The Silent Epidemic

•February 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

There is a pain epidemic in this country. Actually there is an epidemic of people not being *treated* for pain issues.  The DEA’s misguided war on Pain Medications has caused many hundreds or thousands of moms, dads, sons, daughters, and even grandparents to resort to anything they can find to fight the agony.

In the past few years (since around 2007 when the DEA *really* started turning the screws on pain meds and the doctors that prescribe them) there has been a sharp uptick of people over 40 who *begin* using heroin.  Think about that. They haven’t used it before and just suddenly start?  For no reason?  Not hardly.

Just what would it take for a normal human being to *start* using heroin.  What kind of unbelievable circumstances would it take?  What terrible conditions would or could do such a thing?

Fact is, thousands of patients have been left to scream out alone int he darkness.  left alone to face insurmountable odds and try and survive. Left alone to rot and die. And no one seems to care!

The DEA labels *every* death where there is opioids in the bloodstream as a “drug-connnected death”. In other words, “Just another junkie overdose.”  It doesn’t matter *what* caused the death, if drugs are there, it was an overdose death. NONSENSE!!!

People turn to alcohol or heroin because it is the only way they can be *HUMAN*, even if only for a few hours. The pain is that bad! YES IT IS THAT BAD. Maybe even WORSE.

NO THEY CANNOT JUST “Suck it up” and “Move on”!  The PAIN wins. Another soul fades into the black.  These unique, strident, valuable persons disappear from amongst us.  And we are all poorer for it.

The DEA’s War on Pain Medicines has REAL VICTIMS.
I am just one of its MANY, MANY victims.

Thinking the Unthinkable Thought

•January 21, 2014 • 2 Comments

January 21, 2014, 2:47 AM

There comes a time in the struggle to maintain our self identity whilst being hammered away at by constant pain where “The Unthinkable Thought” begins to form.

It isn’t anything substantial at first,  more of a nudge at the back of your mind than anything substantial. An itch that you daren’t think about or scratch at.  It sits there biding its time, because it knows that in the end, you will have to come to terms with it.

“Are you ready for me yet?”

So you battle on, fighting that terrible war of attrition where everything you are and have done is burned away one dream or memory at a time.  All sacrificed to the Need of the NOW.  The pain eats away at your joy, hopes, and dreams and devours them without any relief in sight.  You slowly begin to feel hollow inside, or so thin that a good breeze could blow you away.  And still the pain comes. And the thought waits…

Years, sometimes longer sometimes shorter, go by and this dark passenger in the back of your mind begins to ride along in all that you do or are.  It sits patiently, biding its time because it knows there is no answer to its unasked question:

“Is it time yet?”

“Is it time for all of this pain to finally stop?”
“Is it time for this book of your life to come to an end?”
“Are you ready yet?”

You refuse to look at or think about it.  You try and keep your mind busy with other things. You fight for some form of activity to keep your mind from that darkest of corners.

But late at night. In the deepest of night, when all you have between you and that questioning ..thing … is tears and your heart-beat, you hear it whispering ever so softly:

“Are you tired enough yet?”
“Are you brave enough yet?”

You war on, beyond any rational point of return.  Slowly but oh-so-surely you lose the battle with pain step by agonizing step.  Sometimes there are faster losses, like when you are denied aid. Or when your medicine finally runs out.  When the doctors refuse to hear you any longer and tell you that living in this horrendous pain is “for your own good.”  When you look ahead and see nothing but even more terrible dark nights alone, with nothing between your naked soul and that searing agony.

And still the voice calls out softly,
“Have you had enough yet?”
“Will it be soon?”

You isolate yourself away from those who cannot understand your pain, or simply stop trying to explain.  You lose friends and family because the pain comes between you and those ‘common ground’ activities that keep us bound together.  Your pool of people in your life slowly shrinks to just a few, or one. Or none.

You seek out the help of professionals who try and help you fight a rear-guard action against that dark passenger, but in the back of your mind you finally have to admit, “This pain is going to cost me my life.”  Maybe not today. maybe not tomorrow, but eventually.  And over time, you become okay with that.  You go through the motions. You learn to say and do all the right things.  But it is all puppet theater.  You know. You finally know.

