Hero or Villain?

“They say everyone’s born a hero. But if you let it, life will push you over the line, until you are the villain.” Marvel’s Jessica Jones











In the drug war, there are no heroes or villains. Just a bunch of people suffering.


Two days before he shot himself in the head, Denny Peck called 911 and said he couldn’t stand the pain. Peck, 58, told the fire-department dispatcher that he had been a patient of Seattle Pain Centers, a chain of Washington clinics, until it closed abruptly in July amid allegations of improper oversight and patient deaths…

#DearCDC: Is chronic/intractable pain a disease?

I had a recent conversation in a comment section about the definition of disease. The dude said that addiction and depression aren’t diseases. And I’m like, would it make you feel better if I called them medical conditions? No? So, when the brain is sick, that’s not a disease or medical condition?

How about when the nervous system is sick, like with chronic pain? Is chronic/intractable pain a disease? Let’s look at some definitions of disease:

(1) a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.

(2) an illness that affects a person, animal, or plant; a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally.

(3) a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.

I’d say that intractable pain fits these definitions. Let’s read further:


(2004) What is a disease?

At first sight, the answer to “What is a disease?” is straightforward. Most of us feel we have an intuitive grasp of the idea, reaching mentally to images or memories of colds, cancer or tuberculosis. But a look through any medical dictionary soon shows that articulating a satisfactory definition of disease is surprisingly difficult. And it is not much help defining disease as the opposite of health, given that definitions of health are equally tricky. The World Health Organization’s claim that health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 1946) has been praised for embracing a holistic viewpoint, and equally strongly condemned for being wildly utopian: the historian Robert Hughes remarked that it was “more realistic for a bovine than a human state of existence” …

What counts as a disease also changes over historical time, partly as a result of increasing expectations of health, partly due to changes in diagnostic ability, but mostly for a mixture of social and economic reasons. One example is osteoporosis, which after being officially recognized as a disease by the WHO in 1994 switched from being an unavoidable part of normal ageing to a pathology (WHO, 1994). This has consequences for sufferers’ sense of whether they are ‘normally old’ or ‘ill’, but more concretely for their ability to have treatment reimbursed by health service providers.

Another well-known example is homosexuality, which has travelled in the opposite direction to osteoporosis, through medical territory, and out the other side. After being redefined during the nineteenth century as a state rather than an act, in the first half of the twentieth century homosexuality was viewed as an endocrine disturbance requiring hormone treatment. Later its pathological identity changed as it was re-categorized as an organic mental disorder treatable by electroshock and sometimes neurosurgery; and finally in 1974 it was officially de-pathologized, when the American Psychiatric Association removed it from the listed disease states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV…

Intractable pain should be classified as a disease. It fits the definitions. It could also fit the definition for cancer:

“the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body”

Chronic pain is caused by abnormal and uncontrolled activity in the body’s nervous system. Do pain patients have to die for this medical condition to be taken seriously? Cancer is no longer always terminal, and intractable pain is not immediately terminal. But this is about quality of life and how the disease of constant pain can remove all quality of life. What’s quantity without quality? It’s misery.

I posted this comment on CDC’s Facebook page entitled:  “Today is One Health Day! Diseases are shared between people, animals, and our environment.”

#DearCDC: Is chronic/intractable pain a disease? How about addiction and depression?

How many pain patients have given up?


“Vermont, and the rest of America, will not get a handle on the opiate and heroin addiction crisis until we confront head-on the source of the problem: FDA-approved opiates that are handed out like candy,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a statement…

The $11 billion a year opiate industry in America knows no shame,” Shumlin said, adding that “opiate addiction is the one thing that could destroy Vermont as we know it.” …

“We must flip the presumption that a patient needs opioids to manage pain…” the state’s health commissioner, Dr. Harry Chen, said in a statement.

Opiates are handed out like candy? They’re the cause of the addiction “crisis”? They’ll be responsible for destroying a whole state? What universe is this dude living in? It’s sad that there’s only 5 comments on this article, even if they’re all from people who suffer from chronic pain. How many of us have given up?

