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Alternative Lupus Treatments and Therapies

By Karrie Sundbom | December 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

Contents: Complementary Medicine Complementary and Alternative Supplements and Treatments for Lupus Alternative Lupus Therapies/Treatments Complementary/Alternative Lupus Treatment: Precautions   Complementary Medicine In our blog, Lupus Treatment Options: Lupus Medications, we covered many of the most common pharmaceutical treatments for lupus.  We also recently posted a blog on the first FDA approved lupus drug in 50…

The post Alternative Lupus Treatments and Therapies appeared first on Molly’s Fund.

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Alternative Lupus Treatments and Therapies

By Karrie Sundbom | December 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

Contents: Complementary Medicine Complementary and Alternative Supplements and Treatments for Lupus Alternative Lupus Therapies/Treatments Complementary/Alternative Lupus Treatment: Precautions   Complementary Medicine In our blog, Lupus Treatment Options: Lupus Medications, we covered many of the most common pharmaceutical treatments for lupus.  We also recently posted a blog on the first FDA approved lupus drug in 50…

The post Alternative Lupus Treatments and Therapies appeared first on Molly’s Fund.

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NSAIDs Raise Risk of Dying From Endometrial Cancer

By Pat Anson | December 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Pat Anson, Editor

Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have long been thought to reduce the risk of some cancers. But a surprising new study suggests that regular use of the pain relievers may actually raise the risk of dying for women with endometrial cancer.

Researchers at Ohio State University studied over 4,300 women with endometrial cancer, 550 of whom died during the five-year study. Those who used NSAIDs regularly and had Type 1 endometrial cancer had a 66 percent higher risk of death.

The research findings are published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“This study identifies a clear association that merits additional research to help us fully understand the biologic mechanisms behind this phenomenon. Our finding was surprising because it goes against previous studies that suggest NSAIDs can be used to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of developing or dying from certain cancers,” said co-author Theodore Brasky, PhD, a cancer epidemiologist at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Over 60,000 women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer in the U.S. annually, making it the fourth most common cancer in women and the sixth leading cause of cancer death.

Endometrial cancer begins in the lining of the uterus and grows outward to surrounding organs. Type 1 tumors are less aggressive and are typically confined to the uterus, while Type 2 tumors tend to be aggressive and are at greater risk of spreading.

In the OSU study, the risk of dying was statistically significant in women who reported past or current NSAID use, but it was strongest among patients who used NSAIDs for more than 10 years and had ceased using them prior to their cancer diagnosis.

Interestingly, the use of NSAIDs was not associated with mortality from more aggressive Type 2 cancers.

“These results are intriguing and worthy of further investigation,” said co-author David Cohn, MD, director of the gynecologic oncology division at the OSU cancer center. “While these data are interesting, there is not yet enough data to make a public recommendation for or against taking NSAIDS to reduce the risk of cancer-related death.”

Aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs are believed to lower the risk of some cancers by reducing inflammation, which slows the development of blood vessels that support the growth of cancer tumors. Inhibition of inflammation may have the opposite effect in endometrial cancer, but the reasons why are unclear.

Previous studies have shown that NSAIDs have a preventive effect on colorectal cancer and several other cancer types.

“Observational evidence of a chemopreventive effect of aspirin and other NSAIDs has been reported for esophageal, gastric, lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. Most of these cancers develop after age 60 years,”  researchers at the University of California Irvine reported in The Lancet.

“Given the apparent delay in the chemopreventive effect of NSAIDs (about 10 years), optimum treatment might start at age 40–50 years. Most individuals who develop premalignant lesions do so in their 50s and 60s, several years before the appearance of cancer, so this age range might be the best time for cancer prevention.”

Low-dose aspirin is also believed to have cardiovascular benefits. For that reason, the OSU researchers recommend that women keep taking the pain relievers.  

“It is important to remember that endometrial cancer patients are far more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than their cancer so women who take NSAIDs to reduce their risk of heart attack — under the guidance of their physicians — should continue doing so,” said Cohn.

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The Magic Combination for Pain Relief

By Pat Anson | December 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

Barby Ingle, Columnist

There is no cure for most chronic pain disease, but progress is being made in finding the underlying process that causes it. If we can understand that process, then options to cure chronic pain may come about more rapidly.

