Prepping For Step Two

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I love that meme.  It depicts my life to a tee, and I think it’s hilariously funny.  The past two days have been busy, but decent. Yesterday, I never even turned my CBD vape on, and on Sunday, I only used it a few times.  Today, I’m more on the spectrum on the busted can of biscuits, but I’m doing housework anyway, because I have the next step of my tapering journey starting very soon.  If I don’t get some cleaning done now, it’s gonna wait.  My poor carpet can’t take much more neglect, and I found a kitten-sized ball of fluff under the microwave cart in the dining area.  It might have been an actual kitten, come to think of it.  That would explain how the cats are going through the sheer volume of food they’ve been consuming. I also find it funny, or frustrating (depending on the day) that I have these delusions of grandeur. In my mind, I’m cleaning like a fiend on fire, but when the rubber meets the road, I’m sitting down more than I’m working, and running out of energy long before I run out of stuff to do.  I have yet to find that middle ground where I can pace myself and accomplish more, and I’m in my 19th year of fibromyalgia.

In retrospect, I have been feeling better over the past week or so, with the exception of a day or two where my back has been acting up.  I don’t believe that was related to anything I’ve been doing with my meds, my back is just wonky like that.  Back pain seemingly runs in my family, and surprisingly I didn’t draw the short straw on that.  A specific defect, called spondylolisthesis, has affected every person in my immediate family. Both brothers have it, my parents both have/had it, my sister has it and her two girls have both been diagnosed with the condition as well.  I, on the other hand, have no evidence of it… yet.  It can develop over time, so I am not out of the woods, and I do have some symptoms of it.  But as of my last MRI, I’m okay.  That is about the only thing I’ve been lucky with when it comes to health.  No one knows where in the family my fibromyalgia came from, even though experts tend to think the disorder is hereditary.

I am shooting for Friday to begin my next dosage taper, mostly because that is the day that my medication is due to be filled.  I still don’t know, however, if I will have a problem at the pharmacy; since I have a history at Publix, I am not anticipating any issues.  I was going to reach out to the pharmacy manager yesterday while we were at the store getting some essentials, but it was her day off.  Time will tell.

I will probably not update this on the tapering topic until Thursday evening, the night before my new start date.  There is no need to bore everyone with the details when there is nothing new to report.  I’m still working on that elusive new recipe I’ve promised for more than two months, so look for that very shortly!  You will want to try this if you love curry dishes.  Yum!

Until then, be safe on Independence Day, but have fun, too!  Gentle hugs, and God bless!

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Prayers Are Great, But They Don’t Get Dinner On The Table

By every definition of the word, my husband and I are in financial crisis. We are both disabled adults, both of us are unemployed and neither of us can physically do enough to be gainfully employed. As of last April, we suffered a significant financial setback when we lost a good portion of our income every month, money that we used to buy things we used to take for granted. Things like food, medication, upkeep on our one vehicle, and the ability to save a little for a rainy day. After a year (and then some) of rainy days, even that piddly little savings account is dried up, too. I am not kidding when I tell you that we can’t afford to even pay attention. I have overdue hospital bills from last year, for both myself and my 89 year old mother, whose finances I also manage. I have no idea when, if at all, I can pay on them. My coinsurance on my three most important medications rose this January by 4200%… each. Most months, I am making the impossible decision between feeding the both of us, or taking my medication for that month. Stopping two of the three suddenly could be life threatening, so we all know which takes priority.

My father, who worked in manual labor his whole life, supported a family of six on an 8th grade education. He didn’t have the luxury of finishing school. He was the oldest male child born to native Italian parents. He was expected to help support the family of eleven after the Great Depression began. He never once complained about having to work a skilled trade; the back breaking labor, the often times too-hot-to-breathe weather in the summer and the bitter cold in the fall. In the winter, there was no construction work in Connecticut, so he and everyone else on his job was laid off. There was nothing my Dad loved more than his family, and we were his life and his reason for working as hard as he did. It pained him, physically, to collect unemployment during his annual lay off, and he would have rather died than take food stamps. His own parents taught him the value of hard work, and the importance of being free enough to support his family. That is, after all, the reason his grandfather toted five children by himself from Naples, Italy to America… to seek a better life.

Being in our current predicament, while I accept full responsibility for years of poor decision making, weighs heavily on me, because I always think back and remember my Dad telling us the value of a job well done. To not be reliant on anyone to provide for us, and he meant the government, was a huge source of pride for him. Many times I catch myself wondering what he would think of me today. Disabled at 38 years old, collecting that government check every month, regardless of whether I had paid into it. The disability is something I have absolutely no control over, but nonetheless, this is a tremendous source of shame for me, and is difficult to bear. I’m sure his words would not be terribly kind., but as always he would have had good, constructive criticism and loving advice.

This, in a roundabout way, brings me to my point. Society at large does not have much empathy for a couple of disabled, childless, unemployed adults. Now I know there are exceptions to this rule, just like every other hard and fast rule ever made. But it has been my personal experience that my statement is true. Our familial status has been the defining feature of whether society deems us “worthy” of saving. No children? Well, then you don’t qualify for x, y and z services. We were even told once, when we were facing homelessness that we could never qualify for Section 8 assistance, because families with children would always bump us down to the bottom of the list. It would take literally years for approval, and we had just weeks. I had always thought that government agencies could not discriminate based on familial status, but obviously that means you need to have children to qualify for goods and services provided by most cities and counties. If they don’t mean that, then the Powers That Be should clarify, because that is what we have been told over and over again. Mean what you say, and say what you mean!

There are a lot, and I mean a LOT, of folks with good intentions in the world, who offer everything from a listening ear to prayers. Both are fantastic, wonderful things to offer someone who is down on their luck, but prayers sometimes just aren’t enough for a person or family in crisis. Yes, they would like someone to care and pray, but also ask when they had their last hot meal. Please, check up on them or call, but also ask how, not if, you can help. Many people in crisis don’t want to be a bother to others, and will seldom volunteer that they are, indeed, in crisis, or have a specific need. Prayers are wonderful, but they don’t work immediately to get tonight’s meal ready, or provide a ride to the store to pick up a much needed item, or watch children so a single parent can go to a job interview, or lend a helping hand with household tasks that a disabled person cannot do without aid.

I think, and I’m guilty of this myself so I will shoulder this as well, we get complacent and put too much burden on God, when WE could actually be His hands and feet, and provide a blessing to a person or family in crisis. It’s easy to say, “I’ll pray for you,” and you’ve fulfilled your promise, but things are still left undone. It’s easy to look at the brokenness around us, shake our fists at Heaven and say, Why Lord? Why aren’t you fixing this injustice? When all along, we could be providing the answer, the fix, ourselves if we are just moved to act. Is it not our duty as Christ followers to feed His flock, and care for His sheep? Did He not command Peter to do these things for Him? How, then, are we any different than Peter? Jesus did not tell Peter to refer these people to the government for care, but that he was to do it himself. So why do we pass the buck when it comes to doing the work He has given us to do? Like I said, I am just as guilty in this way, so I am pointing three fingers back at myself.

As a society, and as Christians, let’s all try to do better.  Though right now we are in no position to help anyone, once this crisis passes, we will both be much more aware of people that tend to fall between the cracks.  I will be prepared to help in ways that I am able, and if not financially, with my time and helping hands. I encourage us all to do the same.  Offer prayers, words of encouragement, and then ask how you can help.  I will do the same, too. Anyway, this has been weighing on me this week, along with other things over which I have zero control. I know He is working on something big for us, and we are in the middle, as always it seems, of a great testimony. I appreciate your audience, more than you know. Thank you for indulging me in this, and for joining me in this part of my walk in life.

Gentle hugs and God bless!

My Thoughts on Tapering

I have spoken on the blog at length about my feelings regarding the opioid “epidemic.” I wanted to continue to make regular posts but at the same time chronicle this journey.  Most of the literature I find online, or in other places addresses tapering from the perspective of an addict, who needs intervention, who needs […]

The Voiceless

So much has been on my mind lately, and here I have the perfect medium to get all my thoughts off my mind and on ‘paper…’ I apologize in advance if my viewpoints are controversial. It seems that everyone has an opinion on this topic, mostly because almost every person in America seems to know someone who has been affected by this problem.

