New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan

Reader Vicki Farrar in ABQ writes:  “Perhaps the state lawmakers who will have to pass a budget are finally understanding that you can spend money on education, mental health and substance abuse programs, and job-training as a priority–or you can spend it on more police, jails and prisons as New Mexico continues to suffer under a poor economy.”

11 Suggestions for Managing Pain

During the lead up to my surgery, one of the surgeons advised me to take all the stress out of my life. Since that isn’t possible, I give you 11 suggestions (not advice) for managing pain, as follows:

1. Distraction. Boredom is your enemy, and leaves you too much time to think about your pain.

2. Know and avoid activities that increase pain. (But push yourself when you can.)

3. Keep calm and stress free (should be everybody’s motto).

4. Both aspirin and antihistamines work as anti-inflammatories.

5. Try not to sweat. In other words, try to keep your body temperature from rising enough to sweat, which can exacerbate pain levels.

6. Let the little things go (see #3).

7. Let some of the big things go, too. (And choose your stress-inducing battles carefully.)

8. It is said that music can tame the savage beast (see numbers 1 and 3).

9. Grunt. Sometimes, when we’re doing something that takes extra effort, we make a noise (or grunt). A little verbal exhalation, to express the pain within the physical effort. It’s a type of release that you will be able to hear in your subconscious — just a little acknowledgement (like a note to yourself) that you’re still fighting the pain. You are making the effort, and that’s a good thing.

10. Enjoy healthy (and not so healthy) food. Treat yourself to your favorites, and don’t feel guilty about it. Savor whatever enjoyment you are able to grab from your life in pain.

11. Research and understand the type of pain you suffer from, including the underlying condition, and never let your questions go unanswered. (Knowledge is a stress-reliever.)

And good luck.

11/19/2014, Dear New York City’s Uninsured: Screw You, Love Governor Cuomo

“The [RAM] clinic was cavalierly canceled a mere two weeks before its scheduled date. The doors won’t open at 5 a.m. or any other hour. The 500 dentists and 2,500 non-medical volunteers lined up months in advance can take their good will elsewhere. And, tragically, the estimated 7,000 patients from New York City, greater New York, New Jersey, and beyond who were expecting to receive much needed free treatment will just have to make other plans for their failing vision and rotting teeth.”

3/13/2013, New Victims In The War On Painkillers

“Some of the most common and most powerful prescription painkillers on the market will be restricted sharply in the emergency rooms at New York City’s 11 public hospitals, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday in an effort to crack down on what he called a citywide and national epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

Under the new city policy, most public hospital patients will no longer be able to get more than three days’ worth of narcotic painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet. Long-acting painkillers, including OxyContin, a familiar remedy for chronic backache and arthritis, as well as Fentanyl patches and methadone, will not be dispensed at all. And lost, stolen or destroyed prescriptions will not be refilled.

It only applies to the city’s public hospitals. Which means it will largely be poor people who are forced to suffer pain that can easily be treated.”

12/10/2011, State pushes prescription painkiller methadone, saving millions but costing lives

“For the past eight years Washington has steered people with state-subsidized health care — Medicaid patients, injured workers and state employees — to methadone, a narcotic with two notable characteristics. The drug is cheap. The drug is unpredictable.”

Most painkillers, such as OxyContin, dissipate from the body within hours. Methadone can linger for days, pooling to a toxic reservoir that depresses the respiratory system. With little warning, patients fall asleep and don’t wake up. Doctors call it the silent death.”

12/13/2012, Is The Era Of OxyContin Abuse Over?

“A study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology in 2003 that examined drug overdose deaths for the presence of oxycodone, found that in 96.7 percent of cases, the deceased had multiple other drugs in their system too.”

“85 percent of addictions in the world manifest by the age of 35…”

“These deaths also speak to the underlying problem in treating pain: it’s easier to blame a particular medication or class of drugs, rather than the way the healthcare system has evolved to treat pain.”

Dr. Lynn Webster

11/5/2014, Pain Experts Say New Opioid Has ‘Enormous’ Potential

“There’s a great opportunity for drugs like that. We really need to find something that doesn’t have rewarding properties that doesn’t lead to addiction,” said Lynn Webster, MD, past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, who was the lead investigator in initial studies of the drug.

10/29/2014, Cara’s pain drug clears an abuse hurdle as it trots toward Phase III

12/13/2012, Is The Era Of OxyContin Abuse Over?

“I can’t understand it, says Dr. Lynn Webster, the incoming president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and author of “Avoiding Opioid Abuse While Managing Pain: A Guide for Practitioners, “Canada has just taken a very dangerous step.” He believes, by contrast, that in the US, the Food and Drug Administration should “only approve drugs with abuse resistant properties.”

HIPAA is Dead

3/9/2012, Painkiller Access Debated as Patients Suffer

“Patient advocates also worry about privacy. In Washington state for example, the state database can be accessed not only by doctors, pharmacists, and local, state, and federal law enforcement, but also by the state’s workers’ compensation program, Medicaid, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Social and Health Services, prosecutors, and medical licensing boards.”

3/9/2012, Painkiller Access Debated as Patients Suffer

“Part of the problem may lie in the fact that the government agency that controls the supply of opioid pain medication in the U.S., the DEA, is specifically charged with eradicating drug abuse. There’s no countervailing charge in the DEA’s mission to ensure that legitimate pain patients have access to the drugs that can give them relief.