Media Hysteria Is Hurting Chronic Pain

Media Hysteria Is Hurting Chronic Pain

By Gracie Gean Bagosy-Young

Gracie Bagosy-Young

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

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There are 40 comments for this article
  1. Tim Mason at 5:42 am

    It will interesting to see how the media will handle the use of marijuana use by prominent athletes and others for chronic pain.
    In previous media blitz stories about chronic pain and opioid use, the average Joe or Jane with chronic pain was discounted in both numbers of people suffering and the degree to which they suffer.
    Now, having marijuana use and the benefits it possesses being proclaimed by many, the numbers of sufferers are showing up.
    The disparity in these two “news worthy” topics is laughable.
    There is no accuracy in televised media. Accuracy is not part of the reporters “metrics”. There is no “accountability” for the misinformation and skewed statics they tout.
    Unfortunately the entire world has fell into a chasm of “complacency”.
    If you step back and take a look you will see this complacency from your local fast food establishment all the way to the branches of our government.

  2. Stephen at 9:24 am

    Hello All,

    “The government is here to help”

    I say, leave it to the doctors only. We have given our freedom to the government on almost every subject in our society. Of course, people will die but our freedom won’t. I was on Morphine for 8 years with no problems. I only have a half a lung from lung cancer. Zero problems other then sickness to my stomach. Getting high is hard if you don’t modify the drug. A example would sorting the pill or injecting.

    Every time there is a precised problem – laws are passed and we get screwed. Both parties are to blame.

  3. Tim Mason at 7:55 pm

    Numbers don’t lie but liars use numbers.

  4. Lana Kirby at 8:21 pm

    I respectfully disagree with the doctor’s opinion above. The CDC’s statistics re: opioids state specifically that the majority of overdoses come from opiates (including street opiates) along with Heroin. If an autopsy shows a large mixture of various illicit drugs, it is considered an opioid death. How does anyone ever know whether that first pill was by prescription or if street drugs and the thrill of the “high” motivated a patient to go to the doctor for pain meds because with insurance, he can get it for about $2-5 a bottle. Physicians need to KNOW their patients, LISTEN to their patients, and respond to problems which are affecting their ADL’s. To rob an 80 year old with severe chronic pain is contrary to the World Health Organization’s decisions and findings. Look it up. A person has the RIGHT to pain control. Withholding meds from legit chronic pain patients should be illegal. A hospital in FL looked at a woman who couldn’t breathe and accused her of being a pill seeker. She insisted that she couldn’t breath and the hosp personnel had her removed via handcuffs by a policeman. In the parking lot she fell and died from a pulmonary embolism. The police officer’s badge cam got on tape the nurse telling her “Get up – we know you hear us”. Not EVERYONE is a drug seeker, but the media frenzy would sure have the other half of America believe it.

  5. Gracie Bagosy-Young at 6:18 am

    Many of you are theorizing from afar. You do not live with chronic pain. This is different than a toothache or a sprained ankle. Do you know what it is like to rock back and forth on on your bed and beg for the morning to come? Do you know what it is like to plead with yourself to just hang on? Do you understand what chronic means? We literally live with this 24 hours per day! WE are the CHRONIC pain patients that are dealing with the effects of these changes. You cannot preach to us and expect us to have 100% sympathy for the people that are stealing and cheating the system and thus causing our community to pay the price. We understand that every pill has a little bit of poison. We are NOT stupid and it is time for you to stop talking to us as if we are! We understand that we take calculated risks when we take any sort of medicine. You do the same when you take ibuprofen. Have you not seen those reports? That is our choice to make with our own bodies.

    What I would really like to post here is some of the many heartbreaking letters that are pouring into my inbox from people all over the country. These are not addicts-these are moms, dads, college students, Veterans that fought for your right to spout off your mouths with your opinions! They are people that deserve the right to make their own choices with their bodies. They have been taking their medications legally for years and thriving. Now they have been cut off and they are no longer able to enjoy life as they were able to before. They cannot play with their kids. They cannot attend classes. They cannot participate in life the way that they could while LEGALLY taking the medications that they had perfected with their doctors. I cannot post these stories. I am HIPAA certified and legally bound to protect their privacy. I fiercely protect fellow patients regardless.

