Dorothy A. SeeseJune 29, 2007 NewsWithViews.com
The United States' "drug czar" has quite an extensive web site online, all of it sounding as if the feds really have a handle on reducing drug usage by minors, illegal use by everyone else. It's nicely organized, written by a pro at making the work of this control-arm of our "gubbamint" seem acceptable, even successful.
The problem is that the accomplishments are overstated (if you have a phone and know people who have teens in school you can find out just how available various mind-bending drugs are to those who can pay for them). But that isn't the whole story, just part of it. When our government wants to get any legislation passed, or foist more government control nets over Americans who think they live in a free country, the first line of attack is to state "it's for the children." Bah, baloney and bull.
Somehow these federal programs never mention the victims, the voiceless masses whose votes once counted and whose support was needed by the representatives in Congress and state legislatures. While most of the hundreds of articles bearing my by-line were written as an observer of "times, trends and events," this one is written as one of the victims. Somehow, over the years I wrote regularly for various online sites, I also aged, and my injured spine finally failed in January of 2006. Some of the side effects of non-narcotic pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs hospitalized me, and I wrote about how Big Pharma has poisoned the voiceless victims, most of whom are elderly, their bodies wracked with infirmities that are difficult to treat. The hospital discharge sheet after acute renal failure states that I am not to be prescribed any Cox-2 inhibitors, a certain non-narcotic pain medication, or drugs from the list of prescription and over-the-counter NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
What does that leave? What the specialist who monitored my status at the hospital prescribed -- a narcotic pain killer that seems to be popular among the younger set and closely watched by both my insurance provider and the feds. Never having used a narcotic, I had no idea what chronic pain sufferers have to endure to receive some form of pain relief. I found out.
Persons discharged from the hospital are sometimes given prescriptions to last them until they can obtain an appointment with their personal physician. I was. Once handed a written script, the pharmacy will fill it and ensure that it is picked up only by the person for whom it is prescribed, or in the case of an invalid, that person's authorized representative. This is a good policy, and even with double-counting required, I've managed to be shorted one of the two prescriptions on two occasions -- ten tablets the first time, six this time. The pharmacist assures me this cannot happen. In that case, they need to remove vanishing tablets from the stock they receive, or learn how to count.
Now to the interesting part. At the post-hospital doctor's visit, I found out that he was extremely displeased with the specialist's scripts and hospital discharge instructions. He is a rheumatologist, and also the physician who prescribed the Cox-2 inhibitors and other drugs that landed me in the hospital. He could do nothing more, and after attempting to work with him, his fear of prescribing narcotics became intolerable. After all, that's what is left after subtracting Big Pharma's side-effect-laden "miracle" drugs, two of which have been pulled from the market. He referred me to an anesthesiologist who specializes in administering epidural blocks. After two of these and almost no relief (other than the narcs I managed to have prescribed by the previous M.D.) I was referred to a specialist who had moved to the Phoenix area, an orthopedic surgeon. He looked at the films of my spine and was gracious enough to explain why I could no longer walk or even stand up unaided. And why I was in such pain. It seems that with spinal stenosis, degenerative bone disease of the spine and the lumbar vertebrae in particular, spinal stenosis, two herniated discs, some nerve root impingement and fluidity of the spine, one is going to hurt. Oh yes, I understand that. Essentially, this orthopedic specialist said my case was hopeless, although not exactly in those words.
Back to the matter of pills. My primary care physician is careful to prescribe exactly enough tablets to last 30 days at two per day of each. No dropping a pill. Explain about 31 day months being a bit longer than the 30 day supply. Argue over being left without medications if refill day falls on Saturday or Sunday. Argue with the pharmacy if I am shorted as that "cannot happen" so I must be up to something devious. Since I use a 3 x 5 memo book with a page for each day and write down everything I take (no matter what it is for or whether it is prescription or not, such as the aspirin-a-day or an antacid tablet), I can go back and actually count my tablets taken if I did not recount them when they were brought to me. My authorized representative will now count them at the pharmacy counter before leaving with them, since once a person leaves that counter there is no recourse. Pills cannot be exchanged, returned, and naturally they are never short. While this is a good safety policy, it makes obtaining the correct count of a narc essential to cover the time period (30 or 31 days).
After a number of disputes with my primary, he has asked that I locate a pain management specialist. At one time (he has probably forgotten this) he scoffed at these practitioners of extra-terrestrial thinking and self-hypnosis. Now he has found out that increasing surveillance by both the insurance companies and the federal drug law enforcers (with or without black masks and jack boots) make the pain management specialist the ideal way to dodge any possible confrontation with the feds over giving something like a 32-day supply to a chronic pain case. After all, it is possible we want to OD on two tablets, or worse, go into a back alley business with two extra narcs. The brilliant saying of the 21st century thus far, and particularly applicable to government functions, is "there is no cure for stupid."
So the chronic pain sufferers, who are likely to be geriatric cases also, are unable to get a voice anywhere from a letter to the editor to a letter to one's congress-critter. We want our comfort at the expense of the children? My dear congress critters and anyone else who believes this "for the children" trash (especially when there is a tax increase along with it) has a severe to terminal case of very stupid. If an elderly person has grandchildren, or any chronic pain sufferer of any age has children or grandchildren, they can (at their peril as to true content) get all the oxycodone the kid can buy from some other kid at school.
Those in my age group (soon to be 72) recall when parents were supposed to control their children, not the fed. We also recall when doctors prescribed what the patient needed from a small or large array of options, but the feds were out chasing moonshiners. Not that they had anything against moonshine, the government wanted the liquor taxes. As always, follow the money trail.
Pain relief has become a huge business in the past forty years. Just why the causes of pain have multiplied so much is questionable. Are we, Americans with great (joke) freedoms, being given all manner of allergies, heart ailments, kidney disorders and liver malfunctions from one set of drugs so that we need another to prevent or treat the side effects also? Possibly. Or it's possible that we have a mindset now that people should be forever well, sniffling and nose-blowing must be done outside public buildings and 25 feet away from the nearest entrance/exit door, and headaches are all abnormal.
In the meantime, while government spends what most of us would consider a fortune on its "drug war" the chronic pain sufferers have to endure not only the pain, but the aggravation of trying to deal with their physicians over anything on the fed's surveillance list of prescribed drugs. A physician who cannot treat patients to keep them comfortable is not practicing medicine, but responding to fear of government. Of course, the borders are open and drugs are flowing freely into this country to the enrichment of those who wish to take the chance. That alone is an outrage.
My answer, for my own condition, is to try an herbal that is taken sublingually and find out if it holds up to the claims of its manufacturers. It is legal, non-narcotic, easy to swallow and won't cause drowsiness or some fuzzy-headed state of confusion. If it works, I'll have alleviation of the worst of the pain, and no narcs with which to go through additional abuse to my carcass and disputes with my physician. That's a good deal, if the herbal really does relieve pain.
For those of you who think national healthcare, otherwise known as socialized medicine, will work in the United States, well ... there really is no cure for stupid!
© 2007 Dorothy A. Seese - All Rights Reserved
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Dorothy Anne Seese has been working since she was three and a half years old, but not as a journalist.
Her career began as a child actress in the 1939-1942 "Five Little Peppers" film series produced by Columbia that mercifully ended with the nation's involvement in World War II, although she did do small parts in a few films until 1953. By that time, she was a student at U.C.L.A. where she received her liberal arts degree in Political Science.