Now let’s look at how the media talks about antidepressants:


Earlier this week Amanda Seyfried opened up about why she doesn’t think she will ever come off the antidepressants she takes to keep her mental illness in check. The 30-year-old actress has been taking Lexapro to help manage her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since she was 19-years-old.

“I’ll never get off of it,” she told Allure. “I don’t see the point of getting off of it. Whether it’s placebo or not, I don’t want to risk it. And what are you fighting against? Just the stigma of using a tool?” …

The message is clear, taking mental health medication doesn’t make you weak, nor does it deter from your ability to stay strong in the face of adversity. Because opting to take medication for a mental health problem can be one of the bravest decisions sufferers can make. At the very least it shows that they are willing to get help, that they want to get better and it reflects the fact that they think they can get better…

Reading this reminds me that I don’t have the option of managing my intractable pain with the drugs that help me the most. I don’t even want to try to see another pain doctor. (Because, as you know, doctors suck.)

I never thought the drugs would help me “get better,” but I did think they would keep the condition from getting worse. (Sometimes I hate it when I’m right.) It feels like I’ve pretty much given up and I’m now just waiting for something to kill me, as that’s the only way for the pain to end.

This is the drug war. And that’s what really needs to end. Unfortunately, I won’t live to see it, but I’ll bet it will be a worldwide celebration. Drugs are not the enemy, people.

Dear Dr. Bonakdar


Robert Bonakdar, MD, is Director of Pain Management at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, immediate past president of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management and co-author of the 2016 book Integrative Pain Management. Follow him on Twitter @DrB_Well.

While I wait for things to change, I will go back to the office, sign Dr. Murthy’s pledge, and wait for the day that the sales reps come to detail me on the benefits of group exercise for pain, and the denial letters I keep getting start using more truthful language: “We regret to inform you that this therapy is being denied because we simply don’t want to deal with the real issue. Pain, as you know, is a real bummer…”

My comment:

So many of you “experts” are pushing alternative therapies, as if most chronic pain patients haven’t already tried (and paid for out-of-pocket) most of these treatments (and more). When these alternative treatments only have a success rate equal to a strong placebo effect. What do you propose for the majority of pain patients who don’t respond to all of these alternative treatments? Just suffer, right?

Sure, let’s go backwards in the treatment of pain, like back to the 1980s, when doctors would only prescribe antidepressants for chronic pain — antidepressants, now prescribed like candy, even though sugar is probably a better drug.

“…opioids for pain care has not created any significant improvement in pain and disability…”

Opioids are not miracle drugs. Their purpose is not to cure, but to manage. Have antidepressants created any significant improvement in depression (or made it worse)? Have anti-addiction drugs cured drug addicts, or do some patients have to take them for the rest of their lives? Does insulin cure diabetes? Why are doctors requiring opioids to do more than any other drug?

The most successful treatment for pain is opioids. That’s a fact. The treatment that’s being denied to many chronic pain patients — and cancer and terminal patients — is opioids. Stop acting like most pain patients haven’t already tried all of these alternative treatments (and then been forced into poverty). Stop acting as if these alternative treatments can replace opioids, when all they can really do is help reduce their use (but only in a small percentage of patients).

It’s not chronic pain patients who are abusing their medications, it’s mostly those who suffer from addiction. The opioid war isn’t about the treatment of pain, it’s about the treatment of addiction.

Living with constant pain isn’t a “real bummer.” Donald Trump running for president is a real bummer. Suffering from intractable and incurable pain makes a person wish for death. Because death is preferable to living with constant pain without any hope of relief.

While all of you “experts” are living in a fantasy world, those who suffer from intractable pain are living in the real world. Why don’t ya’ll join us down here in hell?

Do you know a bully?


“One of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest,” Clinton said. “He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman ‘Miss Piggy’ — then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping,’ because she was Latina. Alicia Machado, Donald — she has a name.”

Machado was the 1995 winner of the Miss Venezuela pageant. She went on to be crowned Miss Universe the next year, when she was 19. That’s when, according to Machado, she began to be bullied by Trump, who was then the owner of Miss Universe Inc., the company behind the pageant.

In an interview with Inside Edition in May, Machado said Trump bullied her “all the time,” mocking her weight and calling her “Miss Piggy.” According to Inside Edition, Trump wasn’t shy about confirming Machado’s story at the time, giving interviews about how he was taking her to the gym to encourage her to lose weight.

Speaking to the New York Times in May, Machado said Trump’s treatment of her left her with lasting harm.

“After that episode, I was sick, anorexia and bulimia for five years,” she said, speaking about Trump’s public admonishment of her weight. “Over the past 20 years, I’ve gone to a lot of psychologists to combat this.”

As Clinton said Monday night, Machado has become a U.S. citizen — just in time to vote in November’s election.

Do you know a bully? They’re very hard to deal with, even if you try to understand them. Best thing to do is walk away from a bully. Of course, if Trump becomes president, we won’t be able to do that.


There’s a new documentary streaming on Netflix called Audrie & Daisy. If you’re a parent, you’ll want to watch it. If you’re a female, you definitely need to watch it.

The movie will make you angry and disgusted. And it will make you cry. After you watch the movie, if you want to talk about it, I hope you’ll come back and comment.

To all of the survivors who were brave enough to be a part of this movie — especially Daisy — I salute you! To every rape survivor, I can’t say this enough:  It. Is. NOT. Your. Fault. And you are not alone. #StopTheShame




DEA Hires Stephen King To Scare Teenagers Away From Drugs

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a press release this morning announcing that it has hired the famous author Stephen King as a consultant. Mr. King will create short stories and advertising messages for the DEA about the danger and horror of drug use.

“In 2015, Maine saw 157 deaths caused by heroin and/or nonpharmaceutical fentanyl and 111 caused by pharmaceutical opioids,” said Mr. King, who lives in that state. Mr. King went on to say that he wants to do something to help.

For many Americans, it looks like Stephen King has joined the drug war.

Mr. King has spoken publicly about his past addiction to alcohol and cocaine. Recently on Facebook and Twitter, Mr. King has spoken out about Donald Trump and Maine governor Paul LePage. He’s also spoken out against police violence about unarmed black men very recently, citing the Freddie Gray incident.

Now, many in the chronic pain community are wondering why Mr. King — who suffers from intractable pain — hasn’t spoken out about the new CDC rules on opioid prescribing. Could it be that he has nothing to worry about?

In 2000, the Irish Times reported that: “The impact with the van broke the writer’s left leg in nine places, gave him two fractures to the hip, broke four ribs, chipped his spine in eight places, lacerated his scalp and stripped all the skin from his collarbone… King survived the encounter, narrowly avoiding quadraplegia but still in constant pain.” It’s also been reported that Mr. King had 6 different surgeries.

While some of Mr. King’s injuries have healed, I have no doubt that he still suffers from constant pain. But as a rich celebrity (who says he grosses about $40 million in a good year), Mr. King will always have access to the drugs he needs to manage his pain. Must be nice.

Today is Stephen King’s birthday. He’s 69 years old. Bryan Smith, the driver who hit Mr. King, died on Mr. King’s 52nd birthday from an overdose of Fentanyl. Mr. Smith suffered from chronic pain and depression.

In April of this year, in Mr. King’s home state of Maine, the governor signed: “An Act To Prevent Opiate Abuse by Strengthening the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program.” The Act has a morphine milligram equivalent cap, set at 100 MME, which is slightly higher than the CDC’s 90 MME cap. Patients currently receiving opioid pain medication have a 300 MME cap until July 2017 to ease their transition to a lower dose.

Maine’s law also caps the maximum time for prescriptions to seven days for acute pain and to 30 days for chronic pain, and it mandates use of the state’s PDMP.


“Research shows opioids are ineffective and often counterproductive for treating chronic pain, leading pain physicians have told the Portland Press Herald… Four out of five new heroin users develop their addictions as a result of prescription opioids, according to the American Society for Addiction Medicine… With a state law setting a 30-day maximum for chronic pain, insurance companies may start requiring prior authorization before reimbursing for new prescriptions beyond the initial 30-day prescription, Smith said.”


“About 16,000 Mainers are currently prescribed high doses of opioids for chronic and acute pain, and the new law means many will have their prescriptions reduced.”

Does this new law affect Stephen King? Pain patients all over this country want to know why Mr. King hasn’t spoken out. Is it fear or does he just not care?

(Side Note: No, the DEA didn’t hire Stephen King. One hopes that the author would never sink so low. As a rich person, he doesn’t need to.)

If you want to write to Stephen King, he’s represented by Rand Holston of Paradigm. He’s on Twitter and here’s his Facebook page:


Johnna Stahl
Today at 6:43am

About 16,000 pain patients in Maine will be affected by the new law signed by Governor LePage, “An Act To Prevent Opiate Abuse by Strengthening the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program.” Mr. King, as someone who suffers from intractable pain, do you agree with these new restrictions? How will they affect your pain management? Are you willing to use your voice to help other pain patients? Happy 69th birthday, from one of your fans in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Do you like yourself?

What is self-esteem and how important is it to our health?


Many early theories suggested that self-esteem is a basic human need or motivation. American psychologist Abraham Maslow included self-esteem in his hierarchy of human needs. He described two different forms of “esteem”: the need for respect from others in the form of recognition, success, and admiration, and the need for self-respect in the form of self-love, self-confidence, skill, or aptitude…

The underlying idea of the movement was that low self-esteem was the root of the problem for individuals, making it the root of societal problems and dysfunctions. A leading figure of the movement was psychologist, Nathaniel Branden who was quoted as saying, “[I] cannot think of a single psychological problem – from anxiety and depression, to fear of intimacy or of success, to spouse battery or child molestation – that is not traced back to the problem of low self-esteem”.

Shame can be a contributor to those with problems of low self-esteem…


The self-esteem movement operates on the basic principle that low self-esteem causes decreased motivation, decreased productivity and increased societal and social woes. Corresponding evidence suggests a link between low self-worth and an increased risk of violence, drug addiction and alcohol abuse. By bolstering self-esteem early in life, proponents of the self-esteem movement feel that the negative consequences of low self-worth can be avoided.

A healthy amount of self-esteem is necessary for a person’s continued success and happiness, but evidence suggests that too much artificial self-esteem can lead to depression and an overall decreased sense of self-worth. It is possible that self-esteem building exercises are necessary but only in moderation. Some feel that teaching self-esteem should come secondary to other techniques that bolster self-worth.

Not everybody believes that the self-esteem movement and methods are valid. An equal amount of research shows that high self-esteem can lead to the same pitfalls as low self-esteem. Teaching self-esteem at the exclusion of other traits can have a negative impact on a person’s ability to self-soothe and comfort himself or herself after a setback or trauma because outside validation is necessary. By taking the self-esteem bolstering efforts too far, it is possible for individuals to develop narcissism.

Those who argue against the self-esteem movement feel that the effects of the movement are more negative than they are positive. Instead of focusing on self-esteem, detractors of the movement feel that children should be taught motivation, dedication and perseverance. By learning these skills, they can make themselves feel good instead of relying on outside sources to boost self-worth…


By David Crary, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Today’s college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.

“We need to stop endlessly repeating, ‘You’re special,’ and having children repeat that back,” said Jean Twenge , the study’s lead author and a professor at San Diego State University. “Kids are self-centered enough already.” …

Narcissism can have benefits, said study co author W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia, suggesting it could be useful in meeting new people “or auditioning on ‘American Idol.'”

“Unfortunately, narcissism can also have very negative consequences for society, including the breakdown of close relationships with others,” he said.

The study asserts that narcissists “are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors.”

Twenge, the author of “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before,” said narcissists tend to lack empathy, react aggressively to criticism, and favor self-promotion over helping others. [The truth is out: Donald Trump is a narcissist.]

The researchers traced the phenomenon back to what they called the “self-esteem movement” that emerged in the 1980s, asserting that the effort to build self-confidence had gone too far…

Campbell said the narcissism upsurge seemed so pronounced that he was unsure if there were obvious remedies.

“Permissiveness seems to be a component,” he said. “A potential antidote would be more authoritative parenting. Less indulgence might be called for.” …

I think Campbell is saying that American kids are spoiled. Are they? Doesn’t every older generation think that of the younger generation?

Since Americans have gotten poorer, it seems that we like to indulge ourselves more. Perhaps we even need to indulge ourselves more, just to get through the day. (And maybe deep down, we feel like we don’t deserve these indulgences. Do I deserve chocolate cheesecake? Because I bought lots of cream cheese this month instead of chicken.)

I think self-esteem is important. I think every person is unique, although I don’t believe that every human being is special. How many of the over 7 billion people in the world are special? I may have a healthy self-esteem, but I don’t think I’m special.

I was thinking about self-esteem and how it relates to those with chronic medical conditions. And I was thinking about how patients are treated differently in our healthcare system — depending on your medical condition — and how discrimination can create self-esteem issues.

Chronic and intractable pain patients are learning how it feels to be treated like drug addicts by doctors and society, and yet those who suffer from drug addiction have always had to put up with this kind of discrimination. Many people still think that drug addiction is a choice, and now people are starting to believe that chronic pain is a choice. Are drug addiction and chronic pain considered real medical conditions? If so, patients would have access to as many treatments as cancer patients. Looks like we’re all just a bunch of fakers.

Being disabled is isolating and messes with your self-esteem. Why do some mental and physical conditions deserve treatment, while others are allegedly our own choice, and if we were just strong enough, we could overcome them? I smell religion in the house, which should never cross over into medical science (what’s left of it).

There’s a difference between needing the approval of others and being able to approve of yourself. Are self-worth and self-esteem the same thing? If you have low self-worth, you need others for your self-esteem. If you have self-worth, you don’t need anyone else’s approval.

However, everyone needs others to like them. And so this would be a good time to say thanks to everyone who likes my posts. Likes are nice. 🙂

Are you thinking about suicide?

If you close your eyes, all you can see is darkness. But if you concentrate very hard, you may be able to picture a hand within the darkness.


That’s my hand, reaching out to you. Can you see it? Can you grab it?

“Find my hand in the darkness, intertwined you will be the day to my night. We can share wings and take flight towards our own inner light.” Truth Devour

Do you want to talk? I’m just an email away (painkills2@aol.com).

“Sometimes the only way to catch your breath is to lose it completely.” Tyler Knott Gregson

This post was created in loving memory of Blahpolar, a fellow warrior.



Blah, please tell Prince that we miss him — as much as we miss you. Peace.

To The Warriors

To all of us 🙂



Amazon Warriors Did Indeed Fight and Die Like Men

Archaeology shows that these fierce women also smoked pot, got tattoos, killed—and loved—men.

It’s sort of fair to say that Amazons, both as reality and as a dream of equality, have always been with us. It’s just that sometimes that fiery Amazon spirit is hidden from view or even suppressed. Right now they’re blazing back into popular culture.

Thinking of you, Blahpolar




Blahpolar had an immense effect on my life. I doubt she even realised how much. She walked beside me on my own journey even as she carried the weight of her own demons. She said two words that redefined my life – you matter. Two simple words that changed my life. And now, I am at a loss for words. Because she mattered to me, and to you and to us. Words escape me. All I have are tears…


“haunted by the screams”


At least 1,500 children in 30 states alleged that they were abused at private treatment facilities in 2005 alone, according to a 2008 Government Accountability Office report. At least 28 states had one or more deaths in residential treatment facilities that year. Island View dealt with a death in 2004, when a boy hanged himself with a belt just a month into his stay. Other allegations in the report included “sexual assault, physical and medical neglect … [and] bodily assault that sometimes resulted in civil rights violations, hospitalization, or death.” Teenage victims of abuse often stay silent out of fear, mistrust of authority, or simple ignorance. The number of them abused or neglected at treatment facilities each year, the GAO found, is likely much higher than 1,500…

Regulators are little help: The troubled-teen industry is almost entirely unregulated. The GAO data from 2005 are the most recent available because the federal government doesn’t track allegations of abuse at treatment centers, let alone investigate them or close down problem facilities…

Congress has repeatedly refused to intervene. In 2011, a federal bill that would have banned physically abusing or starving children at such facilities died in committee…

But like most states, Utah has no rules outright prohibiting isolation, humiliation or physical restraint. So facilities like Island View still can — and do — isolate, humiliate and physically restrain children. In many states, they can withhold food and water as punishment.

Even solitary confinement — which President Barack Obama has banned for juveniles in federal prison — is permitted at many private treatment centers…

When parents signed over guardianship of their children to Island View, they also signed over the power to decide which medicines their children would take — voluntarily or involuntarily. Some kids took all the medicine that staff therapists prescribed. Others refused and were forced to comply…

Antipsychotics can cause rapid weight gain, increase the risk of diabetes and metabolic problems, and haven’t been proven effective in treating teen depression and emotional issues. But on its website, CRC Health — Aspen and Island View’s parent company — lists antipsychotics such as Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel as one option for combating teen depression. And all of the former Island View students who spoke to HuffPost said they were forced to take antipsychotics, some for problems including bipolar disorder, which is now thought to be dramatically overdiagnosed in children.

It’s legal and common for doctors to prescribe drugs at higher doses and for different conditions than those approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But they should be especially careful when prescribing antipsychotics to children, experts say…

Before Graeber landed at Island View, a therapist at another Aspen facility, Second Nature, put her on Seroquel to deal with anxiety and sleepless nights, she said. At Island View, she said, nurses increased her dosage to 800 milligrams a day — the maximum dosage that AstraZeneca recommends. She wasn’t alone…

Graeber said she hated walking by the rooms and seeing her friends trapped in there. “I’m still really haunted by the screams,” she said. “Sometimes I have nightmares just from the screaming.”

From the 2013 movie “Kids for Cash”:

“Two million children are arrested every year in the US. 95% for non-violent crimes. Each year the US spends $10,500 per child on education and $88,000 on each child incarcerated. 66% of children who have been incarcerated never return to school. The US incarcerates nearly 5 times more children than any other nation in the world.

Grasping at straws


Where does menopause fit in? Because of the controversy over the risks of hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, for menopausal or perimenopausal women. A large 2002 study found that women treated with estrogen and progesterone had higher risks of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer.

Many doctors hit the breaks on HRT after that study and their patients “white-knuckled” their way through menopausal side effects like worsened mood, increased anxiety, sleep problems, incontinence, and decreased sex drive. Some women may have sought out alcohol, anxiety meds, and painkillers to cope.

Beyond the dangers of mixing these substances, the cruel irony here is that long-term opioid use makes women’s hormone situations worse, says Beth Darnall, a Stanford University professor who specializes in pain-psychology research.

“When women go through menopause, there are big changes with pain, anxiety and depression. There is a hard body of research on this,” Darnall said. “Opioids, taken long term, reduce the level of hormones in the body. This can lead to a greater sensitivity to pain. And it can feed into this dose-escalation cycle.” …

As a woman — and intractable pain patient — who’s gone through menopause, I don’t know what the hell this professor is talking about. Opioids, taken long term, reduce the level of hormones in the body? Um, isn’t that what happens during the aging process, for both men and women? How can you put the blame for aging on opioids? And wait, I thought there wasn’t any research on the long-term effects of opioids?

In fact, the opposite of what she says may be true. I’ve heard plenty of stories from women who’ve suffered migraines for decades and then, after menopause, the headaches go away.

I know everyone is different, but menopause didn’t affect my intractable pain in any way, except to end my very painful periods every month. So, whatever these “big” changes with pain, anxiety and depression that women are supposed to experience during menopause, I guess they just passed me by. Or else this professor is full of shit.