    Instead of restricting the patients that NEED the medicine- why not help the addicts?

    Why aren’t our insurance companies covering alternative therapies if they want to sway patients away from medications? Massage, gym memberships, chiropractic care, acupuncture, dry needling, Lidoderm Patches, Ketamine Infusions, nutrition counseling….these are all extremely beneficial and exceptionally expensive! Common sense tells me that they should cover these treatments if they really want to decrease opioid use. A little common sense goes a long way!

  6. cindy deim at 6:19 pm

    I was taking two different pain medications. I would switch off, one for 2 weeks, then the other for 2 weeks. I had done this for years for my Fibromyalgia. I did it to keep my body from getting use to one medication. It worked, I never had to up my dosage and I could live life as well as I possible.
    I have been seeing a pain doctor for years, good relationship with him. A model patient. Then the DEA gets involved. And oh, they can’t give me 2 pain medications any more. My doctor talked about the heat they are getting from the DEA, getting targeted if they prescribe to much pain medication.
    So I had to go off one (and by the way had to go threw withdrawal). Now I’m on a pain patch, which doesn’t work as well. I feel like Iv’e lost a lot of ground. All because of the media portraying every one who uses narcotics as a drug addict. It has effected me personally, to the point of having less quality of life. And $150.00 a month more on a fixed income. How can that be ok?
    Then there are the people that have addiction issues. Do we honestly believe if you are taking pain medication without the pain, you won’t start taking something else. Come on, people will go to the black market, maybe take something even more dangerous. We have to understand the addiction process and stop believing in the “absence is the only way”. It’s not an addiction problem or a issue with the law (DEA). It’s our mental health issues that keep people in the cycle of addiction. Some people will never stop, but there are other ways of helping them other than taking away everyones pain medication.

  7. thomas at 3:14 pm

    i can not read any more post , people are suffering in pain and not getting needed meds , insurance co. woes , elderly so in pain they cannot even dream of getting up to move around, and yes i have been there also,many years ago but things relaxed and pain treatment , management , was utilized effectively now i wonder if it is going to happen again after all these years back to square 1

  8. Dan at 4:18 pm

    Stage 4 Cancer in active treatment the doctors took me off xanax totally after many years now drastically reduced my opoid. Insane

  9. Tim Mason at 12:35 pm

    Food for thought here. One of the 10 habits of the happiest people:
    (I picked this up at my visit to Pain Management this morning)
    To much Media Consumption can be toxic. (email, books, to much news)
    Don’t make things personal
    Be aware of your energy
    Be deliberately Optimistic
    Prioritize mindfully
    Keep uplifting recourses on hand
    Put yourself first
    Examine the worst that can happen
    Be a prolific seeker.(beauty, joy, adventure)
    Practice Loving-Kindness.
    credit: Kristi Ling. Author of Operation Happiness
    quoted from NaturallyChattanoogan.com (june issue)
    I would like to add that for me, I have several dogs that are a tremendous help to my psyche.
    three of which are geriatric dogs. We understand each other. They wink at me and I wink back (in case it is some kind of code)

  10. Doc Anonymous at 10:44 am

    Maria Szalavitz quotes “75%” but she does not give a reference. The DEA and DOJ personnel quote something around that number. My recollection from reading many articles and posts is this: The number comes from an annual telephone survey done by SAMHSA where they contact people by phone and ask these questions. It is far from scientific and there is no mechanism in this poll to confirm the validity of the responses. The “70%” or “75%” is just a rough estimate and not a scientifically derived number. It is intended to be a number used to guide addiction services and not as a diagnostic survey of people with chronic pain. And let’s not forget that the real victims, the ones who are being harmed most by the war on prescriptions are the people with truly intractable, incurable, disabling and torturous chronic pain who find some semblance of relief and improved function with chronic pain. There are thousands of people in this category but no statistics because the powers that be, including many austere academicians, are content to suppress the evidence. The evidence about appropriate use by pain patients is there, it is just being ignored right now.

