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OPEN LETTER TO MAYORS, GOVERNORS, AND MEMBERS OF STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

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I don’t understand it. In fact, I find it deeply painful and disturbing. For months now, I have experienced the reluctance of most officials to hear the requests of chronic pain patients—and even of their care providers—to officially proclaim a Pain Care Providers Day on March 20th. They seem unable to open their hearts and minds to the reality of the huge difference between people who actually constantly suffer in pain, and people who use drugs recreationally whether or not they become addicted to them. They do not see the hundreds of dedicated men and women of great integrity who practice medicine with honesty and skill, because they are focused on the tiny percentage of people who obtained MD degrees for the sole purpose of opening up yet another pathway of delivering drugs illegally.

Historically and cross-culturally, recreational drug use has existed since earliest human history. Drugs and wine have been consumed ritually in religious and cultural traditional performance. Drugs and their use exist, and as we learned repeatedly throughout history, prohibiting them only results in increasing their illegal presence and use.

In contemporary experience, other countries have decided to legalize and regulate drugs, just as they have done with prostitution and other vices that disrupt societal stability. And it has worked great improvements, where carefully planned and executed!

Even in America, we are at least learning that addiction is an illness of the brain, and that it is less likely to occur in elderly people, or with people who suffer severe chronic pain. This is a huge step in our understanding, and if nothing else the campaign to acknowledge and show our gratitude for our pain care providers has helped to advance research in this area, and publicize the results. That is REAL progress!

Before I write another word, however, I must also state my profound gratitude to those officials who HAVE supported and proclaimed Pain Care Providers Day. The day will be observed by those of us (and we number in the millions!) who have benefitted from the patience, skill and dedication of physicians, pharmacists, physical therapists, physician’s assistants, nurse clinicians, nurses, EMTs, medical techs in all areas of medicine, nurse’s aides, and especially those who sacrifice many of their own needs to care for chronic pain patients in their own families or neighborhoods. What they do is life-giving, needed, and produces results that range from easing intolerable pain and/or doing for us what we are no longer able to do for ourselves, all the way to helping us regain the ability to be a productive member of society. Though it is insufficient to truly acknowledge the huge debt we owe you, we do say THANK YOU, AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU ACCORDINGLY!

IT IS NOT TOO LATE. FRIDAY, MARCH 20TH IS PAIN CARE PROVIDERS DAY. If you are an official with the power to proclaim the day, please…please have the compassion to do so. If you have not asked your mayor, governor or representative to proclaim the day, please take the time to think about your friend or relative who cares for someone in pain. Remember the medical professionals who care for these patients under great pressure from drastic regulations that threaten their very lives. And remember to thank those officials who have already had the courage and conviction to proclaim this day.

And don’t forget – on Friday, March 20th, the first day of Spring, do something special for your pain care provider. Send them flowers, or a thank you note, or just give them a hug! Let them know how very special and necessary they are to you and to all of us.

The US Pain Foundation has provided a sample proclamation for Pain Care Providers Day.  It can be found at http://goo.gl/qPsfCL.

Author: profemjay

I am a retired Professor of Sociology with interests in the Sociology of Medicine, Political Sociology, the Sociology of Development, Social Action and the Sociology of Religion.

2 thoughts on “OPEN LETTER TO MAYORS, GOVERNORS, AND MEMBERS OF STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

  1. If you don’t have dropbox to access the sample proclamation, it is below. My use of this proclamation in no way indicates approval or foreknowledge of the above post by either US Pain Foundation or James P. Murphy, MD, MMM.

    Pain Care Providers Day
    Proclamation for March 20th

    Prepared in collaboration with U.S. Pain Foundation and James Patrick Murphy, MD, MMM

    WHEREAS, pain negatively impacts almost every aspect of a person’s life including the ability to work, sleep and engage in social activities as well as adversely impacts pain sufferer’s families and caregivers

    WHEREAS, the Institute of Medicine has found that 100 million Americans live with chronic pain as a result of serious illnesses and injuries

    WHEREAS, the U.S. Pain Foundation’s mission is to inform, empower and advocate on behalf of the organization’s over 35,000 members throughout the country and all those who live with chronic pain

    WHEREAS, there exists formidable barriers -including regulatory, legal, institutional, financial, and geographical barriers – that impede access to pain care, contributing to increased obstacles emotionally, physically and mentally among pain survivors

    WHEREAS, in the face of a national pain epidemic there is, on average, only one board-certified pain specialist for every 21,000 pain sufferers and these specialists are subject to tremendous stressors leading to a high rate of exhaustion, placing them at risk for substance abuse, interpersonal difficulties, suicidal tendencies, and even life-threatening physical harm

    WHEREAS, the shortage of pain specialists often leads to a wide variety of professionals, caregivers and loved ones to address the pain epidemic and duties usually carried out by pain specialists

    WHEREAS, those professionals, caregivers and loved ones professionals, caregivers and loved ones bravely and compassionately offer more than their expertise, that is, they offer their hearts and therefore are deserving of gratitude, encouragement, and support so that they might carry on, empowered to provide this vital service to our society.

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, [name, title], do hereby proclaim March 20, 2015, the first day of spring, as PAIN CARE PROVIDERS DAY throughout [city or state name] and encourage all of our citizens to recognize any and all who professionally, clinically or emotionally offer themselves to ease the suffering and empower those within the pain community.

    IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great seal of the [town, city or state].

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  2. It seems to be ignorance fueled or at least supported by politics. Narcotics or heavy duty pain relievers are seen to be an open field for abuse and so there is an increase of regulation which presumes guilt until proven innocent. To promote this day may be seen as a liability as one can be accused of being “soft on drugs” rather than compassionate towards those who suffer.

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