A New Years Gift of Pain Relief for Trini Yeager

A New Years Gift of Pain Relief for Trini Yeager

Readers of National Pain Report and social media groups for chronic pain communities may recognize her name.  Trini Yeager is a chronic pain patient about whom I wrote and on whose behalf I spoke in a broadcast segment of KOGO News San Diego in December, 2019.  I joined anchor/commentator Marilyn Hyder in pointing out that  thousands of people like Trini are being denied safe and effective pain treatment due to the arbitrary and unscientific misdirection of public policy regulating prescription opioids.

Trini’s pain began with spontaneous development of lower back pain, rather than an accident.  A doctor did lower back surgery, and then referred her to another physician after pain persisted.  An epidural spinal injection was administered in an effort to block her pain.  Although the injection procedure is widely used and highly lucrative for some healthcare providers, it is not FDA-approved.  For Trini, it made her pain far worse by generating scar tissue on nerves branching from her spine.  She describes the pain as “pouring hot oil down my spine.”  The diagnosis was “adhesive arachnoiditis”.

For several years, Trini was treated by a primary care provider and by Dr Forest Tennant, one of the foremost experts on chronic pain in America.  She had a limited but real quality of life and function, with enough pain control to be engaged with her family, and to occasionally leave her home for normal community activities.  All of that changed when Dr Tennant was forced out of medical practice by trumped-up charges of a San Diego prosecutor.

Like others among Dr Tennant’s patients, Trini sought on-going care with other pain management specialists.  And like others, she was repeatedly turned down by physicians afraid of being persecuted as Dr Tennant had been, if they continued her on high-dose opioid analgesic therapy.  She reached out to radio broadcasters and to her California State Senator, Patricia Bates, advocating in her own behalf.  The State Medical Board disclaimed responsibility for referring her for care. Senator Bates’ Chief of Staff and the office of Governor Newsom slow-rolled her with platitudes and avoidance, perhaps secretly hoping that she would just “go away.”  In other words, that she would actually die.

As her previous prescriptions ran out, Trini grew desperate and suicidal.  Late in December, she was admitted three times to a local emergency room, treated overnight for intense pain and then released without any referral for on-going specialist care.  Trini’s primary care physician continued working on her behalf.  To avoid inundating this brave physician with similarly desperate inquiries, I won’t offer a name.

However, the doctor’s work finally paid off.  After referring Trini for palliative pain care four times and for hospice care three times, an eighth referral was accepted.  A local hospice service visited and evaluated Trini at home.  Her diagnosis of adhesive arachnoiditis was accepted as a recognized incurable and critical disorder, and her pain medications were restored within hours.  Methadone was added to her treatment plan, to address her nerve pain.  Methadone is recognized as effective in this role, apart from its applications in addiction management and harms reduction.

For the first time in weeks, Trini is today adequately medicated and able to sleep.  Her insurance covers the cost of her hospice care in her parents’ home.  Her immediate crisis has been addressed.

But she is one of many thousands who face similar circumstances all across America.  Federal and State public policy on prescription opioids needs to be rapidly and profoundly redirected.  The notion that our opioid crisis was created by physicians “over-prescribing” opioids to people like Trini is a mythology, if not an outright lie.  The US CDC knows from its own published data that over-prescribing did not make this crisis, yet they refuse to get off their collective posteriors and fix the mess they made.

Unbiased medical professionals and knowledgeable patient advocates could rewrite the 2016 CDC guidelines for prescribing opioids in a month.  We don’t need the two-year cycle of argument and back-door wrangling proposed last December by the CDC Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The nation may require Federal and State legislation to turn this crisis around in the face of such intransigence.  But if so, here is a model that might be adapted to the purpose: http://face-facts.org/lawhern/congress-clean-up-this-mess/ .

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Richard A Lawhern, PhD is a technically trained non-physician patient advocate and healthcare writer, with 22 years experience in moderating social media support groups and over 70 published papers and addresses. He is a frequent contributor at National Pain Report.

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Shan

But I will also add that whatever statements about Trini that Yvonne brought up still does not mean that all patients are ‘faking it.’ I know that there are patients who are being callously denied who are living lives of hell. Trini was one of the lucky ones: no one has helped the thousands of others who are hanging on by a thread. This reminds me of a book I read by Corri ten Boom who was placed in a Nazi concentration camp.

This is not the America I grew up in.

I read below that there are Don’t Punish Pain Rallies in March – we should all try to make them if at all possible.

What is sick about this entire thing is the blockbuster article by Ms. Wargo that this was all done as a huge experiment on the American people without their consent.

Where is the outrage?

Shan

I read the comments below after posting. We all need to remember that any pain patient who overstates their pain is hurting an entire community.

I don’t know the truth as I never met Ms. Yeager but I hope and pray that pain patients keep in mind that any false reporting is hurting others.

Shan

Thank God. I’m only afraid of the thousands of others who are in homes across America who aren’t getting any help.

Thanks again Red. People talk about heroes but very few actually are. You are.