First, I would like to give a little background on my own situation. My story really isn’t all that uncommon anymore. It began the morning of October 12, 1999. We lived in Salem, Oregon at the time, and the day began like many before it. I drove to work, and dropped my hubby off at his new job on the way. The downtown streets of Salem are a confusing web of one-way streets that are difficult to navigate when you are unfamiliar with traffic patterns. On this particular morning, I chose to take a more direct route through downtown to get to work, rather than taking a less traveled, but slightly longer route.

As fate would have it that day, another young lady was also navigating unfamiliar roads and turned onto a one-way street going against traffic. I had the unfortunate luck of crossing her path as she approached the intersection, heading straight into traffic stopped at a light across the way. I literally had no time to react as her car struck mine squarely on the front passenger side door. The impact pushed my little 1992 Honda Civic over a whole lane. Dazed, I moved my car out of traffic and dialed 911 on the cell phone I carried solely for an occasion such as this.

The police never came, and neither did any emergency vehicles to check us out. I waited over 2 hours for the girl’s mom to show up with valid insurance cards, and two witnesses sat with me to make sure I was okay. I made it to work that morning. Three days later, when the shock wore off completely, the pain settled in. Long story short, the accident turned out to be worse than I had believed, with long term consequences. The initial diagnosis was severe whiplash, and it was treated with chiropractic, physical and occupational therapy, bio-feedback, meditation and relaxation, and warm water pool therapy. None of the treatments did much to relieve pain, and in fact my doctor didn’t believe me when I told him I thought the pain was getting worse.

Fast forward. My diagnosis of Fibromyalgia came in early 2005, 5 years after the accident, and less than one year after relocating to Florida. My mom’s family doctor immediately recognized the symptoms and had compassion for me. She was the first medical professional to take me seriously. I kept records of every treatment I had tried, what worked (hardly anything) and what failed miserably. And over the past 19 years, I have exhausted every treatment for chronic pain. The only thing that even touches this relentless pain is opioid pain medication, and gabapentin. This disease has robbed me of more than I care to think of, including my career and motherhood. I have been disabled fully since 2007.

By now, the whole country is aware that Florida was a hot bed of narcotics with pill mills and relaxed prescribing laws back in the 90s and early 2000s. Since the days of pill mills, many laws have changed, and the typical chronic pain patient has to endure quite the routine of contracts, urine drug screens and frequent, sometimes expensive doctor visits. On a disability income, new insurance copay schedules are prohibitive, and every single medication used to control my own pain has risen 4200% per medication (I take four.) I’m supposed to be somehow grateful that my visit copay has been reduced by $5 a visit, like that is going offset the sharp, overly dramatic increase in my other expenses. But I digress.

In March of this year, Florida governor Rick Scott signed Florida House Bill 21 into law, which severely restricts the amount of opioid pain medication that can be prescribed for “acute” pain. The law should cover patients who have a terminal illness, are in palliative care and/or a chronic, progressive condition such as cancer, and diseases like Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Medical exceptions are available to people like this, and they should be. However, Fibromyalgia does not fit into this neat little package. It is not considered to be a progressive illness, and many doctors still don’t believe it is a real disorder. I have heard horror stories from friends about their journey to a diagnosis, and how they’ve been treated in the process. Even worse are the reports that pain patients such as these are already being denied proper and adequate pain control as states clamp down on opioid prescriptions. Whether or not the law expressly states that there are limits on prescribing sometimes does not matter, as some doctors and even insurers have taken prescribing guidelines and treated them as truth, forcing long term opioid patients off their medications completely (and suddenly to boot!) or severely restricted with no basis in law. This is what should never be allowed to happen.

It is inhumane and immoral to allow a person to suffer in pain when treatments are available. But physicians are increasingly having their hands tied, their livelihoods placed at risk, and some even face jail time if these new laws are not followed to the letter. The penalties are stiff, and many doctors won’t want to jump through hoops, complete mountains of paperwork and muddle through more procedure on top of their already overbooked days. My own pain specialist keeps incredibly long hours, sometimes into the late evening, just to keep up with all the requirements of the current law. This will get more burdensome after July 1, when the Florida bill becomes law.

