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Quite a Different Perspective on the Opioid Issue

I’m tempted to say misery loves company. But considering the gravity of the matter, that seems trite.

In this situation, misery has company. Lots of it.

Such was made abundantly clear after my Oct. 31 column on America’s opioid crisis.

In that piece, I acknowledged a litany of damning facts about the abuse of pain medication. At the same time, however, I opined that legitimate users of these meds are likely to be swept away in the coming avalanche of opioid-related legislation.

With no pun intended, this sentiment really touched a nerve. Here is a small sample of comments from readers, edited for brevity: Anne Saravo — “My husband is 75 and has a deteriorating spine which causes unbearable pain. He has had spinal injections with no relief. As he deteriorates the pain will get worse. What then?”

Bonnie Shoemaker — “I have had two shoulder replacements and knee surgery, but those paled in comparison to a freak accident that left me with second- and third-degree burns over 35 percent of my body. I spent 20 days in ICU at the Vanderbilt Burn Center and another 6 weeks in rehab. I came home wheelchair-bound and needing 24/7 care. I went through some humiliating experiences getting my pain medication, often being treated like a criminal. I’m back to 90 percent of my former selfbut have never forgotten the pain. Had it not been for medication, I don’t know that I would’ve had the fortitude to fight my way back.”

Beth English — “My daughter had many back surgeries (injuries from soccer) and had chronic pain. The narcotics that are vilified today made it possible for her to function. She never abused the drugs or got addicted. She later developed brain cancer and lost the ability to care for herself. Even so disabled, she had to jump through hoops to get what she needed. She passed away four years ago. I hate that people are dying from opioid abuse but also hate the fact that people who need these meds are finding it even harder than it was then to get what they require.”

Cyndy Bailes — “I have severe arthritis, Reynauds syndrome, severe lower back issues and broke my ankle in three places. I use as little pain medication as possible, but the changes already in place make it more difficult and expensive to get them. I live in fear of having them no longer available at all.”

Kerry Smith — “I live in chronic pain, having had 25 neurological surgeries and procedures on my spine. I dare not take more pain meds that I am prescribed, but our government is limiting what I need.”

To reiterate: The horror of opioid abuse is very real. But so is the pain of legitimate drug users who risk being left to suffer with little more than aspirin and get-well wishes.

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