Pubdate: Thu, 18 Apr 2002
Source: Courier, The (LA)
Copyright: 2002 Houma Today
Author: Lynette Klingman


Recently, a man in another state pulled a gun on police so they would shoot 
him (suicide by cop). The man who did this had a very painful condition 
called fibromyalgia, which is something I have suffered with for a number 
of years.

It is a very painful, invisible condition that affects millions of 
Americans, and there is no cure. Just about anyone who has this condition 
has been told at least one time by a physician that it is "all in their 
head" when it is not a mental illness. The pain causes depression, anxiety 
and insomnia -- all of which exacerbate the pain -- but it is not a 
psychological illness. It is very real and very painful, and those who have 
it are robbed of any quality of life. (I know, because I'm one of them.)

I have to wonder: If this man's pain had been treated by his doctor, would 
he still be here today? I think that he did not really want to die but 
could not live with his pain any longer -- otherwise he would have been 
able to pull the trigger himself, and not have used police officers to do 
it for him.

For the past year or so, newspapers and magazines have had numerous 
articles bashing pain medication, to the point that doctors now must worry 
about going to jail for writing a prescription. Most people who are in pain 
will never find a doctor who will help them because of the doctors' very 
real fear of losing their medical licenses.

I cannot understand why so many Americans must suffer daily with 
intractable pain when we are supposed to be living in the greatest country 
in the world. It is terrible that the means for pain relief is readily 
available, and yet so many people must continue to suffer, some to the 
point of committing suicide. It's a shame that we live in a country that 
not only allows its citizens to suffer needlessly, but also treats those 
same patients like addicts if they are lucky enough to find a doctor 
compassionate (and brave) enough to treat it.

Pain patients don't get high on their medication. Drug addicts take drugs 
to escape life -- pain patients take medication so that they can have a 
life. There is a difference. Maybe someday the law and the medical 
profession will realize this, and stop the needless suffering of many.

Lynette Klingman, Gray
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager