By Wendy Burnett
The terrors of living with chronic non-cancer pain in this climate of opiophobia and prescription drug crackdowns are horrible and constant. Patients are never sure when their doctor will reduce the amount of pain medications he’s willing to prescribe, or when the DEA will come for a doctor who is willing to prescribe adequate amounts of medication and leave them scrambling to avoid the torture of having no medication at all.
I understand the torment of living with chronic pain and having no medication available to ease it; the hopelessness of knowing the pain will ALWAYS be there; and the times when the agony is so bad, so totally unbearable, that you desperately search for a way to kill yourself that won’t torture the people you love with guilt and regret. I’ve lived through all of those things, and much more.
I also understand the misery of having an addict in the family; the fear of the call telling you they’ve overdosed, the belongings that disappear into the local pawnshops to pay for drugs, the mood changes and rages. I’ve been there, I’ve lived with addicts and violent alcoholics; and I know what it’s like. My heart breaks for all the people who are still in that situation, who are desperate to keep their loved one from being able to get the drug that’s causing them so much pain, who think that if the drug was just not available, things would be okay again. Continue reading Opiophobia, Restrictive Laws, and the Torture of Chronic Pain Patients »
Image via Wikipedia
By Wendy Burnett
The Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge Prompts (#HAWMC) for day two is to write about a TV show based on my life or blog . . . I LOVE this! My mind is going wild with ideas, but they’re all based on the same theme. The only real problem right now is a name. I have absolutely no idea what to call it, and I’m hoping that by the time I hit the end of the post I’ll have come up with something.
The format is dead easy, as soon as I read the prompt I knew I wanted something like a cross between Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil (without the confrontational pseudo-therapy.) The focus is living well in spite of having chronic illnesses and educating “normals” about the difficulties we face every day.
This gives me a huge range of possible guests; life coaches and psychologists, medical doctors that specialize in pain management and various chronic illnesses, massage therapists, herbalists, aromatherapists, acupuncturists, reflexologists, chiropractors, health activists, nutritionists, specialists in ergonomics and accessibility, lawyers that specialize in disability issues and patients with different issues and combinations of illnesses.
Not only that, but the combinations are endless. Panels of patients discussing how hard it is to get adequate pain relief or trying to find doctors that don’t treat them like addicts, debates between allopathic physicians and holistic physicians, massage therapists and aromatherapists discussing how their specialties can be combined, discussions between pain management doctors who believe that opioids are a necessary tool and doctors who refuse to prescribe pain medications at all, etc., etc., etc.
So many possibilities, so many topics . . .
This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J
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Map of Washington State's physical terrain, made by the USGS using their NED dataset. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Wendy Burnett
An Open Letter to Washington State Legislators
I understand your desire to reduce accidental overdoses and diversion of prescription pain relievers, but these new regulations are not the way to do it.
Doctors are already abandoning their chronic pain patients, dumping patients who have a legitimate need for opiod pain medications because the new regulations will make it impossible for them to prescribe desperately needed medications without risking their careers and their freedom; and leaving themselves open to malpractice suits every time a patient makes a bad decision and accidentally kills themselves with their medication.
Many hospitals, emergency departments, and clinics have adopted strict anti-opiod policies; so you better pray to whatever god you believe in that you don’t have a car accident and get taken to one of these emergency rooms. If you do, you won’t get pain treatment that works . . . Continue reading Washington State’s Restrictive Regulations Will KILL Pain Patients »
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By Wendy Burnett
If you take more pain medication than your doctor has prescribed for you, on a regular basis, you have a much bigger problem than you think. Whether the doctor is under-prescribing or not, if you’re constantly calling and asking for more meds, you are labeling yourself as an addict.
Even if you legitimately need a higher dose, taking matters into your own hands will only make it harder to get. The more desperate you seem when you ask for more, the less likely your doctor is to even renew your existing prescription, let alone increase it. Continue reading Do You Take More Pain Meds Than You’re Supposed To? »
Dr. Grinstead was kind enough to allow me to post this short article as a guest post, and the copyright belongs to him exclusively. The contents of this post may only be used with his permission, and with appropriate credit and links.
By: Dr. Stephen F. Grinstead, LMFT, ACRPS, CADC-II
To find a balance point you must be able to identify what the extremes are that you need to balance. In the table below you will see each of the target five balance points you need to strive to obtain in your life.
1. Positive Self-Talk
2. Appropriate Emotional Expression
3. Healthy Support Network
5. Effective Pain Management
Most people pay little attention to all the random thoughts that go through their head each day. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to go through life if you want to thrive. I want to have you consider a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama that I’ve posted below.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Balance Point One: Positive Self-Talk
The first balance point is positive self-talk. On one end of this continuum is repressed self-talk. When you are at this end of the spectrum you are not listening to your thoughts that eventually create your destiny. When your thoughts can lead you to making poor choices this might not be such a bad thing. However, for the most part it is important to monitor your thinking patterns so you can end up not creating negative consequences for yourself.
