Waiting for CDC Decision: Anger, Nausea, and Fear

Waiting for CDC Decision: Anger, Nausea, and Fear

I’ve been living with the constant slight nausea of anger and fear since September 16, 2015. On that day, the CDC suddenly leaped to the lead of the campaign against opioid pain relief.

Totally out of character and out of the blue, these bureaucrats hastily cobbled together an unreasonably strict set of guidelines for prescribing opioids and, only after the fact, gave a limited audience a quick peek at the harsh and draconian rules.

What a shock that was.

This highly regarded, influential agency single-handedly released premature, unscientific, and biased rules about opioid prescribing without any of the required public announcements or reviews. News of this audacity was met with a combination of disbelief and fear; disbelief that the CDC would so suddenly, without any prior notice, inflict such arbitrary rules on doctors, and fear that doctors would actually be forced to follow them.  

It was later determined that PROP (Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, an anti-opioid group of doctors) had suggested and initiated these guidelines, and the CDC just went along. The content of the guideline was at least partly written by PROP, with parts lifted directly from their own propaganda.

The CDC is supposed to warn me of dangers and give me non-partisan advice to help me avoid them, not just sit back and let a special interest group first prod them into action, and then take over the process.

These guidelines force doctors first to delay giving opioid pain relief and then to adhere to an arbitrary universal dose limit, as though all patients and all pain were the same.

Despite all the real-life variables, patients are to be treated generically. The dose limit and 3-day prescribing limit apply equally to a tooth extraction or a crushed pelvis, a broken nose or a broken spine.

There is no urging to tailor opioid treatment to an individual, even though this is the most effective (for pain) and safe (from addiction) approach to the wide variety of chronic pain and diversity of patients.

The evidence given to support the guidelines is blatantly distorted, statistically incorrect, and exclusively focused on addiction, even though the guidelines apply only to prescribers who are trying to help their patients with pain. Promulgated by PROP, the addiction model insists that anyone taking opioids for any reason is addicted to them.

If this were true, every one of the millions of people who receive post-surgical opioids would be addicted, and thus, according to all the scary propaganda, on their way to being destitute, homeless, and dying in the streets. There are millions of people who take opioids for a while and then stop without giving it much thought, but PROP’s president and founder gleefully ignores all evidence contrary to his dogma.

PROP has its fingers in everything having to do with opioids these days, steering guidelines, influencing rules, spreading false propaganda, and even enticing a federal agency to break government rules of conduct. (CDC was reprimanded by Congress) PROP cleverly gained control of the opioid conversation early on and has managed to limit its focus to opioid addiction, barely acknowledging opioids’ role in pain relief.

PROP supporters disparage those of us that use opioids to treat our pain, which they preemptively dismiss as insignificant. This utter indifference to my pain infuriates me.

I’m angry that there are so many people out there that that don’t believe my pain is intolerable without opioids, that they truly believe “it’s not that bad” and that I should “get over it” and that I should be “used to it”, oblivious to their own cruelty in so casually dismissing my pain

We are urged to swap the opioids we’ve been depending on to make our lives worth all the painful trouble, for treatments like psychotherapy. In the recommended CBT sessions, I’m taught that my thoughts are the source of my pain and that by controlling my thoughts I can gain control over my pain. Ha! If only it were that simple.

In the end, already squirming in pain, thinking that I’m in pain, thinking painful thoughts, thinking about thinking painful thoughts… and then I realize it’s just another way of blaming me for my pain, implying I should be mentally strong enough to control my pain with my thoughts.

And that sends me into a whirlwind of rage. I (and all other patients) know that, if it were the pain of our critics, they would feel so very differently.

I’m so tired of being angry about my situation as a pain patient. Angry that I need opioids to retain some quality of life, angry at being dismissed as a drug addict, angry that some people are trying to force me to abandon all hope for relief.

I’m angry, furious and frustrated about the guidelines, the idiocy they represent, the wild media distortions of the topic, the prideful ignorance of people who have undue influence in our society.

I’m exhausted from the frightened thoughts swirling around in my head all the time, wrung out from trying to untangle knots of specious arguments, worn out by attempts to use logic and reason with those that resist it.

So here I sit, waiting for “the last word” from the CDC, nauseated, with a rising tide of anger and fear.

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4 thoughts on “Waiting for CDC Decision: Anger, Nausea, and Fear

  1. AddictionMyth

    Thank you for your work on this important issue. I also eagerly await the response and have no idea what to expect. But I do know that we will win this eventually one way or another. I know I would be angry too if I were denied my rights. Despite all this crazy nonsense I still appreciate that we have the freedom to fight for our rights (even as other naively claim they are not in jeopardy, lol). Like you I don’t understand why so few people are personally invested in this subject. Just yesterday I heard a pure propaganda piece on NPR about opioid prescribing (“There were 79 1/2 opiate capsules sitting in her medicine cabinet waiting for someone to get addicted to them.” – lol). I guess that explains some of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      I appreciate your optimism – it’s like a breath of fresh air these days.

      It’s good to step back and get a view of the larger picture, like you do, and appreciate that we have any influence to nudge the “powers that be” at all. We all know that as time passes and people get older our membership (and associated power) will only increase – especially as some of the opiophobes themselves (or their loved ones) eventually succumb to chronic pain. Then we’ll see how quickly they become desperate for the real pain relief opioids provide.

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  2. netflixtvguide

    I have a decent pain management doctor but recently when I asked for a prescription for Valium because of our already existing government oversight she had to lower my Percocet dosage to 3 a day …I’m only 45 and have been on Percocet for 10 years …taking Valium when the pain occasionally has gotten worse …I’m as angry and fearful as you are. I hate when hospital surveys ask me if I am depressed…why do they never ask if I’m angry ?! Anyway I’m also often dismissed as having psychological pain because of my IBS…it can drive one mad. My mom just had surgery and only needed Percocet for 3 days and then switched to Tylenol which helped with the pain but not the tummy upset…when she stopped the Tylenol her own ibs got better…so I started doing more research and found out that there is some information (albeit alternative so who knows if it will be taken seriously) that Tylenol can irritate the intestines…so next expensive visit to get my pain meds I’m going to see if i can get oxycodone without the Tylenol …because my ibs episodes always makes the back pain worse …like a catch 22…anyway love your blog as always as it keeps me going and keeps me looking for answers and makes me know that I’m not alone. I reposted your blog on my Facebook

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Thanks for your compliments and I’m honored you felt this was worth reposting.

      The opioid fight is only getting more intense, and because this affects every part of every patient’s life, I find myself posting more and more about the controversy and less about research progress or new ideas. This alone shows what a bad situation we’re in.

      Without opioid pain relief, suicide prevention will become a top priority. My own fears of a life without pain relief send me into periods of suicidal ideation, even though I’m getting SSDI and have support from friends & family. I can’t even imagine how other less fortunate souls will respond if their pain relief becomes threatened or cut off.

      Part of me still can’t believe this will really happen, that in the 21st century, with all the medical advances and financial resources this country has available, we are going to withhold effective medication from those that need it. It will be a giant leap backward thousands of years, to a time before humans had discovered the natural pain relief provided by opioids.

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