The earlier we catch and properly treat what is causing the pain, the better the chances for controlling the pain or putting it into remission. If the symptoms progress and are incorrectly treated or not treated at all, then issues become more complex and invasive.

It is important to learn about the types of treatments available to you, either through insurance coverage or cash pay. Treatment options include physical therapy, medication, orthopedic surgery, invasive surgery, non-invasive procedures, naprapathy, stem cell therapy, infusion therapy, and literally hundreds of other options.

Patients should look for ways to control and minimize their pain and discomfort to the greatest extent possible. Coping skills will develop out of necessity. However, sometimes we need to speak to someone outside of our circle for a different view. Psychological counseling may become necessary. It is okay to ask for help when needed.  

Goal creation and treatment plans should also include drug management, family/social adjustment, improvement of the patient’s quality of life and psychosocial functioning, and increasing mobilization or range of motion through physical therapy.  

Many chronic pain patients consider these milestones for a successful treatment plan:

  • Ability to achieve a full night’s sleep repeatedly
  • Ability to perform physical therapy with improved muscle strength
  • Decreased need for opioids
  • Diminished depression
  • Diminished swelling
  • Improved thinking
  • Increased stamina
  • Lowered pain levels

It is important to treat the underlying symptoms, even if it means turning to surgical intervention in some cases. Depending on how well you respond to the various options, a progression of treatments may be used by your providers and yourself as an engaged and empowered patient. Setting goals and a timetable that is reasonable can be done with your providers.  But remember, you as the patient need to play an important and vocal role in creating the plan.

Treating your chronic pain begins with patient awareness. On my good days, I try a few new activities and increase the amount of physical activity, as I am able. By doing this, I have seen an increase in my body functioning, range of motion, muscle strength, improved balance and posture. I’ve also found that if an activity just takes the edge off my pain, it helps restore cognitive and physical function.

When my pain increases, I find myself slouching more. Becoming aware of yourself and your environment increases your chances of successful treatment and a better quality of life. Get involved in movement training. This can include walking for two minutes at a time or, if you’re ambitious, a mile.

Do what you can do at your level. It will be different for all of us. Moving will improve your health, the function of your body, and also helps with constipation and gastrointestinal issues. Movement increases your blood circulation, which helps with atrophy and can decrease hypersensitivity.

When most people think of physical therapy they think of machines, weights and treadmills. However, I’ve learned that there are many types of physical therapies that are more in line with what we can handle. They include biofeedback, hot compresses, elevation, massage, range of motion exercises, and hydrotherapy.

There is some thought that physical therapy is painful and does not help. But if you find the right combination of medication, counseling and physical therapy, you’ll have a better chance for pain relief and staying on track with your treatment plan. Again, it comes back to surrounding yourself with a team of doctors, caretakers, friends and family supporters that have the willingness and education to support you.

The good news is that no matter how long you have had chronic pain, you can be helped in some way — if you stay active, avoid unnecessary surgical procedures, can change medication when appropriate, and improve your nutrition and posture habits.

There are hundreds of treatments you can use to help lower and control your pain. What the magic combination is will be different for each of us and we must find what works for us individually.

Barby Ingle suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) and endometriosis. Barby is a chronic pain educator, patient advocate, and president of the International Pain Foundation. She is also a motivational speaker and best-selling author on pain topics.

More information about Barby can be found at her website.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

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New CDC Overdose Study Reduces Role of Pain Meds

By Pat Anson | December 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Pat Anson, Editor

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has quietly released a new report showing that illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine and fentanyl are responsible for more drug overdose deaths in the United States than opioid pain medication.

The report not only underscores the changing nature of the nation’s overdose epidemic, but undermines some of the rationale behind federal efforts to limit the prescribing of pain medication.

In 2010, for example, the study found that oxycodone was the top drug involved in overdose deaths. But by 2014, the painkiller was ranked third, behind heroin and cocaine.

The anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, more widely known by the brand name Xanax, was ranked as the nation’s fourth deadliest drug; while the synthetic opioid fentanyl — most of it illicit — was ranked fifth and fast gaining ground.

Deaths linked to oxycodone and other prescription pain medications – although still significant, at about 16,000 a year — remained relatively stable, even as the total number of drug overdoses increased by 23 percent, from 38,329 deaths in 2010 to 47,055 in 2014.