    And let’s not forget too that the war on pain patients serves to DIVERT attention and resources away from legitimate treatment of addicts. And that diversion is the most cruel of all diversions. It costs the lives of untreated addicts, while increasing the torture for the scapegoats, the ones with chronic pain and no addiction.

  11. krissy at 9:57 am

    Yes, Red, I remember that article. I was just curious. I wonder where numbers are pulled from sometimes…

    Thanks.

  12. Tim Mason at 4:47 am

    Krissy,
    I was the first to quote the 70% statistic for prescription drug diversion. The city I live in is using that number in radio ads. I will get the information on that number for you.
    My city is Chattanooga Tennessee.
    In the meantime I suggest you go to http://www.chattanooganonline or Right 2 Know Chattanooga and see mugs. I have been looking at this for over 7 years and the 70% is on the low side of the margin.

  13. Krissy at 5:56 pm

    RED, where did you get the 70 percent stat? (And I believe Gracie is well-aware of what you’ve written. With all due respect, she has a lot of experience.)

  14. Tim Mason at 6:41 pm

    Numbers don’t lie but liars use numbers.
    What you are witnessing in the media are poorly written articles designed for a lazy audience. These one hour specials or “Special Report with ____” , are designed to increase ratings for the network they are aired on and boost the exposure of the so called person doing the reporting.
    Anyone can be a reporter. It does not require education credentials or special training. Two things you need to be a paid TV or radio reporter: Nice looks and good grammar.
    Until there is a legitimate “Documentary” that incorporates the “Good, The Bad and the Ugly” of chronic pain and the types of people that are giving sick people a bad name, nothing will be done.
    There have plenty of “Documentaries” on addiction, drugs and prostitution but THAT is a different problem and a different set of people.

  15. Richard A. Lawhern, Ph.D. at 8:39 am

    Gracie, at the heart of your article, there is a valid but potentially difficult question to which i would like to respond. To paraphrase your thought, “why can’t prescription of pain management medications – including opioids – be a matter between patients and doctors?”

    There are several answers to this question. Probably most central is “you and your doctor aren’t the only parties affected.”

    (1) About 70% of all opioid abusers first gain access to an opioid by being given pills by somebody else who has a prescription for them, or by stealing them from such a person, or by obtaining them from street dealers who in turn have bought or stolen them from people who have a prescription. This reality is called drug diversion. It is a major factor in prescription overdose deaths. Almost certainly a LARGER factor than over-use or misuse of opioids by pain patients themselves.

    (2) Significant numbers of doctors facilitate abuse by over-prescribing without appropriate patient screening, education or adequate medical follow-up. Medical practices which engage in such behavior are called “pill mills”. Although law enforcement has in recent years taken steps to identify and prosecute doctors who engage in such abuses, some of them are still out there. Just recently a doctor was prosecuted in New York, who admitted to having prescribed more opioid doses in his practice than entire HOSPITALS do. He left signed scripts for his office staff to fill out “on request” by people for whom he had previously prescribed — even though he would not see them before the scripts were used.

    I realize very well that many chronic pain patients who are prescribed opioids are very offended by being screened, by being asked to sign treatment contracts, and by no-notice pill counts to check for over-use or diversion. I talk every week with patients who have been stigmatized as “drug seekers” at emergency rooms or even by their own doctors. I “get” that. I really do.

    But I also see the reality that thousands of people are dying every year from both prescription and street drugs — and millions are drug dependent or addicted. The great majority of chronic pain patients are responsible non-addicts. But around us live millions of other people who have become addicted in their teens. We cannot ignore these factors and expect improvement in our medical outcomes.

