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.