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02/04/12

As a chronic pain sufferer who donates yearly to KCTS 9, I am surprised, dismayed, and upset by the unbalanced sensationalism in both the documentary, “Prescription for Abuse,” and in the Panel Discussion that followed.

I've lived with the chronic musculoskeletal pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia since a car accident 1987 — the kind of pain that makes you want to commit suicide; the kind of bone-sucking fatigue that makes you feel too tired to draw your next breath.

After the accident, I tried desperately to function in spite of my increasing pain. Thirteen physicians and therapists couldn’t tell me why I hurt; one of them told me to stop my beloved hobby, middle eastern dance, until my pain went away.

It was four years before a neurosurgeon diagnosed my fibromyalgia. I tried every therapy he suggested or prescribed, including acupuncture, proliferent injections, massage, antidepressants, vitamin B-12 injections, cortisone injections, physical therapy, a tens unit, relaxation tapes, heating pad/ice, capsacin cream, Chinese herbs, -- even magnets. I joined a support group. I went to a holistic doctor.

Nothing alleviated my pain. Yet, as the mother of two teens in the DARE program (Dare to Say No to Drugs) I was afraid to ask for pain medication because I thought my Dr. would think me a drug addict.

So I started thinking suicide was the only way to end my all-consuming pain. Isn’t that stupid? To be willing to kill myself rather than ask for medication to ease my pain? Fortunately, my doctor suggested I try pain medication.

For the last ten years, I’ve taken methadone for pain. I was able to start dancing again; in fact, I taught dance for my local Park Dept. for nine years. I stopped teaching to care for my 90 year old mother, who has high-functioning dementia.

I don’t live without pain today. I still hurt, all the time, and I want a cure! I am sick of living like this. But thanks to pain medication, I can function again; I can set my pain over on a shelf for an hour or two. I have part of my life back. And my family has part of me back.

Taking an opioid is no Joy Ride -- there is no “high,” only a lessening of pain for a while. I am careful not to take more than prescribed, and I’ve continued to explore other treatments: pregabalin, gabapentin, lidocaine injections, lidocaine cream, hypnotherapy. I still hurt.

“Prescription for Abuse,” asserts that anyone who takes opiates/opioids for pain is on the road to heroin addiction. Did KCTS9 interview any legitimate chronic pain patients who take their pain medication as prescribed, whose lives are improved by taking it? Or did you just want to scare sufferers away from seeking help, toward choosing suicide to end their overwhelming pain because they fear heroin addiction? Did you want to scare physicians away from helping the persistent pain sufferers who have the courage to seek them out?

Another point I wish to make: I have since been in three more major car accidents (none my fault!). I’ve lost a toe joint due to osteoarthritis and can barely use some of my fingers. In the last two years, I have gone through two 6 month, bi-weekly acupuncture sessions, and two 5 month massage therapy sessions. I still hurt. Sometimes alternative treatments do not take away the pain

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