    Doctors hate becoming an extension of police and the DEA. But they have little choice in the matter when the toll of death and life-destruction is as high as it is. They have to screen you. They have to ask about your use of alcohol or stimulants. They have to verify that you haven’t had prescriptions or doctors you failed to tell them about. They have to do pill counts, to detect diversion or increasing drug tolerance that may end in even more pain for you. Hardest of all for many people, they have to resist your demand for rapid delivery of the most powerful pain relief they can provide. Instead, they must work you up gradually to the least powerful medications that provide adequate pain management for you as an individual.

    As unfair as it may seem, if there are to be solutions for the increasing numbers of doctors who are leaving pain management practice and deserting their patients, then chronic pain patients themselves must be part of those solutions. When others speak from hysteria or manipulated statistics or ignorance, we must be able to speak with a calm and measured voice firmly grounded in reality. Your access to effective pain management requires your cooperation in denying access to drug abusers – even when the abuser is your own kid.

  16. Gracie Bagosy-Young at 11:45 am

    I have read each and every one of these comments. Thank you to all of you for writing in. I appreciate your continued support.
    Gracie

  17. S. Dixon at 9:13 pm

    I’m a chronic pain patient and I want my care to be with my physician and with myself, making the decisions that impact my life. I decided that I can’t alone do much to address the issues facing all of us, but I can speak out to the networks, mainstream media, and the advertisers that pay them, each time I see or hear a program or article that is unfair to the pain patient. I can also speak out to the people who support the truth about pain.
    Thank you for speaking out and a job well done.

  18. Patricia Baker at 8:46 pm

    Gracie, thank you so much for your well-worded letter. Finally someone who understands and is not afraid to say so. I, too, suffer from chronic pain. I have fibromyalgia ( 23 years now) and have broken, healed crooked vertebrae in my throasic spine from an auto accident, flipping a SUV 8 times. I also have degenerative disc disease from T10 to S2. Along with arthritis in all these areas I also suffer with Restless Leg Syndrome. My immune system is compromised due having had MRSA that I acquired while working as a RN in the OR. I am diabetic with retinal neuropathy, neuropathy of extremities and am anemic requiring frequent iron infusions. However, I had to fight the system for 4 months, August- December 2015, trying to get into a pain clinic. During this time, with the pain so bad that depression set in so that I no longer wanted to live if this was what I had to face everyday. My husband of 44 years was afraid to leave me alone. The only thing I could tell my primary care physician when asked if I was sucidal was, ” No, but only because I strongly believe that only God has the right to take a life.” The pain clinic I have to go to monthly, still refuses to prescribe the same dosage that I had taken for the past 5 years just to function. They seem to think that PT and sending me to 2 psychologists and pain blocks ( which I had done for over 12 years already) would free me of all pain or at least shut me up. Who are these people and where are theirs brains? They are not in the medical field that’s for sure. The money that my private insurance and my husband has paid out over the last 10 months is astronomical. Oh, and did I mention that the US government deemed me disabled in 2003 and approved for disability? This was only after I hurt, and tried to continued working as a RN, cutting my hours and finally going to PRN status because I truly loved taking care of my patients. By cutting hours I cut my salary so much that when I had to file for disability there was only a small amount left to claim, after years of taskingly hard work, being constantly on my feet and long, long hours. But I felt that I was contributing to ease the suffering of others. I loved my job.
    I know there is a drug problem in our society. I saw it first hand. I coded overdose patients to many times to count. But you CANNOT lump every person who uses pain meds into one big bag and say NO ONE needs pain meds. I understand that what the government has done has not stopped the street drugs. Heroine is at an all time high. The only good thing that has come out of this is that there are fewer babies being born addicted. That is truly great. But at the same time many good doctors, medical facilities and hospitals have gone out business due having to hire attorneys to write the governmental protocols, and hiring more medical staff just to file burococy’s red tape. Smaller insurance companies are going broke, while bigger ones are charging the limits and paying out less to patients. And how was this to cut health costs? We are paying higher premiums that ever! I could go on and on, but that would only cause my blood pressure to go higher and keep me from getting hours of much needed sleep. So I will close by saying, God bless you, Gracie, for standing strong for a much abused population.