One of the CDC’s stated reasons for releasing its opioid prescribing guidelines earlier this year was that “the death rate associated with opioid pain medication has increased markedly,” a statement that now appears to be factually wrong.   

Researchers at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and the Food and Drug Administration arrived at this new evidence after developing an enhanced method to study overdose deaths that allowed them to identify specific drugs.

The old method used by the CDC relies on death certificate codes, known as ICD codes, which can broadly categorize an overdose as “opioid related” without ever determining what the drug was, if it was legal, or even if it was the cause of death.

Using new software, researchers scanned the actual text in hundreds of thousands of death certificates, including notes written by coroners about the cause of death and other significant factors involved in an overdose.

“The literal text analysis method… leverages existing information on the death certificates for statistical monitoring of drug-involved mortality deaths. Assessments conducted during the methods development process demonstrate that these methods have high accuracy in identifying the drugs mentioned and involved in mortality as well as the corresponding deaths,” the researchers said in an analysis of the new method.

2014 OVERDOSE DEATHS BY DRUG

Source: CDC and FDA

The study, which covered overdoses from 2010 to 2014, found that many deaths involved multiple drugs or alcohol. Over three-quarters of the deaths involving oxycodone and hydrocodone, for example, involved other substances. Alcohol was involved in 15 percent of all drug overdoses. 

Anti-anxiety drugs like alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium) were also involved in many deaths. Alprazolam was involved in about a quarter of the overdoses involving hydrocodone (23%), oxycodone (23%) and methadone (18%). The FDA recently expanded warning labels on all opioids and benzodiazepines, including alprazolam and diazepam, to discourage doctors from prescribing them together.

“The combinations of drugs in drug overdose deaths are important to consider when interpreting the study findings. Importantly, the most frequently mentioned drugs involved in drug overdose deaths were often mentioned with each other. For example, heroin and cocaine were involved concomitantly in more than 2,000 deaths. Another pair, oxycodone and alprazolam, were involved concomitantly in more than 1,000 deaths,” the report found. 

While the textual analysis of death certificates is an improvement over previous methods, researchers admit it still has flaws. It cannot distinguish between prescription fentanyl and illicit fentanyl; some deaths that refer to morphine may actually involve heroin; and some deaths classified as “unintentional” may have actually been suicides.  

It also cannot distinguish between the recreational use of a medication obtained illicitly and the medical use of a prescription by a legitimate patient.

Many pain sufferers believe they have been unfairly penalized by the CDC’s opioid prescribing guidelines as part of an effort to keep pain medication away from addicts and recreational users. Since the guidelines were released, many physicians have stopped prescribing opioids or sharply reduced the dosage, even if a patient has safely used the medication for years. 

Oddly, the CDC released this new report just a week after releasing its annual report on drug overdose deaths, which used the older, flawed method of analyzing overdoses.  Further adding to the confusion and questionable use of statistics, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the CDC released three different estimates of the number of Americans that died of drug overdoses in 2015 (see “Opioid Overdose Statistics: As Clear as Mud”).  

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The Surprising Gift Chronic Pain Gave to Me

By Pat Anson | December 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Jean Price, Guest Columnist

When illness or injury causes long term consequences and persistent pain, we often grieve for what we used to be and do before the pain. That’s natural, because we’ve lost that particular “design” of ourselves that we knew and liked, even though we usually took it for granted.

Chronic pain sufferers don’t take anything for granted anymore, not with pain invading and diminishing our functioning, ability to work, care for ourselves, and be an active part of our families and friendships.  We want what we most likely won’t have again. 

In life, natural aging is a lot like this too, only there is more time to adjust and it feels more like a natural process, not like something that has been ripped out of our hands.

At first, we spend a lot of time waiting to get well and wanting to be healed. To get better, get back on our feet, and rise above where we are. To be whole again. 

In the past, we usually recovered from ailments and injuries. But not when we cross that bridge into daily and life-limiting pain. In a sense, we aren’t really “sick.” We’ve just reached a new normal. There’s no cure or any way to change us back.

I remember a long ago evening when my daughter was too slow to get up and help me set the table and get dinner ready. So I told her rather abruptly I didn’t feel like doing it and really needed her help. She replied that she had a headache and didn’t feel like it either, adding something that stopped me in my tracks.

“Mom, I’m sick tonight and you’re not!” she said.

