This is a reply to a political post a respected member of the chronic pain community posted on my social media page last week. Identifying info has been removed.
Letter to one of my hero’s:
Thank you for taking taking the time to post a political link on my page! The chronic pain community doesn’t have many hero’s, I am happy you are here!
I have followed your story with great interest over the last five years. As a chronic pain patient, I was incensed when your State Medical Board went after your medical license for treating chronic pain with opioids. I was delighted when you were victorious in your fight against them a few years later. It turned you into a hero in our community. Your vocal advocacy for Cannabis as a treatment option turned you into a living legend. There isn’t anyone I respect more than you in the medical world. You fought the system and lived to tell about it.
That’s what makes this reply so difficult. You are one of my hero’s! I really hate conflict, too! Which is ironic considering I’m run for an office in one of the most contentious places in political history.
Our current crisis highlights the ongoing incompetence at the CDC that we’ve known about for years. The CDC’s opioid guidelines were weaponized by big insurance and state agencies just like we predicted. Those guidelines are directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of chronic pain patients and the ongoing misery of millions.
It is no surprise they dropped the ball on this pandemic. The CDC has been dropping the ball for over a decade. This current failure comes after the 2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) outbreak, the 2012 MERS outbreak, the 2013 Ebola outbreak, the 2018 Ebola outbreak and the 2019 Measles outbreak resulted in the deaths of at least 171,000 people.
Even after a string of pandemics to serve as a warning over the past eleven years, the CDC and other government agencies lacked the forethought to prepare, to stockpile basic protective gear for health care providers. They dropped the ball again.
Finally, after five years of hard work trying to bring attention to the problems at the CDC, to point out the misery their opioid guidelines continue to cause, guidelines that were created in secret and based on half-truths. The eyes of the country are finally being opened to the ongoing arrogance, ignorance and incompetence at the CDC.
Now is the time to bring up the fact that our healthcare system kills 700,000 people a year between medical mistakes, healthcare acquired infections and adverse drug reactions - mostly due to bad regulations and policies. 7 Million deaths over a decade, as devastating as the Holocaust! It’s the full blown epidemic that’s been going on for decades that nobody is told about.
We are finally in a position to push for changes of leadership and policy. Changes that will improve the lives of millions....
And what are you doing?
Lobbing half-truth bombs at the current president.
It took me a few days to zero in on why I was frustrated with you. It’s the half-truth game the left is playing now. It’s the same half-truth game the State Medical Board played with you, based on those fraudulent half-truth guidelines from the CDC. It almost cost you your ability to practice. Now you’re playing the half-truth partisan game. Squandering your platform.
Chronic pain patients have been forced to live with half-truth based rules for a decade. It’s killing us. Half-truth policies almost killed me. Half-truths lead to hopelessness. Hopeless lives are hard to live. We don’t have time for half-truths.
You have a huge following from the chronic pain community. I think a third of them will love the partisan politics, a third will hate it and the rest will just be disappointed that you wasted your platform chasing a temporary politician with half-truths when you could have advocated for real policy change. They hate the half-truth game and will move on to someone else advocating for real change.
I could spend all my time pointing out that our current terrible policies were created and expanded under the last administration. But doing so would only create division when we need unity. I might score some political points, but at what price? Partisan politics won’t change policy and doesn’t help the patient.
I saw a post this morning in one of our support groups that another member, a chronic pain patient, committed suicide last night due to untreated pain. Her medical treatment was deemed non essential during this pandemic. It was her 53rd birthday.
I see posts like that everyday now. I doubt they cared about party politics. This ongoing holocaust of suicides in the chronic pain community will continue unabated if bad policies are allowed to remain in place!
I firmly support your right to do what you want! Pursue this president all you want. The two of you a lot in common - you don’t give up, you don’t back down, and you don’t take crap from anyone. These are qualities I admire in both of you.
I’m just telling you nothing will improve for patients until serious changes are made with government agencies and bad policies are reformed. Let’s not waste our platform on partisan politics, let’s not burn bridges that patients need. It won’t matter who the president is if chronic pain patients can’t get treatment.
Like many in the chronic pain community, I have advocated for change from the outside for years, dragged myself to numerous meetings in Nashville and Washington, met with numerous politicians from all sides. It hasn’t changed a thing.
