By Carole “Andi” Robertson.
Editor’s Note–With the expected announcement from the Trump Administration about action on the opioid issue coming this week, we thought this letter from Carole “Andi” Robertson to Governor Christie, who chairs the President’s Opioid Commission was worthy of publishing.
Dear Governor Christie,
I am addressing this directly to you as President Trump’s choice to lead this task force. I would like to understand why it is there has been neither input nor even requests to hear from the chronic pain community while this task force prepares its recommendations to the president.
I am in severe chronic pain from a low back injury I incurred in 1998. After several attempts at major surgery and a multitude of surgical procedures of all sorts and opinions from many different experts, currently the only way to offer me some semblance of my old self and at least some quality of life is the aid of opioids. I exercise regularly, have been involved in many types of physical and occupational therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), yet am still in need of pain management utilizing interventional methods, pain medication and muscle relaxers. I have NEVER abused nor misused my medications that I have been prescribed over a 15 year period – where I have even gone off of said medications on four different occasions thinking I could live without the aid of them. I have boxes of reports from various types of alternative treatments tried, where some have helped and are being used today, yet still need the help of opioid pain medication daily. I had been asked by my treating physicians over a several year period to stop working as the stress alone was making me worse. I succumbed to their requests and sold our business only to still at least need the assistance of opioid pain medications and now declared disabled since I was 49 years of age five years ago.
I would like for you to please explain to me and as well as over 100 million like me in the United States alone, why your task force seems to be overlooking such a HUGE issue. Not listening to this community consisting of so many seems to be such an oversight — as WITHOUT any current major research for working alternatives, and not to mention the fact TRUE chronic pain patients do NOT misuse or abuse medications prescribed by reputable doctors who follow all the very restrictive rules and regulations put forth already by the CDC, FDA, insurers, et al., your commission’s recommendations may in fact fail many more than it helps.
I would be happy to open a dialogue with your commission on this topic myself, one of so many who’s voices seem to be going unheard. I am just an ordinary citizen, college educated, hard working, once successful in business, life and marriage, yet because of this stigma placed upon me and so many others, have lost nearly everything… the “everything” will be when without a workable alternative to my physical issues and the loss of the very medications keeping me functional, ALL will be lost.
Sir, I beg of you to open your door and listen to us as if what we believe will get so very worse for us happens, there will be many, many more deaths than what you are trying to prevent from this “opioid epidemic”. All we ask is to be heard.
Thank you kindly for taking time out of what I am sure is a very busy schedule to read my letter. I look forward to hearing from you.
Carole A. Robertson