I recently wrote a blog titled, Enough is Enough! Stop the Stigma Against People Living with Pain. This is the second entry sharing the frustration that I, along with other people living with pain, face every day. I am angry, fed up and I am not afraid to talk about it. Now is the time for me to scream, holler and shout!
I am sick to death of the media playing havoc with our lives with articles that are meant to cause fear and written with poorly researched information. I am sick to death of reading article after article written because someone who is out for political gain or to advance their own agenda. I am sick to death of their walking on the backs of people living with pain in order to achieve fame, power or other forms of influence.
From all of this biased and what I consider sloppy media coverage you would never know that there have been some really great advances in the science of pain and pain management. Pain continues to be misunderstood, untreated, undertreated or improperly treated and poor media coverage deserves to “take it on the chin” as they have contributed to this situation. Their sham journalism continues to deflate any hope that is out there and makes the situation seem dire for those living in pain.
People living with pain: You do have some wonderful allies out there like, The Pain Connection, the State Pain Policy Advocacy Network (SPPAN), National Pain Report, US Pain Foundation and The Pain Community (TPC) just to name a few. We need to step up and help those who are trying to help us. We can no longer hide away and wait for someone else to fix this problem.
We are being blamed for drug abuse in this country and this must stop. People living with pain are being used as stepping stones to move forward personal causes and political agendas.Are we to believe that this pretense is just about drug abuse?
Come on, really? Were we born yesterday?
Yes, absolutely there is a drug abuse problem in this country. Yes, people are dying from drug abuse. Yes, it is heartbreaking for the loved ones left behind to carry on. I can say without a doubt that I, along with most people living with pain, feel sadness for those families who have been affected. People living with pain do not want to hear of anyone dying from abuse just like we do not want to hear of people with pain who give up and commit suicide. Like chronic pain, addiction is a disease which deserves to be treated as such. Changing the formula of all the pain medications to try to make them tamper-resistant is one step forward but that is not going to stop drug abuse. Someone who is fighting the demons of abuse will always find a way to get what their body is craving. Treatment of the problem is key; the elephant in the room is that those who choose to abuse medications must receive treatment to help break the cycle of abuse.
We must use education and treatment to help curb the start of abuse. We must use education to stop young people from participating in “pill parties or pharm parties”, where all types of over the counter and prescription medications are placed in a bowl and people take them to get high. For some, the pills they take cause overdose and death. It is the behavior that is at fault, yet no one wishes to face this and take on the responsibility of dealing with the cause directly. It is far easier to demonize the medication, rather than the activity. Parents need to be better informed about these dangers.
Look, we should be working together to start moving forward and making a difference rather than against each other. We must start treating those who abuse so they can take back their lives and allow people living with pain to once again find healthcare providers willing to treat them. Do I need to remind you that chronic pain is a real and complex disease too?
So, stop putting the issue of drug abuse on the backs of people living with pain and start making a difference by treating addiction as a disease. Those who abuse do so to escape from the stress of life and to do that they seek an altered state of mind. People living with pain are not looking for that “high” or means of escape. We are desperately trying to find at least a brief moment of pain relief. We only want the chance to be able to participate in life with family and friends and to be able to continue to work and support our families.
To each of you who live with pain, I must be frank. We can no longer afford to sit back and complain behind closed doors about how stigma and discrimination is affecting us. We must stand up and be heard. Who has become my health provider nowadays? I ask this because it sure seems like my well-being and health care has been taken out of the hands of my health care provider or should I say stolen. Politicians, law enforcement, journalists and others with narrow points of view and self interest are the thieves. Their motives have nothing to do with what is in my best interest; I can assure you of that! My optimal health care depends on my health care provider and me! We need to tell these encroachers to butt out of our pain care!!
Do you honestly think that these “journalists” care about us, the ones living with pain? They would rather talk to self-proclaimed experts who spout unsubstantiated claims and pass it off as the truth. They don’t care that they are making it harder and harder for legitimate people living with pain to receive the care that is needed to live our lives with less pain. We are merely the “unintentional consequence”—the nameless, faceless statistic that is frequently misinterpreted or maligned. The almighty dollar is what serves as master. They aren’t living with pain so it is not hurting them. They have they own agenda, sell newspapers, magazines and get those hits from the internet, in other words, keep their jobs. So, articles are badly written, “facts” are not verified, stories are slanted to one-side to ensure those that read it become more fearful. These articles rarely tell both sides of the story which would be the right thing to do, take time to develop and result in what is considered good journalism—a fading talent.
Please don’t take the following statements wrong; I would never ever wish a life of chronic pain on any one. However, I have often wondered:
- How fast these news articles would change and both sides of the story would be told IF the editors and/or writers were suddenly thrust into a life of pain.
- To those politicians and others who are advocating for medications to be taken off the market: How fast do you think the tables would turn if it was you or a loved one dealing with pain?
I bet we would hear the person with pain’s side of the story then and the politicians and the media would move heaven and earth to ensure they or a loved one had access to all treatments available, including opioid pain medications. Gosh, insurance companies might even start paying for appropriate pain care! That would be a novel thought.
Here is reality. Those of us living with pain are not asking for special treatment; we only wish that we can have our pain treated with appropriate treatments including pain medications when/if appropriate. We are only asking, no we are begging for the right to be able to see a healthcare provider who is not afraid of the DEA breaking down his/her door. We are asking, no begging that we are able to go into a pharmacy and to fill our lawful prescriptions without the stares, without being “outed” in public that we are taking pain medication or the interrogation from pharmacists who are trying to decide if we are legitimate human beings or not.
Until you have lived with never-ending pain that literally takes your breath away and makes it impossible to sit, stand or lay down for any length of time, please stop thinking you know what is best for us. You, who live without pain, have no idea what a life of pain is like and I hope those of you who call yourselves experts in these media articles never do feel the pain I live with 24/7.
Please hear me. Stop the mistruths, the propaganda and promotion of your personal agenda. Start trying to make a difference in lessening drug abuse and improving pain care, in an effective way, that is guided by public health solutions and critical research rather than sanctions and policing. Work together with all interested parties and educate about medication safety. Stop the fiction and biased articles and start telling both sides of this story. Currently, we are just running in circles and chasing our tails. Drug abuse has continued on like a moving target while legitimate people living with pain are running head on to more and more barriers in care. People are being hurt on both sides of this issue. People are dying on both sides, too.
In the words of Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does”. I am tired of stupid, aren’t you? Now is the time to scream, holler and shout!