Fine Lines

There can be such fine lines between doing and not doing, trying and not trying enough, managing time and wasting it, finding balance and not balancing at all.

I’ve driven now twice since not having drove but a handful of times in 17 years. While both times were only a few blocks away it is a starting point. Next time I’ll turn left and go down farther to the shopping center about a mile from home. Most likely repeating that quite a few times before trying further.

I’ve hit a few lows in wondering if all this is just too good to be true. This is because in order to maintain pain relief from the original CRPS Type 2 diagnosis and the several secondaries along the way, I have to do physical routines daily in order to keep it from ever being what it had become. These routines can cause their own pain because of the lack of activity and movement as a result of the injuries and illnesses that either initially or had eventually overcame me. Many of those things that I did to comfort myself from reaching the edge were some of the same things that were to my own detriment. Hanging my legs off the bed in order to try to sleep because my feet and legs were either too swollen, allodynia, hyperalgesia, burning etc. Using pillows, several, in order to prop myself into positions to ease pain, but at the same time it taught my body to develop even more damage.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. ~Samuel Beckett

We aren’t taught how to be able to care for ourselves in simple manners that are the greatest of all. We’re told go exercise, lose weight, quit smoking (if you do) and that’s about it anymore. Great advice, but it’s only advice. There isn’t any teaching in it and people leave still wondering how, how in all of it. If you have chronic pain of any type it’s because something in you, illness or injury has lasted beyond 3 months (used to be 6 months for that classification).

Some people do get the pain medications, the opioid management, pain management, lumbar or cervical block injections, procedures etc. Yet none of these get people healthier again. None of them teach living with pain. They either disguise pain awhile, fail, or side track a person from learning how to themselves. Other medications such as SSNRI’s and Anti Seizures such as Cymbalta and Neurontin are over prescribe, handed out like candy and more adverse than the opioid itself. I promise you that. Opioids taken responsibly is less a problem than the lifetime problem that stays with you long after getting off those other types. We may have natural opioid receptors in our brains, but our brains (and minds) aren’t meant to be altered to the point future damage.

I’m not anti opioid.  I’m anti leave someone where they are when there are other options in relief that aren’t suggested or believed in by mainstream western medicine. I believe in CAM or Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. I believe in the Gohl Program. I believe in Integrative Pain Medicine.

Yet these services are rarely offered, or are not covered by insurance. I myself was denied for Acupuncture my second year into all this. (2003). I could have been cured, or in remission right away, but instead we keep people bouncing the healthcare systems, costing billions, left disabled, unable to contribute to society, getting sicker when we have the capability to get people back into their lives. If we do, even more billions are lost in profits, revenues and work for the working class. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t and that’s the world we live in. If it’s not about me it’s about you. Will it ever be about us? I already know the answer to that.

I’m glad that The Academy of Integrative Pain Management previously The American Academy of Pain Management has merged the concept of healing by both standards of care. I’m thrilled to have been a State Pain Policy Advocacy Network Leader (SPPAN) which is a project of of the AIPM/AAPM for several years. I’m happy to have been former California Ambassador, Executive Board Member, Advocacy Director and Healthcare advisor for the International Pain Foundation 2011-November 2016. I’m happy to still be a Medtronic Patient Ambassador. I’m glad to have represented iPain as a member of the Opioid Prescribing Taskforce via the Medical Board of California and for being 1 of perhaps 3 patient advocates who were apart of the Revised Standard Guidelines for Prescribing Controlled Substances For Pain. I’m happy that I attended with and testified on behalf of pain patients with the California Medical Association (DeSaulnier)

I’m not happy that I fell hard in the midst of the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016 as they were being implemented, recommended and circulated. The Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain CDC. I’m blessed to be part of the public record, written and on the last call pertaining to the Guidelines. The call that determined whether or not to enact the recommendation. Which had been determined before the call had ended in case you didn’t know.

Instead of saving lives and allowing physician’s to care for their patients under their own oath it instilled fear in providers to prescribe or even address pain at all. I do not care that the Guideline’s were meant for primary care doctors because it caused fear for all doctors including pain management specialists.

I have to be a responsible patient, yes? I have to be in compliance, yes? Yet there is little to no responsibility or consequences for non compliance in others or those who believe they are above anyone else. Everybody’s pain day will come, if even by old age alone.

I’ve lost my reputation online, but offline my words are different. I’m different. This doesn’t mean I’m a different person it means that perceived perception, written content and context is taken as you will. Believed or Imagined. Generally just a fantasy in your own minds.

I’m diverse.

Online I no longer care. I’m both polite, knowledgeable, caring and I’m blunt, potty mouthed and adverse. Yesterday was the 1 year anniversary to the second time I attempted suicide as a result of pain and errors and not just my fear in it all, but the fear in overdose, the fear to prescribe, the fear to keep your medical licenses, the fear of the DEA, the fear of scrutiny, the fear to take care of your own families and I actually understand. I actually feel your side of it. I feel you when you’ll do almost anything to maintain your reputation even if you’ll lie to do it.

When you can feel my husband of 31 years side of it, or my 3 children’s broken heart in it.

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Maybe I’ll care again the same way I used to. Though I hope not because I really cared too much about everyone else, what ever one else needed, or wanted. Right now it’s all about me and overcoming the challenges of living through what I can’t ever change for me in this lifetime, or what I can never take back in the option of suicide, but I can still help change it for others.

They are fine lines, after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chronic pain, opioids, addiction and controversy

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I’m not sure how I should present this. Do you want it kind, sincere, and respectful, or do you need it blunt, open and firm? Do you want it me for you, or you against me, us? Do you want it white or black? Love, care and light or a little profanity to remind you that the world isn’t one way or the other?

You can judge me, you already have. Maybe you need something to judge me for. I refuse to allow you to add me to any negative category. I’m not a little kid anymore and I won’t be silenced because you think your ideals are above someone else’s. I’m heading on 50.

I’ve been on and off opioids since I was 22. Just because my life sucks and I’ve dealt with surgery after surgery, procedure after procedure, diagnosis after diagnosis, and I’ve been intractable for 15 years doesn’t mean I chase the pain to get the medication. I haven’t. There has not been a single time that I went seeking medication I shouldn’t have. My random pee tests are clean and prior to ever being injured my work took my hair, follicles that went back a year for drug testing. And while it’s none of your business in situations like this, where the anti opioid groups are stead fast against that kind of pain relief, I’m compelled to tell my business to justify my reason for taking it and the reason the physician prescribed it.

My pill is my SCS Spinal Cord Stimulator. It has been since 2006. I use a single low dose partial agonist and partial antagonist pain medication. There is no high. I take nothing for break through. I take Zonegran 100, 2x and Cymbalta 30, 1x. Nuvigil (Sleep disorders- Central Sleep Apnea with Cheyne Stokes, + Obstructive. Mixed/Complex/Auto Servo Ventilator (ASV) and maintenance for high blood pressure, Lisinopril, Hydralazine and Lipitor. There you go, now you know it!

If you’re a physician you have to know that blood pressure can be compromised by pain levels. Well.. at least that is what I am always told by physicians unrelated to one another, my blood pressure is too high because of physical pain.

Interesting right? Maybe not.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny replied to my post on Twitter, stating, paraphrasing, not a direct quote, education and personal responsibility doesn’t make opioids more effective or deter abuse.

Really? Then why is there a CDC work group to attempt just that? I’m not going to go into specifics because you can all find it for yourself, and I’m not going to give the run down of the call because it’s public record.  I was on that call. See the Federal Register.

One physician shared that she prescribed not knowing? For real? You didn’t know with your education and training that prescribing opioids were… .um opioids? (Where was your education and common sense on that one and if you weren’t educated as you claimed, why didn’t you seek it for the benefit and well being of YOU and YOUR patients) Okay, so… that was your attempt to show the call how horrible the opioid is and minimize PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Backfire!

Education is crucial. Point made.

Hate me yet?

Dr. Kolodny states that personal responsibility doesn’t matter. Really Doctor? That’s a lie! Because when someone falters you, yours or someone you’re advocating for it absolutely matters.

My nature is to say I’m sorry, I’m sorry for all of you who’ve lost. Lost to addiction, and death. But I cannot be sorry that I’m fair, even, and compassionate for the suffering AND regardless of what they are suffering with or for.  hm, well I don’t want to call persons weak, just unable to hold back heading for another, whether it be a chemical hook or simply choice.

Is it bad word time? For fuck sake be responsible for you and yours! If your child was a minor at the time of receiving medications that turned out to be harmful, you were responsible. You, the parent, or guardian! If the child was an adult of legal age in their jurisdiction, they are then responsible. And.. parents know better than anyone, more than a physician, more than a pharmacist, that something is up or wrong with their offspring. Minor or adult, we know, and if we claim we never did we’re not only lying to others but we’re deceiving ourselves. If you never saw the signs? Ouch, you just didn’t care to look for it. And if you couldn’t see it? Have a little compassion, how could you ever expect the doctor to see it? Because he is a doctor? Not true, we’re parents. 15-30 minutes a doctor visit at best compared to our lifetime with our kids. Minutes upon minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years.

Hate me yet?

If my child went to the doctor, claimed pain, and I don’t even care at this point in writing this if the kid was in pain or wasn’t, but took the Rx, filled it, took the medication as prescribed, misused it,…and then decided to throw back (you know, toss some alcohol)

My child is to blame. Not the physician! We seek care from doctors, they do not seek us out. We tell them what we tell them and they base the prescription of the truth or shit we give them. We do not have to take that Rx to the pharmacy, we do not have to fill it and we certainly don’t have to put it in our body. It’s not fair to call them pushers. How can they push, when a person went to them? A pusher is someone who seeks another out to push a drug on them.

Does it even matter after all this if the medication was taken as prescribed? Nope! Because the only way to overdose is to misuse. If the doctor prescribed a medication adverse to another medication the patient is already taking I would be advocating for you and the error. Dang, I feel bad for back hands I’m going to get for this, but doesn’t anyone get it?

Maybe no mix, maybe no alcohol, great! Good job! Still the only way to overdose is to misuse unless another adverse complication was present.

I’m disgusted by a world that rather blame someone else than accept the consequences of their own actions. Oh and yes I’ve been hurt. Damaged in fact from other’s irresponsibility and I do advocate for that change but I don’t harm others on behalf of myself.

According to Dr. Kolodny, personal responsibility doesn’t matter. Does this apply then to vehicles, officers, surgeons, pilots? I think I know his answer, of course, but he’s already let them off the hook. And hey that’s okay! After all, why should anyone be responsible for anything they do. Blame it on the traffic, the felon, the patient, or the passengers.

Contrary to what it may seem, I do respect the Doctor. I’m not inclined to agree with his adamant perception of placing all people who use opioid relief as addicts, or heading for addiction. Sorry, don’t care what a few images of the brain or a poll might indicate. There’s billions of people in the world, millions on medications, and a fraction to insinuate possibility or potential from dependency to addiction.

Pain in general causes advocacy. Loss instigates the passion to make a wrong right. So while chronic pain patients are being punished, ridiculed, humiliated, stigmatized, belittled, what about your pain? Your mental pain urged the controversy against opioid managed pain care versus loss of livelihood.. Ours is physical, yours is mental and emotional.

I have a hard time understanding why any of you care what we take when you won’t be there if we overdose or commit suicide. You’re not there to tell someone striving to make it, good job, proud of you. I have a hard time being used to make your point and profits.

I have a hard time with you looking down at us, when you don’t even know us. You don’t even want to walk in our shoes to feel us. But you want us to walk in yours and feel you.

Maybe, instead of saying “people” which implies all (It is the plural form) how about some, many or most (in your opinion) otherwise you are separating us from you. You make it as if everyone is horrible, addicted, heading for addiction, stronger meds, etc. Everyone but you and yours (your groups).

Then we speak out and you become holier than thou against us whiny, complaining, lazy, drug seeking, pain complaining “people”.

Guilt is the hardest human emotion to overcome.

All we had to do was work together, all we had to do was listen to one another. We could have cared for each other. And in the long run, the children might have truly been educated to know better.

When we get a physician as Dr. Kolodny implied stating education is meaningless? I have to disagree. Education educates, I’m trying not to roll my eyes because he kinda dummied himself down on that. No disrespect intended.

You may dislike me, think I’m a b*tch, judgmental, or talking too much (not true, you’ve already judged me/us…  and quite vocally I might add, news, columns, etc )  and I’ve only just begun, but…

I still love all of you and would fight for YOU if no one else did.

That’s the difference between you and I.

 

I wish you all well,

And enough.

~Twinkle V.

 

 

 

Microglia Activation Causes Depression, Anxiety in Chronic Pain

June 11, 2015

Brain inflammation from chronic pain increases microglia activation, which inhibits the release of dopamine and may lead to depression and anxiety, according to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Although more than half of chronic pain patients experience depression, anxiety, or substance abuse, scientists were unable to determine what caused this association until now. In this study, the researchers sought to test if chronic pain disrupted the transmission of dopamine.

The researchers demonstrated that the activation of microglia in mice with chronic pain inhibited the release of dopamine. These results shed light on why opioids, which stimulate a dopamine response, can be ineffective for chronic pain patients.

The researchers instead tested a drug that inhibited the activation of microglia. This, they found, restored normal dopamine release and reward-motivated behavior in the mice.

“For over 20 years, scientists have been trying to unlock the mechanisms at work that connect opioid use, pain relief, depression and addiction,” said Catherine Cahill, PhD, of the University of California, Irvine. “Our findings represent a paradigm shift which has broad implications that are not restricted to the problem of pain and may translate to other disorders.”­

In future studies, the researchers hope to explore if mood disorders are caused by similar brain alterations, regardless of the presence of chronic pain.

Read more-

via Microglia Activation Causes Depression, Anxiety in Chronic Pain.

Read the full article at:

The Journal of Neuroscience

Microglia Disrupt Mesolimbic Reward Circuitry in Chronic Pain

Power of Pain Foundation Co Sponsor Assembly Bill 623

california-sacramento-state-capitol-1Yesterday the Power of Pain Foundation Co-Sponsored AB 623 with Assembly Member Wood at the California State Capital in Sacramento where the bill was officially introduced.  I spoke on behalf of both pain patients and opioid abuse. In attendance with me and on behalf of POPF and the bill was Erik VanFleet, Kharisma VanFleet, Debbie Ellis, and Brandy Ellis.

Speaking at the event was: Assemblymember Wood (author), Assemblymember Levine, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman,  Ralph A. Cansimbe, Chapter Commander PFC Alejandro R. Ruiz Chapter, American G.I. Forum, Representatives from bill sponsors US Pain Foundation, Power of Pain and American Chronic Pain Foundations and the CA Academy of Physician Assistants.

Legislation to Curb Prescription Drug Deaths UnveiledAB623_March242015_POPFCoSponsorWithAssemblymanWood

Published on Mar 26, 2015

(Sacramento) – California legislators, public health representatives and law enforcement officials announced new legislation at a State Capitol news conference to curb prescription drug abuse and deaths. Assembly Bill 623, authored by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), aims to reduce prescription drug abuse-related deaths by reducing their access to those most prone to abusing them. More than 60 people die every day in the United States from prescription drug overdoses. Approximately 6.5 million people in the US abused prescription drugs in 2013, more than double those that abused heroin, cocaine and hallucinogens combined. “Narcotic pain medications, or opioids, have an important role in our health care system,” said Assemblymember Wood, who is a licensed dentist. “They provide effective relief for the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain. But too easily they are getting into the wrong hands.” Here’s more in this Assembly Access video.http://www.asmdc.org/wood

Watch the Press Conference on Assembly Live

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My speech-

Hello, My name is T. VanFleet, I am the Advocacy Director and Executive Board Member of the Power of Pain Foundation. I am also a pain patient myself. Through painful trial and error, my physicians and I have finally found the appropriate combination of medications to provide some relief from my debilitating symptoms. The prescription medications that I take allow me to do things that most people take for granted. Now, I celebrate small triumphs such as cooking, occasionally attending a function, and watching my grandson grow. One of the medications that helped give me my life back is a prescription opioid. A type of medication which has recently come under increased scrutiny due to heavy abuse by some.

Unfortunately, people who use prescription medications as intended can become unfortunate casualties of efforts to regulate opioid abuse, as we end up getting lumped in with those who misuse treatments. It is difficult to obtain refills,, denials and delays by pharmacists and insurance, including workers compensation leave patients in withdrawal and un-manageable circumstances including suicidal ideation.

Fortunately, there are new weapons available to help combat prescription opioid abuse which do not sacrifice the many patients who legitimately use the medications to fight pain. New “abuse deterrent formulations” (ADF) for opioids have properties that make it difficult or undesirable for someone to tamper with them. These medications are made with physical and chemical barriers, such as a special kind of coating or hardness to the pill itself, that won’t allow them to be chewed, crushed, cut, grated, ground up, or melted with water or alcohol.

The Power of Pain Foundation strongly believes that California policymakers must enact policies such as AB 623 to help develop a strong, lasting solution to the health crisis of prescription opioid abuse. We must find a balance that separates patients who truly need opioid medication to live productive lives and those who are abusing them. Responsible patients should not be punished in an attempt to crack down on prescription drug mis-use and abuse. Legislators, health care professionals and pharmaceutical companies must work together to stop opioid abuse while keeping the needs of chronic pain patients front-of-mind.

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I was honored to support this bill with Assemblyman Wood on behalf of the Power of Pain Foundation. It’s important that we assist in the prescription opioid drug abuse problem. This will help responsible pain patients get access to the care they need. Too many are denied now because of the stigma attached to their chronic pain identity. Abuse deterrent formulation’s will assist both issues.

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Press Release Article Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Legislation to Curb Prescription Drug Deaths Unveiled by Assemblyman Jim Wood

For more information on the Power of Pain Foundation’s Policy Efforts, please visit-

Power of Pain Foundation | Policy Efforts | PatientAwareness.org

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-Friday March 20, 2014 Episode of

The Burning for a Cure show

With Hosts POPF President, Barby Ingle and POPF Executive Board Member & Marketing Director and Promotions Chairman – Joeygiggles and Co-Hosts Executive Board Member and Advocacy Chairwoman Twinkle VanFleet with Power of Pain Foundation Executive Director Ken Taylor.

Discussion: Legislation- Abuse Deterrent Formulation (ADF), more  Listen Here

Out in the real world, I try not to identify as a pain patient. We will be judged. You know it, and I know it. It becomes our label. As I attempt to go forward in advocacy it can sometimes be a little awkward. Not in my physical appearance, but In my inability to speak properly, delays, memory, forgetfulness, stuttering, wake-sleep, sleep-wake. I’m heading into my 15th year with CRPS type 2. My Neurocognitive deficit seemed a rapid decline. It’s part of the story that helps me fight to go on, for my family, for you.

You have to hang on to you! It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to not be your “yesterday”.

The struggle is real. We are who we’ve become.  And it really is okay in all that it is. We might not like it, but we have to learn to accept it.

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Perfection is all that you can achieve in the here and the now. Getting that shower, getting dressed, combing our hair. Those are the triumphs.

There’s so much worth in the smallest things.

I believe in you! Believe in you, too.

Thank you Barby Ingle for always believing in me and my ability even when I didn’t.

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Lets try to remember to not pre-judge a chronic pain patient on appearance or preconceived notions, but instead, assess on diagnosis, and credibility. ~Twinkle V.