By Ed Coghlan.25
One of the National Pain Report’s many excellent contributors, Dr. David Nagel and I were chatting by email recently.
Dr. Nagel, who wrote an excellent book on chronic pain called Needless Suffering; How Society Fails Those With Chronic Pain, has been speaking on the issue since his book came out.
I shared with him what feels like an intensifying anger and parallel hopelessness that has set in among some of our readers and presumably among many more chronic pain patients.
I was reminded of that interchange last weekend when I chatted with another friend of ours, Michael Young.
You may remember Mike, a retired Michigan firefighter who was injured in the line of duty and has suffered from chronic pain for the past 20 years. The combative Irish-American was full of energy and enthusiasm about fighting what he considered to be a wrong—the arbitrary reduction in his pain medication.
He was working to bring the issue of how opioids help many chronic pain patients sustain a normal life.
I hadn’t spoken with Mike in a while, and when we caught up Saturday, a lot of the energy and enthusiasm was missing. It was replaced by anger and not much hope.
“I’m desperate to address my chronic pain especially since it looks like the reduction in opioid prescribing is going to be permanent,” Young said. “I was just turned down by my insurance company for a spinal cord stimulator because I had not had a failed back surgery.”
Young’s story is repeated daily in the commentary section of the National Pain Report by patients who are frustrated and don’t know where to turn.
“Why aren’t people listening to the chronic pain patient?”, Young asked. “We are collateral damage in this war against opioids.”
Young, who is a remarkably candid man, says he has lost forty pounds and is down to a scarecrow like 135 pounds. His appetite and his energy level have sagged in recent months, while his depression—and resulting hopelessness—have increased.
“I’m really pissed at the insurance company, the government and the lack of organization of pain patient advocacy groups,” said Young. “How can this happen to us?”
He goes to counseling, has tried acupuncture (his insurance doesn’t cover that either), exercise and other alternative therapies.
Now being turned down for the spinal cord stimulator has him wondering what else to try.
Back to Dr. Nagel. He’s giving a talk this month entitled: “Pain, Opioids, and Public Policy; The Art of Creating One Public Health Crisis Out of Another.”
For Mike Young and for hundreds of thousands chronic pain patients—they hope someone is listening. Because Congress, the FDA, the CDC and others apparently are not.
Featured image: Michael Young