In Search of a Chronic Pain Cure, Mr. Smith goes to Washington

In Search of a Chronic Pain Cure, Mr. Smith goes to Washington

Kerry Smith

Kerry Smith

When Kerry Smith wrote this opinion piece on the National Pain Report following the 60 Minutes segment on heroin overdose, it set off a brisk conversation among readers of the National Pain Report and elsewhere online. As he thought about it, he began to think more about taking action. Here are his thoughts.

It was the kind of movie that propelled one James “Jimmy” Stewart into stardom. Many people don’t know the movie, but rather, they like the ring of the title, “Mr. Smith goes to Washington”. This morning I have awoken with pain. Both of my hips have hurt all night and I decided to get up. Prescription limits prevent me from taking any more narcotic pain meds or I will be going over the monthly allotted amount. NSAIDS, like Naproxen, give my stomach fits, almost to the place of an ulcer. With each deep breath, the pain shoots down my legs and into my feet, and I am right now fit to be tied!

For those of us of the religious ilk, this is the day that the Lord has made, and we ought to rejoice and be glad in it! If I can look to the full culmination of what that all means, sure I can be glad about the no more suffering part of it. But that does not take care of the pain I am feeling right now because I am not going to drag my lame butt to a place that has hard pews and listen to the spiritual issues I may or may not be dealing with, all in the name of God, all while I hurt like a son of a gun!

Which brings me to my initial paragraph, because, I am ready to go to Washington and to demand that I and you be cured! I am at my wits end damn it, and if we have sent a man to the moon and a little rolly-polly robot to the surface of Mars, we can find a cure for our pain. I am a multi-generation pain sufferer. I am not sure if my son or daughter or grandson or others in my lineage will hurt like I hurt, but I sure as heck am not going to leave it to chance. So, I want to go to Washington.

The articles I write are nice and all and are so very impactful for each of us. At least we know we haven’t lost our minds because of the community we have created together, right? But it is not enough and I am tired of it. I am tired as well that decisions are being made each day in a vacuum without a peep from you and me, the pain sufferer. The 60 minute article was just enough for me. They did NOT talk to one of us before drawing their conclusions. I refuse, on this day that the Lord has made, to be crucified in the world of public opinion because I am trying to find a way not to hurt! As I write this, my hands are hurting, my neck is hurting, my back is hurting, my legs are hurting, and my feet are hurting. But you know what really hurts? What really hurts is the fact that we are not being cured! And I am tired of it!

I have started several churches from nothing. I have started a social ministry from nothing. I have created hundreds of art pieces from nothing. I want to wake up, after having a great night of sleep, able to love my wife fully, love the life I have been given fully, and know that I count for something. And I know that so do you! Mr. Smith is going to Washington Damn it!

Editor’s Note: Kerry Smith is a former minister, a professional artist, and has suffered with chronic pain for 14 years. He has lectured and written on the topic of chronic pain for several years. Here’s a link to his art studio website.

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Authored by: Kerry Smith

There are 17 comments for this article
  1. Terri Soja at 7:56 pm

    Please keep me in the loop. I can’t go to Washington but I want to help. Since moving to WA state I am unable to even find a dr who will accept a pain patient and am in excruciating pain.

  2. Amy V at 6:00 pm

    I am appalled at the worlds lack of empathy toward those with chronic pain. 2016 is our year for our voices to ring loud and clear. From insurance company denials for care, articles not telling the UNDERTREATED pain patients side of the story. I created a group to organize events, letter writing, etc
    We need to find the experts and getter done. Enough is enough! The government needs to here our story.
    The documentary Trialbyfire CRPS will tell a part but we need to all fight for our rights.
    Join Facebook
    Nerve to be heard-fight for our rights
    No drama will be tolerated

  3. Diane Gracely at 4:24 pm

    Thank you Kerry Smith for all you are doing. If I can be of help let me know? I am involved in the chronic pain medications problem here in Florida. I was interviewed by WESH 2 NEWS. You can WATCH both video replays below. I suffer from Charcot Marie Tooth disease AND was hit head-on by a drunk driver on April 13th 2015 causing many herniated discs in my neck and back. I have a long inspiring story about my life and coping with illnesses and chronic pain.
    State of Pain Show aired on 10/17/15 at 7 pm
    http://www.wesh.com/health/state-of-pain-a-wesh-2-news-special-presentation/35883094
    Roundtable Discussion recorded on Monday 10/12/15 8 pm
    http://www.wesh.com/health/patient-roundtable-discussing-floridas-prescription-problem/35885254

  4. Bridget at 10:16 am

    While I can’t travel to DC, if there’s anything I can do please let me know. Myself and several of my loved ones have felt the affects of the DEA and stories like what 60 Minutes has told. We need to be heard. Millions are suffering and we did nothing wrong.

  5. Kerry at 6:42 am

    Friends, your comments have revealed a very real need that we need to be heard and we need some answers and we need action. So what I am doing right now is creating a strategy for our action. Know this, as someone who reflects the exact frustration you share and the same damned pain that drives me just as nuts, I will not let this sit idle. Since the CBS article, I have written a number of representatives and had conversations with those who can help me with advocacy for our cause. I have a number of ideas that I am pursuing and I promise to keep you all in the loop. Mr. Smith is just getting started!