Heavy with that knowledge, you fight for every day. You tell yourself “Not today. Or tomorrow.” and somehow that has to be good enough.  But you know.  You grasp at any small success or possibility, with the realization that you will probably just be disappointed, but you have to try.  And you do try, but eventually you just become too weary. Too exhausted.  Too tired.

The Pain finally Wins.

So you sit in the dark, alone with that lonely passenger as your only companion.

“Are you all set yet?”
“Have you finished your plans yet?”
“Do you have all of your papers and such organized yet?”
“Are you ready to stop dragging those you love down with you yet?”
“Is it that time yet?”

“Are you ready to end your life yet?”

And through a face with cold tear-less eyes, you quietly whisper to the lonely darkness, “Yes.”

The Trap: Living With Chronic Pain

•January 18, 2014 • 3 Comments

January 18, 2014, 6:22 PM

I have tried repeatedly to come up with some way to describe those hidden aspects of living with chronic intractable pain for those that have never experienced anything like it.

Let’s try this:

One day, while you are going about those daily activities that make up “life”, you step on a hidden bear-toothed trap.  It closes with a CLANG! And sinks its jagged, rusty teeth deep into the skin in your upper thigh on your right leg.  You scream at the instant agony, fighting back tears as you try and find some way to release those agonizing jaws.  Everyone else seems very concerned at your predicament, but seem to look confused and unsure about what to do.

Eventually, with your loved ones help, you end up in a doctor‘s office for treatment.  They ask you all of the routine questions like if you smoke or drink, and take various blood tests.  The doctor finally comes in, examines your leg and shakes his head slightly before giving you “the talk“.

“Mr Everyone, I see that you are presenting with severe upper leg pain.  You say that you caught your leg in a trap? (He looks at your leg again.) Um, I don‘t see any evidence of that.    Perhaps the pain is merely in your mind. Stress can do that.  Let me recommend a good counselor.”

You listen on in stunned silence, until he finishes, then grab his sleeve and point while shouting, “IT IS RIGHT THERE! RIGHT THERE! THAT BIG RUSTY THING STICKING OUT OF MY LEG!!”

The doctor looks at your leg once again, then back at you.

“I see no trap. Either you are just trying to get pain meds, or you have something wrong in your head.”  He coaches the words differently perhaps, but that is general gist of what he says.  He tells you “You are too fat. You need to lose weight. Here’s the name of a few counselors you might consider seeing.”

You think he must be insane, and it isn‘t until later that night, while you are cradling your crippled limb, that you realize he truly cannot see the trap.  And neither can anyone else!!

In shock and desperation, you try doctor after doctor, and treatment after treatment, only to find that NO ONE CAN SEEM TO SEE THE RUSTY TRAP STICKING OUT OF YOU AND KEEPING YOU IN AGONY DAY AND NIGHT.

And then you get scared.

You try everything you can think of to try and live with the trap embedded in your aching flesh, but slowly lose all normal function.  When you go to sleep, it is with the knowledge that you will wake once more to screaming agony.  Your friends drop away as you are unable to keep up those activities and interests that brought you together.  You lose your job. You lose family.

The Bear Trap affects every aspect of your life. Even taking a shower is now difficult.  Every step must be planned in advance, and you never know one day to the next what you are going to be able to accomplish. Family dinners, visits with friends, and outside activities fall in the wake of the pain.

Well-meaning friends and family tell you to just “Get over it” and “Think positive thoughts”.  You are told you should try and be happier and not so depressed all the time. You want to scream and shout at them that you are depressed because YOU HAVE A TRAP IN YOUR FLESH!, but no one seems to listen.

They cannot see the bear trap.

Your religious friends will tell you ,”You should just have more faith.” or “You should pray/attend church/tithe more.”  You try going to worship for as long as you physically can, but eventually, even that has to fall by the wayside.

