TV Shows on Chronic Pain Do Not Get It

I cannot stay quiet any longer. I have been a chronic pain patient for over two decades: CRPS – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, dystonia, Dysautonomia, Barre Lieou Syndrome, vasovagal syncope, fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, etc.… I used to get upset that no one in my situation was ever represented on television.

I recently started to become hopeful when I saw advertisements for some of my favorite television shows announcing that their future plotlines were to include chronic pain patients. One popular prime time show even has one of its main characters diagnosed with CRPS. When I first heard about these shows, I thought, “Finally, we will have some much needed public awareness about chronic pain and what we go through on a daily basis.”

Beth Stillitano

Now, I am furious. Not one of these prime-time shows has shown a chronic pain patient in a positive light. It has been quite the opposite. As I have been following some of these story lines, I have become increasingly distressed.

Each show has deliberately depicted someone with chronic pain as a drug seeker, an opioid addict or as someone who has died due to an overdose. This is sickening to me. I have not taken any pain medications for over 10 years, but many of my fellow pain warriors rely on them for pain management. When I was appropriately prescribed Oxycontin/Vicodin/etc. I took it as directed. Most chronic pain patients follow the rules. Our opioid crisis in this county is hurting the people who need the medication the most.

Last week, I watched a show where the medical director of a hospital directed that no opioids were to be prescribed throughout the entire hospital. I wanted to scream at the doctor on television. There is a correct time and place for this medication.

I used to wonder why after a wisdom tooth was extracted was a patient given a 30-day prescription for hydrocodone when all that was called for was maybe a day or two. I know this practice has changed; this is a step in the right direction. When my daughter recently had an emergency appendectomy, they gave her three days worth of hydrocodone, after two days, she switched to acetaminophen. Again appropriate; since they too used to prescribe a month’s worth of medication for this procedure. In my non-medical degree opinion it was these former type scripts that were some of the root causes of unnecessary addictions.

Chronic pain patients are people who need help. Most of us do NOT want to live or depend on medication. We try physical, occupation, water, talk, massage therapy; acupuncture; alternative medication; meditation; yoga; everything short of standing on our heads all day. These televisions shows make chronic pain patients look like common drug seekers. I have already written to several of these TV shows asking for some positive changes. I encourage you to do the same.

Leave a Comment