Thinking of you, Curtis Gearhart

http://www.whotv.com/2016/11/10/another-iowa-veteran-suicide-after-family-says-he-was-told-to-wait-for-treatment-by-va/

Then nearly two months ago Curtis went to the V.A. because of recurring headaches. Valesca said, “He previously had a tumor. He was worried about it and they told him it would be five to six weeks.” He couldn’t wait any longer and took his own life Monday, November 7th…

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#DearCDC

Posted on the CDC’s Facebook page today:

#DearCDC: How does it feel to ruin people’s lives? To make them feel like outcasts and drug addicts because they suffer from constant pain?

#DearCDC: What is the agency’s position on creating stigma? Is there an epidemic of stigma in this country?

#DearCDC: Does your agency get a kick-back for every pain patient now labeled a drug addict in need of treatment?

There are no holidays for those who suffer from chronic pain.

After a doctor sells out to industry, credibility is lost

http://www.acsh.org/news/2016/11/22/trumps-wall-and-opioid-crisis-10450

My comment:

I’m a believer in science and logic. I’m also a believer in questioning everything, like who is Dr. Josh Bloom of the generically-named American Council of Science and Health? The internet does not have very nice things to say about your group, Dr. Bloom, but I suppose you know that. I figure your group gets funding from industries like Big Pharma, so really anything you say is tainted, even if it’s scientifically sound and logical, like this article.

Google showed me your recent Reddit thread and an article from CBS News in 2014:

“But Dr. Josh Bloom of the American Council of Science and Health says these chemicals have been used in the U.S. for at least 60 years and pose no risk. ‘There are so many hundreds of things more dangerous in everyday life than this that it is not even worth thinking about,’ Bloom said.”

Hmmmm, pesticides are not even worth thinking about? You have an interesting way of looking at this issue, Dr. Bloom. Why worry about something we can’t change? It’s not like chemicals are going anywhere, right? In fact, you’re now talking about opioids, which are also chemicals.

And speaking of the CDC and DEA’s war against opioids, perhaps you should look at their side. They believe that reducing the supply and creating regulations will prevent addiction in the future. This is more important to these agencies than the current grumbling of thousands of pain patients and a few hundred suicides. After all, pain doesn’t kill, right? Drugs can kill immediately, but it takes time for pain to kill you.

The opioid war is not about the treatment of pain — it’s always been about the treatment of addiction. And focusing on the real causes of overdoses doesn’t mean focusing on which drugs are being used. If that was important, then the drug war wouldn’t be such a huge failure and we wouldn’t be in the midst of this so-called opioid epidemic.

It’s nice to see your organization paying attention to the opioid war and the suffering of millions of pain patients, but I wonder how much good it will do. Who will listen to you, Dr. Bloom? Was it worth it to sell your education and knowledge to the highest bidder, as you’ve done in your career? You may be a doctor, but I think you’ve sold out your credibility. But thanks for trying.

Addition on 11/23/2016:

Alex Berezow [Mod] painkills2 • an hour ago
“The internet does not have very nice things to say about your group, Dr. Bloom…”

And like most of the internet, the comments section has no editorial standards, which is why you are uniquely qualified to write for it. After posting 11,871 comments, one would think you would have said something remotely interesting by now.

painkills2 Alex Berezow • 12 minutes ago
The internet is a big place, with both good and bad sources. What kind of source is this website? As a reader, that’s what I have to determine. And as someone who’s suffered from intractable pain for 30 years, I would think you might be interested in my opinion on the opioid war. No? Well, that’s your choice.

I’m sorry, did you have something interesting to say?

Mothers, teach your daughters about sexual abuse

https://mic.com/articles/160121/usa-gymnastics-physician-arrested-charged-with-sexual-assault-of-minor#.eGSMlLtYT

After dozens of people alleged sexual assault against a former physician for the USA Gymnastics team, he has been arrested and charged for his apparently habitual abuse of underage female patients, CNN reported.

Dr. Larry Nassar, 53, worked as a doctor for the Michigan State University gymnastics and crew teams, and for the United States national gymnastics team during four Olympic Games. After his arrest on Monday, he faces three counts of criminal sexual assault against minors under the age of 13.

USA Gymnastics also stands accused of ignoring and even covering up his behavior. Coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi face a lawsuit for having allowed the abuse to continue unchecked…

News of Nassar’s misconduct broke in mid-September, when the Indianapolis Star reported that two women — an Olympic medalist identified in her lawsuit as Jane Doe, and Rachael Denhollander, a former gymnast Nassar treated at Michigan State University — had accused the doctor of having sexually abused them. After the Indianapolis Star published its story, the number of victims who came forward climbed to over 30.

Denhollander told the Indianapolis Star that she began seeing Nassar in 2000 as a 15-year-old. He treated her for lower back pain, his actions becoming more inappropriate over the course of five appointments, she said. He groped her breasts and her genitals, and also digitally penetrated her vagina and anus, according to Denhollander.

According to NBC, Nassar’s lawyers maintain that any vaginal penetration by Nassar was in line with osteopathic practice…

No, no, no. There is no pain treatment that includes vaginal or anal penetration. None. Zero. Zilch.

Mothers, please teach your daughters about inappropriate touching and what constitutes sexual abuse, even from a person in authority, like a doctor. I know my mother never talked to me about this subject, and I sure wish she would have.

Approved by the people, not the FDA

“If you looked at all the studies, what you came to learn was that most of the studies were designed to look for harm, as opposed to designed to look for benefit. 94% of the studies over a 5-year period were actually designed to look for harm as opposed to benefit, so the whole system was sort of looking for that harm as opposed to saying that this could be a legitimate medicine.”  Dr. Sanjay Gupta

“This is the only substance that has been sort of approved by the people, not the FDA.”

Everyone who suffers from chronic pain should have access to cannabis. Affordable and quality cannabis. Dr. Gupta says it’s immoral to deny patients this medicine, but I think it’s just plain cruel.

Should we have a war against love?

http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/politics-pain-supply-vs-demand

For a small segment of society, such as hospice patients during the dying process, opioids can be one tool in the arsenal used to relieve torturous pain. Thus, the drug-makers’ efforts have made pain relief more available. But people recovering after a car crash or back surgery risk addiction they might never have been susceptible to otherwise…

Really? If you may be susceptible to an opioid addiction, does that mean you have to spend your whole life avoiding painkillers? Is abstinence the answer for every addiction? (Try telling that to people who are addicted to food.)

Is this article trying to say that surgery can be done without opioids? How many people would have surgery if they knew it would not include painkillers? Looks like the opioid war is going to put a lot of surgeons out of business. Good riddance, I say.

No one knows if they have the potential for addiction until they are suffering from it. Yes, your family history can be a clue, but it’s never 100% right. A person would have to not drink, gamble, have sex, or take drugs to avoid an addiction, whatever it might turn out to be. Sorry, but that’s not the way the world works. That’s not how humans work.

Those advocating for the opioid war say they are trying to stop addiction before it starts. Is that realistic? Is that the way addiction works? The experts tell us plenty of ways to prevent cancer, but that doesn’t stop everyone from getting it. As women, we know how to avoid domestic abuse and rape, but those crimes still happen every single day.

http://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Lawmakers-seeking-change-to-help-stop-pain-killer-abuse-in-Iowa–401574726.html

Law-makers say heroin addiction often starts when people abuse prescription pain killers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say people who get addicted to prescription pain killers are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin…

If you suffer from an addiction to painkillers, you’re already addicted to “heroin.” Duh. Would a painkiller addict be 40 times more likely to become addicted to illegal heroin? No, that’s not right. This is just the CDC inflating incorrect statistics again, making them scarier than the reality. Like taking a painkiller is one step away from taking illegal heroin. Considering the number of people who’ve taken painkillers (without any risk of turning to illegal heroin) and the number of actual heroin addicts, the CDC’s numbers don’t compute.

“We’ve become dependent really on using strong pain killers for treatment of regular aliments, such as cancer and inadvertently many people have become addicted to those pain killers,” said Isenhart.

Yes, that’s right, medical experts are now saying that cancer is a regular ailment, not always deserving of treatment with painkillers. You think if you have cancer, you’ll automatically get access to opioids and adequate pain management? Not during the opioid war.

While the opioid war looks at painkillers as a curse, I see them as a gift. Yes, they can be abused, just like almost everything else on this Earth. Even love can be abused. Love can also kill. Should we have a war against love?

Dear Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/vivek-murthy-report-on-drugs-and-alcohol_us_582dce19e4b099512f812e9c

“Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain and it’s one that we have to treat the way we would any other chronic illness: with skill, with compassion and with urgency,” he added.

If addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, how does the surgeon general describe chronic and intractable pain? Is intractable pain also a chronic disease of the brain? I’m curious, does the surgeon general believe that addiction and chronic pain are the same medical condition?

“Many people didn’t want to talk to the surgeon general if the press was around, because they were afraid of losing their jobs and friends if anyone found out about their substance use disorder, Murthy explained. They also worried that doctors might treat them differently. The numbers bear out that fear of stigma.”

Those who suffer from chronic pain are now learning what it feels like to be treated like a drug addict — afraid of losing jobs and friends, facing abandonment and stigma by the medical industry, being told their pain doesn’t matter, and being denied insurance coverage for many prescription medications. Since the surgeon general is partially responsible for the stigma faced by pain patients every day, what is he going to do about it?

Why does the surgeon general think that treating addiction is more important than treating chronic pain, especially since millions more people suffer from chronic pain than from addiction?

“The overarching theme of the new report is that substance use disorders are medical problems, and the logical next step is integrating substance use disorder care into mainstream health care.”

Isn’t it just as important to integrate the adequate treatment of pain into mainstream health care? You know, pain — the main reason people go to the doctor? Why are expensive specialists needed to treat addiction and chronic pain, especially since the government has pretty much mandated specific standards for the treatment of both medical conditions?

“What’s really at stake here are our family and friends,” he said. “Addiction is not a disease that discriminates and it has now risen to a level that it is impacting nearly everyone.”

Everything the surgeon general has said about addiction holds true for chronic pain, too. But there’s more than one difference between the two conditions.

For the treatment of addiction, it is necessary to find and treat any underlying trauma or mental conditions that may have triggered the addiction. The mental conditions may be chronic, but the addiction doesn’t have to be. But without treating the main condition — like depression, PTSD, or bipolar — trying to treat the addiction is just a waste of time. Why doesn’t the surgeon general mention this very important part of treatment?

Intractable pain is always a chronic condition. The underlying condition has already been treated (again and again) and is sometimes caused by the very medical treatment that was supposed to help. Does the surgeon general believe there is some benefit to untreated pain and constant suffering?

“A few specific recommendations include adding addiction screenings in primary health care settings and hospitals…”

If you’re a doctor, go ahead, ask me if I’m addicted to drugs. I dare you. Just another reason to avoid the doctor, so all your personal medical information doesn’t end up in some government database. And do I have the right to ask the doctor the same question? Isn’t the addiction rate higher in the medical profession than in the general public?

The surgeon general is trying to help those who suffer from addiction, but how is he going to help pain patients? Just with the letter asking doctors to disregard and belittle their patients’ reports of pain?

There’s more than one supermoon

Supermoon over Trump

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Supermoon over America

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Supermoon over Colorado

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Supermoon over Democracy

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Supermoon over Me

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http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/readers-share-supermoon-pictures-after-12176604

Cloudy skies and foggy conditions ruined the supermoon phenomenon for most Mancunians last night. While stargazers across the world shared images of a dazzling white moon lighting up the sky, Mancunians were left disappointed as the weather blocked any views of the sensation…

http://www.mashable.com/2016/11/15/supermoon-tortillas/#RCpbEUPYg5qh

Do babies deserve pain relief?

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/tips-on-soothing-teething-pain-without-pain-relievers-111516.html

Recently, the FDA warned against the use of homeopathic teething tablets and gels. These products, the agency said, can pose a health risk to children. Consumers were told to seek medical care if their child experienced seizures, difficulty breathing, or other adverse effects after using homeopathic teething tablets or gels.

Since then, the FDA has announced that doctors should offer safe alternatives to homeopathic teething tablets and gels. “Teething can be managed without prescription or over-the-counter remedies,” Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement…

My comment:

Johnna Stahl · Albuquerque, New Mexico
Like the CDC, the FDA believes in suffering. How much pain are we talking about here? Bone growing and pushing through the gum line. Dental pain, some of the worst pain that can be felt. Torturers use it.

Do babies deserve pain relief? Doctors used to believe that babies don’t remember pain, so why treat it? (Who remembers the pain of teething?) Turns out, that’s not really true. When you’re a baby, your brain is growing and creating new synapses, including those involved with pain. You might not remember the pain you experienced as a baby, but I can guarantee that your brain remembers.

Not every baby will experience a high level of pain with teething, but if that happens, it should be adequately treated with a mixture of baby aspirin and the other non-drug treatments mentioned in this article. There is no purpose to suffering from untreated pain.

What happened to middle-class America?

President Obama promised jobs and he delivered. But these were 21st-century jobs, like in a call center or an Amazon warehouse. Trump has promised jobs by negotiating better trade deals and building a wall to keep out job-stealing foreigners, but these are only pieces of the puzzle. It’s not the whole picture.

Obama saved part of the auto industry, but this year, I’ve seen lay-offs in just about every industry. Americans want good-paying jobs with adequate benefits, but they don’t really exist anymore. Corporations don’t have to pay good wages or supply benefits when they can go overseas for cheap labor, no benefits, and no environmental regulations. Even China is talking about raising prices so that wages can be increased. (China!) Many Americans haven’t yet realized that they’re competing for jobs with people from all over the world. This is the digital age, where concrete walls and borders don’t exist.

Republicans convinced Americans all over the country that unions were anti-business, so Americans destroyed the only power that could save middle-class jobs. Who else was gonna do it? American workers have had to fight for themselves, which obviously doesn’t work. Especially after Republicans destroyed the different ways Americans have used to fight back, like capping legal damages. Maybe some people think it’s a good thing that the legal industry has shrunk so much, but who’s left to fight?

If Trump is even able to bring back good-paying jobs, who will fight to keep them? (Many years ago, New Mexico paid Intel to open up a location in this state, but the relationship didn’t last. After many rounds of lay-offs, the city where most of the workers lived is now a ghost town.)

What kind of jobs will Trump help to create in this country? Could a President make Intel stay in New Mexico or is all of this going to be business that’s left up to the states? In other words, nothing will change.

This from Rudy Giuliani on CNN today:

“You’re forgetting his campaign promise of increasing dramatically the size of the military and doing away with the sequester. We’re going to go up to 550,000 troops… we were going down to 420,000… and we’re going to increase the size of the Marines… So he’s going to be facing Putin with a country that’s not diminishing it’s military, but a country that’s dramatically increasing it to Reagan-like levels, so that he can negotiate… he’s going to negotiate for peace, but with strength…”

I suppose dramatically increasing our military will put more Americans to work. (There are probably not very many foreigners or immigrants in our military taking jobs away from Americans, but since Bush’s wars, the military hasn’t had that high of a bar for admittance.) Are these the jobs that Trump supporters want, to work for the government, specifically the military?

As far as I know, it’s mostly corporations that outsource contractors from other countries, not the military. Thing is, the military relies on contractors from the private sector quite a bit. I guess it will be poor Americans who fight on the ground, while the “elite” work at their desks from around the world — the type of job that pays well and has good benefits. (The recession caused a lot of job loss in state and local governments — but not so much in Washington.)

I recently saw a billboard advertising for the Marines. It talked about honor. There may be honor in serving this country, but I can find no honor in war. (And just because I’m anti-war, that doesn’t mean I’m anti-military.)

Every day is veteran’s day because America can’t stop fighting wars. Trump wants to increase our military when we haven’t even financially recovered from Bush’s wars. How many women and men will he send into danger? How many will come back broken beyond repair?

There are men and women who will suffer for the rest of their lives with medical conditions caused by their military service. It would be one thing if the healthcare system took care of our veterans, but that’s not always the case.

This country has been cutting back on spending for services we depend on just so we could pay for Bush’s wars, like infrastructure and education. Americans have been cutting back to pay for 9/11 for the last 15 years.

Here in New Mexico (as reported on 11/4/16 by the right-leaning and financially-in-trouble Albuquerque Journal):

“With New Mexico in the middle of a budget crisis, cities and counties around the state are going to have to look for new ways to boost behavioral health services and fight the effects of opioid abuse. Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins made the comments while visiting Washington, D.C., for a meeting hosted by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Hart Stebbins and other officials on Thursday talked about the potential of pay-for-success programs in which local governments make payments to contractors and other service providers only if they meet certain milestones and outcomes…”

It appears that government has embraced the idea of corporations proving success before they get paid. But is this a good idea in the healthcare industry? What kind of successes are they expecting in addiction programs? What will clinics do — how far will they go — to make their patients “succeed”?

The drug war costs billions of dollars. States can’t afford to provide adequate healthcare. We’re in a gigantic financial hole from Bush’s wars — wars that Obama has continued, albeit at a much smaller pace. Military spending was out of control for so long. Americans have given their military a blank check, with very little accountability. Obama reigned in the spending, but just in how fast it was growing. Military spending has always included an annual increase. Can’t say the same for Social Security. In fact, presidents have stolen money from Social Security to fund the military.

And now Trump wants to make our military even bigger. We already have the biggest military on planet Earth. Maybe even in the whole galaxy. Our military is everywhere. Why do we need to make it bigger? As a show of force? Does Trump need a gigantic military at his back so he can negotiate with other countries? Well, guess what? He already has one.

Let’s hear from Trump’s new national security “guru”:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/11/opinions/trumps-national-security-guru-general-flynn-bergen/

Luckily, there are some answers to Flynn’s views in a book he published in July, “Field of Fight: How We Can Win the War Against Radical Islam”. Flynn claims that the United States is in a “world war” with radical Islam, a war that “we’re losing” that could last ‘several generations.” He also asserts that “political correctness forbids us to denounce radical Islamists.”

American Islamists, Flynn claims, are trying to create “an Islamic state right here at home” by pushing to “gain legal standing for Sharia.” Flynn cited no evidence for this claim.

In particular, Flynn portrays Iran as the source of many of America’s national security problems…

Flynn advocates going after the “violent Islamists wherever they are,” which doesn’t sound much different than what the Obama administration is already doing, given that it is conducting various forms of warfare in seven Muslim countries…

Looks like Trump and his cronies are gonna pick a fight with Iran. Will we never stop fighting over oil? Hey, Trump supporters, if we had more solar and wind power, we wouldn’t have to depend on other countries to supply our oil addiction. Or do all you gun-lovers enjoy wars that last forever? As Trump’s new cabinet member says, we’ll be fighting radical Islam for “several generations.”

Trump, the New Face of War. How appropriate. I guess the best we can hope for is that he doesn’t push the button.

My Pledge

As an old woman who happens to be white, I’m not proud of what other members of my race (and the electoral college) have done in electing Trump. What can I do?

I pledge to stand up with every group that Trump has denigrated. I pledge to be vocal about my support for the LGBTQ community, people of color, women, veterans, the disabled, those who suffer from mental health conditions, the homeless, and of course, pain patients.

If you want to be a racist or a bigot, you cannot do so if I’m around. This has nothing to do with political correctness. This is about being a human being.

On the internet or out in public, at Walmart or in Walgreens, if you behave like a racist, sexist, or homophobe, be warned that I will call you out on it. I’m not afraid of you. You think Trump has given you the freedom to act like an asshole and a bully? Think again.

This is my country, too. I may not love it, but I’m not leaving.

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Why I hate Facebook

It’s hard to educate people about chronic pain and the drug war. Sometimes, you just wanna give up…

Johnna Stahl: #DearCDC: Which federal agency will be the first to feel Trump’s ax? Do you think the CDC’s new PR firm will be able to save your jobs? #NoMoreDrugWar

Demaris Forsythe: So you think you’d be better off if there was no agency charged with alerting the country to disease threats? Great. Brilliant.

Johnna: If the agency’s job is to alert the country about disease threats, why has it regulated and standardized the treatment of addiction (I mean, chronic pain)? I’ve asked the CDC if chronic pain and addiction are diseases, but the agency never responded.

The CDC has joined the drug war and now millions of pain patients are being abandoned by fearful doctors, made to feel like outcasts and drug addicts because they suffer from constant pain. The CDC has helped to create this stigma. If Trump and his Republican cohorts decide to cut back on federal spending, I have no problem with them cutting the CDC’s budget to the point where this agency stays out of my personal health care. Enough damage has already been done.

Demaris: I see no evidence for your claim, first of all. Secondly, your issue with pain management has nothing whatsoever to do with vaccines or Zika.

Johnna: I’m sorry you’re not up to date on what the CDC has done. Maybe if you suffered from chronic pain, you would be.

Demaris: Why don’t you post evidence of “what the CDC has done.” And you don’t have any idea what I do or don’t have, dear.

Johnna: I don’t need to post evidence of facts. They are easily found by those who are interested in looking. Maybe the CDC guidelines will affect you or someone you know in the future. Or maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who never has a problem. When it comes to healthcare, do you feel lucky, dear?

Demaris: “I don’t need to post evidence of facts.” You do if you want anyone to believe you. Claims made without evidence may be dismissed without evidence. The onus is on you as you’re the one making the assertion. Back it up.

Johnna: Your comments keep proving your ignorance on this issue, but if you need proof, try the Federal Register. There were over 4,300 comments to the CDC’s 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, mine included. I’ve read almost all of those comments and I would suggest you do the same, but I know you’re not really interested. You won’t be interested until it happens to you or someone you know.

Demaris: “Do you feel lucky, dear?” I don’t need “luck.” I have science and facts. Sorry about you.

Johnna: Talk to the CDC about how they misuse science and facts to accomplish their agenda. Ask them how they determine who is an “expert.” Science is not what it used to be, but it can still be found — just not within the CDC’s guidelines. Funny how the government can use paid experts on addiction to regulate the treatment of chronic pain, as if they were the same medical condition. You think you don’t need luck? Okay, live in your bubble. Doesn’t bother me.

Demaris: “Your comments keep proving your ignorance on this issue, but if you need proof, try the Federal Register. There were over 4,300 comments to the CDC’s 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, mine included” So what?

Johnna: What exactly do you want evidence of? Wait, forget that. Like you, I don’t care. Anyone reading these comments will be able to find the information they need, and that’s what’s important.

Demaris: “Anyone reading these comments will be able to find the information they need, and that’s what’s important.” So you don’t have any? Thanks for playing.

Johnna: Do you know the definition of obtuse? Have you ever heard about Google, you lazy Facebook troll? Maybe if you learn to use it, you’ll be able to find this conversation posted on my blog. Do you think any of the comments will be in your favor?