Yvonne

There are some incorrect statements. First it must be noted Governor Newsome did call Trini. When copies of medical records were requested, not just her personal notes, she then tells him or his office they are useless and hangs up. That’s wrong. Trini stated many times she had been turned down five times for palliative care, not four and not hospice. She posted on her FB page a copy of Dr. Tennant accepting her into his pain program in 2017. Her care by him was stopped in 2018 when he was forced to retire. So he did not treat her for several years as stated. Are we now providing false info like the gov does?.

Let me say I am not denying she is in pain, she most certainly is. I have a problem with a person I have met, have seen the dramatics she goes thru, to those of us who have seen her know she comes across as drama queen as a drug seeker, all the time. I had heard after the incident with the governor, she made a half hearted attempt at suicide. Would venture to guess that is what precipitated the palliative/hospice sixth attempt and her receiving care. Her being denied opioids was not the CDC nor FDA, the problems were her demanding high dose opioids. By having illicit opioids in her system when she saw the last pain mgmt doc, and when she tested positive he refused to treat her. She has been her own worst enemy in this process.

I have a problem with people in advocacy focusing so much energy on one specific patient, contacting the governor’s office telling him if she dies its his fault when the governor has absolutely no power to force a physician to prescribe opioids for her or anyone else in CA in pain. That energy needs to be directed at the DEA, asking why they are going after pain groups, prescribers and pharmacists in the US. The DEA is the issue and problem. The DEA is hurting the millions across the US.

I have a problem with drug seeking behaviour being rewarded. What about the rest of us in CA? What happens to her when the drugs are reduced?

BilBoBaggins

I sure wish that blasted SUblockAde Advertisement would disappear…

Gbo

I just want to “chime” in on this long and dreadful debate. The facts, there is indeed an epidemic in this country and not many know it is in many others as well. Many don’t know that Brasil, and many other S American countries have the same issue, it just is not seen or recorded. I recently went on vacation to Brasil, with my wife who is from Brasil. I had a hip replaced about 3 months prior and have had my left foot rebuilt due to work injury, they did the best they could, however God’s hand cannot be matched. That injury leaves me wit pins, bolts and wiring that shifts, when walking a lot, I have tremdous pain. In Brasil I got 40 mg Oxycontin very easy. No body check, nothing, just went to free clinic and they gave me script for 2 boxes of 28 each.. pharmacist said is hard to find because is most prescribed pain killer in country. The 20mg and 80 are easy to find. My point is Oxycontin brand is easily obtained there. I think that people who have chronic pain, should be given what they need. What does the government care what you put in your body? They need to stop the people who have nothing wrong with their bodies and still get prescribed. As well, Oxycontin doesn’t work the way it is intended anymore. The new pill at 40mg only really gives 20 or 25mgs and that they know. Purdue knows the pill only delivers half of active ingredient. So they destroyed the pill, yet still sell it for a lot of money. This all makes me sick. They should be sued and old patent given to Endo or another company for those who need oxycodone pain mgt that is my take. I am now off the methadone and happy I am free and for Mgt I am dealing with Tylenol and trying life free of narcotics. For the time being, I will suffer. Biggest take away is that this epidemic isn’t limited to USA. People in pain need medicine and that won’t ever change. Drug seekers will get it no matter what we do. So why stop the people who really need it? The 1 to 10 scale works and all countries need it.

Roseann Meehan

I too am a chronic pain sufferer. After 30 years of getting opioids from Dr., I was cut off. By then, the addiction was real. What followed was a nightmare cycle of shady deals and soul sucking withdrawal. Finally, in Dec 2016 I asked for help and entered Rehab. I was weaned with the help of my Doctor and my Addiction therapist, working together. I have been clean since July of 2017. What’s the problem? I have no quality of life. It’s over and I’m only 69 years old. Is anyone talking about a program of regulated use for people like me? I am lonely and exhausted
And yes, I have tried every alternative known to mankind.

Tracie Lundy

Wow!! I’m lost for words. Not lost on what to say, but how to say it with screaming!! Just glad Trini is not suffering any more. Many prayers to her and all that is in pain.

Listening to Dr. Cheek videos & her explaining where opiates come from & then when I’ve seen on TV. It makes sense financially for the U. S not to make opiates BC they have to pay other countries money on the product. So they cut them out and have Farmers grow marijuana here they have the gov over that & charged enormous prices like they do for CBD oil that way they’re cutting out paying for people on Medicare for their medication making them pay for marijuana. They don’t care if it works or not for anyone’s pain. They’re not in the business for caring. Also politico.com has a article on alternative for opiates five to ten years away but they feel that there are alternatives that they have now work fine.

Timothy Mason

Sounds just like my condition

Randy

The best story I’ve heard in a long time. I wish someone in my state government (WV) had half the dignity to admit. That the CDC was wrong. That they were wrong and the sea are wrong. One pill does not fit all. But a coffin does.

Cynthia

God bless you, Trini…and please, God, Have mercy on Trini and all of us. This situation MUST be reversed in this country.