There is no denying there is a big problem when it comes to the opioid epidemic (I use the term epidemic loosely) but I don’t know the answer to every problem. It is totally unacceptable that another life is lost to this problem, but that solution shouldn’t come on the shoulders or at the expense of those patients who have actual need of opioid medication. We shouldn’t be treated like criminals or junkies when all we’ve ever wanted is to just have a modicum of dignity and a decent quality of life. We should not have to pay the price, the sentence, for something we did not do. We are chronic pain patients, and we have been rendered voiceless.

Overzealous politicians believe somehow that making opioids illegal, or severely restricting access to opioids will stop people from abusing them. With every news bulletin detailing the news of yet another overdose death, the American public demands something be done. But I submit to you that punishing the wrong people will not be helpful to anyone, least of all the innocents. We have been marginalized because addicts abuse illegally obtained prescription and street drugs, and die because they get heroin laced with fentanyl without realizing it. We have a porous southern border through which these dangerous drugs flow freely, and yet pain patients are unfairly targeted with punitive prescription laws and denial of treatment. It is grossly unfair, and frustrating to witness. Here is a news flash: criminals don’t follow the law!

It is difficult to not just give up, but it is so important that we do not go quietly into oblivion. We must be heard and taken seriously. I know it is frightening to be in the situation of not knowing if this month will be the month that the doctor says, “I can’t help you anymore, my hands are tied.” But we can’t give up. Write your Congressman and make your voice heard. Call their offices in your district and demand to be heard. There are people in places of influence who will listen, but they need to be made aware. And if we still lose the fight, at least we know we went down swinging, fighting for the rights we used to have and took for granted.

I wish I didn’t find it necessary to write this column, but I thank you for allowing me to address my concerns and hopefully helping to give a voice to the voiceless.

My Big Step

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I want to keep this post short and sweet, so we’ll see how this goes.  Obviously, because I am a chronic pain patient, I have a large stake in what happens on a state and federal level with the so-called opioid crisis.  I am also quite opinionated about it, and have some very harsh words for those who are forgetting us in the national conversation.  Fortunately, there are other options for those of us brave (I’m not sure that’s the right word, but I’ll go with it for now) enough to step outside of our normal treatment boxes.  This is the point of this post today.

In light of some legislation that may be coming down the pike in Florida dealing with prescription pain medication, I’ve made some difficult choices.  Many folks have been suggesting to me that I try CBD oil to help control my moderate to severe Fibromyalgia pain.  I’ve been doing much research on the topic since my last visit to my pain specialist, who suggested that I might be severely affected by this new legislation (10 days supply of pain meds per 30 days, and that’s with a medical exception).  He’s all for it.

In the past, I’ve been vehemently opposed to medical marijuana legislation, and have voted against it.  And in 2014 during the midterm elections in Florida, the bill failed narrowly.  A prominent lawyer in mid-state got involved in re-writing the proposal for the 2016 election and medical pot passed and became law in Florida beginning in 2017.  The Florida state legislature has been working to make the law workable, but I use the term “workable” loosely.  They have made it wildly expensive.  There are approximately only 300 certified physicians who can prescribe statewide.  The first and follow up visits will cost anywhere from $99 to $199 each, and the annual renewal visit can cost as much as the first two, and even having a card (which will set you back $75) doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find a dispensary in your county.  As of June, 2017, eighty eight Florida cities have banned dispensaries with more voting on bans every month.  And the really awesome news is that not one insurance company that writes policies in Florida will pay for a penny of the process.

I’ve been doing my own bit of research on CBD oil since my last appointment with my pain specialist, as I stated above.  Then yesterday I hurt my back just by sitting down in my La-Z-boy chair, and not even my prescription pain medication took the edge off of it.  So, it didn’t take me long to make the decision to go ahead and try the oil.  We purchased, in full agreement, a small bottle of oil that should last 30 days if I remain the only user of it.  Because hubby suffers from primary progressive MS, he is interested to see if the oil will help him control his own chronic pain.  If this works, we may be able to stop all of the pain medication we are currently taking, and stop the nonsense we both have to endure with current opioid laws.  We are hanging a lot of hope on this little bottle of oil.

One more thought before I sign off on this article.  Insurance companies, well mine and other similar plans, greatly increased the co-pay on the medications that help me and others like me to have quality of life.  Lawmakers are hell bent on outlawing prescription pain medications for everyone, including chronic pain and cancer patients.  And with the stringent and cost-prohibitive restrictions on medical marijuana, it really seems that pain patients have been singled out for punishment for a crime we never committed.  I believe lawmakers in D.C. need to take pain patients into account in the national discussion, insurance companies need to buck up and decrease cost-sharing for these medications, and states that have medical MJ laws need to find a way to make the process affordable for those who have a legitimate need for it and want to try it.  It shouldn’t be allowed for these entities to force pain patients to suffer. It’s immoral and inhumane.

I’ll update after we’ve tried the oil, and give an assessment of how we feel it’s working.  Until then, stay pain free! (Oh, I’m working on a new recipe to post, so stay tuned!)

In The Kitchen: The Best Homemade Pancakes

There is nothing I love more than breakfast for dinner.  Who says you can’t have pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage and eggs anytime you want them?  Around here, anything goes as long as I feel like cooking it.

Now, I’ve always been a Bisquick girl, trusting the mix that my mom used for years for making my own biscuits, pancakes and other fun recipes.  However, I only will buy that stuff when it’s on sale, because it isn’t cheap otherwise.  I know there existed recipes on the Internet for homemade pancakes, and I know even family members who have made them from total scratch, but it was something I never tried. That is, until now!  Ladies and gents, I have found the perfect homemade “from scratch” pancake recipe.  It makes the fluffiest, most tender and tasty pancakes I’ve ever stuffed into my face.  That Bisquick stuff?  It’s H.I.S.T.O.R.Y!!

Credit where credit is due, this is the link to the actual recipe and the culinary genius who developed it.  For the sake of ease, I will post the ingredients and instructions below.  Seriously, you HAVE to try these.  If you’re a Bisquick hold out like I was, you will never go back, because these are so good, the other pancakes taste like sawdust with syrup.  Trust me on this!

The Best Pancake Recipe EVER!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp butter melted

Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter in microwave for 30 seconds, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Stir milk and egg together.
  4. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture.
  5. Pour the butter and milk mixture into the well.
  6. Use a wire whisk to stir everything together until just combined. It will be slightly thick and lumpy, but should be well incorporated.
  7. Allow the batter to rest while heating a lightly oiled skillet or griddle to medium high heat.
  8. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.
  9. Cook each side for 3-6 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

 

This recipe should make 10 fluffy pancakes if you use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop the batter.  You could also use a batter dispenser (click this link for more information) to achieve the same results.

If you try this recipe, let me know in the comment section how you liked it!

Happy eating!

Disclaimer: This post contains a link to an affiliated company for whom I sell products. If you purchase an item using that link, I will receive a commission on your purchase.  I thank you for your support!

The Opioid Crisis, A Pain Patient’s Perspective

I am a night owl, preferring the evening hours as my most productive, although my neighbors may not like it very well if I decide to whip out the Dyson for a midnight cleaning session. I’ve always been night-oriented, although as I get older I don’t venture out after dark much anymore. But last night was not really unlike any other night except for not feeling well when I finally decided to go to bed.

I got up from my computer, grabbed the cat’s bowls and headed to the kitchen to feed them. As a fibromyalgia sufferer, I am a little more prone to odd things… earlier in the day I was having a costochondritis flare up. Costo, which causes pain along the breastbone, is very easy to mistake for more sinister illnesses, such as a heart attack. The inflammation is easy for me to differentiate… if I can make the pain worse by pressing on the painful area, it is costochondritis. Oversimplified, perhaps, but it works for me.

When I got to our kitchen pass-through, I dropped off the cat bowls and brought my phone and other stuff back to the bedroom. Hubby was not quite asleep, despite him having gone to bed hours prior. I walked back to the kitchen to begin feeding the ‘kids’ their bedtime meal when I felt the chest pain start. But this time, it was accompanied by shortness of breath. Still, I wasn’t sure I needed to head out to the ER, but as the time progressed over the next few minutes my mind quickly changed.

I finished feeding the cats while hubby dragged his poor, tired self out of bed (bless his heart!!) and got dressed. I then consulted my online nemesis, WebMD, and finished thoroughly freaking myself out. Considering my family history, I tend not to mess around with chest pain, even if I suspect it’s nothing serious. Better to find out it’s nothing than to do nothing and find out too late I should have gone.