You begin to contemplate suicide.  After all, every person has their breaking point.  It has been well known to academics studying it, that torture often fails simply because at a certain point, the tortured soul will confess to anything just to make the torment stop.  Unfortunately, the pain doesn’t even ask a question you can answer!

If you are lucky, you finally find a pain clinic or doctor that will at least treat your pain with something.  By the time you get there, you have spent YEARS trying to survive the pain.  They get you set up on pain relief treatment and seem to truly want to help. For a while.  You agree to unbelievable contracts merely for access to something that will buy you a few hours relief from some of the pain.

Then, under the new DEA non-guidelines (regulations that even the doctors don’t get to see) where  if *any* adverse effect happens while you are taking pain meds, the doctor can now go to prison, you are quietly cut off from treatment and shepherded into the dark alley to fend for yourself.  You rail at the establishment and medical community to try and make them treat you, but they refuse.  You seek other doctors only to find that there are none willing to take on the risk for a single patient.  These doctors have families too, and actually treating high pain levels appropriately could cost them their careers and freedom.

They can see the effects of the Bear Trap, but are too afraid to treat it.

Or, your ‘treatment’ continues and you still get the paper scripts for your MEDICINE, and you find that you can no longer fill them anywhere, for any price.  The pharmacists and others refuse you and label you a ‘drug-seeker’.  They say they have none in stock, or want to charge yuou 10 TIMES what the going rate is, and you would pay it if you had anything left to sell! Unfortunately, you have nothing and are left with nothing.

They cannot see the bear trap either, you see.

At some point in this  terrible thing that your life has become, dark thoughts enter your mind.  You begin to wonder if just ending your life is the answer.  You combat them with therapy, feel-good techniques, meditation and anything else you can throw at the pain to keep away the realization that this pain will last to your final breath.  You look at the therapists, psycholgists, and psychiatrists and want to scream “Of course I am depressed!! My leg is caught in this awful Bear Trap!”  But they cannot hear that.  Some pill or new therapy is the solution that might work!

None of their therapies are effective long term because They cannot see the Bear Trap.

Eventually, after years of screaming alone in the dark with no one but the flies to hear you scream, you give up.  These biological machines we call bodies just aren’t that hard to stop. The bitterest thing of all is having to face the fact that the current DEA clerks will then use your death to further humiliate and stigmatize those in pain.  To further punish those hurting people for some perceived crime against our society.

Because they don’t WANT to see the trap.

A Time Of Learning…

•December 28, 2013 • 2 Comments

As many of you know, I am currently in a fight for my Life. Not just physically, which would be hard enough, but mentally as well.  With every day being a battle, the Holidays can make even the smallest obstacle seem insurmountable.  Dinner with Family. Shopping for gifts. Even going out to look at lights all seem impossible dreams.

It is easy, being ‘broken’, to come to dread the Holidays. Not for what they mean, but rather for the fantasies and impossible tasks and goals we set for ourselves.  We worry that we have to have the ‘Perfect’ day. The ‘Perfect’ dinner party, the ‘Perfect’ gift, and so on.  An we spend far too much time beating ourselves up for things we have no real control over!

Living in Pain is hard. Period. End of. Full stop.

Just rising out of bed is a small victory. Bathing or getting dressed another one.  Doing these tings and remaining civil is, at times, a miracle.  And yet we still want, beyond all reasonable expectation, to do the things and be the people we used to be.  It is time to face the fact that you aren’t that person any longer.

When we can accept that we are what we are, broken, then we can begin to catch glimmers of happiness.  Instead of seeing nothing but pain and misery, we can capture moments of happiness.  No, things are not as they once were.  That’s life.  Things are what they ARE.

Time to accept that and learn to find the joy in our new reality.  What little bit there may be.  And rejoice in small victories!  Look at the Holidays as times with a greater chance of finding a snippet of happiness instead of a time where you have to be something for someone else.  Be yourself and accept whatever happy things you can find.

Dream Snippet

•November 29, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Another snippet from my Dreamscape:

They had a dream.  Several of the worlds largest corporations like Sony, Hitachi, Microsoft, McDonalds, and American Express, would collaborate on bringing the first truly inexpensive car to market.