Balance Point Two: Appropriate Emotional Expression
A trap I see some people fall into is labeling feelings or emotions as either good or bad. I do not believe in “good” or “bad” emotions. I do believe that emotions can however be comfortable or uncomfortable. Some emotions such as happiness or joy are sought after, while other emotions like fear or loneliness are to be avoided at all costs. This type of paradigm can lead to going to one end or the other of this spectrum.
Balance Point Three: Healthy Support Network
It is crucial to build a chronic pain support network for yourself. This balance point of a healthy support network also has two dangerous extremes—isolation and enabling. Let’s start with the isolation extreme. This is usually fueled with the belief that I have to do it myself. Sometimes this is coming from a power position because of a mistaken belief like “I can’t trust/depend on others.” While for other people the mistaken belief might be “I have to do it myself because I’m no good; or nobody is there for me.” Either way you lose the chance to have someone in your corner when it really counts.
Balance Point Four: Spirituality/Humility
The next balance point of spirituality/humility also has problematic extremes. Here too people can vacillate between the extremes and never stay in the middle. On one end of the spectrum people are at risk for moving into pride and/or arrogance while at the opposite end is shame and guilt. Spirituality is a complex and multidimensional part of the human experience. It involves beliefs, perceptions, thinking, feeling, experiential and behavior aspects.
Balance Point Five: Effective Pain Management
This last balance point of effective pain management is crucial for effective chronic pain management and freedom from suffering. The two extremes here are ignoring pain or suffering. I believe that there are times when ignoring pain—or avoidance by appropriate distraction—can be a good thing. I don’t believe it is ever a good thing to be in suffering from your pain.
Striving for balance in chronic pain management recovery is crucial for freedom from suffering and obtaining a great quality of life. This will help you move beyond surviving with chronic pain to thriving and enjoying life to the fullest.
Dr. Grinstead’s blog: Addiction Free Pain Management Blog
Dr. Grinstead’s company website: CENAPS
Dr. Grinstead’s personal website: Addiction Free Pain Management
Does having bipolar disorder automatically mean I’m not in pain, or that my pain should not be treated? Does the fact that someone has been addicted to something in the past mean that they should have to suffer excruciating pain for the rest of their lives to prevent readdiction to a new medication? If someone is dying of cancer, what difference does it make if they become addicted to the pain medication that makes their death less painful, that allows them to have a little relief?
Our society has become so terrified by the picture of the crazed, murderous addict that the government has painted for us that we will allow them to do almost anything to protect us, even though in the vast majority of cases that picture is no more than government propaganda.
The government has lost the war against drugs, they have no hope of ever being able to stop the illegal flow of drugs into this country, so they have changed their propaganda, and their targets. The war on drugs has become a war against chronic pain patients and the few remaining doctors who are willing to treat them.
Doctors are being persecuted (AND prosecuted) for trying to provide adequate treatment for their patients, and for every doctor who is prosecuted, many more begin refusing to prescribe the pain medications that make our lives worth living because of the fear that they will be next. Continue reading Killing Me Softly – The War on Drugs Becomes a War Against Adequate Treatment of Chronic Pain Conditions »
Some of the fireworks I missed while in the hospital.
I just had the most awful holiday weekend EVER, thanks to my fibromyalgia, not having had insurance in two years, and the prejudice in the medical field against those living with chronic pain.
I got up last Friday(July 2) to start getting ready for work, and started passing huge amounts of fresh, liquid (and very red) blood. Naturally enough, that scared the hell out of me, and when it happened for the fourth time in an hour-and-a-half, I called in sick and headed to the emergency room at our local hospital. Since I wasn’t sure if it was related to one of my pre-existing conditions, and the insurance through my husband’s job doesn’t cover those for another couple of weeks (they have one of those clauses that says they won’t pay claims related to anything that was diagnosed before your coverage started for the first twelve months,) I went to the charity/teaching hospital, just in case it turned out not to be covered.
My first mistake was having the hubby drop me off, rather than calling an ambulance, assuming that even as a walk-in patient I would be seen within a reasonable length of time. (I guessed that it would take three to four hours to see a doctor, since I was bleeding, but it wasn’t VISIBLE. Boy was I ever wrong.) I arrived at the ER at approximately 2 PM Friday afternoon, and was FINALLY moved to a treatment room at 3 AM Saturday morning. That’s THIRTEEN hours of sitting in the waiting room, hoping I wouldn’t bleed to death before they got around to seeing me and watching people who came in after I did get treated and released because they didn’t need a “trauma room.” Continue reading Hospitals, Unfamiliar Doctors, and Fibromyalgia: What’s Your Experience? »
The state of Washington has passed a bill (SHB 2876) that could limit access to treatment for your pain and set dosage limits on opioid pain medications. This is a serious issue for all of those who live with chronic pain and their families/caregivers, as well as for society as a whole. Inadequate pain control results in more frequent doctor visits, increased work absences, lower productivity, higher rates of disability and an increased need for social programs such as food stamps. It can also cause depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment (difficulty thinking, reasoning, or remembering,) a compromised immune system, chronic stress, an impaired ability to perform everyday tasks such as dressing or housework, limited mobility, disturbed sleep and more. Continue reading Do You Live With Chronic Pain? Your Right to Adequate Treatment is Under Attack! »