By Ed Coghlan
A group of pain patients from across the country gathered in Washington D.C. last weekend for a “Rally Against Pain.”
It was a raw, windy day which didn’t inhibit this group of people who met, talked and shared their personal stories.
“It was all the same for people who came from California, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, New York, Michigan,” said Lana Kirby who was one of the creators of the event. “Everyone had been taken off their meds, or nearly completely cut. Everyone was concerned about the future. Or maybe afraid of the future is a better way to describe it.”
While the protest was largely symbolic, mostly because invited representatives from the Centers for Disease Control did not attend, it has spurred a flurry of activity on social media.
One of the speakers was Richard “Red” Lawhern who will try to influence his local lawmakers.
“I will be calling the offices of every Representative in my State during the coming weeks, asking for the names and contact data for each of their staff specialists in health care issues,” he said.
There was an interested observer in Taiwan, which is where Dr. Terri Lewis teaches. Lewis, who was invited to speak via Skype but couldn’t because of technical difficulties, thought the rally was a success.
“The feedback is quite positive. In the worse of conditions for people with limitations, people collaborated. That, in itself is a milestone,” she told the National Pain Report. ” The organizers are to be absolutely commended! In spite of no budget and large obstacles, they persisted in their task.”
While some wondered about the timing of the event given that the CDC officials didn’t show and Congress is in recess, Dr. Lewis thinks this was a promising start:
“As for what is next? I think it is a matter of continuing to collaborate closely, to refine the message, to focus like a laser, and to hold parties to the conversation accountable for their actions, particularly those that harm,” she said. “At the same time, we need to support consumers and work them past their fear of participation in this conversation – and there are many – because of the fear of losing what little access to health care that they have.”
She added one other critical element:
“We need to do the same thing for practitioners – cultivate their critical voices.”
Lana Kirby described the group that attended this way:
“It was probably the humblest group of protesters one would ever want to meet. The people who attended this rally weren’t what you normally see; aggressive people storming the streets yelling obscenities, throwing rocks and hurting people. Rather, they were people who were hurting. People who braved the cold, inclement weather; people whose medical conditions did them no favors by standing out in the cold all day. These people were there because they are at the end of their ropes and willing to do whatever it takes to get the medical treatment they need in order to survive.”