Bruce

Thank you, Red. So great of you to continue the fight. Don’t Punish Pain is rallying at all 50 state capitols on March 20, 2020. I will do my best to attend he one in Nevada. Bruce Stewart

Adam halstead

She’s the fortunate one out of a sea of unfortunates.. I stand corrected and apologize because I was suspicious of her because something didn’t seem right, but shame on me and I was wrong. Here it is 2020 and hopefully things for pain patients look up from here. Im absolutely shocked she got approval by hospice even with arachnoiditis..I know of people with it having to go to a methadone clinic and drop 350 dollars cash a month, its a fortune when you live on a thousand dollars a month disability check.

Stacy Cooper

So idiot Newsome did nothing? Shock. #notmygovernor

Marla

So happy for Trini!! Wish I could get some functionality back!! Stuck in bed all day. No chance for dosage increase or higher quantity from my pain doc!

Helene Diponzio

I am so glad at least one of us has gotten results! Red, you are amazing. And I am beyond happy that she has finally gotten some relief! What a complete and utter travesty that this even happened.

Susan Domokos

I was just junkieprofiled at the er this past jan 4 2020…i am on day 6 of a terrible pop in my front that settled in my back between my bra..spine and right shoulder blade..I was given the junksieboot….SERIOUSLY FEEL AS IF I AM IN A TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE

Thomas Wayne Kidd

I am thankful that she is finally receiving the care she needs. Thank you Mr. Lawhern for you work on our behalf.

Dana Wirth

I am so happy that Trini is finally getting the help she needs and so rightly deserves but why must it be a battle when all you want to do is have something that resembles a normal life.
Today’s date is January 09, and my opioid prescription runs out on January 16, that is seven days from now. I upgraded my insurance for better benefits and chose a primary doctor, Dr. Majid Shahbaz, because he is an internist and under the details of his practice it said he did back evaluation and treatment and also chronic pain management. Silly me, I thought that meant he would help with managing my pain, from both cancer and back, but instead he does none of those things and I was thrown under the bus with no prescriptions for my meds. I was given a referral to a Pain Management doctor, Dr. Verdolin, who would give me an appointment for February 06 at the earliest. I explained the situation regarding my medications running out on January 16 but I was told to go to the ER and we all know how much help you get there.
Panic set in but I had to do something so I started making calls. I called my primary, no help there, then Sharp Community Medical Group where both doctors are enrolled with the same result, next United Healthcare which is the insurance carrier. They did call the doctor but got nothing. I have also emailed Sharp Community but don’t expect much. I contacted Dr. Kevin Smith who has an available appointment the last week of January but his assistant, Tony is trying to get me some help sooner. It turns out I don’t actually have that appointment until the doctor reviews my records. What now?
WTF is going on? Still scared with no help in sight.

Dorecia Wilde

I’m so happy she finally got what she needed I am waiting for my dr to call me back to she if she will refill mine I have a rare cancer and had so much trouble if I could get them to give it to me than the insurance wouldn’t fill it or would only give me 20 for a month I am 63 not a druggie and I have had neck and spine issues since 2003 and I never asked for years until I couldn’t stand it anymore

Cindy too

I just found the below sad article from Pain News Network about Dr Tennant’s forced retirement due to the DEA, which kicked in the door to his home when he was away.

He retired due to the DEA’s case against him which is still open — in spite of the DEA finding no evidence to back the charges against him. No evidence of any patient harm, of drug selling, etc.

A Kaiser doctor, who acts as a highly paid DEA consultant, helped the DEA attack Dr Tennant.
The Kaiser doc makes a ton of money helping the DEA persecute other docs.

I hope everyone will read this article.

https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2018/3/26/dr-forest-tennant-retiring-due-to-dea-scrutiny

Cindy too

Incredible that the hospital docs could be so cruel — she’s at the ER for pain; they apparently believe it’s real, but do nothing to help.
Cant’ imagine why palliative care providers would refuse her, since that’s their mission.
Imagine having to be on hospice when you’re not dying.
Totally insane.

She was brilliant though to contact the press. I never would have thought of it.
She’s also lucky that her current meds work.

I’ve been on methadone for a decade.
After I got over the initial extreme nausea it caused, which including vomiting, I adjusted to it, but I’m still mostly sofa-bound, and I also take percocet for breakthru pain, which is every day.

I’d like to be updated on Dr Tennant’s horrific situation, too.

The suffering of innocent doctors who are doing their jobs — and following their oaths — must never be forgotten.

Maureen M.

Thank you for the update Red. Praise God for all of you who came to her defense and got her immediate treatment. So, I imagine that she is placed in Hospice with this treatment due to her current condition, but is the hope that she will improve, be taken off Hospice and continue to be treated by Pain Management? or is that not even on the table for her?
I’m sure that Trini and her son are feeling some emotional relief! I pray that this ‘better’ road continues for them.
Thank you for all that you endlessly fight for for our CP community Red!
You are most wonderful!