  19. Jess at 12:00 pm

    You can get Rx lidocaine ointment and it’s the same active medicine and strength that’s in lidoderm patches. I use it a lot and it’s a godsend. Also recently it seems higher doses of lidocaine are available OTC in creams and ointments. Good luck!!

  20. Bill Halper at 10:57 am

    Very well said! Brief and to the point! You posed a good question, where are the doctors when we really need them? They are being interrogated by the goons from the Gestapo aka DEA!

  21. Stephen at 7:36 am

    Hi all, My biggest problem is with the doctors and the rule makers. I quit all the doctors drugs just last month. Neuropathic Pain (8 years) and upper/lower back pain (38 years). The morphine I took for years at high doses (120mm per day). Never felt high but lots of nausea. If I order just 2 days early I get thumped by the doctor. I resent that allot. She will only give one month supply on several prescriptions. It just drives me crazy. This have been going on for 8 years since the first surgery. I had 2 additional surgeries to fix the nerve damage of the first. Also, they just cancel the meds when you pick them. Soma was canceled for me without notice last year. This is very disrespectful to anyone.

    I am using boxing, walking and weighting lifting to tame anxiety. I am also using Meditation and Yoga. I also like to listen to war music during the 10th century (loud). Seems to be working. Also, I am free from the monthly prescription pickup (takes three hours). I guess the stuff they publish about chronic pain is allot different then the real world. Presently I use medical weed and the inflammation properties are amazing. This summer, grow my own and never see the doctor again for pain (?).

    .

  22. chronicpainpatient at 6:44 am

    So just in my area there were 4 OD’s In New Bedford, Ma on Friday night. They believe this is why no it is not it is to do with street drugs. Once again booming the black market you will never stop that. So as you are saying stay out of rooms with our docs let them do their jobs. I have been cut on my meds that I have needed and had the worst month in years. I rather be dead if this is what I am up against. I know that the government has no idea on what they are doing. I tell everyone that gets meds to go online and sign. They say don’t know how. So now I am going to give tel# for them to call local politicians this is out of control. There is OD’s because people cannot handle the pain. I had a visiting nurse at my house this weekend she told me a story about her 61 year old husband that had wisdom tooth pulled it became a dry socket he was in so much pain for 3 days the dentist refused to give him anything for pain. He is a business man does not take medicine for pain daily like most of us just needed it because the situation. She (nurse) said it was so horrible she has never seen her husband suffer like that before. This opioid bill is bull**** is creating lots of issues. How about none of us pay health insurance and don’t visit a doctor like the olden days and then what they will really be begging us to come back then we can tell them all to kick ROCKS. most of those people lived longer. I am so sick and tired of government running our lives and having no clue about REAL FACT NOT LIES.

  23. HJ at 6:25 am

    “Shouldn’t all of this be between me and my doctor?”

    Where are the doctors in all this? Where are the experts to stand up and say, “Well yes, these medications have a legitimate use when used correctly. Patients who need them should not be denied.”

    Go further: “It is inhumane and a breach of the hippocratic oath to deny patients treatment that they legitimately need. When used correctly, these medications help people. The risk comes from people who use their medications incorrectly. The average patient does NOT abuse their medications.”

    Where are the doctors? They should have more power than legislators who parrot the media scare tactics!

