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Feature: Pain Doctor and Patient Advocates Get a Congressional Hearing… Finally

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #494)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

For the first time in more than a decade, the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) heavy-handed intrusion into the field of medicine came under congressional scrutiny last week. The broad-ranging review of the DEA's regulation of medicine came at a July 12 hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security chaired by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA).

While the hearing also included testimony and members' questions about the DEA's role in pursuing medical marijuana dispensaries and blocking marijuana research (see this newsbrief), as well as its apparent underestimation of the amount of pseudoephedrine needed for legitimate commercial and medicinal uses, testimony by Siobhan Reynolds of the pain patients and doctors advocacy group Pain Relief Network and attorney and chronic pain advocate John Flannery put the issue of the federal prosecutions of doctors who prescribe high-dose opioid pain medications front and center.

The hearings gained an added sense of timeliness the following day, when nationally-known pain management physician Dr. William Hurwitz was sentenced to five years in prison on drug trafficking charges. Hurwitz had originally been sentenced to 25 years in prison, but his original verdict was overturned and he was convicted of 16 drug trafficking counts in an April retrial. While pain patient advocates and Hurwitz supporters believe he should never have been convicted at all, they viewed the much shorter sentence -- which with time-served could see Hurwitz free in 17 months -- as a victory of sorts.

Still, Hurwitz remains behind bars for what is at best laxness in dealing with some patients who lied to him and resold drugs he prescribed them for chronic pain. As such, he is emblematic of the growing number of physicians who have been persecuted and prosecuted by the Justice Department and the DEA, as well as state-level prosecutors who have taken their lead from the feds.

"The subcommittee has received numerous complaints about the DEA's regulation of medicine," said Rep. Scott as he opened the hearing. Turning to prescription drug abuse, Scott noted that, "When it was first introduced, OxyContin abuse became rampant in such areas as Appalachia and rural New England. DEA responded by adopting the OxyContin action plan, which involved prosecuting medical doctors who prescribed high doses of painkillers. The DEA claims that this policy was not intended to impact the availability of legitimate drugs necessary to treat patients; however, the evidence suggests that the DEA's decision to prosecute doctors has created a chilling effect within the medical community, so that some doctors are unwilling to prescribe pain medication in sufficiently high doses to treat their patients. The result is that many Americans live with chronic untreated pain."

The first witness was DEA Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Diversion Control Joseph Rannazzisi, who immediately took issue with the notion that the DEA was trying to regulate medicine. "The title of this hearing, 'DEA's Regulation of Medicine,' is inaccurate," he complained. "DEA does not regulate medicine or the practice of medicine. DEA does investigate violations of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of the source of the violation, be it a Colombian cocaine dealer, a marijuana trafficker or a doctor who abuses the authority to dispense controlled substances."

Saying that DEA considered the diversion of prescription drugs one of its most significant challenges, Rannazzissi said "small numbers of unscrupulous doctors" were part of the problem. Still, he said, the agency wasn't targeting doctors. "Generally speaking, in any given year, DEA arrests less than 0.01 percent of the 750,000 doctors registered with DEA for a criminal violation. More often than not, those violations are egregious in nature and are acts clearly outside the usual course of accepted medical standards."

That brought a sharp retort from the Pain Relief Network's Reynolds, whose life-partner, Sean Greenwood was a former Hurwitz patient who died last year as the family crisscrossed the country searching for a doctor who would treat his chronic pain, during her subsequent testimony. "The DEA contends that they only prosecute 0.01 percent of registrants," she said. "However, that's a misleading figure, because a very small number of registrants prescribe opioid medicines and an even smaller number would prescribe in doses that would relieve serious pain."

"So the actual number of doctors who are arrested is far greater, when you look at the correct denominator, which this leads me to my next point, which I think is really the most important point," Reynolds continued. "This is a government agency that plays fast and loose with the facts, uses incredibly inflammatory rhetoric, talks about crime and addiction and dependence and puts them all together and maybe has no cognizance of the fact that this all ultimately falls on and stigmatizes very, very sick people. But that is in fact what happens."

When it came his turn to testify, Flannery, a former prosecutor and congressional staffer and author of "Pain in America -- And How the Government Makes It Worse," took issue with Rannazzisi's taking issue with the hearing's title. "The title of the hearing, which is the regulation of medicine by DEA is, unfortunately, an apt one," Flannery retorted. "DEA has been regulating medicine, and for them to come here and say that they don't know it means that they either are consciously doing it or recklessly doing it. And I can't believe they're doing it recklessly, because we see the quality of people who work at the department. And that means there's an ideological purpose in regulating medicine. They do not approve of certain medical practices. And, if that is it, they should bring it to the Congress and tell us why, with statistics and explanations, because then it should be a formal policy rather than the secret one that it is presently."

Flannery accused DEA and the Justice Department of "bait and switch" tactics. The legal standard for criminal prosecution of doctors is that they have to be acting outside the course of professional medicine with the intent to push drugs, not treat patients, Flannery noted. "They create these standards on a case-by-case basis," Flannery said. "And how do they do that? They bring a doctor into the courtroom that they pay, who travels around the country, and the standard is created on a case-by-case basis by the DEA doctor."

Determinations of what constitutes criminal conduct by doctors -- as opposed to simple malpractice -- are better left to state medical boards, Flannery said under sympathetic questioning from Rep. Scott.

Ranking minority member Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) carried water for the Bush administration, asking whether marijuana should be legalized, worrying about teen prescription drug overdoses and "pharma parties," and asking about marijuana growing in national forests, while Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) provided inadvertent comic relief. Gohmert wandered into the hearing room, announced that voters in his district didn't support marijuana legalization, then launched into a bizarre tale about a bag of sterilized marijuana seeds from which some seedlings sprouted he had seen in a court case once before retreating back into silence.

While last week's hearing marked the first oversight of the DEA's regulation of medicine in more than a decade, it wasn't enough, Reynolds told the Chronicle. "Although I submitted written testimony, we were limited to five minutes, so I spent my time basically explaining how offended I was at the farcical nature of the DEA and ONDCP testimony, denying the possibility of a chilling effect on physicians."

"This is a step on a slow journey toward enlightenment," Flannery told the Chronicle. "In Jerrold Nadler and Bobby Scott, you can't find two better lawyers who are sensitive to these issues, but the Congress is immersed in lots of other business, and it takes a lot to move members from their preconceived notions of what the drug war is about. Very few understand this is about the government invading medicine -- not prosecuting drug dealers. We will have to turn around an ocean liner in order to get action."

But hearings like last week's are a first step. "I've asked for more hearings, but I'm not getting the impression that's the next step," said Reynolds, who was invited to testify by Rep. Nadler. "What I've been told is that we need to educate the Congress. We've been doing that, but there seem to be a lot of closed ears on this issue. Still, more and more, there is some awareness that this is a terrible problem."

Reynolds added that she and others are working with the committee to seek legislation that would ease the DEA pressure on pain doctors. "Both Nadler and Bobby Scott showed real concern and came up afterward and asked what they can do."

Nadler spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chronicle Thursday that Nadler is looking into the matter. "He's very interested in the issue, but I haven't heard anything specific about new legislation yet," Inouye said.

There is a long way to go before America's estimated 40 to 70 million chronic pain patients and the doctors who seek to treat them can live without the fear of the DEA, but last week's hearing was a good -- if insufficient -- beginning, and lays the groundwork for further action.

The written testimony of all witnesses at the hearing is available online here.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Personnally, I'm a veteran. I suffered a Tramatic Brain Injury in "98". Please understand I've been Honarablely discharged since "77".
But I have found,relief from depression, sleep, anxity, constant headaches,and consetration in the use of Marijuana. Like an asprin for a headache(whitch causes liver damage by the way). Where as the medication that I was given me, from the V.A. (leagle drugs) for the same condistion had horiffic side effects, such as social function and interpersonnal relationships. Now the same goverment I served, well. Gave me plenty Alc. and tobacco. I know it was my dessision to do. I was only 17 at the time.(IMPRESSIONABLE AGE) Which has proven over and over again the damage it causes the body and in some cases, our fammilys. But their is no evidence of Marijuana having any damaging effects social or psycological. As do Tobacco or Alc.. But yet its leagle. HUMMMMMMMM ! Somethings wrong with that pitcher ? Insureance and medical care have been affected by thoses leagl drugs(alc.&tobacco).

Fri, 07/20/2007 - 1:34pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)


I joined the Navy in 1977 and was honorably discharged 4 yrs. later. As a petty officer Boastwains Mate I can completely relate to the culture of alcohol abuse... and as a young lad of 18 I dove right into this bizarre culture. Being a good hard drinker seemed part of the job description... and thanks to my german genes I could drink like a fish! While many were blacking out... I was just hitting my stride!

Years later as an officer in the Merchant Marines I again routinely witnessed the ill effects of alcohol abuse. From drunkin captains not being able to get their ships underway to transitting very restricted waterways in Canada & Alaska while seriously impaired. I saw this abuse culminate with the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

Illegal marijuana prohibition is largely a byproduct of Western Christian Society... which of course is not based on truth but on the depths of willful delusion.
Alcohol = Pain (headaches, dead brain cells, bar tab, etc...)
Pain = Redemption (and you can't get into heaven w/o it)

Marijuana on the other hand is relatively benign and there's nothing God & Country hates more than something natural & benign... because then God & Country would be out of jobs... having lost their sick appeal & influence.

Lastly, we must take into consideration the huge special interest groups that pay for our representative Gov't... namely pharma companies who hate natural drugs that they can not patent for profit... especially an affordable hearty plant whose main side affect seems to be happiness!

My Libertarian perspective (pro choice on everything) tells me we should insist our representaitive gov't start acting in a legal and lawful manner as described in our Constitution... or remove the criminals as is required by law!

My tolerance for the dictates of the mentally & criminally insane waned long ago!

Billy B Blunt

P.S. "Fear of meaninglessness leads those who are weak in spirit, weak in will, to cling to religion for salvation... religion inverts the love of the earth into hatred of the earthly... Christianity is Platonism for the people" Nietzsche

Fri, 07/20/2007 - 3:59pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Individuals can buy tobacco, alcohol (in many degrees of potency), household cleaners that are poisonous (with no age restriction), all of the fatty food that one wants, and MANY weapons and dangerous objects, yet we cannot be trusted to make informed decisions about certain plants and chemicals.

The following are the entrenched powers that benefit from the (violent/oppressive) legal control of access to certain substances; in order to change policy, you have to call them out:
- Alcohol distributors
- Tobacco distributors
- Firearms distributors
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Pharmacists
- Doctors
- Insurance companies
- Organized crime groups, Terrorists, gangs
- Police drug task forces
- Border Patrol Officers
- Coast Guard
- Prison Guards
- Elected officials who receive campaign contributions from any of the above

Fri, 07/20/2007 - 2:38pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

You made a generalization that might hurt some peoples' feelings. I am a physician who is no longer practicing, because I chose to be compassionate and properly treat chronic pain patients. Not all doctors are into their six figure incomes! I had not had one for years! The money is not the reward, for all physicians.

But, your list could be indicative when it comes to ignorant physicians, both in practice and on the state medical boards. They are definitely in the "controlling" category! They don't want to keep up with the science of medicine! They just want to maintain the status quot. The VA is certainly not caring for their our soldiers' chronic pain! I cared for a few, who could not get their chronic pain treated at the VA!

The other problem with drugs is the corruption it brings, with many of the participants being caught with their hands in drug traffic, being those on the list above. I saw a recent video on you tube talking about CIA involvement and the Arkansas connection. You should look it up!

Mon, 07/23/2007 - 10:14am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I had a very caring Dotor in Califonia and I had to move back to FL. and I can not wait to get out of this nightmare. I was on 125mcg of Fentanyl every 48hrs instead of 72hrs and Hydrocodone for breakthrough pain. He gave me my life back after such a long time. I believe it is horrible that they put Dotors in jail for helping people with true pain, instead they should get all agencies off there back and make Dotors treat pain suffers, are be punised. No Doctor should go straight to jail, maybe a fine the 1st time, the seconed time revoke for maybe 6months to a year with anothere fine and then jail. I believe as bad as we need good Doctors we should give them a chance to be redeemed then I am sure most all Doctors would make that change to stay out of jail. First of all the DEA, FDA, AMA and any other agencies need to get off there back and let them do there job in treating pain victems. I have suffered so much and so bad I am suprised I have not killed myself with to hips that need to be replaced and a very screwed up back that is the better part of my pain and I have had to use Nubain to keep my sanity even though I hate needles. I got a wonderful idea lets break a couple arms are legs off all the people that are against you and the patients and not let them get fixed or have anything, but Tylenol and I bet there would be some change. If you have alot of money you can find a way to get help if you are a pain sufferer and if you are broke you are screwed. This makes me ashamed of my own country, it's just sicking and I have considered leaving the U.S., because to them every one is an addict and with severe pain you well not feel ephoria just relief if taking as prescribed and not way under prescribeing like most do if they help you at all. I wish you all the best Doc you are the kind of Doctor we all need and others should look up to with respect. William .

Mon, 02/18/2008 - 12:23pm Permalink
gary johnson ii (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I was hit buy a truck on a motocycle in 1991, it broke everything on the right side of my body...both bones in leg, hip, pelvis, arm, ribs, fingers. I have a steel plate on my hip with 9 screws in it. socket on pelvis built of wire for 17 yrs now. I went to love family practice in beckley wv, since I had been on percoset 10s for 3 yrs and they hadnt been working because tollerance building up. He automatically put me on suboxen..and called me a narcotic dependent person, if u need narcotic medicine to have quality of life thats what it takes, shouldnt leave people in pain when they can feel better..instead of in creasing pain medicine that was working , just needed stronger milligram . he didnt tell me that once he took over my medicine I couldnt go back to my old doctor, which I feel I was mislead. He automatically put me in his system as narcotic dependent. Now I have no quality of life. cant mow my own grass or anything anymore. I walked into his office now i have to have a cane to walk. he said he would try other options and if nothing worked send me to pain clinic, but now I have been suffering for 3 months, he put me on butran patch, 10 mg for 1 month and now 20 mg for 2 months. I have been telling him Im miserable for 3 months, cant get out of house. yet he gives same medicine for 2 months when I tell him its not working,,,my appointment today was at 1 30 pm didnt get in till 3 30 pm and then he didnt call in scripts for 2 hrs latter. If we didnt need refered to pain clinics they wouldnt exist. when u tell ur doctor u need pain clinic he should send u. hes just sucking medicare dry...$250 for drug screen every visit and $ 190 for office visit. Thats why disabled americans medicare is going broke. someone needs to investigate these doctors., they arent doing whats best for the patints needs.

Wed, 06/29/2011 - 1:49am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It seems that the link above to the written testimony only leads to a summary page of the hearing. Where is the testimony itself? I haven't been able to find it... for some reason.

Fri, 07/20/2007 - 3:49pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Why can doctors prescribe codene or morphine, which are more addictive than marijuana, but not marijuana.

Fri, 07/20/2007 - 8:52pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

They can prescribe MJ in some states!

The reason that many doctors won't, even in these states, is because they are being watched, doggedly, buy the DEA. The cops are telling your doctors, how to practice medicine. They also tell them how much of the controlled medications they can use. All without knowing, one darned thing about pain managment, or just medicine in general. And, if the docs won't listen, they end up with life sentences! Just look it up on our chronic pain mission(!

Mon, 07/23/2007 - 10:21am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Doctors can prescribe coedine or morphine, which are more addictive than marijuana, because coedine and morphine are classified differently than marijuana under federal law (see for more information). Coedine is classified as Schedule II, III or IV depending on formulation and morphine is classified as Schedule II, whereas marijuana is classified as Schedule I (no accepted medical use).

In some states, such as California, doctors may *recommend* the use of marijuana to their patients, but they still cannot *prescribe* it. It's a small but important technicality of the law.

Thu, 07/26/2007 - 10:35am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Information on where to file a complain against a MD prescribing prescriptions without regards to the addiction? Long storty short my husband was released from a 30 involuntary commitment to detox his doctor was informed less than 24hrs out he was already given a script for percocets. Actually even offered him oxycontin!! Help!

Sun, 07/22/2007 - 12:34am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

The doctor was informed this man is a 20 year addict to pain meds. AS I WRITE THIS HE HAS TAKEN 20 PERCOCETS TODAY from yet another script.
My brother in law also was a recovering addict spending the last 10 years mostly clean until he was written a script for Oxycontin his old habits quickly returned the night before he was to enter detox that he had chosen to go too he died in his sleep. He left behind 3 children 1 that he actually had custody of and was only 2 years old.


I did just file a complaint with the state complaint department.

I disagree chronic pain patients who are addicts that have proven time again they are MED SEEKING the MD's should listen to the families...if not the families in my case the ER visits and NARCAN doses from the repeated overdose. Pain management I think not.

The is fully aware of his liver function decline he continues to insist Ultracet with Percocets isn't to much. I suggested Methadone figuring that has pain management benefits and he would have to go a clinic to get it...his doctor offered to write a script.


He was clean for over 13 months his life was good. He functioned he had hope, he was active now he is none of the above.

Addiction is a complex problem that includes craving and continued use, in spite of negative consequences.

He lost his family, his children, his first wife, his buisness, his home, license, his health and his independance. He had pancreatitis at just 31 years old leaveing him a brittle diabetic.

Apparently this is the wrong blog to write on I understand doctors need to treat pain complaints. I have lupus when I complain of pain i have never been offered a narcotic nor am I a dx'd opiate addict.

Tue, 07/31/2007 - 12:35am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Iam sure most if not all smart and educated people if they knew all the facts would find it so ridiculious that the DEA is using our tax $ to go after Dr. treating patients with chronic pain and making these patients suffer needlessly becasue of their biased opinion of how a Dr ,who has spent years in medicial school feels whats best for the patient into a crime ! I believe that in a truely free country that all adults would have access to whatever medication they feel they need to improve the quality of life for them ! The DEA needs to go back to school and learn what their real job is suppose to consist of ,and harassing Dr's and patients is certainy not listed as one of their job task ! With tons of illegal drugs crossing our borders on a daily basis ,all I can say is how dare they !

Sun, 07/22/2007 - 10:31am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I could not have said it any better! The drug war is a failure! And they go after the easiest targets they can find!

Mon, 07/23/2007 - 10:49am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

how much money does the cotten and timber industry spend lobbying (bribing) congres. hemp can make paper and cloth....

Sun, 07/22/2007 - 10:53pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Anyone who knows, industrial hemp is going to ruin any medicinal hemp if placed in the same field! They cross pollinate, so far as I have read, resulting in a useless form of the hemp--industrial hemp! Industrial hemp should be taken off of the drug list. This is just a power struggle with the DEA. Power hungry, are we? Why did they become cops?

Why, in the world, would a sensible society import something like hemp?!? The reasoning is not scientific! It seems to be driven, right now, by conservative Christians, like me! Except, they do not know any better!

The Bible says "my people perish for lack of knowledge" The use of wine in the bible shows that there is either arrogance and ignorance, among our brethren. Alcohol is not prohibited! Don't try to tell me it was grape juice! The word in my Greek Bible is translated alcoholic wine. It kept,while grape juice did not! INDUSTRIAL HEMP WILL NOT MAKE ANYONE HIGH!

Any smart and reasonable Christian should know that the hemp is completely useless for druggies! It is also, likely, 80% of what the DEA, and drug task force people, are pulling up, in its natural state (wild), in our national forests. Then they claim they are pulling up illegal drugs!!! It has been reported, before!

Mon, 07/23/2007 - 11:05am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

So what you are telling us is that this is not a war on dangerous drugs, but a war on getting high.
That would explain why there is currently a campaign to outlaw something as obscure as Salvia here in Texas, as they have already done in Louisiana.
I can take you out to nearly any weedy field in the United States, and find plants that will cause euphoria, if ingested properly.
It's time to lock the irresponsible parties up in the same jails that they built for us. We threw the Puritans out of control a long time ago, and for good reason. Don't be afraid of them, expose them!

Sun, 08/24/2008 - 6:45am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

how much money would be lost or cells emptyed if pot was legal in privit prisons..

how much money do they spend on congres

Sun, 07/22/2007 - 11:03pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

are the DEA just hired thugs protecting underground proffets???

Sun, 07/22/2007 - 11:11pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

After 4 years of controling my back and leg pain through the use of hydrocodone medication, always the same prescription (no increase), the only place I found that I could get it in a quantity that would help the pain has apparently been closed down by the government two or three months ago. I am now back to constant uncontrolabe pain. My younger brother had back pain also but he was talked into having sugery to correct the problem. After three surgeries, he cannot stand straight and cannot work, but he now has access to the same pain medication and quantity that I had been taking for 4 years. It appears that if you let a doctor carve you up and pay him thousands of dollars to fix you where you can't walk, stand, or work, you can finally get some pain relief but there is absolutely no quality of life left. He is slowly killing himself now with a combination of medication for the pain and alcohol for the loss of quality of life, which is legal. I don't understand this unless someone is making a lot of money off of this travesty or someone just loves the power of controlling peoples lives. I am 64 years old so I don't have a lot of time left anyway. I will commit suicide before I submit to this kind of abuse but it really sucks that this is the only two options one has with our present BIG BROTHER mentality. I pray that all of the government officials and their families die in horrible untreated pain.

Wed, 01/02/2008 - 8:32pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Just prior to my discharge from the Navy in 1975, I spent around six weeks in a military hospital. I was being treated for exactly the same symptoms that I am being treated for now by the VA.

The VA, however, says that I was never there, that I am not service connected, and has created a list of charges against me, including:

Narcotics addiction.
Convicted felon.
Mental illness.
Alcoholism. a number of smaller "charges". None of these things are documented, nor can they be proven, but it would appear that the mere accusation is enough to warrant abuse and refusal of medical treatment. The truth is that a majority of these people couldn't tell the difference between a rock of crack and a can of beer to save their lives.

My VA check is not enough to pay my way through life, so I have been trying to work part-time through a job service provided by the Department of Labor. The VA found out and told me that if I did not stop trying to work, and improve my life, that they would cut my check off.

I have been through chemotherapy twice, which actually caused my conditions to worsen (I have liver disease, caused by inoculations that I received in the service). Beginning in 2005, their campaign against me intensified, and I have been refused further medical treatment since that time.

Because of this, I consider them to be murderers. I am also being refused pain-killing drugs, so I have to obtain them illegally. Whenever I confront them and ask what they think they are doing, they just sit and stare like a lot of stupid cows.

I have told them (literally) hundreds of times, that I do not use illegal drugs, that I have never been in prison, that I am not mentally ill, nor do I drink. They really don't seem to care about that.

I would really like to hear from other Veterans who have had this done to them, so that we can expose the people behind these policies, and put an end to them, so that no one else dies because of it.

I think a class-action with 100,000 grievants would be very effective.

Sun, 08/24/2008 - 7:34am Permalink
Karla Hogan (not verified)

