Vets: The VA doesn’t feel your pain.

I am being involuntarily removed from my methadone prescription for chronic pain. I was taking 5 mg three times a day. The doctor says she is “weaning” me off of methadone. She didn’t say why.

Some months ago I went to the so-called “Pain Evaluation Clinic” at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Medical Center in Houston. I saw a psychologist for about an hour and spent about the same with a physician assistant who proceeded to make clear that I would be taken off methadone. I have taken the drug for more than 11 years. I had a couple of medical tests on the horizon that concerned me so I was spared from the weaning for the time being.

I never really received an explanation why I was being taken off methadone. The PA told me that my prescription for 15 mg was equivalent to 60 mg morphine equivalence. In extensive reading this afternoon, I found nothing to indicate whether this equivalence is accurate due to the medication itself.

The PA, I suppose, tried to scare me out of my methadone prescription. She gave me the impression that I could all of a sudden overdose while taking just a normal dose. I found nothing to support such claims.

It is true that methadone overdose deaths represent about 1-of-4 total fatal ODs. I found this on one government medical site:

“Methadone is a very strong painkiller. It is also used to treat heroin addiction. Methadone overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount of this medicine. This can be by accident or on purpose.

 “Methadone overdose can also occur if a person takes methadone with certain painkillers. These painkillers include oxycontin, hydrocodone (Vicodin), or morphine.”

Look Ma, no spontaneous overdose from normal dosage for years.

Don’t bother going to the VA for severe pain. They want you to hurt. I guess service to the country wasn’t enough.

Here is some additional illumination about methadone overdose from CRC Health Group, a West Coast addiction and behavioral treatment group based in California:

“Between 1999 and 2004, deaths attributed to methadone increased by 390%, an effect primarily related to increased utilization in pain clinics , as well as diversion.

 “Methadone accumulation can lead to sedation, respiratory depression, respiratory arrest and even death. Lethal respiratory depressive effects can occur in doses as low as 30 mg in non-tolerant persons

  “Initial efforts to characterize risk factors derive largely from Australia, where deaths related to methadone tablets prescribed for chronic pain increased markedly between 1984 and 1994. Diversion of methadone tablets accounted for about half the deaths, whereas deaths from prescribed methadone declined over this period. “

As CRC quite succinctly pointed out:

  “You must take methadone responsibly and with respect for its power, but the careful and considered use of methadone has proven quite safe, even for long-term consumption. Methadone has been proven not to harm the lungs, heart, brain, liver, kidneys, or any other organ.n 4,000 deaths. However, many of these deaths did not involve methadone treatment for opiate addiction — instead, they involved individuals who were using methadone without medical supervision for pain treatment, or who were otherwise abusing methadone.

 “Methadone use saves far more lives than it endangers. According to the National Alliance of Methadone Advocates (NAMA), opiate addicts who are not on methadone are more than three times more likely to die than are individuals who are using methadone as part of a supervised addiction recovery program.

 “Methadone, much like any strong opiate analgesic, has a respiratory depressive effect. If you take too much methadone, you can stop breathing and die.”

Simple enough!

A registered nurse friend of mine said recently:

 “You’re right that it’s the fentanyl and oxy and it’s the serious main-liners fucking it up for all of us. This entire thing is blown up by big pharma – I’m sure we could follow the $ and figure it all out, but the guy in pain is paying the real cost of trying to make it without his pain meds. It’s a mess,” she said. “It’s horrible and I can’t believe the medical system is letting them interfere with medical practice like this. It’s illegal and malpractice not to treat a patient with the correct medication when it’s available. Period.”

My weaning is in a rapid fashion. It makes me wonder if VA practitioners receive a bonus for cutting off opioids for some old vets with severe pain.

I started with being prescribed 10.5 mg three times per day. This month I received a prescription for 5 mg twice a day. Next  month it will be 5 mg once a day and 2.5 mg once a day.

I was never given a firm reason why I should quit taking methadone. I don’t have to though. It seems most VA top leaders want to look good for their boss in the White House. I doubt he could tell an opioid from a hemorrhoid.

Even worse than how I will fare without methadone from a withdrawal standpoint — almost 12 years is a long time on an opioid — is the pain.

I have not been offered a firm solution to the often severe chronic pain from spinal stenosis in my cervical spine, this despite having two surgeries. I also suffer from excruciating lower back pain that doctors at the VA have never seemed to agree on the reason. It limits my walking and the problem has never been substantially addressed, with the exception of a diagnosis of arachnoiditis. The condition is a pain disorder caused by the inflammation of the arachnoid, one of the membranes that surround and protect the nerves of the spinal cord.  The diagnosis seems dubious after seeing a number of different doctors.

Most disturbing are the VA pain strategies involving high doses of over-the-counter analgesics such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. For real? Do they seriously believe such OTC drugs will help after taking methadone for almost 12 years?

Other VA “pain control” suggestions include physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and group therapy. I just know sitting with a group singing “Kumbaya” will kill the pain.

I don’t know what will happen in the future. Most certainly, I am scared. I was put on methadone by a VA pain doctor in Dallas who suggested methadone after he told me there was nothing he could do to help. I have tried all the VA has had to offer since 2006 and those strategies that do not work for me have only grown 12 years later.

I can certainly understand why many VA patients may go elsewhere for help with pain. I don’t plan to seek black market opioids. Beyond that, I will do what I need to do to survive severe pain on a daily basis.

A little sunshine in the Russian military indictments among the Trump cloud

Indictments of Russian military spies that were announced today by the U.S Justice Department give a direct link to President Vladimir Putin and efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 elections.

The 29-page document spells out how 12 Russian military members of the federation intelligence service, GRU, hacked Democratic National Committee as well as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee computers. In addition, the e-mail accounts of some state and local election officials, and voting machine contractors were infiltrated. Information of about a half-million voters was stolen by the Russians.

Pssst, comrade. Would you like to buy the 5,000 Trump votes under my huge hat?

President 45, who was in England today, had been briefed on the indictment by Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein but still called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and “an obstacle” to a good relationship with Russia. The orange-hued U.S. president is set to meet with Putin on Monday, July 16, in Helsinki, Finland. Some Democrat and Republican lawmakers both are pushing for the president to cancel the summit with the Russian president in light of today’s indictments.

The announcement by Rosenstein today was good news to me as I feel the Special Counsel is making some progress in determining whether President 45 is directly involved with Putin in election meddling in 2016. The U.S. president won the all-important electoral college vote although his opponent Hillary Clinton had some 3 million more popular votes. The news is certainly uplifting compared to that ugly display yesterday in Congress when joint committees questioned and many badgered former FBI Agent Peter Strzok.

Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page were removed from the Special Counsel after anti-Trump emails between the two, who had a one-time extra-marital affair, were discovered. Strzok had previously testified in a closed hearing before the two committees for some 11 hours. His televised testimony on Wednesday also lasted 11 hours.

The hearings was no more than a beat-down of the agent by Republicans who are seeking to discredit the investigation of the Trump campaign and its ties with Russia. Some former Trump officials including former National Security Advisor and retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort have been charged with crimes in the Mueller probe.

Flynn has been charged  with lying to FBI agents and has pleaded guilty in exchange for providing the Mueller team with criminal information in their investigation. Manafort has been charged with money laundering conspiracy, not registering as a foreign agent and lying. A superseding indictment against Manafort and a Russian cohort was filed in June.

The circus that was the Strzok hearings was both disgusting and an embarrassment to anyone who cares about our government. It was especially a forum for the certified assholes and generally worthless human beings in the House to show what substance they are not made of. This included an exchange between Strzok and Rep. Trent Gowdy,  R-S.C. in which an objective (and nonobjective viewer) could conclude that the dickweasel Gowdy had his ass handed to him by the FBI official.

Rep. Gowdy, Rep. Gohmert, are you guys inside that pachyderm. Photo LOC.gov

A stunningly angering display was shown by House goofball  Rep. Louie Gohmert. The northeast Texas Repubilcan asked Strzok how many times did he look into his wife’s eyes and lie to her about his affair with Page.

Several lawmakers shouted at Gohmert over his uncalled for “question.” One member, Rep. Bonnie Coleman, D-N.J, shouted: “You need your medication!”

That is what life has become in these United States — only worse — under the imbecilic, narcissistic prick of a President. I will take today’s success by Mueller and his team over our dark days. Perhaps there will be some happiness if 45 is indicted or impeached. While that will make me happy, it will also make me sad. The sadness is for our nation and how family and friends have become divided over Trump. How they will react, one only knows.

*EFD Note: Because the current president of the U.S. is a lying, corrupt, immoral piece of detritus, his name will not be mentioned while he is in the White House.

 

And the rocket’s red glare, noxious farts everywhere …

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans!  This American birthday is always as good a time as any to remember the figures who made American so great that exhorting my fellow citizens to “Make America Great Again” is redundant. I suppose if we were to make America great again such a start would be to send our present president packing.

Some of our forefathers were perhaps as reprehensible as our 45th. But some were incredibly bright and innovative. For instance, Benjamin Franklin is credited with organizing the first fire department, bifocals, the Franklin stove among other accomplishments.

Franklin was known for his wicked wit, as well. During his time as U.S. Ambassador to France, Franklin penned an essay known as “Farting Proudly.” The essay was a satiric piece in response to a call for scientific papers by the Royal Academy of Brussels that Franklin found as pretentious and mostly useless. Here is some July 4th humor by one of America’s best. Note: A passage in French was translated using Google. I cannot guarantee complete accuracy. Also, Franklin never submitted the essay.

A windy essay by Amb. Franklin.

The Royal Academy of Farting *****

Benjamin Franklin

To The Royal Academy of Brussels, 1781

GENTLEMEN,

I have perused your late mathematical Prize Question, proposed in lieu of one in Natural Philosophy, for the ensuing year, viz. , that you esteem Utility an essential Point in your Enquiries, which has not always been the case with all Academies; and I conclude therefore that you have given this Question instead of a philosophical, or as the Learned express it, a physical one, “Any given figure, one asks to register there as many times as possible another smaller figure, which is also given”. I was glad to find these words, “The Academy has judged that this discovery, by extending the limits of our knowledge, would not be without utility.” Translated from French (Google Translation.)  that you esteem Utility an essential Point in your Enquiries, which has not always been the case with all Academies; and I conclude therefore that you have given this Question instead of a philosophical, or as the Learned express it, a physical one, because you could not at the time think of a physical one that promis’d greater Utility.

Permit me then humbly to propose one of that sort for your consideration, and through you, if you approve it, for the serious Enquiry of learned Physicians, Chemists, &c. of this enlightened Age.

It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind.

That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.

That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.

That so retain’d contrary to Nature, it not only gives frequently great present Pain, but occasions future Diseases, such as habitual Cholics, Ruptures, Tympanies, &c. often destructive of the Constitution, & sometimes of Life itself.

Were it not for the odiously offensive Smell accompanying such Escapes, polite People would probably be under no more Restraint in discharging such Wind in Company, than they are in spitting, or in blowing their Noses.

My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes.

That this is not a chimerical Project, and altogether impossible, may appear from these Considerations. That we already have some Knowledge of Means capable of Varying that Smell. He that dines on stale Flesh, especially with much Addition of Onions, shall be able to afford a Stink that no Company can tolerate; while he that has lived for some Time on Vegetables only, shall have that Breath so pure as to be insensible to the most delicate Noses; and if he can manage so as to avoid the Report, he may anywhere give Vent to his Griefs, unnoticed. But as there are many to whom an entire Vegetable Diet would be inconvenient, and as a little Quick-Lime thrown into a Jakes will correct the amazing Quantity of fetid Air arising from the vast Mass of putrid Matter contain’d in such Places, and render it rather pleasing to the Smell, who knows but that a little Powder of Lime (or some other thing equivalent) taken in our Food, or perhaps a Glass of Limewater drank at Dinner, may have the same Effect on the Air produc’d in and issuing from our Bowels? This is worth the Experiment. Certain it is also that we have the Power of changing by slight Means the Smell of another Discharge, that of our Water. A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreable Odour; and a Pill of Turpentine no bigger than a Pea, shall bestow on it the pleasing Smell of Violets. And why should it be thought more impossible in Nature, to find Means of making a Perfume of our Wind than of our Water?

For the Encouragement of this Enquiry, (from the immortal Honour to be reasonably expected by the Inventor) let it be considered of how small Importance to Mankind, or to how small a Part of Mankind have been useful those Discoveries in Science that have heretofore made Philosophers famous. Are there twenty Men in Europe at this Day, the happier, or even the easier, for any Knowledge they have pick’d out of Aristotle? What Comfort can the Vortices of Descartes give to a Man who has Whirlwinds in his Bowels! The Knowledge of Newton’s mutual Attractionof the Particles of Matter, can it afford Ease to him who is rack’d by their mutual Repulsion, and the cruel Distensions it occasions? The Pleasure arising to a few Philosophers, from seeing, a few Times in their Life, the Threads of Light untwisted, and separated by the Newtonian Prism into seven Colours, can it be compared with the Ease and Comfort every Man living might feel seven times a Day, by discharging freely the Wind from his Bowels? Especially if it be converted into a Perfume: For the Pleasures of one Sense being little inferior to those of another, instead of pleasing the Sight he might delight the Smell of those about him, & make Numbers happy, which to a benevolent Mind must afford infinite Satisfaction. The generous Soul, who now endeavours to find out whether the Friends he entertains like best Claret or Burgundy, Champagne or Madeira, would then enquire also whether they chose Musk or Lilly, Rose or Bergamot, and provide accordingly. And surely such a Liberty of Expressing one’s Scent-iments, and pleasing one another, is of infinitely more Importance to human Happiness than that Liberty of the Press, or of abusing one another, which the English are so ready to fight & die for. — In short, this Invention, if compleated, would be, as Bacon expresses it, bringing Philosophy home to Mens Business and Bosoms. And I cannot but conclude, that in Comparison therewith, for universal and continual UTILITY, the Science of the Philosophers above-mentioned, even with the Addition, Gentlemen, of your “Figure quelconque”and the Figures inscrib’d in it, are, all together, scarcely worth a

FART-HING.

 

The chickens come home to roost for Lying No. 45

The policy of “no tolerance” for immigrants illegally crossing the U.S. that has led to thousands of children caged like laying hens is just one more instance of a stupid president surrounded by sycophants.

President 45 caved to pressure and signed an executive order today that supposedly ensures those adults arrested for illegally crossing the border are not to be separated from their children. Thousands of children are stuffed inside a number of buildings, caged like laying hens, many of those  babies and toddlers with no idea why their parents are not around to pick them up.  Like 45’s co-signature on a communique with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un allegedly will result in “de-nuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, the order signed today is short of specifics. For instance: How will children snatched from their parents be reunified with those mothers and fathers and where will they stay?

The constant pictures and audio recordings in the news media of children wailing as federal authorities separate families have created a s*** storm among more than a majority of Americans. Traditional supporters of this president including some evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and all living First Ladies — including at least in some measure Melania 45 — have  criticized this policy. Kirstjen Nielsen, who as Homeland Security secretary, has played a major ass-kisser in this matter and among the other ass-kissers has proven to be as big a liar as the president. Nielsen was paid back last night for her loving support of baby-snatching as she was loudly accosted by protesters while she was dining in a Mexican restaurant. Talk about your pot calling the kettle black!

During this whole screwup the president and his mighty band of ass-kissers lied that the causation of the federal baby-snatching was due to laws and court cases, but he mostly laid the blame on congressional Democrats. That is totall bulls***, of course. With daughter Ivanka and First Lady Melania nipping at the president’s butt, his caving was in no doubt hasten by GOP lawmakers who see a blue wave in their future.

Secretary Nielsen didn’t even finish her avocado. Too bad. So sad. Photo by EFD

Even Pope Francis was critical of this most recent lack of moral action by the administration of President 45.

Speaking of moral clarity, I recently emailed the state leader of a mainstream religion in Texas and asked him about the single most-puzzling aspect of this president’s actions. I speak of his compulsive lying. It isn’t that No. 45 misrepresents this fact or another. He is a bald-face liar and now, more and more, those around him feel compelled to lie for him.

My question to this holy man was this: Lying, or bearing false witness as it appears in the Ten Commandments, is a sin. So, how can people who purport devotion to their faith put up with the constant whoppers this a**hole president spins? Many folks I know who support 45 shrugs this off with the “all politicians lie” excuse.

But if someone lies to their friend or relative on a constant basis, would that person eventually throw up their hands and keep their distance from these liars? No matter that a biblical admonition to tell the truth might be a spiritual imperative, it like other Commandments, are a moral and social guideline for getting along in this world.

The religious guy whom I e-mailed wrote me back, unable to attempt an answer to my question as to how can the devout put up with this prevaricator-in-chief. He even gave me the impression that there was something ill with my asking such a question.

Such a moral force our nation has become under President 45. I can only hope the President 45 faithful will not choose to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid at some point in time.

*Note: Because of his innate repugnancy, I refuse to use the president’s name anymore.

The president and his big “surprise”

A big story today that will probably drop off the face of the political earth by tomorrow –At the moment, CNN reports that Iranian forces fired rockets at Golan Heights — probably qualifies for the least surprising news. The U.S. president who prefers Twitter time to that of a chief executive of the nation accidentally tweeted that his idea of “fake news” is a news report that is not favorable to the administration.

Surprise, surprise, surprise! As Gomer Pyle used to exclaim, although the simpleton Marine would blurt that phrase when something was pleasantly fortuitous.

No pile, Pyle. — Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

What is most upsetting, at least to those who revere the First Amendment,  President Little Fingers tweets: “Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”

All of this because this corrupt president can dish it out but can’t take it. I have become amazed how some folks with good sense can worship this orange asshole. I ended a friendship on Facebook, and in real life, because this friend can’t admit when he is wrong. He was that way before President Orangutan Butt, but his man love for this sorry excuse for a leader just hastened things. If my friend/ex-friend can admit his part in the feud, then perhaps we can begin at least talking again. If not …

Such stupidity on behalf of our idiot president can be dismissed by many. But after more than 20 years as a journalist and an almost equal tenure as a public servant in city, state and federal government such thoughtless pronouncements makes the prospect of a possible authoritarian nation worrisome. That is why I don’t use the name of the person who Russia helped elect him as our president. (Maybe not maybe so. This is my opinion and you don’t have read it.)