  6. Nancy Smith at 4:35 am

    What is the most effective thing I can do to help? Write to my elected representatives on the state and national level? I really want to know and be involved!Thank you!

  7. Brooke Keefer at 7:27 pm

    I am ready to help organize that Pain Patient Rally, Lobby, Advocacy Day whatever you want to call it! A woman in our chronic pancreatitis just posted a pain medication access nightmare story. She has been on a maintenance of pain medications for several years. It’s given her a quality of life. The pain doctor, who used to be at U of MN, switched to another practice and has been reducing her meds saying it is for her own good. Now she is at half the amount and quality of life is out the door. At her last visit this doctor spewed comments about “all these people ODing in ERs” and something about pregnant women on opiates. What the heck does any of that have to do with this woman’s chronic pancreatitis pain and the fact she has been a compliant pain patient for many years? He alluded to the fact he will be needing to reduce her meds more–eventually to nothing no doubt. Nothing else works for her chronic pancreatitis pain. She is terrified. This doctor obviously saw 60 Minutes. This woman NEVER thought she’d ever have an issue with pain management. I keep telling people they gotta get noisy about this issue. Many think it will never happen to them. It WILL happen to you. It is just a matter of time. No matter how reliable you think your doctor is, you will likely be cut off at some point, unless we take this to Washington. People in the pain support groups from other countries think we Americans are crazy. None have the issue of being denied proper pain management. None. Even a woman from Syria gets her pain managed! And, no surprise the country with the most restrictions and toughest laws have the highest OD rates and abuse–from non-pain management pain patients.

  8. Dee Green at 8:54 am

    I’m With you! I’ll go to Washington to help! We must speak up loudly and be heard. We are 100 million strong and they must be made to listen otherwise, we will continue to be vilified and marginalized. It’s time for this to stop 😄

  9. Doc Anonymous at 7:09 am

    I may not be able to physically go, but it is time or people with chronic pain to stand up for their own constitutional and civil rights! Every chronic pain patient has the constitutional right to be treated as an individual person. There are so many constitutional rights that are being violated right now by the DEA. Addicts do have rights that have been established by multiple court decisions. For one, the supreme court has declared that addiction is a disease. They have constitutional rights to be treated as people with the disease of addiction. By contrast, chronic pain patients are too often treated as if they had someone Else’s disease. Pain patients do have the constitutional right to be treated for the disease that they actually have.

    Perhaps a group declaration of pain patient rights should be presented to the politicians and regulators when some of you do go to Washington. After all pain patients like everyone else in this country have the Constitutionally guaranteed right for redress of grievance.

  10. Nancy at 1:58 am

    How can I find out how your trip to Washington goes?

  11. Michelle Ziemba at 6:09 pm

    I’ll go to Washington, too. I’ve been in pain for far too long and I’m tired of the system. I tired of being treated disrespectfully, and receiving improper medical care far more often than receiving quality medical care. I can help you and stand for those who are too tired and sick to stand for themselves. As long as they send me their stories, I’ll tell them. Let’s get started.

  12. Heather at 2:47 pm

    Thank-you Mr. Smith for standing up for all with chronic pain. I have suffered for seven years with chronic pain and work full time. I have had a period of time in which narcotic pain relievers were a life saver! I hope to stay off of them, however I believe people that need them to function and continue to work should have access without such difficulty. But continue to have a doctor monitoring their progress. May your good work continue to generate successful results, thanks again!

  13. Kathy Moore at 2:23 pm

    I am the founder and administrator for my support group and I will be proud to have you speak on my behalf. I wish that I could go with you!! Thank you for all that you do for us chronic pain sufferers!!

  14. Judi Warner at 1:53 pm

    I’ll go to Washington with you Mr Smith! The media is one sided on pain medication saying it leads to heroin addiction. While this issue is hot and people are tuned in there is no better time than now to go to Washington and tell our side of why we NEED opioids until a cure is found! I’ll be the one in pajamas! Thank you Mr Smith for your encouragement.

  15. Kristine at 1:26 pm

    I’ll go with you. Wheelchairs anyone? Come on, were going to make a big splash. Let’s hear from you. Right here, right now. Let’s go with Kerry!

  16. Patti at 9:57 am

    Good luck…and count me in.

    One note: when I wrote to the White House (and everyone else I could think of) to try to put forth the issues of the chronic pain patient being caught up in this wide net they are casting, I got a response. They had an addiction counselor from a recovery center call me. So, be clear going in, this administration views us right off the bat as addicts. If you read Obama’s Presidential Memorandum on the subject, it becomes clear that we are to become collateral damage, an acceptable loss to be sacrificed for the greater good. It doesn’t even occur to them that there are a large group of people who take medicine responsibility and benefit from it. I don’t think they view our numbers as significant enough to worry about, coldly discounting the fact that we are humans in pain and have done nothing wrong.

  17. Becky at 9:23 am

    Kudos to you Mr Smith! I hope you can make some headway on this topic. Thank you from all of us who suffer daily for your efforts. I and many others suffer from a non cure able, no treatment disease called Arachnoiditis. This disease can be prevented and starts with the Drs, epidural steroid injections and back surgeries that have gone wrong. This is a simple fix, but do you see these injections being stopped or limited? No, big money makers, this is why they continue to harm patients and causes chronic pain conditions. Good Luck to you, and keep us updated!