Friday, January 18, 2008

Denying Pain

Full disclosure:

I've got an old injury in my left leg. Specifically the ankle, knee, and hip joints. Probably a sports injury. It's a constant ache. Not enough to justify medication. I can cope with it, but there's never a moment in my life that I'm free of pain. I guess you could say that pain is an old friend of mine.


I was browsing around when I stumbled on ABC News'On Call + Pain Management

As I read the articles my blood pressure started to rise:

Beating Back the Stigma of Pain Treatment

"I guess I wasn't screaming enough; I told them I was in pain, but I guess I should have been yelling at them," said Janice Dallas, a Type 1 diabetic who suffers from "fire and lightning" pain due to a degenerative nerve disease called neuropathy.

"It started out in '94 with neuropathy, it wasn't diagnosed until 2000," said Dallas. Part of Dallas' six-year wait for a diagnosis was an odd condition: She felt pain in her trunk, as opposed to the more common areas of hands and feet.

But part of Dallas' challenge to get diagnosed might have also been doctors' heightened scrutiny of anything that might resemble drug-seeking behavior.

In response to the rising Oxycontin abuse, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration started the official Action Plan to Prevent the Diversion and Abuse of Oxycontin in 2003.

Whites Get More Pain Meds Than Minorities, Study Says

Julie Posey, a 65-year-old retiree, said her arthritis caused her to live with debilitating, chronic pain for nine years before her primary-care physician prescribed her any pain medication stronger than Tylenol.


Specifically, over the 13-year survey period, the likelihood that a white patient complaining of pain would receive the pain medications from an emergency room doctors was 31 percent, while black and Hispanic patients only received the drugs 23 percent and 24 percent of the time, respectively.

In 2005, opioid-prescribing rates in the emergency department were 40 percent for white patients and 32 percent for all other patients.

Sickle Cell Sufferers Face Uncommon Pain

"Society doesn't acknowledge how severe of a disease it is and how horrible these pain crises are," said Dr. Rebecca Kruse-Jarres, a professor of hematology at the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.

Davis has been in school when a pain crisis has hit and her teacher did not believe she was in pain.

In fact, the frequency with which sickle cell disease can land patients in the emergency room with crippling pain stigmatizes people with sickle cell disease as chronic complainers and drug seekers.

This last one doesn't even need a quote. It's title says it all:

A Legitimate Pain? Fibromyalgia Debate Persists

Anyone with even a skerrick of empathy who's ever met someone with fibromyalgia can tell that they're in pain.

So I went off to find out just how common this abuse of prescription drugs that demands draconian legislation and the labeling of suffering people as "drug seekers" is but then I stumbled upon this page.

Vicodin Addiction, Abuse and Treatment

What makes someone likely to abuse Vicodin?


The majority of the individuals who were dependent on opiates were likely to have some sort of other drug dependence. In fact in the mentioned study, 83% had another type of drug addiction and 45.1% had additional psychiatric disorders. Over 60% had a history of addiction treatment and had been previously admitted for psychiatric illness. It has been found that Vicodin is utilized more often then Oxycodone. The biggest predictor of Vicodin abuse is alcoholism or another type of drug addiction. For patients who are in need of the pain relief provided by opiates that have a history of drug abuse, expert assessment and monitoring is required.



Imagine the worst pain you've ever felt... Now imagine that it's constant and unrelenting for months and years.

Is it any surprise that someone in that situation who isn't treated might turn to "illicit" substances to ease their suffering?

Even when they're getting treated a lot of the time the focus is just on easing the pain enough to make them functional. Even with the pain meds they're still hurting far more than I do everyday.

I mean who cares if they're suffering, as long as they're functional enough to man a cash register right?

To call people who take more pain meds than they should or use "illicit" substances (like cannabis which is from what I've seen a godsend to sufferers of chronic pain) so they can have a few moments of existence free of pain "drug abusers" is a sick fucking Catch 22 of a joke.

If they can't get relief from pain legitimately what on earth are they supposed to do? And of course if they're a "drug abuser" the pain treatment is going to be even more lackadaisical so where are they going to turn?

For that matter, is it at all a shocking thought that people WHO LIVE IN PAIN CONSTANTLY might have a few psychiatric problems?

Like I said the whole concept of drug abuse as it relates to the treatment of pain is a sick Catch 22 of a joke.

It gets worse:

Overdosing Risks

Vicodin contains a high amount of acetaminophen or Tylenol. This keeps a lot of potential addicts from using Vicodin in excessive amounts. Acetaminophen is very damaging to the liver if consumed in excessive amounts over long periods of time. Ten to fifteen grams of acetaminophen in a twenty four hour period can result in severe liver toxicity. Fifteen to twenty grams in one day can be fatal.

Since Vicodin is water soluble, it is possible to extract some of the acetaminophen by using hot or cold water which in turn makes the drug more palatable. Extracting the acetaminophen involves crushing the tablets and then allowing them to dissolve in hot water. The mixture is then cooled and ran through a coffee filter. In thirty minutes, most of the acetaminophen has been removed from the solution. This makes the mixture much safer to consume. In order to avoid all of these potentially devastating side effects, many addicts use opiates that contain one substance such as OxyContin.

Oh noes!

People might abuse the drug or overdose or sumthin' so lets add an ingredient that damages their liver. Liver damage being a death sentence in slow motion if there ever was one.

But hey! For anyone who actually really wants to abuse the drug, there's an easy way to remove it.

Seriously, the sadistic fuck who thought of this shouldn't be allowed near stray animals let alone human beings. (A note from tjekanefir: acetaminophen isn't added as a deterrent or punishment it's actually added as a pain killer in itself)

A society that worries more about someone somewhere having an illicit high than about people suffering pain, and believe you me pain is real, is sick at a deep and fundamental level.

Thinking on that I don't think it's a shocking conclusion that such a society. One that doesn't even care about the pain of its own would have no compunctions about inflicting pain on the foreigner, the Other, the alien.

Perhaps it might even revel in it...

1 comment:

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