thousands of people are dying every year from opioid overdoses, those who depend on pain management argue that no one is talking about them

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – While thousands of people are dying every year from opioid overdoses, those who depend on pain management argue that no one is talking about them.

Debilitating pain has been a part of Raymond Kuykendall’s life for nearly 30 years. The simple act of bending over to feed his dog is difficult. 

He was a laborer and fell from a bridge when the Interstate 275/Interstate 40 flyover was under construction 30 years ago. It took more than a year before he could sit in a chair without being in a full body cast.

“I shattered my whole left side. It was like pick up sticks on the X-ray,” he said.

Kuykendall broke his back, lost a kidney, and suffered other internal injuries.

“They told my family for three days that I wouldn’t live,” Kuykendall said.

To relieve his pain, Kuykendall was prescribed by his doctor a cocktail of opioids, which became stronger and stronger every year. In July of this year, when Tennessee enacted one of the strictest opioid policies in the country, Kuykendall said his quality of life changed as his daily meds were cut back.

Kuykendall says he takes 30 milligrams of oxycodone four times a day, which is 60 milligrams less per day than what he used to take.

“It’s affected me in everything. Doing house chores, just getting through in life,” he said.

Steve Glass shared a similar story in August. He can’t get out of a chair without pain. Disabled for 27 years following a series of back surgeries, Glass has chronic, constant pain which affects him emotionally, physically and psychology. 

To ease his debilitation, his doctors prescribed 15 mg of oxycodone and 10 mg of Oxycontin.

“This is one third of what I was taking before the cuts in the medicine of everyone,” he said. “My quality of life has crashed.”

With changes in his pain management, Kuykendall believes he’s paying the price for the abuse by others.

“I just don’t see where it is my fault that people are overdosing on opioids, when I take mine the way I’m supposed to,” he said. “I’m the one that got cut back on my pain medicine because of all the other people out here doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing.”

More Tennesseans died last year from drug overdoses than from automobile crashes. Department of Health records show 1,776 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses in 2017. Prescription opioids are the most common drugs associated with overdose deaths which is one of the reasons why Tennessee has cracked down on the opioid epidemic.

However, Steve Glass believes those with chronic pain, due to their serious health issues, should be exempt from strict legislation. Raymond Kuykendall holds the same opinion. 

“I don’t think the government ought to be the one to dictate to the doctors what they can prescribe,” said Kuykendall.

“We’re dying, like the people who are overdosing. It’s just slower,” said Glass.

Just a few weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration enacted what’s called the SUPPORT Act. In the legislation, the FDA supports developing drugs to treat pain that are not addictive, as well as the need to better understand the safety of existing opiods, to treat those millions of people with chronic pain. 

Those who fit that category say living with unrelenting pain and not receiving the care they deserve, needs to be addressed. They argue the pain crisis has been ignored too long due to the opioid crisis. 

2 Responses

  1. When these patients are being cut back at these levels, are they just saying “ok” doc. I guess this is the way it has to be?

    Are the doctors just saying the cutbacks are ordered by others and that as licensed medical professionals, they are being overruled by non licensed, non medical persons?

    If such a serious situation, why such a meek response from both parties? Where is the “We are Americans Citizens Too” attitude?
    I don’t think we should have to suck up just to get our pain medication. I consider it a right. Maybe medication things will get better now that AG Sessions gone, but that shouldn’t even be a factor.

    It may take an “Act Up” type of movement to get results.
    Similar to the effort the HIV/AIDS patients expressed.
    They saved their own lives through this effort.
    I have some ideas.

    I’m beginning to wonder about some of these posts in the comments section. Pain patients doing without relief due to some rule? The volume of it just too hard to believe. Are most comments coming from US based servers? Why are people such sheep? Good US Citizens (or anyone), dying in pain, unnecessarily, doesn’t work for me.

    I’m a new CPP, and have been increased as needed so far, but I had to be politely insistent. I was fearful being denied as I knew of the state of pain I would be in if undertreated- because I delayed doses to see what it was like. Not good. Can’t imagine the rest of the day, I’m afraid to.

    We have nothing to lose, not even our lives, for they are allready lost if we’re laying around in pain all day.

    • So happy you get the relief u need but If I were u Id be very worried EVERYONE is being cut back or cut off!Does not matter the relationship you think you have with your dr . ABSOLUTELY NOONE is safe! Unless u are one of the corrupt lawmakers putting genocide policies into effect, we all know these horrific policies don’t pertain to them, just we the people. I just recently read an article, and I cant remember if it was on PNN or where I saw it, in to much pain to think straight, but there were several of them scumbags stating tge burden chronic pain pts are on society and if we would only get out and exercise and stop feelibg sorry for ourselves, yes words were said to that effect. They broke down the burden we are to family, society, jobs, the healthcare system, etc…Every other word out of their mouths was BURDEN. The American Gov’t is intentionally denying us lifesaving pain medication so we either turn to the streets for relief or worse #SuicideDueToPain! Look at what Medicare is doing. How the f*** is this even legal?? Restricting a whole class of lifesaving pain medication from our senior citizens and the disabled is a form of TORTURE!!! I know many are working hard to put an end to this genocide and God bless them all . Many days I don’t have the strength, energy to even get off the recliner, the pain is so so bad, cold weather set in too which is a thousand times worse. My severe pain was managed quite well for nearly a decade with higher doses of pain medication. I am a rapid metabolizer and require higher doses to get relief.. Eight years SAME STABLE DOSE. Then Christie put further restrictions on pain meds and my dropped me like garbage. I thought we had a great relationship I trusted him..and he turned on me !!! Told me his license is more important than treating pain pts. He said that several times. I told him he put me in a bad position and how I wont find a dr to take over. he did not care! He handed me my last scripts that he cut way back, no weaning, no nothing just sent me on my way not caring if I lived or died. And here I thought I was so sade, I knew my dr and he knew me and all the debilitating incurable diseases I suffer from. The many talks we had over the course of a decade, it all ended in a matter of a 10 minute office visit. That was 16 months ago. The hell I have been put thru in seeking care , the degrading, name calling, the neglect all by the medical community, those who took an oath to do no harm and turn away the disabled should have their license revoked for not abiding the oath they took. I get they are shaking in thier white coats in fear of DEA BUT dammit they know dam well the devastation these policies are causing thier pts and many are sitting back allowing it to happen. Instead they should all be rallying alongside pain pts and fighting back. I can see it now, pain pts turning to connections in the street, like during the AIDS epidemic,. only the meds we require are deadly on the street so we play roulette to get relief. WTF country allows this to happen, denying the most vulnerable their medication!!! Who is drug testing everyone in the White House and thier sidekicks???? Thier family nembers too! I bet there are many taking pain meds with no problems what so ever. !

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