First of all, I would like to comment about my experience with the pain doctor at Cooper Green Hospital in Birmingham, AL. It is my story and it is true. I finally found another physician but he would not give me a prescription for MS Contin.He would prescribe Percocet. I had to go "cold turkey" with the withdrawal from MS Contin at home. I don't remember alot about the first few days. I remember pain, feeling like someone had a string connected to my chest and pulling it tighter and tighter until I could not breathe, pains from where I had chest surgery for cancer beginning in my chest and shooting down my right leg and the sensation of muscles tightening in my legs and the inability to stop my legs from jerking. I would sit up and try to massage the tops of my legs which did not help much but I could not lay down anyway. I remember being nauseated one day and just going in the bathroom and putting my head in the toilet and just heaving because I could not vomit since I had not been able to eat anything for several days. My children had to witness all this. It's not a memory you would like your children to have of you in the future. If you have watched the movie "Ray" about Ray Charles, the one thing everyone should take to heart is the part where he is detoxing from drugs. He was in medical care while detoxing but it showed him suffering and the doctor told him he could give him something to help, but Ray looked at him and said, "No. I want to feel the pain and misery. That way, if I ever think about taking drugs in the future, all I will have to do is remember this and it will stop me". That is so very true. I wake up in the middle of the night with my chest hurting and I have to take Percocet and go prop myself up on the couch to try to help the pain. Many days I am found sitting on the couch asleep. During these times I think about how nice it would be to have the MS Contin so I can sleep and not wake up in pain, but like Ray Charles I think about what I went through when a doctor decided I did not need to take it and the nightmares of withdrawal. So, I am surviving with the Percocet, but I cannot move without pain and do things I used to do because the Percocet by itself does not help that much. Second, I would like to make a comment about something I encountered just last week. My husband had a mild heart attack a few months ago and they had to put a stent in one of his main coronary arteries. He has had continuous problems. I had to take him to the emergency room last weekend and I had been having problems with my left ear hurting and swelling. I decided to sign in as a patient while he was there because it would not quit hurting. Everyone knows, when you go to the emergency room, they supposedly "triage" each person to see who needs to be treated next. Since my husband was having chest pains, they took him directly to the back with no waiting. I went in with him and told the nurse that I needed to be seen also and to please let the triage nurse know I was with my husband and not in the waiting room. It came my turn for triage and of course they ask you if you take any medications. I was a little upset about my husband being ill and my brain was not functioning very well. I sat there trying to remember the names of my medications and finally she just started asking, "Do you take Percocet? Do you take Robaxin?" and I was getting confused because I had never been a patient at that hospital, so how did she know what questions to ask? Anyway, they checked my ear, gave me a prescription for an antibiotic, handed me some paperwork and I immediately went back to where my husband was. I was holding the paperwork in my hand absent-mindedly and start looking at them. I was absolutely shocked. The triage nurse had printed off a list of my medications (I have no idea where she went on the computer for the information) and not only did it show what medicines I took, but it showed the dosage, how many were prescribed, how many times a day I took it, the doctor's name that wrote the prescription and even the last time the prescription was filled and when it could be refilled. Is this "freedom" in the United States or is this an invasion of our privacy? I never signed anything giving someone permission to put all of this stuff on the computer and I did not sign anything giving that nurse the right to be able to look it up on the computer and print it off for the whole world to see. The print out did not show just narcotics, it showed every medication. The people in the United States need to get their heads out of the sand and demand some measure of privacy.

Fri, 11/26/2010 - 11:56pm Permalink
Karla Hogan (not verified)

I would like to ask everyone to follow the links below and read about my 22 year old son who has Crohn's Disease. The gastroenterologist will not prescribe him pain medications because he says my son is not experiencing any pain from the Crohn's Disease. He is just passing it over because my son endured multiple injuries in an automobile accident when he was 17 years old. He never experienced pain in his legs until after he was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease when he was 18 years old. When he has a flare of the disease and I take him to the emergency room, they give him IV liquids and pump him fill of MorphIne or Dilaudid. When the pain gets tolerable, they take out the IV and put him in a wheelchair so I can put him in the car and come home. Unfortunately, we have alot of visits to emergency rooms and hospitals when you put his disease together with me dealing with 22cm of Gore-Tex mesh packed in my chest after cancer surgery and now my husband has had a heart attack with stent placement. Please go to these sites and read about my son and let me know if you can help. He has no health insurance so I have not been able to find many doctors to treat him. He applied for SSI benefits almost four years ago and his benefits have not been approved as of today.


Facebook -!/pages/Crohns-Disease-Patient-Needs-Financial-Assistance-and-Prayers/163718533647558 

Facebook - -



Sat, 11/27/2010 - 12:40am Permalink

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