Upon arriving at the emergency room, there were few people waiting around, and since cases like mine usually take priority, I didn’t figure we’d be mingling in the “gen pop” very long. We approached the desk to check in, and I kid you not, the person behind the counter looked at both of us, hubby probably looking more like the sick one, asked us which one of us was sick, grabbed her things and said goodnight to the rent a cop sitting behind her. I looked at hubby… Really? I mouthed to him. He nudged me and told me to be patient. Ironically, I was the patient. Not what he meant, but okay.

A half hour later, we were in a room in the back. My first EKG was looking normal, a preliminary good sign. The nurse set up a Roto-Rooter in my left arm, choosing a vein that is deceptively awful for doing IVs. After getting samples from that port, she quickly decided, after my painful protesting, that she’d try a new spot for the IV. Next was a chest X-ray followed by a healthy dose of waiting.

About 90 minutes into this ordeal, there was a near panic among the medical staff about a patient outside. My first thought was, Oh great… this is going to delay us getting out of here any time soon. However, it quickly became clear they were dealing with a drug overdose, as the nurses rushed the man, gasping for air on the gurney, toward the trauma unit, and another nurse yelling for Narcan. Suddenly my piddly problems seemed so minute as this unknown person struggled for life a few rooms away. Thank God, the Narcan worked like it was supposed to, and saved another life from ending too soon to an epidemic that touches every family somewhere in this country.

Long story short (and since I finally reached my true topic at hand), after blood tests, a CT angiography, nitroglycerin pills, a morphine shot that I thought was actually going to kill me, half a bag of IV fluid and a GI cocktail, I was released after nearly 10 hours of being poked, prodded and fussed about. They ruled out every sinister cause of my pain, leaving me to believe it is reflux pain with a little costochondritis thrown in for good measure. I did come away from the night’s activities with a few thoughts on which I’d like to opine.

As a chronic pain patient, I keep very close eyes on what is happening around the country with the opioid problem. First are the vapid promises from politicians who are all too eager to pass sweeping legislation that will do next to nothing to solve the problems and ends up affecting (either intentionally or unintentionally) those the legislation is intended to protect. Next, and inevitably, the demonization that chases every man and woman that legitimately needs this type of medication to have any quality of life. We pain patients tend to be overlooked, fall through the cracks and painted with the same broad brush as the abusers who make our lives a living hell. For every one of me, there seems to be at least 5 people hopelessly addicted to either prescription pain medication or worse. I guess, with how this crisis is reported, it’s easy to feel forgotten, overlooked and just plain screwed (pardon the expression).

That something needs to be done is painfully obvious. But the tricky answer to this problem is…. What, exactly? The POTUS’ newest declaration of war on opioid is troubling. We can’t just marginalize chronic pain sufferers, but it is totally unacceptable that we lose another life to this national embarrassment. And speaking for the millions of fellow pain sufferers, a general ban on the “worst” drug (whatever that happens to be at any given moment) is not the answer. Street drugs like heroin are already illegal, so it seems pretty clear that the illegality of these drugs isnt making an impact. I wish I had the fix for this broken system, but I don’t.

Because people become addicted to legal pain prescriptions, I am already subjected to random urine drug screen tests several times a year, administered by a pain specialist that fortunately cares enough to pursue adequate pain treatment options. I also understand and appreciate the risk he takes to prescribe these medications to me. He always makes sure I understand the risk involved, and because I have a healthy respect (maybe even fear) for these medications, I take them exactly as prescribed. Not one pill more, but not one less than is needed to control my pain enough for me to live my life. It is a delicate balance, and looking back, a road I wish I had never taken.

I also know that, taken exactly as prescribed, the likelihood of addiction is low for chronic pain patients. That isn’t to say it doesn’t or hasn’t happened, but we are, as a demographic, less likely to abuse our pain medications. That should count for something when it comes to consideration in legislation. All we ask is to not be minimalized and forgotten in the national debate. We need someone to sit at that table on our behalf. Who will step up and speak for us?

The author is a fibromyalgia and chronic pain patient since 1999. Having exhausted all other treatment options, opioids are the treatment of last resort for many chronic pain sufferers. These patients become physically dependent on, not addicted to, these medications. There is a vast difference between dependency and addiction. It would do society and our lawmakers well to learn the difference, so that these patients can be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.