there was no one left to speak for me


First they came for the mentally ill addicts, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a mentally ill addict.

Then they came for the empathetic prescribers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a empathetic prescriber.

Then they came for the Pharmacists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Pharmacist.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Dear Sir or Madame,

We would like to introduce ourselves, and then to ask for your understanding.

We are the Chronic Pain Patients of America.

We are here, standing together, although we frequently feel so very alone.

Our numbers are growing, despite the fact that many of us are voluntarily leaving this world, one by one, because we can’t bear the pain.

We are 70-year-old grandparents, whose arthritis has gotten so bad in recent years that we find it difficult to even get out of bed on a good day. Our grandchildren do not understand why we need to take a break just to visit for a while.

We are the middle-aged housewives, who have been stricken with unforeseen spinal conditions that cripple us so severely that our families are being torn to shreds. We used to be soccer-moms, but we now find it nearly impossible to even provide for our children’s basic needs.

We are the college athletes, who nearly died in that auto accident last year. Although our athletic careers have ended abruptly, we still have to get up each day and go through the motions of living.

At some point or another, during our ongoing-suffering, one or more of our once-caring doctors prescribed medication to us that changed our lives.

At the time, most of us were not even aware that what we were taking was stamped with the all-so-evil name of “prescription narcotics,” nor did we care.

All we knew was that, if we took our medicine as directed, we felt relief.

Glorious, merciful relief.

We were able to accomplish tasks we thought were impossible, given our recent diagnosis.

We were, once again, able to walk. We were able to work. We were able to enjoy our friends and family.

We were given a reason to get up in the morning. We were given a reason to live.

We faithfully took our medicine, much like we took our diabetes medicine, or our blood-pressure pills.

We lived for years taking our pain pills, and surviving.

In short, the medicine gave us back some small quality of life.

It is as simple as that.

We have never, ever, taken more medicine than we should.

We have never been “high” on anything, in our entire lives. We don’t even know what it means to be “high.”

For a large number of us, you could even count on one hand the glasses of alcohol we’ve had in our lives.

People who get “high” on any substance, whether it’s a drug of choice, or alcohol, disgust us.

They can all go to an island and enjoy altering their states of consciousness, together, alone, for the rest of eternity, for all we care.

In fact, we prefer they would.

Before we were given prescription medicine, a lot of us consumed something like a bottle of 30 ibuprofen in about a day and a half.

Every day.

Very recently, the DEA, together with physicians and pharmacists everywhere, launched a “war on drugs.”

They tell us there have been so many deaths due to overdose that these medicines are dangerous to all of us.

There has been mandate to greatly reduce the number of patients using pain medication, and also to reduce the number of prescriptions written.

We frankly don’t understand all of these deaths due to prescription pain medicine.

One of three things could be happening here:

Perhaps these deaths were caused by an allergy to the medication. This type of tragedy can occur even with Penicillin.

Or, maybe these people actually took this sometimes-life-saving medicine to get “high,” and they took too much.

They should have been on that island.

Or, they simply could not find enough relief from the medication they were given, and took handfuls instead. We certainly hope not.

The point is, real people, who cannot function otherwise, are losing vital medication.

Elderly Americans, disabled Americans, are having their lives cut short, or, at least, their quality of lives, by being denied a very simple, effective method of pain-relief.

Unless you have experienced chronic pain, there is no way to describe the difference between having pain relief or not.

We stand together as an awesome, forgotten entity in this “war on drugs.”

As we encounter more and more doctors and pharmacists who tell us they are “not comfortable” delivering our medication to us, more and more of us are simply dropping out of the fight.

To them, we say, “We are NEVER ‘comfortable.'”

Our days of comfort, of any kind, have now come to an end.

And, it is madness.

We willingly submit to drug-screening, and the constant scrutiny of our once-understanding medical team.

We never fail, because we take our medications properly.

But, we are forced to be ashamed. We are forced to face life, once again, without proper treatment.

Although some of us are lucky enough to have physicians who are willing to prescribe our medications, we know our days are numbered.

For many, the days have ended.

Every day, pain patients are taking their own lives because they have either been denied medication, or they can no longer take the public humiliation they face when attempting to pick up their medication.

We have been treated like common criminals, not because we abuse our medication, but just because we take the medication AT ALL.

We have been victimized by these over-zealous, war-on-drugs crime-fighters, by succumbing to such horrors as random purse searches.

We have been called names, like “pill-seekers,” and “junkies,” by the very same doctors who developed a care-plan centered around our medications.

We have been warned by their staff that we will end up in a rehab facility if we continue to take our medicine, even though we do so properly.

Time and time again, we are required to undergo painful, and, for the most part, useless procedures, because we know our doctors will not continue our care if we refuse.

Every time we enter our doctors’ offices, we are unsure if we will be allowed to continue with the medicine that has been our primary lifeline.

We never know if our pharmacist will tell us, simply, “No. I won’t fill that for you.”

We are here because it is time to stop the madness.

Our demands are simple:

We want adequate medical treatment for our chronic pain.

We want doctors and pharmacists to stop frightening us by talking to us about addiction and over-use.

We are not addicted, and we do not abuse.

Because this medication is needed by us, as surely as a diabetic needs insulin, or a child with ADHD needs stimulants, we do have a physiological dependence on it.

If an elderly woman takes three helpful narcotic pain pills daily, and her pain will not naturally decrease over the course of her life, do we not WANT, and EXPECT her to DEPEND on a life-giving medication?

To tell her that she will have to abruptly stop her pain-treatment is the same as telling her we don’t care about our elderly in this country.

The same rule applies to younger individuals suffering with chronic pain.

Do the medical and pharmaceutical professions not want them to depend on a much-needed medication?

We want pharmacists to stop bullying us, and telling us that we are, somehow, not worthy of pain-management.

We want the same rights that sufferers of other chronic illnesses have.

We want understanding.

Together, we are fighting the people who are fighting the ambiguous, “war on drugs.”

We want to speak loudly, and to have our voices heard.

Enough is enough, and we have had enough!

6 Responses

  1. Alright

    Well shared then.

    It’s going out to all our patients.

    We are putting it in a frame on our wall

    Thank you anonymous.

  2. Here is a worthy manifesto.
    Brilliantly said, Steve.

%d bloggers like this: