I’m just back from a lengthy and thoroughly appreciated vacation. Many thousands of miles of driving over three weeks.
Two visits, in particular, were of real significance. The first in Vancouver, after driving from Burlington, Ont. A marvelous face-to-face meeting with my first cousins Gael and Diane who I hadn’t seen since we were kids in Europe more than 50 years ago.
That was followed by the Bonneville Salt Flats outside Wendover, Utah, for Race Week as privateers and professionals alike attempted to set personal as well as world record top speeds.
A high school pal was racing his personally-built car and attempting to surpass the 151 mile per hour threshold, which would grant him a higher level licence at the Salt Flats. Unfortunately, literally minutes after my arrival, Reid’s car tossed a piston like my Yorkshire Terrier tosses a raggedy version of a squirrel, and that was the end of his racing for 2017.
So, thousands of miles behind the wheel, incredible weather, beautiful scenery and speed limits which made sense and appeared only loosely enforced — 80 mph in Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. Montana too is set at 80 mph, but that one particularly seems quite informal. It wasn’t so long ago speed limits were non-existent in Big Sky Country.
This morning, I began assembling this Saturday’s and Sunday’s programs and was jolted back into reality by the following email in particular.
“Hi Roy. Please read me. My dad suffers with chronic pain from a work-related injury. He can’t work and is trying to get his doctor to understand his dilemma. He is having the same issues with pain and agony. About two months ago, I caught him drinking and driving, and he had managed to get some pot and says between the two, he can manage.
But he is now driving high and drunk and all because he can’t get the medication from the doctor and he absolutely refuses to just lie around and not function. So now, not only is he being looked at like a criminal (for needing opioid pain medication), he’s being pushed into behaving like one. I can’t be there all the time, so I can’t control his behavior. I am scared now for what can happen when more and more people use this solution.”
I gather from the spelling, the email arrived from the U.S. (“behavior” instead of “behaviour”). It really doesn’t matter though. I had just spent 10-12 hours on the road, most days in five provinces and six states in close proximity to thousands of vehicles. One of those vehicles might have been being driven by the email writer’s father. Or someone like him. Someone struggling with massive chronic pain and who found alcohol and marijuana combined sufficiently dulled the pain to allow him to “function” reasonably normally. Or, so he believes.
Over the past months as I’ve challenged politicians, doctors and bureaucrats for their soulless denial of pain medication for those struggling to keep a grip on life itself, as agony overwhelms their every waking moment, and previously prescribed and quality-of-life-restoring opioid medications are denied, you and I have heard threats of suicide. In fact, we have heard from family members of good people who are massively in pain, that their loved ones, because their meds have been withheld, ended life.
I can’t and won’t excuse anyone who, high on alcohol and pot, rolls a vehicle onto the road, but I can understand why crushed by massive pain and denied the only medical aid which has proven helpful, a person would reach for the bottle and cigarette paper in the first place.
The cruel and pointless refusal to permit a suffering person medical relief is driven by financial issues. Like insurance companies on the hook for payment of opioid pain meds for millions of suffering people in Canada and the United States.
Just recently in Ontario, I read that 865 opioid-related overdose deaths were evidence of the so-called “opioid crisis. ” With due respect for and condolences to family and friends of those 865 human beings, 865 deaths do not a crisis make.
Try 38,000 deaths related to tobacco use annually in Canada, or 480,000 such deaths in the U.S. That is a crisis.
And what is being done to end the real crisis of tobacco use? The crisis which claims over half a million lives in North America annually? Exactly!
Oh… and for anyone wondering why I wouldn’t turn over contact information of the son or daughter of the alcohol and pot consuming chronic pain patient/driver to police, I can’t. I tried to reply to the email, but any return address was very cleverly and effectively hidden.
Now, who would you blame if this driver causes vehicular mayhem? Him, or the health “care” professionals who appear have forgotten the first line of the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.”
READ MORE: Chronic-pain patients’ battle cry answered
Roy Green is the host of The Roy Green Show and a commentator for Global News.
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