Someone has to fight for change from the inside. That’s my mission now. I really hope you’ll join me in fighting for patients! Unified support from the chronic pain community can lead to real change! Let’s fix this!
Kent Morrell for U.S. Senate
State of Tennessee
Life ~ Liberty
Letter to a politician sent in September. Identifying info has been removed:
I appreciate you taking time to talk to us!
You said something in our meeting that was factually inaccurate about Cannabis and Heroin use. Your comment was “Every marijuana user may not use Heroin, but every Heroin user has used marijuana.” I can provide you with research that shows your comment is false. For the sake of argument, however, one could also say “every water drinker may not drink alcohol, but every alcoholic started with water.” In either case you are confusing causation with correlation. It is intellectually dishonest.
I know you think you are doing what’s best for your constituents by continuing the prohibition of Cannabis. I remember when I thought I knew what was best for everyone else. I was a fool. "Only the foolish learn from experience, the wise learn from the experience of others.” — Romanian Proverb
Don’t be a fool, Senator. Anyone that wants to use Cannabis can easily find it. It’s everywhere. All prohibition does is protect the black market and hurt people who play by the rules.
Tobacco is responsible for 480,000 deaths a year. (Sources listed below.)
Alcohol kills 88,000 a year.
Those numbers are about as bad as medical mistakes and healthcare acquired infections, but no one talks about those categories!
440,000 deaths from Medical Mistakes!
100,000 deaths from Healthcare acquired infections!
Please don’t tell me Cannabis prohibition continues for public safety.
When you get a chance, please review the history of how Cannabis was made illegal in the first place:
The history should disturb you. I miss my ignorance about Cannabis and the moral superiority I once arrogantly held. It is easy to demonize something we don’t understand. We’ve been told our whole lives that Cannabis is a dangerous drug. Turns out it’s not true. The government lied to us about the dangers of Cannabis. Prohibition continues those lies.
I would not be advocating for Cannabis if I had not been forced to choose between illegal treatment and death. No one living in Tennessee should be placed in such a spot. Last year was so difficult that I did not expect to see 2019. Now that I’ve found a treatment that works well for me I wish I could go back to just running my business and living my life. That’s not good enough anymore. People are dying because of untreated pain - primarily due to bad decisions politicians made thinking they were protecting people.
“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” ― Albert Camus
“We shall act with good intentions, but at times we will be wrong. When we are, let us admit it and try to right the situation.” ― Joe Paterno
I can do nothing else but fight for Tennesseans’ right for medical freedom. Expect to see me frequently regarding this issue.
Don’t take good health for granted! We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Everyday is a bonus day!
Thanks again for your time!
Advocate for Patients
PS: I’ve been told you are “out of touch” and I "shouldn’t waste my time" on you.
I don’t believe it. I don’t believe talking to you is a waste of my time! I don’t believe someone can reach the position you’ve reached and be “out of touch” with what’s actually happening to people. I think you are doing the same thing I would if I were in your position. You are elected to do what you think is best for your constituents.
You are, of course, wrong on Cannabis. You were wrong on pain management, too. The unintended consequences of votes you cast as a state rep and senator have injured thousands of Tennesseans. The vote to repeal Tennessee’s Intractable Pain Care Act back in March 2015 was particularly bad because you didn’t make allowances for patients like me who have no other options. To put this in military terms, you made decisions that stranded Tennesseans on the battlefield - you left people behind. What did you think was going to happen to patients who live with severe permanent pain and lose access to treatment?
The bottom line is this - you didn’t think about the collateral damage your votes would cause and patients like me were forced to choose between suicide and illegal treatment.
Before you think I’m picking on you, I am aware it was a unanimous vote. All of you made a bad decision that day. My family and I continue to deal with the repercussions of that vote. You can fix this. You can make changes that allow for treatment options for fellow Tennesseans! I hope you fix it before one of your family members is forced to live with permanent pain. Unless you have experienced unending severe pain, you cannot imagine it. Any comparison you come up with has an end.
You said “Most of my core beliefs are rooted in letting families make the best decisions for themselves. Whether it’s choosing a school to attend or selecting a place of worship, personal decisions should be made by families, not the government.” I agree with you! Personal decisions SHOULD be made by families, not the government. There is nothing more personal than living with severe chronic pain. If you are serious about your core beliefs, being “rooted in letting families make the best decisions for themselves,” then let me have a say in my own medical treatment. What’s more “personal” than that?
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