The goal: A basic model car, with all of the *most* needed safety and performance features that could be purchased for roughly half what a minimum wage worker in the Western World would bring in over 12 months.  It would be called ‘The Basic’ and would revolutionize societies.  Finally, even the lowest class could have a vehicle they could afford to own and operate.

They slaved away for months and poured in Hundreds of millions of dollars before they finally realized “It”.  After almost a year of trial promotions, surveys, and research, they had found that No one would buy their car.

No one in the first world countries anyhow.  Oh sure, the environmentalists and upper crust *talked* about how great it would be to have such a fuel efficient, low operative cost vehicle, just so long as theirs had more features, More elegance.  That was why the latest “Eco-friendly” cars cost as much as a small house.

Middle class families felt it was just to “cheap”, and even the lower-class groups indicated an unreasoning hostility to the idea that such a car was “all they could afford”.  They felt they deserved so much more, Dammit!  How Dare these corporations assume to undertake such a thing!  It was like saying they weren’t capable of buying a ‘real’ car. (Even though economic models showed they couldn’t.)

So these corporations, properly chastened, slunk back to their respective financial citadels and went back to doing what had made them so rich in the first place; providing costly toys for the masses.  The World was once again safe from altruism.

Dream snippet

•November 19, 2013 • 2 Comments

“Where am I?”

“Your own world, from a slightly different perspective”

I looked around me at the dancing clouds above…

“It *is* the same.  Like most things, if you look at it from a little to the left, or a little to the right, it appears odd, changed, new.  You come from a world of machinery. Everything is ruled by physics and mathematics and laws of nature.  Here, we live in a world of magic.  Everything is acted upon ba a different, yet just as arbitrarily strict, set of rules.  In between the two, there are varying degrees of either magic, or machinery, or both.  Some where both exist, some where neither does.  Just as you are familiar with the things made with gears and pulleys and spark, the people here are used to, shall we say, a little more fantastical workings to things.”

“I am stuck in a fantasy game!” I exclaimed quietly…
“Aren’t we all?” the wizard said softly.

My eyes wandered off to follow the steps of the youngest one of our party, as he stood by a large puddle in the road and watched reflections of ourselves and nearby wildlife climb into the skies on bubbles and ripples.

“But how do I know what is *real*?” I asked the wizard quietly.

“It all is.” He explained in a kind voice, “But not all of it can physically affect you.”  He grinned as we watched the young one trying to stick his hand into the puddle image, only to cause more ripples which moved the reflections higher and farther away.

“Why are we here?” I said, turning to face the white bearded conjurer.

“We need a mind of wheels and gadgets.” He said simply.

“Our Enemy has grown strong using magic, but it is hoped he has not gained mastery over the wheel and flame so far.  We need someone that knows these things intimately in order to try and succeed where so many have failed.”

“Succeed at what?” I asked, point-blank.

“At unbinding the laws of our realm, and freeing the souls of those trapped within it.” The old man answered with a gleam of fire in his eye.

“How Do You Feel?”

•November 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

“How Do You Feel?”

I must hear that question several times a day. Mostly from acquaintances trying to make conversation.  The default answer is, of course, “I’m fine.” (Which I have been told stands for- Freaked Out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.,)

It makes me wonder what would happen if someone living in thie agony that is Chronic Pain answered truthfully…

“Oh, I spent the night vomiting from pain, how are you?”

“…About three seconds from crawling into my bedroom and putting the gun barrel back in my mouth.”

“Scared. And Alone. Please just sit quietly with me and hold my hand.”

“Tired. So very tired.”

“Like a failure, thanks for asking!”

“Like I’m never good enough anymore.”

“I feel like all of my good memories are behind me.”

These, and a thousand other variations on the same are all jumbled up inside my skull.

Sadly  “Fine.” is almost *NEVER* one of the first options.

I understand the need to remain convivial and pleasant, but I AM DYING IN AGONY HERE!

So…

I mostly don’t say much of anything at all….