By Krissy Anderson
The world of medicine is changing. New companies and modalities are and will be a part of our world as time goes on. My hope is that pain patients will adopt positive attitudes.
As I watch and partake in social media posts, comments after articles and responses to studies, I see that many of us have become so focused on our medication, we aren’t giving much of a chance to what’s happening around us. Change, including alternate therapies and newly-invented treatments, is happening despite what outcomes find with medication changes and regulations. It’s all a matter of fact.
When big change happens in an industry — ours being the pain treatment industry — it opens up possibilities for new companies with new ideas. The possibilities for new businesses can include the illusive cure-all pink pill developed by Dr. Whom, to the mad scientist’s release of a glowing, green gadget a person wears on his head to “see” his pain and wipe it out by killing little yellow pain-beings with antenna and almond-shaped eyes via a game controller, to an important new and safe medication that works better than any morphine product we’ve ever tried. We are already beginning to see the possibilities, as ambitious young businesspeople churn out announcements for new products, services and support. That’s commerce and it happens every day all over the globe. I can only imagine the ideas ready to launch if/when medical cannabis becomes legal nationwide.
Change is in our midst and it’s going to expand. We need to decide if and how we are going to embrace it.
Having been in the computer industry since a laptop was a dance and a computer was the size of my house, I have seen change with thousands of new products gone to market, huge successes (when I’ve thought some ideas would a bomb), and the protection of secrets the Pentagon might have been jealous of. I’ve witnessed rejection by generations — attitudes by people who believed those of us working on computers at home were nuts and could never earn a living. And I’ve been right there with the guy who developed a product in his garage and became a bazillionaire.
What on Earth does the computer industry have to do with our medication crisis anyway?
Are we so focused on opioids that we are missing the big picture? Are we going to be the face in the mirror opposite the old fogy who rejected technology and missed out on the amazing Internet?
As a president once said (with my tongue in my cheek), “Make No Mistake.” I am not here to propose that you don’t need your medication! Without mine, I wouldn’t want to say where I’d be. But I am here to say: Read, listen and embrace new modes of treatment, even if you can’t afford them, even if you’ve already tried them, even if you hate the whole idea. Think about younger generations to come. How do you want them to perceive you?
Why should I?
Because eventually insurance will cover alternative therapies again and access to care will become leveled out in areas of the country lacking. Shifting education will come into play for med students so that they get more than two hours of training on pain management. The wrongs that have been committed by government officials who have special interests will shake out, at least to some extent.
Opioids aren’t going anywhere! Will they be prescribed for you? Obviously I can’t answer that. The fact that opioids will always be in use for those in high-level chronic pain is mentioned in all the government documents we have been fighting against. The articles and statements you see where a doctor or an official says opioids should never be used, or they don’t work for pain, are just trash. Pay no attention – move on.
A lot of the reasoning for the continued use of opioids has come from the very social media users, writers and researchers that I mentioned before. Many are you! The moral is, keep fighting, but be open to learning about new ideas, because you can’t take back the past. You can stay stuck in the moment. Or you can go with the times. And going with the times makes you a more informed warrior to whom people will listen and respect. But if you can’t accept what real change is happening, you will become that part of the generation which didn’t pick up the new computer and just start banging on the keys to figure out how to use it.
Understand I am not discounting those of you who do not have proper healthcare! I know there are so many pain patients who are stuck with regulations (such as our Veterans) that don’t allow you to get the right meds. I know there are those who can’t even find a way to get to a doctor appointment, and those whose docs have quit or been incarcerated, leaving you to withdraw on your own, and therefore, suffer needlessly without any medication. And I include those who are under-treated and under-medicated (and any group I may have missed). Keep on fighting. But what I am talking about here is embracing the changes that are happening before our eyes and be open to “the new.”
Focus on the whole picture so you can be an informed, supportive warrior!
In Part Two of this discussion I will give you some ideas and tools that help in accepting change with a positive attitude.
Krissy Anderson is an award-winning freelance writer who has several life-long pain conditions. Her work has been published for more than 30 years, and translated into 17 languages.