  24. marty at 3:00 am

    I always said there was no way in hell I would ever take pills. My grandmother had a pile in front of her every morning and I couldn’t understand how anyone would want to be all doped up every day. My husband passed away and I was working 2 jobs as I still had 2 kids at home. I bought so many tubes of bio freeze I am pretty sure I am part owner now. Then started eating advil like candy when I had to use my key chain to lift my leg to get into the car. I had pain in every part of my body even parts I didn’t know I had. The chiropractor became my best friend and managed to eat up what savings I had. My depression became a way of life. I was sad , hurting and some days prayed to die. I hit 60 and really fell apart. My back was so bad that standing more than 5 minutes would leave me crawling . Ended up with surgeries that I always had a hard time recovering from. 4 MRI’s on my hip all with different results. Finally the last doctor replaced the hip because I had become almost bed ridden from the pain and the vicodin just numbed it. After that my back was worse. I have used a walker for years now and with the vicodin to help me numb myself I would have no life at all. The back doctors tried me on everything, pills, patches, combinations but I did not want to live in a fog. Vicodin does not do that to me in fact it have the opposite effect. It lets me move and continue to live with my son. Yes I went from being someone that would never take drugs to someone that has to take them to survive. I live in fear every month of not being able to get them although I have been one of the lucky ones because so far all my doctors know I need them to survive with the OA that has taken over my body. I was able to repot a plant yesterday and eat dinner with a fork so it was a good day and I pray today is too

  25. Vicki L Galvin at 11:34 pm

    I’ve lived with CRPS for twelve years now. I’ve already tried the “beginning” medications prescribed by my doctor. It took years for us to find what works best for ME. I don’t need a politician deciding what I should and shouldn’t use. Living with chronic pain is the most difficult and depressing thing I’ve ever had to live with. My daughter is a recovering heroin addict and thinks that the idea of me SUFFERING more than I already do because of the current drug overdose epidemic is horrifying and inhumane. She has watched me live with this pain for half of her life and can’t believe that someone other than my doctor may be able to decide what medicine I can take. Her journey has nothing to do with my journey, yet somehow they have been put together as one big epidemic.

  26. michael at 10:23 pm

    Everyone is entitled to a quality of life. Pain is subjective and no one has the same as the next. The U.S. signed a treaty in 1960 stating to deny those suffering pain medication is an act against Human Rights and is cruel and in humane treatment .

  27. Terri Lewis at 9:56 pm

    Gracie,
    Medicare has ruled that drugs can now only be prescribed and paid for on the formulary for the purpose against which they were originally approved by FDA. Lidoderm patches were approved for post herpetic neuralgia (shingles). I suppose this is Medicare’s way of controlling increasing costs. I went through this with my son – and it was denied twice, even though it was and is the best choice in the short term for getting him some relief. I wonder if asking the manufacturer to submit data to FDA for clinical applications related to chronic pain might related to CRPS and other forms of neuropathy might be effective?

  28. Krissy at 9:10 pm

    Thanks, Gracie, for saying what we all need to shout. Your words are appreciated. I used Lidocaine Patches for a long time, when they first came out, then insurance pulled them. At that time the refill was more than $700. I also use the drug store patches and they are very helpful for muscle spasm and sciatica. I get the best ones at the dollar store and they are name-brand. But as Doc Anon said, they should be available through insurance, especially now.

    I am glad to hear you don’t use opiates. I am looking to see a Naturopath soon. I don’t know if I can get relief another way, but I sure would like to at least get off Fentanyl. Oxycodone is fine with me, but I don’t like the side effects of Fentanyl and the allergy to the glue.

  29. Liz at 8:16 pm

    A lot of these issues of “who gets a say in my care” come down to who pays for it. Demanding insurance companies pay for our treatments means they can now tell us what they will and will not pay for, making it difficult for us to receive the things they deny. The same with government- we ask them to first approve of treatments for us and then we ask for them to pay for some or all of it. In a world with no other payers but the patients there would be nobody to tell us what we can and can’t have. But asking for someone else to do the paying leaves us all vulnerable to have our treatments refused. I have been refused an MRI at a specific facility and specific tech because they are the only ones who can locate the nerve that’s damaged. But you see, this facility/tech aren’t “in-network” with my insurance company, so they refused to cover the cost. Instead, they had me sent to another facility and to a random tech who couldn’t even locate the nerve my doctor was asking them to look for. The MRI was completely useless, a waste of time and both the insurance company’s money and my own co-pay. Could I have the MRI I need if I could pay for it myself? Yes, but because the facility knows that the insurance companies will negotiate down what they pay for the test, they bill at about 3 times what they expect to be paid. Without the insurance to negotiate it down, I’d be paying that higher amount, which I can’t afford.
    Our current system of having someone else pay for our care creates a system where the insurance company and/or the government are the actual customer, since they do the actual paying. Since they are the actual customer, they get the final say in how we are treated. I don’t see how that system will change, where it would go back to individuals paying for their own care again like they used to, and being able to barter or negotiate for themselves with providers and being able to choose exactly what medications and treatments we get.

