By Gracie Gean Bagosy-Young
I traveled recently to CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Town Hall to speak up for the rights of all chronic pain patients, and it may surprise you to know that I made the choice not to take pain medications many years ago. Yes, yes, those of you that have been sending me hate Tweets about the perils of addiction can settle down now!
The media hype that has used and abused the term “addiction” has made its point. We hear you, and we understand. Addiction is a problem.
The problem with this hype is that most chronic pain patients are not addicts. The vast majority of chronic pain patients have a solid relationship with their doctors and use their medications legally. This distinction needs to be made. However, fueled by this craziness going on in the media, doctors are beginning to pull back from prescribing necessary medications. Insurance companies are becoming ridiculous about covering medications. Allow me to give you an example from my own life.
As I mentioned, I do not take pain medications. I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. RSDSA defines CRPS as: CRPS occurs when the nervous system and the immune system malfunction as they respond to tissue damage from trauma. The nerves misfire, sending constant pain signals to the brain. The level of pain is measured as one of the most severe on the McGill University Pain Scale. I also have Lyme Disease. I am experiencing a new pain issue in a very localized area. My doctor and I have decided that I would benefit best from Lidoderm Patches. Just a few years ago, my insurance had no problem approving these. Now I need a prior authorization. That has been denied. Upon appeal, it was again denied. This is a very expensive prescription.
As a result, I am currently scurrying to convenience stores and buying every OTC patch in sight looking for relief! If we do not address this localized area of pain immediately, I stand the chance of having this disease spread.
This media-fueled hysteria raises a number of questions for me and other chronic pain sufferers:
Why are the addicts affecting my chance of relief?
Why is mainstream media involved in my care?
Why are the insurance company and the policy makers now responsible for whether or not my disease spreads?
Shouldn’t all of this be between me and my doctor?
The world is not black and white; we are a world with a rainbow of many beautiful colors! A good advocate knows that blanket policies do not work. While I do not use those medications to treat my CRPS, I fully understand that it is not right to take that option away from other chronic pain patients. Each of us is different and our bodies respond in different ways. I challenge mainstream media to tell the other side of the story, OUR story! We are the chronic pain patients! I challenge the insurance companies to FINALLY begin caring about the patients they are paid to assist! I challenge our policy makers to get out of my exam room and let me recover!
Gracie Gean Bagosy-Young is a chronic pain advocate who is a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report. To learn more about her go to www.GGPainAdvocacy.com