Friday, March 11, 2011


There's a great new article in last week's Time magazine about understanding pain. Every year it seems like one of these news magazines does a healthcare issue that focuses on pain and pain meds. This one was very good and I encourage everyone to go out and find a copy.

More and more Americans are suffering from chronic pain due to such conditions as Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, unhealed injuries, etc. There is even a diagnosis now of Chronic Pain, with an unidentified cause. Doctors are pretty good at relieving pain immediately after an injury or surgery, but chronic pain often completely stumps them. Personally, I think its only recently that doctors have been forced to reluctantly admit that there is a huge pain problem suffered by people that is not just in their heads, and is not just people drug-seeking.

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, a chronic condition I have dealt with since college. I am in various degrees of pain literally all the time. And yet, at times, it has proved from challenging to impossible to get the appropriate pain meds. It is getting even more difficult now because government agencies, in an effort to crack down on drug abuse, have started persecuting physicians who prescribe pain meds to patients. I asked my physician the other day for a stronger prescription due to increasing pain and he refused-directly because of new government oversight. He's becoming paranoid. I've become appalled; what are the millions of pain sufferers supposed to do? Our lives are becoming impossible because of drug abusers and paranoid doctors.

I can only be apprehensive about how this might affect both my and my father's futures. I've already had to struggle to get a prescription for my father for very legitimate pain. Will it only get more difficult for even the elderly to get the medications they need? I'm also a hospice worker-the stated goal of hospice is to make dying patients as comfortable as possible, especially by giving them as much, and more, humane pain medication as needed. Will hospice programs begin to struggle due to the government's inaccurate and ineffective war on drugs? While I think its tremendous that pain is being studied and acknowledged as a disease in its own right, I can only be apprehensive for the future of those people who suffer from pain and have a legitimate need for the medications that relieve it.

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