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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Your two-part story on painkiller abuse really left out one aspect of the story. You are quick to cite the number of deaths from overdose and everything negative you can, and I agree those are things we need to be aware of. But I did not notice you cite the number of people who live in horrible pain, who if they lost their ability to get these meds would be sentenced to live out the rest of their lives in agony.
I know because I am one of them. I have a contused spinal cord, and a ton of nerve damage. I can walk, but each step is like driving a white-hot spike through my feet and legs. As you probably guessed I am on a few painkillers; some are for long-term, some are for breakthrough pain. I am on full disability at age 44 and I hate it. I hate taking drugs for my pain.
But if well-meaning people like you make it impossible for me to get the help I need, I will get to live in that agony all the time. The people who need this stuff understand better than you ever will the nature of it. We don't run around asking for sympathy. We only ask for the help we need and to be allowed the dignity to live our lives, as diminished as they have become.
Try walking in my shoes for a while before you judge me, because when I see a story like this it really hacks me off.
Stuart McClain, Largo
Prescription drug abuse
Too many people just want to pop pills
I want to commend the St. Petersburg Times for reporting on the prescription drug problem we have. I am a chiropractic physician in Largo and treat people in pain every day.
Chronic pain is an awful thing. To see a patient suffer is a nightmare to all heath care providers. Certainly, there are those who live a better quality of life with pain medication. We should allow good doctors to make decisions without fear of losing their licenses.
A major problem I see in my office is that there are far too many people who seek pain medication as the only solution to their problems. Over the last eight years I have seen hundreds of patients who are overweight, eat a poor diet, lie on the couch all weekend, do not exercise, and are surprised they are in pain. This society has become so quick to take a pill for everything.
The answer is not easy. The best bet is to educate yourself, do the research, and question your doctor about other options for pain besides medication. Please let people know there are other options to treat pain besides popping pills.
Dr. Marc J. Rogers, Largo
Choose legitimate care
I applaud the efforts of your reporters in writing about the epidemic problem of prescription drug abuse in our fine state. I was disappointed, however, that your writers did not include enough information about "legitimate," appropriately trained pain-management physicians.
No one is more acutely aware of the endemic problem of prescription drug abuse than "legitimate pain-management doctors," those who are fellowship-trained, board-certified and keep up with ongoing training annually. These doctors understand the pharmacology of opioid medications as well as the multitude of other medications used to treat pain, and the pathology of addiction. They follow nationally accepted, research-based clinical guidelines when treating patients.
In order to combat prescription drug abuse, the public needs to understand how to differentiate between a legitimate pain-management physician and a pill-mill doc. A legitimate pain-management doctor understands that opioid pain medications are but one tool of many that may be used to treat chronic, unrelenting pain. They appreciate the importance of monitoring the use of these medications with things such as opioid agreements, urine drug screen monitoring and pill counting.
To combat prescription drug abuse, we must make the public aware of the dangers of illegitimate doctors who call themselves pain-management doctors. Unfortunately, the board of medicine has been futile in its efforts to do the same.
Lora L. Brown, M.D., president, Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, St. Petersburg
Each file is a drug death I cannot forget Feb. 24, Perspective story
Wary of monitoring
That was a wonderful article about the dilemma of pain medication, however I am strongly against prescription drug monitoring. My husband is Richard Paey. He is a chronic pain patient who had a high need for strong pain relievers due to a car accident, a botched spinal operation and his MS. He was well-documented in having gone to numerous pain clinics and had not doctor-shopped. Yet he was still targeted by the police. They stubbornly dragged him through three trials, he spent 31/2 years in prison and then was miraculously pardoned in September.
Although it was illegal at the time, the police pulled Rich's prescriptions from pharmacies and decided he was taking "too much" pain medicine; that was the sole basis of their actions against my husband. Therefore, I don't trust the police to act appropriately with information obtained from the pharmacies. I do not believe our case is isolated. In most cases, the pain patient accepts a plea agreement so no one ever hears about it.
I wish prescription monitoring would be the silver bullet that could solve some of these problems. Unfortunately it will solve some and create others.
Linda Paey, Hudson
A microwave isn't a future Feb. 24, Robyn Blumner column
Try some frugality
While complaining that the ability to have color TVs, cars, DVD players, etc., does not give typical middle class people a future, Robyn Blumner makes no mention of the future those people would have if they were responsible with their money and saved.
To my knowledge, the government does not force individuals to spend beyond their means or prohibit individuals from saving their money.
Perhaps if the middle class refrained from becoming too comfortable with a monthly lease payment, buying large-screen flat-panel TVs that are not needed, buying outrageously expensive Bucs tickets for games that are televised, and paying ridiculous sums for Starbucks coffees, then perhaps they would have a future.
But then again, that is the difference between a Democrat and a Republican: One blames everything on the government while the other looks for personal responsibility.
Robert Waters, St. Petersburg
William F. Buckley
A mind to be missed
Permit me a personal word about the loss of William Buckley. And it is a great loss.
I am not of the same political persuasion, but he came very close to changing my mind every time I watched his television program, delighted with his winning smile and articulate eyebrows. Such intelligence, civility and humor are sorely missing from public life today. His, truly, was a bright, shining life.