Lisa's Rants and Raves
Do no harm?
I'm back from my two week “vacation” from this column and would like to thank Mark Durfee for providing you with original material to hold you over until my return. I enjoyed his historical expertise and I hope you did as well. If not, just pretend because I certainly would love to utilize him again when I'm not in the mood.
Believe it or not, I'm not going to continue with a long intro as I have a lot to unpack this week. Again I ask that you rise from the floor as this fainting jazz is becoming very tedious to say the least.
I find that I have been thrust into the position of “chronic pain sufferer advocate” as of late. Because that has been taking up most all of my spare time, it is the topic on which I will bloviate, expound and blather until you are ready to reach for a pain reliever.
Speaking of pain relievers, that is pretty much the thesis of this particular column with a bit of marijuana thrown in for good measure.
Moving along, I have discovered over the past month, give or take, that many residents of this fine (?) commonwealth have been suddenly ditched from pain care facilities or told by their primary care doctors to take a flying leap. Some have even had lectures from pharmacists.
The “sin” that these people have committed was—now hold on to something because this is major...ingesting pain killers, often after all else failed. For instance, Person A made a recommendation to his pain doc for which he was chastised and told that he would need to find another facility to provide him with the relief he needs in order to live a productive life.
Person B was only given some sort of injection therapy by a so called pain management specialist only to find that it did not work. After that, he had major invasive back surgery and was given NOTHING for pain during his at home recovery.
Person C relocated from another state and had absolute proof of a back in distress. There was some sort of disc degeneration, twisted this and that and seeping whatever, which was clearly evident on her X-Rays and medical history. She had been taking medication B for years and can no longer find a health “care” professional to prescribe her anything. She has contemplated suicide, which is a common thread from what I can ascertain.
Another commonality is that some people become so very desperate because of debilitating pain, that they resort to heroin. That is one of the reasons for the epidemic that we now see happening all around us. Some have to search for compassionate doctors to help them and are then “red flagged” as doctor shoppers or drug seekers.
You see, my delightful readers, some people rely on narcotics because it is their last hope in terms of controlling pain and having a QUALITY OF LIFE. These folks are immediately suspect when they visit a new provider. They are many times made to feel like criminals. They are forced to sign HUMILIATING “pain contracts” which include things like: “Patients may be called to come into the office with all of their medications for the purpose of counting the pills at any time. You will have 24 hours to come into the office with all medications. If you do not come in during the 24 hour time frame, your medication will not be refilled.” In other words, if Person D is prescribed 2 pain relievers per day but happens to do yard work or carry out another activity that increases her pain level, she cannot ingest an extra pain reliever on that day for fear of the infamous call to report for scrutiny. One simply cannot have a bad day and maybe make up for it later when she is having a better day. Evidently going on vacation would be out of the question as well, now that I ponder.
This has reached levels of insanity and is disgraceful to the max. Some might even say it is beyond the pale. There are actual advocacy groups that take issue with this on Constitutional grounds, by the by.
We are consistently bombarded with horror stories about people overdosing on pills, using them for “fun,” and generally abusing them. We are subjected to special news stories and/or reports about the opiate crisis facing our nation. We rarely if ever are told about how for some, these are a LAST resort in terms of being able to function with some kind of dignity in play. For many citizens in this nation, taking prescription drugs is the only way that they can remain employed, attend family functions, partake in hobbies and carry out activities that many, who do not suffer from chronic pain, take for granted.
I fully understand the problem with the opiate abuse situation here in America but I think I might have a different take on the cause and possible solution so bear with, like you have a choice. (Before I continue, I usually try to be cheerful and uplifting during these bloviating sessions. I take a weekly stab at humor and entertainment but this week, as you can plainly see, I really am not fulfilling that obligation. I just cannot muster any sort of hilarity or attempt at such. However, as you can see, I am digressing and in brackets to boot so all is well with the world.)
This is my theory which has been proven to a certain extent if one wants to unearth the research. The very real war on drugs, as compared to the fake outrage about the so-called war on Christmas, is wreaking havoc on the lives of many people. Not only but it has led to the opiate crisis in this country. I fully blame the fact that marijuana is illegal and labeled a schedule I “substance” for the rise in opiate use and abuse period, end of story. Check out the states that have legalized pot for more details and/or check this * out at the end of this piece.
If doctors had been permitted to treat pain by recommending Mary Jane rather than being told to prescribe opiates, we would NOT be seeing this situation unfold before our very eyes. In the “olden days” people used to be prescribed heavy doses of narcotics for everything from ingrown nose hair pain to pain associated with a stubbed toe. Those same people could have benefited from marijuana for those quite serious health issues; but NO we cannot have that.
Cannabis is utilized by many for chronic pain conditions. There are people who refuse to ingest narcotic pain relievers because smoking pot does the trick. There are others for whom pot does not help with various conditions and therefore opiates are needed.
I know this is a novel idea or statement but what happened to that quaint concept of “do no harm?” Also, another crazy thought is the fact that many individuals would like to have ONE doc see them for everything, including chronic pain conditions. They don't want to be shipped off to a so-called pain clinic, pain management nurse practitioner/doc, or pain expert. I know I must be a bit old fashioned but what happened to the doctor sort of caring for the whole person? (I actually know what happened as it's a rhetorical question on my part.)
The DEA has wedged itself between doctors and patients across this land which has had an adverse effect. Some doctors are literally afraid to alleviate the chronic pain of their patients. This whole thing is absurd, wrong and hideous, to say the least.
Since I am running short on room, I shall now plunk some information here for you which will expound on this little doohickey from earlier: *
*In states where it is legal to use medical marijuana to manage chronic pain and other conditions, the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25 percent lower than in states where medical marijuana remains illegal, new research suggests.
The findings of the study, led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, suggest that while medical marijuana laws can be controversial and opponents have raised concerns that they may promote cannabis use among children, they may have unintended benefits as well.
Using death certificate data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers found that the rate of prescription painkiller overdose deaths increased in all states from 1999 to 2010. The yearly rate of opioid painkiller overdose deaths in states with medical marijuana laws, however, was about 25 percent lower, on average, than the rate in states without these laws. (This was taken from a full article published in the New York Times called “State Medical Marijuana Laws Linked to Lower Prescription Overdose Deaths.” This was published on August 26, 2014.