By Sherri Silesky

I'm frightened. More frightened than I've ever been in my 50 years on the planet. Why? As a chronic pain patient, it started with reading about what is happening to those suffering from chronic pain. The Gestapo-type tactics used by the DEA, as they burst through the doors of pain clinics, often without warrants or cause, rifling through patient files, terrorizing patients, arresting doctors and even, it has been reported, doing body searches of employees. I have a list of over 60 doctors who have experienced this, some winning in court, but many losing their practices, their licenses, and with some, their lives due to suicide.

The suicide rate among chronic pain patients higher than that of the general populace. That's because they can't get their hands on the one thing that will relieve their pain. Narcotics. People who are insulin dependent get their insulin, no problem. High blood pressure? Just ask your doctor. Thyroid medication? No questions asked. But narcotics? For pain? Even though study after study (Harvard, the New England Journal of Medicine, not Mad Magazine) has proven that taken correctly for treating pain, narcotics (opiates) are safe.

We first need to educate our lawmakers, who seem to be blind, deaf and stupid in this regard, to the difference between addiction and dependency. Am I dependent on my meds? You bet. Am I addicted? No way. I don't have an addictive personality, and if a cure were found, I'd flush every last one of those things down the toilet. I hate the side affects, and put up with more pain than I have to because of them. Now, I would have to go through withdrawal, but withdrawal does not mean addiction. I'd have to slowly withdrawal from another one of my meds as well, and that is not a narcotic. FIGURE IT OUT.

When I talk to friends and family members about this, they generally don't believe me. They listen politely, of course, but most times, write it off as my pain medication talking, or a histrionic episode brought on by too many hours of solitude due to the pain. While it's true my life has changed drastically since inoperable spinal tumors began causing pain that cannot adequately be described, the stories are unfortunately, not just stories. They are truth. There are way too many sources backing them up to be written off as some over-the-top conspiracy theory nut trying to grab a little limelight.

Still, these stories aren't “sexy” enough for most major newspapers. Or, and this is a more likely theory, conspiracy or not, most major newspapers lean to the right, and this is definitely a left issue, though not in left field. The “sexier” stories are those of addiction, doctor misconduct, patient lies and pharmaceutical wrong doing, whether they did wrong or not.

What's true, is that only 1% of those who take narcotics to treat pain become addicted in the way the DEA is trying to sell it. 1%. The reason one reads of higher statistics, is that the statisticians throw in those who are addicts or have addictive personalities into the mix.

Here's yet another reason I am frightented. I just recieved an email stating the CBS will be censoring an ad that speaks out about the $1 trillion budget deficit because it considers it “too controversial.” This decision by CBS is a blatant refusal to maintain an unbiased outlook and provide a public forum for views that differ from the 'party line' of this administration. If that doesn't frighten you, it should, big time. Here is part of that e-mail:

“During this year's Super Bowl, you'll see ads sponsored by beer companies, tobacco companies, and the Bush White House. But you won't see the winning ad in Voter Fund's Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest. CBS refuses to air it.

Meanwhile, the White House and Congressional Republicans are on the verge of signing into law a deal which Senator John McCain (R-AZ) says is custom-tailored for CBS and Fox, allowing the two networks to grow much bigger. CBS lobbied hard for this rule change; members across the country lobbied against it; and now the ad has been rejected while the White House ad will be played. It looks an awful lot like CBS is playing politics with the right to free speech.

Of course, this is bigger than just the Voter Fund. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) submitted an ad that was also rejected. We need to let CBS know that this practice of arbitrarily turning down ads that may be "controversial" – especially if they're controversial simply because they take on the President – just isn't right. “

As it stands, the only news we see is what our government wants us to see. That makes us no different from the countries whose leaders we love to hate. No different. No kidding. And it's only getting worse. And no, I am not a conspiracy theory nut. I'm an average, American citizen who happens to be ill. I've had the time to discover what this country becoming. And it isn't pretty.

All this may not alarm you now because the things that are being censored aren't “your issue.” Sort of like when I get upset because so few people “get it” about the kind of pain I am in. People keep reminding me that unless something happens to you personally, you seldom understand.

This should alarm you. Your civil liberties are being stripped away, slowly and steadily, by an administration that not only wants to be King, it wants to be God. Look no further than the new “Privacy Act” which went into law a year ago.

If you read the law in it's entirety, you will see that just about anyone can now have access to your personal medical files. The language is so ambiguous, that if I get mad at my neighbor for leaving their dog out barking all day long, I could tell the authorities I heard them making threats about the President, and those authorities would be able, if they so chose, to look through their medical files to see if they were taking certain drugs, or had mental health problems. And it isn't just the authorities. Again, the language is so ambiguous, pretty much anyone could look through your personal medical records.

Most of you reading this have seen this law, or a version of it. You have to sign it before seeing a doctor or getting a prescription filled. I once had an argument with a receptionist at a doctors' office about it. I balked when she asked me to sign it, and she said I didn't have to worry because they had their own “version” of the law. I laughed and said the law was the law, and she could have me sign a nursery rhyme and it wouldn't make any difference. When I went in to see the doctor, a nurse appeared, and she asked me why I gave the receptionist “a hard time” I stood toe to toe with her and said as far as I knew, this was still America and I had a right to speak my mind, and if the doctor was smart, he'd worry about this law too, because it puts his butt on the line as well.

She stormed out, was gone for five minutes, came back and said “I was fine” and told me to go home. I never saw the doctor. I asked her if this had anything to do with the “incident” in the waiting area, and she turned crimson by denied it. I left, went to another doctor, and got a prescription of the urinary infection I knew I had. I wrote to the first doctor and told him he “missed” my infection, and that I may be in touch. This is how Americans are thinking now, and that's the scariest part. They are all so scared, they are blaming patients instead of the government.

Start acting now. Don't wait. It's later than you think.

Sherri Silesky

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