JEAN PRICE

JEAN PRICE

It wasn’t until later that night that I realized what she had meant with those few words. I had been to the doctor the day before and had a bruise the size of a dinner plate on my hip from an injection. I was starting into the second year of severe pain after a failed back surgery.  A surgery with devastating complications that resulted in a second surgery two weeks later; ending with multiple doctors’ appointments and a dozen courses of steroid treatments over the next year. It made me even sicker and still unable to lift my leg.

I really felt sick, yet this had gone on so long that my daughter didn’t see me as sick anymore. I was just being me, and my pain and disability was normal. For her, the old mom was already history.  For me, I truly expected that if I just worked harder, found the right doctor, and suffered through the right treatment, I’d get back to my old idea of normal.

And of course I haven’t. Instead, I’ve been through many new normals, all of them feeling like a downward spiral.

Until I found there is actually a big upside to all of this:  I have become a better person.

It’s taken a lot of work. Grief is a verb and requires work! And it has taken good support from others and much learning. Yet the current “new me” has some really special attributes.  She is more patient, more compassionate, more at peace with change, more generous to herself and others, has a much stronger and tested faith, and has more joy in the little things of life.

She is less angry, less judgmental, less serious, less hyper-responsible, more loving, less co-dependent, more forgiving, more trusting of herself, more self-affirming, gives better support to others, and basically is way more whole. Less functional, certainly, but more whole.

Odd, but it’s true. When our bodies fail us, we can choose to keep growing our minds and spirits, and we can find important things in life that are still easy, even when we can’t do much. We find that love and joy come in little, surprising packages just waiting to be seen. And we find that there is more to life than what we do. We aren’t human doings, but rather human beings.

Even with pain, we can chose to be kind, loving, at peace, and better than we were. We are not our pain. We are worthy and wonderful creations, and still enhance this world.

Yes, I do miss what I used to be able to do, but I really don’t miss the person I was. Not at all! Because I like the person I am now so much better. Probably because I have been tempered by all that I’ve been through, and enriched by all the people and blessings in my life.

Life is full of changes and each change brings loss; even the chosen changes or the more positive changes still have losses. Yet we don’t have to lose ourselves in the process of pain.  We can become more and better.

It’s a choice. One of the few things we do have control of. How we feel emotionally, how we react, and how we think of ourselves and the world.

Pain doesn’t stop us from being ourselves, only we can do that to ourselves. And if we do, then we’ve really lost, because the special person we each are deserves to be part of this world, and can still contribute and find joy, despite pain.  

I think I’m living, breathing proof of this.  And I’m glad I don’t really have the choice of giving up pain or giving up who I have become. Because as odd as it may sound, that would be a really tough choice.  

Jean Price and her family live in North Carolina. Her chronic back pain began with a herniated disk and escalated after major complications from surgery. Jean also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and is a breast cancer survivor.

Pain News Network invites other readers to share their stories with us.  Send them to:  editor@PainNewsNetwork.org

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

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Help #LupusLA #EraseLupus and #SeeHAMILTON

By Lupus LA | December 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

There are more than 1.5 MILLION Americans with lupus and over 60,000 in Greater Los Angeles alone. If you could make a difference in someone’s struggle with lupus, what would it be? Would it be finding a cure? Discovering a new treatment? Offering words of encouragement or financial support? Or would it be something else? Help […]

The post Help #LupusLA #EraseLupus and #SeeHAMILTON appeared first on LUPUS LA.

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Help #LupusLA #EraseLupus and #SeeHAMILTON

By Lupus LA | December 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

There are more than 1.5 MILLION Americans with lupus and over 60,000 in Greater Los Angeles alone. If you could make a difference in someone’s struggle with lupus, what would it be? Would it be finding a cure? Discovering a new treatment? Offering words of encouragement or financial support? Or would it be something else? Help […]

The post Help #LupusLA #EraseLupus and #SeeHAMILTON appeared first on LUPUS LA.

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Is Fibromyalgia Like a Software Problem?

By Pat Anson | December 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Lana Barhum

Earlier this year, the British Pain Society released an interesting study on the development of a new method to help doctors better communicate with fibromyalgia patients about their pain and symptoms. 

That narrative, which takes the unusual approach of comparing fibromyalgia to a software problem in a computer, is geared towards motivating patients to focus on exercise and other lifestyle changes, as opposed to pain medication.

