Another headline today. Another physician indicted. I read the phrase “faces life imprisonment” and it pierces my suddenly fragile psyche like a spinal needle. My resolve threatens to hemorrhage, figuratively but painfully, leaving me wondering why I do this. Why do I treat chronic pain?
I’ve seen headlines like this too often. But I know the doctor in the headline this time. We work in the same hospital. And though I do not know details, I know him to be a solo practitioner willing to embrace suffering people, many of whom are among the most marginalized, downtrodden, and castoff. I hope and pray that truth and justice will prevail. But my confidence is fragile.
Yesterday, my fifteen-year-old son and I were driving in the car, and he asked about this doctor because it was “all over the news.” My son knows what I do for a living. He’s heard me lament about how frightening the heavy hand of regulatory oversight by non-medical types can be for us medical types. I can only imagine how news of another pain specialist facing life in prison must make him feel – how it must make my wife feel, my other children, my parents, my friends, my employees, my patients…all those who depend on me, care about me, love me.
But I don’t dare go into the deep dark honest place in my heart to ask how it makes me feel. I can’t. I have work to do.
I have “Mama P” in my exam room right now. Despite the indescribably painful metastatic cancer that has invaded her spine, she manages a warm smile, offers me her outstretched trembling arms, and we embrace. She is here and she needs me. And as my moist tears well up, I realize that, today, I need her. And I know, again, why I do this.
And I know what we must do to make sure that she and every other suffering soul has hope. We must let pain care providers feel our powerful and uplifting embrace – the embrace of the fragile people they serve – because, in reality, we are all fragile suffering souls. We all need each other.
Let’s do this.
Let’s start right now.
Let’s make PAIN CARE PROVIDERS DAY happen.
Pain Care Providers Day is March 20, 2015, the first day of spring. It will be a day to recognize our caregivers from all walks of life who do what they can to ease the pain of others.
Ways to make this day special might include dropping off a nice thank you note for your therapist, baking some cookies for the clinic staff, sending flowers to the person who schedules your appointments, blogging, or writing a letter to the editor in support of better access to effective pain care for all. Unleash your creativity and spread the message.
A powerful way to raise awareness is by asking your friendly neighborhood municipal leader to officially proclaim March 20, 2015 as Pain Care Providers Day.
A proclamation is a formal public declaration often written by government officials to commend individuals or to raise awareness of upcoming events, celebrations, and issues of significance.
Pain Care Providers Day is a prime opportunity for us to secure proclamations honoring our caregivers from all walks of life who labor, often under duress, to alleviate suffering in our communities.
Here’s how it can be done…
- Identify the best person/office to approach for the proclamation, such as: city leaders, state representatives and/or members of congress.
- Contact the offices to request a proclamation.
- View official websites for instructions on how to submit a formal request; a form may be available for online submission.
- Use the draft proclamation language below as a guide for submission with the understanding that the final language may change to conform to standard protocols.
- If possible, meet with the official for the signing of the proclamation. Take a photograph and obtain permission to use the photograph to further increase awareness of Pain Care Providers Day.
PAIN CARE PROVIDERS DAY
We can’t just want it to happen.
We have to make it happen.
PAIN CARE PROVIDERS DAY PROCLAMATION
WHEREAS, PAIN is a universal feeling, which for millions becomes chronic, impacting every facet of life; and affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined; and is cited as the most common reason Americans access the health care system; and
(Ref: 1, 2; see comments section)
WHEREAS, there exist regulatory, legal, institutional, financial, educational, and geographical barriers that impede access to pain care; barriers that contribute to increased suffering along with feelings of despair, futility and shame on the part of people with pain; and
(Ref: 3, 4, 5)
WHEREAS, in the face of this national pain epidemic there is less than one board-certified pain specialist for every twenty thousand pain sufferers; and these pain specialists are subject to tremendous stressors, leading to a high rate of professional burnout, interpersonal difficulties, suicidal tendencies, and even life-threatening physical harm; and
(Ref: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
WHEREAS, because of the shortage of pain specialists, the vast majority of our nation’s pain care must remain the duty of a vast array of dedicated but increasingly anxious medical professionals, kindhearted laypersons, and overburdened loved ones who bravely and compassionately persevere in treating pain as best they can;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, [name, title], do hereby proclaim March 20, 2015, the first day of spring, as PAIN CARE PROVIDERS DAY throughout [city or state name] and encourage our citizens to recognize all who professionally, clinically or emotionally offer more than their expertise -that is, they offer their hearts- and therefore are deserving of our gratitude, encouragement, and support so that they might carry on, empowered to provide care and comfort to those suffering.
Please use social media to the fullest extent and tweet with the hashtag #WhyPCPD
If you want to connect personally with me about Pain Care Providers Day, I can be reached at: email@example.com
Thank you. I’m feeling stronger already.
Please check out the Pain Care Providers Day Facebook page.
US Pain Foundation has a sample proclamation available for easy download at: