May 24, 2019 2:44 pm

Roy Green: When a chronic pain patient considers suicide

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Lennihan, File
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The tweet appeared a few days ago, and it opened a window into the lives of chronic pain sufferers who are denied access to legal medication.

“So sad, this week I’ve been in such severe pain I went looking for heroin. I never imagined myself, a retired nurse, EVER considering injecting anything. I’m THAT desperate. My other choice was suicide. I saw new PM (pain medicine) Dr this week in another futile attempt to secure legal meds.”

I’ll call her J.

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I’ve been in contact with J who will share her “desperate” reality on air Sunday. J is housebound mostly now. Her agony is too intense to live what most consider a normal life.

COMMENTARY: What about those who really do need opioids to manage their pain?

That J, like many chronic pain patients in Canada and the United States, is battling for her life is an indictment of twin healthcare systems. And then there are pain patients who unable to confront the unbearable another day choose the step into the abyss.

Dennis Prager, syndicated U.S. radio talk show host, shared an excruciating piece on his blog about one particular chronic pain patient’s suicide in Why my stepsons’ father killed himself.

I have previously posted Dennis Prager’s indictment of those who abandoned his stepsons’ dad. It bears rereading and forwarding to politicians and medical professionals who indifferently and cruelly ignore terrible personal suffering.

WATCH BELOW: Future of chronic pain therapy in Ontario in question

Pain patients are not the face of the heavily publicized opioid crisis. Chronic pain (agony) patients are the generally unseen and unheard victims of doctors living in fear medical regulators will revoke their licences to practise, should physicians violate flawed national guidelines.

Representatives of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario have assured me off air doctors are not expected to arbitrarily slash or refuse opioid prescribing for established chronic pain patients, but where’s the publicly available directive to physicians? Why has the CPSO repeatedly refused to appear on my program, even after suggesting the College president would be an excellent guest?

READ MORE: ‘I think suicides would go up’ — Chronic pain sufferers say Ontario therapy program changes could be devastating

J is an American pain patient, yet her crisis is like that of 31-year-old Canadian counterpart Graham, who in an email wrote, “I look at the sun these days and I feel this is my last spring on earth.”

People living in agony are balancing on the knife-edge of survival. How is that not a violation of fundamental human rights?

As Laura Mills, health researcher at Human Rights Watch and Diederik Lohman, visiting scholar at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University and the former health director at Human Rights Watch, wrote in an opinion piece in the Health and Human Rights Journal, “Human rights should be embedded into any response to the overdose crisis, but they can’t be selectively applied — chronic pain patients also have a right to health.”

Tell that to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who described chronic pain as “low grade, but very annoying,” or Jeff Sessions, who while U.S. attorney general, said, “people need to take some aspirin and tough it out.”

They and those who believe similarly might read Prager’s blog post and listen to my program this Sunday.

Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.

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