Kurt W.G. Matthies is a writer who suffers from chronic spine disease.
He comments on chronic pain issues for National Pain Report.
The recent coverage of the movie “CAKE” by the National Pain Report and comments from fellow readers reminded me that I haven’t been to a movie theater since The Lord of the Rings premiered in our local movie theater. My lower spine has degenerated to the point where sitting for more than an hour or two in a chair without stiff lumbar support begins a pain flare that can last for days. It’s a fair bet that I’m not going to see CAKE, whose ratings have already tanked and will be disappearing soon from theatres near you.
Incidentally, I’d bet my false teeth that Gandalf the Grey suffers from chronic LBP. His stoop is typical of those who live with moderate to severe lumbar spinal stenosis. We who live with this diagnosis understand how a forward bend in the lower back opens the intrathecal space and provides some temporary pain relief. Maybe you’ve seen us in your local grocery store, leaning over our carts between the glamour shots of Jenifer Aniston’s smiling face on the tabloids that line the checkout lanes?
Frankly, I don’t trust Hollywood to represent my disease state to the American public using an actress whose largest problems seem to involve keeping Brad away from Angela as a poster child for our plight.
Show me a documentary about how chronic disease effects society, families, and the lives of those of us who live with daily pain and disease, and I’d risk a pain flare for to see that.
Some might say that Aniston, and all those responsible for this 90 minutes of melodrama is a good thing for chronic painers because it “gets the message out,” to which I reply – is this the message that represents our struggle and ignites a movement to improve care for the millions of Americans who suffer with untreated or under-treated chronic pain?
The problems of chronic pain are not invisible to a majority of our citizens. They may not be readers of the National Pain Report, but they know of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other folks who live with daily pain. Our stories need to be told, but the greatest problems we face have little to do with opioid addiction, unless you happen to share the opinion of those associated with PROPs.
Friends, chronic pain is an epidemic and the sooner we face that fact, the sooner we can do something about it. As Dr. Lynn Webster recently remarked: “We need something like a Manhattan Project. We cannot ignore the millions of Americans whose lives are torn apart by pain or accept the large number of people who are harmed from opioids. After all, each reader of this article is likely to experience chronic pain or be close to someone who does. As of now, chronic pain has the power to alter lives forever. We need a societal commitment to find safer and more effective therapies for mankind’s primal enemy – pain.”
Dr. Webster’s concept of a “Manhattan Project for pain” is an encouraging note in the cacophony of fear that reverberates through today’s pain community, and I hope to explore this intriguing idea here in the National Pain Report during the coming weeks and months.