  30. Maryellen at 6:10 pm

    I am blessed to live close to a bank. For the past three years I have my meds in my safe deposit box and take out a few days worth at a time. Sometimes I don’t have enough and go back to bed. But my bank has no problem helping me and mine are safe. Heads up!

  31. M.T. at 4:50 pm

    Anyone notice that new statistics are showing a marked decrease in prescriptions for opiate meds yet an INCREASE in overdose deaths?

  32. Wanda at 3:55 pm

    I am 83 yrs old. I have been taking opioids now for 15 years. I do not know of anything else I can take for chronic pain from deteriating back and arthritis. Life is hard enough and now we have to worry about trying to control this pain. It does not take it all away but it sure does help.At my age being an addict is the least of my worries. I never leave my meds out, don’t have family or friends that would help themselves,but to be on safe side I protect them and when I go out of town I have special case with all meds that go along with me. The insurance worries me as much as the doctor does as pharmacy has to check with them first before filling my hand carried hardcopy signed by doctor prescription. Hospital gave me additional prescription for 20 pills and insurance called my doctor and said I was getting meds from other sources. They knew I was in hospital as they approved the procedure. Hope this gets cleared up and let the morons get their drugs off the street as they will get them anyway and die from overdose.

  33. Suzy at 3:29 pm

    My friend Ann broke her hip and the surgery didn’t work , and now she is in very bad pain she was taking her Percocet every 4 hours now who ever ( it was not her Dr.) said that was too much so now it every 6 hours so she crying in pain wanting some relief but 4 pills a day is all she gets! Now someone please tell me how this helps any one else by giving her less pain meds she in her late 70’s please someone help this woman !

  34. Bill Halper at 9:44 am

    I have wondered about this myself (questions). I strongly believe that the government has over stepped the bounds of decency. I cannot understand the mind set the politicians have, frankly I feel their human understanding is focused on themselves and their masters only…and the vote! It is blatantly unfair that because of a few morons, we the chronic pain patients must suffer greatly. The CDC came up with the “suggested policy” that since there has been an onslaught of doctors prescribing the opiates for pain, the huge increase of its use warrants federal control and restrictions no matter what the needstatus are. Adding insult to injury, they want doctors to try other methods first, using the opiates as a last hope, even then controlling the amount and time frame (I am speaking of a few statements that I read in their report). The chronic patient was barely mentioned. The DEA picks up on this, sending their goons (sorry, their representatives) to doctors who have the license to prescribe, check their records to see how much each doctor RX’d, then putting a label on the doctor such as “high prescriber” or other words to that effect. I am sure that the representatives were rather intimidating just as an extra fear tactic. The mass media picks up on this, makes a few adjustments to increase their advertising and viewership, then sensationalized it. CNN does a Town Hall discussion of the crisis conveniently leaving out for the most part that there are millions of people with Chronic Pain Syndrome that need this medication to live! Granted, there is a crises, no question, but the powers that be MUST RECOGNIZE US! Of course, the insurance industry picks up on this, then decides to reduce if not flat out deny coverage (I’m sure that they were also looking at the bottom line, more profits!) Stay out of our doctors office, and keep your nose out of the doctor/patient relationship.

    The addiction will not stop for those who use illicit drugs. In fact, I’m sure that the “dealers” are thrilled because they can reap the financial benefit from selling the opiates to addicts, but also to the patientsame now. Let’s help those who are addicts, and let’s leave the doctors and their patients alone! Don’t thwart our need for such medication, we already know the risks, and the good for most of us certainly outweighs the bad.

  35. JD at 9:41 am

    I appreciate your efforts for the pain community. Please realize that your choice to use NSAID’s turns out to be much more dangerous to your health. Several studies have confirmed NSAID’s destroy heart muscle, leading to heart disease the number one killer of adults in our country. Every pill has a bit of poison, but I would prefer one tried and tested over thousands of years like opioids from the poppy. If you’re not aware of the harm from your patches, please investigate for yourself. In my opinion listening to big pharma for advice on whats best to reduce pain, is like listening to the ice cream man for weight reduction advice.

  36. MichaelL at 8:52 am

    The intrusion of the government and media into the doctor/patient relationship is without warrant. When did they get the training to be able to evaluate the need of chronic pain patients?…NEVER, that’s when! And why in the world is addiction even being related to this? Addiction has been around for, at least, a century, changing little since it began. People know the dangers of addiction. If they get hooked, it’s their own fault! They need to stop blaming others, for their own choice, to not take medications as directed! The addicts never admit their part in their demise! Denying treatment seems to the “standard of care” in the US, now.

  37. Hayden Hamby Jr. at 4:47 am

    You stated you made a choice NOT to take pain medicine. What if you were 37 years old with two children in college and the largest percent bread winner in your marriage with no more than a high school education? When I started to take pain medication, along WITH exercise it was not a selfish one you see. It was a concious choice to give my children an education. No one else was going to. By the way both children earned partial scholarships. One moer thing, after the second back surgery I went back to what I do. I had bad parental guidance when I was young and had not a mentor, I started building houses again. I have been a licensed contractor for 29 years and own my own company. Not a “paper contractor” but a hands on builder to stay in condition. One last thing. I tried to stop taking any and all pain medication after the second back surgery. I was on mild medication and I knew that it would take more medicine and stronger medicine as I went along. I was told I was in the “failed syndrome” back surgery category. I chose to give my children a chance, not selfishly take pain medicine because I was a coward. I don’t judge ANYONE in true chronic pain. I am just telling you MY story.

  38. Debra McDonald at 4:37 am

    Well said! I would give anything if I did not have to take another pill in my life, but my back pain and the arthritis that screams in all my joints all the time won’t let me take that option. I’ve tried heat bags, ice packs, lidoderm patches do work somewhat, but at $375 a prescription refill, it is simply not an option for me. Social security only stretches so far. It’s not fair that my insurance won’t cover these vital meds. And, my doctor pulled my anxiety meds (xanax) that I really need, saying the new guidelines would no longer allow the cocktail of meds he had prescribed : two anti depressants, morphine, percoset, blood pressure, metformin, etc, etc. So, now I shake violently when my daughter and I butt heads. I don’t know. We already keep our meds locked up and I sleep with my little pill container under my head. I’m well aware that there is a problem with kids stealing meds from their parents. We went through that ourselves. But if we are responsible with our meds, there shouldn’t be a problem!

  39. Doc Anonymous at 3:26 am

    Thank you for your excellent comments and discussion. With all the anti-opioid hype flowing around, the medical professionals have pushing the hype that “multi-modal” “non-opioid” treatment should be used instead of opioids. It seems that your insurance company has failed to follow the new medical hype. But then, that may simply be a reflection of the ulterior motives of the insurance industry in all of this evolving issue: Lower cost to the insurance company is best!

    I am retired now, but it seems to me that Lidocaine patches would automatically be included in the “multimodal”, “non-opioid” forms of treatment that are now medically indicated. I must say that I prescribed a lot of lidocaine patches when I was in practice, along with other topical combinations. They were very effective for many people and the patients were just as likely if not more likely to point out a missing lidocaine patch renewal prescription as they were a missing opioid renewal.

    Your insurance company is clearly in the business of using peoples’ health to make dollars, rather than using collected dollars to make peoples’ health better.