“This study provides evidence that a framework incorporating a computer based analogy provides an acceptable story that helps FM (fibromyalgia) patients understand their illness and motivates them to engage in evidence based lifestyle adaptations that enhance recovery,” wrote lead author Michael Hyland, PhD, a professor of Health Psychology at Plymouth University in the UK.

Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood disorder characterized by deep tissue pain, fatigue, depression, mood swings and insomnia. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown.

Because the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is difficult and sometimes controversial, many patients struggle to communicate with doctors about their symptoms, pain and treatment. Studies have shown exercise and psychological intervention can improve fibromyalgia symptoms, but many patients feel their pain is best treated with medication. They are often surprised when their doctors suggest non-medicinal treatment options. 

The fibromyalgia narrative developed at Plymouth University is designed to minimize that misunderstanding and assist in communication between patients and their doctors.  It encourages doctors to present the body as “as ‘a very, very clever computer’ where fibromyalgia is caused by a software rather than a hardware problem.”

If there are issues in the software, the computer (the body) can be reprogrammed to correct them.  Essentially, patients are offered an explanation for why they are ill, why the doctor cannot find anything wrong, and what can be done to intervene. 

The narrative was developed with the help of 15 fibromyalgia patients.  The patients said the initial model created by researchers “worked poorly” and was ambiguous, so the researchers modified the narrative to make it more understandable. 

“Under certain identifiable conditions, the body creates ‘stop signals’ that prevent damage and promote recovery. These stop signals include pain, fatigue, nausea and dizziness. If, for whatever reason, the person is unable to respond to those stop signals – that is, they do not stop what they are doing – then over time the stop signals increase and become fixed, and the body is sensitized to anything that creates a stop signal,” wrote Hyland.  

The narrative also provided a basis for exercise and psychological help as ways to correct the body’s software.

A second group of 25 fibromyalgia patients evaluated the new model during a 7 week “body reprogramming intervention,” in which they were taught about relaxation techniques, mood enhancement, exercise, diet and lifestyle changes. Only patients willing not to take medication were included.   

Most patients said the intervention was very useful, calling it believable, informative and hopeful. Many also said they had implemented lifestyle changes once they knew the benefits.

“Very informative and so refreshing to find answers to problems I’ve had for over 14 years and wonderful to be able to self believe ‘It’s not in my head’ as I’ve self-doubted so many times,” wrote one patient.

“This has been a revelation and has given our family ‘hope’ where we thought there was none,” wrote the mother of another patient. “This illness has not only affected my daughter but the whole of our family. We have spent years trying self help, but it felt like we were just stabbing in the dark.”

Hyland says hope is an important facet in finding solutions to chronic pain. 

“When patients have no explanation of their illness, they do not have a conceptual model of how and whether they will ever get better. Thus, providing patients with an illness narrative provides information not only about the route into the illness but also the route out,” he wrote.

Lana Barhum lives and works in northeast Ohio. She is a freelance medical writer, patient advocate, legal assistant and mother. Having lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since 2008, Lana uses her experiences to share expert advice on living successfully with chronic illness. She has written for several online health communities, including Alliance Health, Upwell, Mango Health, and The Mighty.

To learn more about Lana, visit her website.

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Chronic Pain Patient Abandoned by Doctor Dies

By Pat Anson | December 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Pat Anson, Editor

This will be the first Christmas that Tammi Hale spends without her husband Doug in over 30 years.

The 53-year old Vermont man, who suffered chronic pain from interstitial cystitis, committed suicide in October after his doctor abruptly cut him off from opioid pain medication.

“His primary care provider kept trying to wean him off his opioid therapy, which worked at higher doses,” says Tammi. “My husband ran out (of medication) early a few times, so the doctor cut him off completely one day. Six weeks later he took his life as no medical establishment would treat his chronic pain.”

DOUG HALE

DOUG HALE

We’re telling Doug Hale’s story, as we have those of other pain patients who’ve committed suicide, because their deaths have been ignored or lost in the public debate over the nation’s so-called opioid epidemic.  Patients who were safely taking high doses of opioids for years are suddenly being cutoff or weaned to lower doses. Some are being abandoned by their doctors.

“I believe it will get worse with time. The docs are simply more interested in not risking their licenses than in treating chronic pain,” Tammi wrote to Pain News Network in a series of emails about her husband’s death.

Depression and suicidal thoughts are common for many people living with chronic pain and illness. According to a recent survey of over a thousand pain patients, nearly half have contemplated suicide.

But the problem appears to have grown worse as physicians comply with the “voluntary” prescribing guidelines released in March by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have been adopted as law in several states. Many doctors now fear prosecution and losing their medical licenses if they overprescribe opioids. Some have chosen not to prescribe them at all.

While federal and state authorities track the number of drug overdose deaths, no one seems to be following the number of patients who are dying by suicide or from cascading medical problems caused by untreated chronic pain.  Some in the pain community call this “passive genocide.” Tammi Hale compares it to the Holocaust.

“The Nazis eliminated the sick and the weak first, right? Makes you wonder,” she says. “I realize my comments are harsh, but I believe the public needs to be aware of the dangers any one of us could be facing with this silent epidemic.”  

Doctor Insisted on Weaning

Doug Hale began facing a life with intractable chronic pain in 1999, after a surgery left him with interstitial cystitis, a painful inflammation of the bladder. According to his wife, Doug tried physical therapy, antidepressants, epidurals, nerve blocks, TENS, cognitive behavioral therapy, and several different medications before finally turning to opioids for pain relief. High doses of methadone and oxycodone for breakthrough pain were found to be effective.

But a few years ago, Doug’s primary care provider (PCP) started urging him to wean to a lower dose.

“The PCP insisted on weaning. Although Doug clearly had documented malabsorption issues, the PCP persisted on weaning. The pressure to wean was unbelievable,” says Tammi. “It came to a head in May of 2016. The PCP gave Doug one month to wean completely from 120mg/day of methadone and 20 mg/day of oxy. We knew this was impossible.”

Tammi says Doug checked himself into a 7 day detox program, where he was weaned to 40 mg of methadone per day. The doctor agreed to prescribe that amount, but it was not enough to relieve Doug’s pain. He started taking extra doses. 

“He ran out a week early in late August. The PCP abandoned Doug, stating ‘I’m not going to risk my license for you. The methadone clinic can deal with you.’” 

But the methadone clinic refused to treat Doug because they saw him as a chronic pain patient, not as an addict. “Had he turned to street drugs they could have treated him, but because he didn’t break the rules they couldn’t help,” Tammi explained.

 

Doug tried to detox at home, which Tammi calls a “brutal” experience. On October 10th, after being turned down by other healthcare providers, Doug went to his former doctor one last time to beg for help and was refused. The doctor said again that he didn’t want to risk his license.

“Doug left the office still thrashing in pain and despondent,” Tammi recalls. “The next day, my dear, sweet thoughtful husband of 32 years; a father, son, brother, uncle, and friend, well loved by many, dragged a chair to a remote spot in our back yard. A spot we could not see from the house, the road, or by the neighbors. 

“He shot himself in the head to escape his pain. He made sure we could still live in our home and not be plagued by gruesome memories. I just wish the medical establishment had an ounce of the compassion that he did.” 

“Can’t take the chronic pain anymore. No one except my wife has helped me,” Doug wrote in a suicide note. “The doctors are mostly puppets trying to lower expenses, and (do not accept) any responsibility. Besides people will die and doctors have seen it all. So why help me.”

Tammi says she has been comforted by an outpouring of love and support from her family, friends and community. Doug’s suicide surprised many.

“Doug did make vague references about suicide during the summer due to the desperation and pain. He was just such a tough guy, he survived so much that my reaction, and others after the fact, was no. Not Doug. He’s like the bionic man. Too much of a warrior to give up,” said Tammi.

“At his memorial so many people commented on what an inspiration he was to them. To graciously bear the path of pain and his never-give-up attitude made them reevaluate their own daily issues. I guess you could say his legacy was love and to never quit.”

Tammi consulted with a medical malpractice attorney after Doug’s death, who told her the chances of winning a lawsuit against the doctor were slim. The cost of legal action would have also been prohibitive, after so many years of dealing with Doug’s medical expenses.

Tammi and Doug may never get their day in court, but she is determined to share his story in the hope that patients, doctors and regulators learn from it.

“My promise to him was to share with others. He was thrown away like a piece of trash, but his life and the life of all humans is precious.  All patients deserve to be treated respectfully,” she wrote. “Hopefully some changes will come in time before the holocaust grows too much larger.”  

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