently released their long awaited Reports ALL of which concluded that our government does NOT belong in our Doctors office and shouldn’t meddle with our health care decisions or treatment. The reports conceded that the CDC Guidelines are being misapplied and weaponized by state & federal agencies, which is severely harming countless pain patients.
The reports also conclude exactly what an enormous amount of doctors, experts, and patients have been warning government entities about since the inception of the guidelines: Pain patients and prescribers are NOT the problem fueling the opioid overdose “epidemic!”
According to the CDC’s own data, the TRUE CULPRIT claiming thousands of lives is due to ILLEGAL drugs including heroin, cocaine, meth, etc. Which are laced with deadly (IMF) illicitly manufactured Fentanyl, Carfentanil (aka elephant tranquilizer), its analogs, and black market counterfeit look alike pills -- NOT by legitimate doctors “over prescribing” or pain patients “diverting” our opiate pain medication.
We have no CHOICE, unlike so many others who CHOOSE to misuse/abuse whatever substance is available to them. If we want pain relief, we must follow a maze of invasive procedures and excessive rules every month and jump through voluminous hoops just to obtain our legally prescribed pain medications in order to have a somewhat normal, bearable quality of life.
We take our pain medications responsibly as prescribed & directed without issue. However, there is no proverbial box that each and every one of us fit into, so our doctors should not be limited to prescribe a maximum, arbitrary dosage because every patient has various illnesses and different, complex needs.
Yet, after going through this seemingly endless merry go round each month, our choices are narrowing and our rights are dwindling with every new regulation, restriction, and arbitrary attack on our doctors' ability to prescribe our life saving, necessary pain medication.
Please leave our doctors alone and allow them to treat their chronically ill patients as they see fit. Anything beyond that is a blatant infringement on the sacred doctor-patient relationship.
Government/Law Enforcement Agencies should shift their focus on pursuing ILLEGAL drug dealers, traffickers, producers, suppliers, and cartels. They should not be wrongfully and deceitfully targeting, surveilling, sanctioning & prosecuting physicians and prescribers for doing their job which they’ve been thoroughly trained and schooled to do.
If this cruel and INHUMANE behavior is allowed to continue, it will go down in history as the darkest, most flagrant violation of the rights of MILLIONS of Americans who are among the weakest, most vulnerable segment of our society!
We are terrified. Our lives have been turned upside down & inside out, but what have we done wrong to deserve this downright disgraceful inhumane treatment?
Why are government officials and mainstream media serripticously "spoon feeding” such outlandish statistics to the public causing a climate of unjustified fear of addiction & stigma which conveniently fosters the myth that taking prescribed narcotic pain medication for more than a few days will turn anyone into a pill popping drug fiend? This nonstop anti-opioid hype is the lead story on every news report with absolutely no mention of the negative effects on the lives of countless doctors and pain patients like myself. Another preposterous tactic is how every single TV/online newscast or article insists on flashing photos of Rx bottles, pharmaceutical pills and Rx fentanyl patches while parroting their carefully orchestrated, scripted news stories without clarifying the vast difference between illicit opioids and prescription opioids.
These deceptive tactics serve no purpose other than feeding into the shocking narrative which falsely blames doctors, pain patients, and prescription painkillers for tens of thousands of overdose deaths and the scourge of addiction/abuse.
We are already suffering from unimaginable pain, and now we’re being looked down upon and instantaneously judged by our families and friends because of such preconceived notions about weakness, inability to "fight through" the pain, and of course, subjected to the irresponsible myth and stigma being perpetuated by anti opioid zealots & the mainstream media who refuse to acknowledge the difference between "addiction” vs. “dependence”.
How much longer do we have to suffer the consequences and prove ourselves to the entire chain of command until we are taken seriously and afforded the same rights and respect given to the miniscule faction of our population (approx. 2 million) who suffer from the disease of addiction? Are our lives not just as important and deserving?
As my elected representative, I ask you this very simple question: Why am I being punished because of those who make a CHOICE to use/abuse licit and illicit substances for non medical purposes?
People like me had no CHOICE in the matter. In fact, we were never given a CHOICE to begin with.
Each month, we must comply with several OUTLANDISH rules & regulations created by government entities in order to receive our prescription pain medications. We must sign pain management contracts, be subjected to random urine drug screens, and monthly pill counts. If the doctor, nurse, or pharmacy finds anything they deem as being non-compliant, we are instantly terminated from their care, flagged as a “drug seeker” or “doctor/pharmacy shopper”, and essentially black listed from receiving care from any other doctors, pharmacies, and/or hospitals for the foreseeable future. This monthly “routine” is absolutely nerve wracking causing extreme anxiety and exacerbates our pain.
However, if being treated for addiction, a patient only needs to show up for their appointment or the emergency room and easily walks out with a prescription for Suboxone or Bupenephorine (which are also opioids, addictive, abused, diverted, & cause overdose deaths) yet they’re NOT subjected to ANY of the invasive conditions mentioned above. Doesn’t that seem a bit baffling and disparate?
So many of us are barely hanging on to hope. We are growing weary because of the exhaustive and inhumane conditions we are forced to suffer through just to survive another hour, another day, another week, another month….how much more can we take?
How many more innocent lives need be lost until our government decides that enough is enough? We are being thrown to the wolves and feel expendable, hopeless, and worthless, leaving many to make drastic choices out of desperation to escape their debilitating pain.
I’ll admit that the thought of suicide has crossed my mind like thousands of others, and I’m terrified that I too will become a statistic of collateral damage. But that’s the easy way out. Our fight here is too important, so I continue to push myself each and every day to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. To be honest, I’m not sure how much longer I can stay in this fight. My body is getting weaker and is beginning to shut down both mentally and physically.
We need your help. If millions of legitimate pain patients have been safely and successfully using prescription opioids for decades with no issues, why would anyone purposely choose to take it away from those of us who benefit from it?
We need a true HERO to sponsor and introduce a Pain Patients & Physicians Protection Policy and Bill of Rights.
Will you be that HERO? Or will you continue to bow your head, and follow the herd by choosing to ignore the plight of millions of law abiding American citizens and beloved veterans?
The clock is ticking & our time is running out....But YOU can be responsible for saving MILLIONS of innocent lives during this terrifying time of uncertainty.
I respectfully request a meeting with you and your health care staff to discuss this matter further and offer some common sense, IMMEDIATE solutions to this dreadful, yet preventable situation.
I thank you for your consideration & look forward to meeting with you.
Pain Warrior & Patient Advocate
War on Pain Patients