Letter to the editor: Severely suffering patient responds to local M.D.


The Colorado document “Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Opioid Misuse Strategy 2016” says that many patients have been taking prescribed opioids “that for many years have allowed them to manage their pain to tolerable levels.” It adds: “The benefit of tolerable pain levels and functional lives may outweigh the risk of opioid use for these patients.” In other words, some of us have no choice. I have at least 12 broken bones and I suffer from severe fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions. They prescribed oxycodone.

The San Luis Valley Health Patient Bill of Rights states (Article 12, Item 3) that all patients are entitled to “adequate and appropriate pain management.” Which patients?

I, Laura Armstrong, Ph.D., was suddenly denied further prescriptions in February NOT because I have ever been suspected of drug abuse, and NOT for any legal reason, but because I honor the American Bill of Rights and those who control my prescriptions obviously do not. SLVH proclaims that to obtain my pain medicine, I must now renounce my right to protection under the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, Amendments Four, Five and Six. They want my written permission for them to order me out of bed at any time of day or night (I am physically disabled) and immediately find a driver (I CANNOT drive at this time) to bring my medicines to wherever they specify. They ask me to do so without their using the legal requirements of proving probable cause and obtaining a warrant from a court. Of course I cannot sign that.

Members of the relevant committee (apparently led, in my case, by Dr. Gregory McAuliffe) know that I rotate between floor and sofa, screaming and crying from pain too fierce to describe. But try to imagine:

The epidermis (thin layer of skin) has been removed from your back and shoulders, leaving them raw. Then someone picks up a two-by-four and bangs it repeatedly over your shoulder blades and lumbar spine. That is how my back and shoulders feel when I have no oxycodone.

The grapevine wisdom says to me again and again, “Dr. Laura, those doctors don’t care if you suffer and die. At least one of them hopes you will die so that he won’t be forced to admit wrongdoing.” How long can I endure this pain? I do not know.

I do know that I will not renounce the American Constitution unless that committee subjects me to something like water boarding or involuntary brain surgery.

I do know also that I may die because no one can tolerate that level of pain for long. If I do, I ask my readers: Who will have been responsible for my death?

On May 3 Dr. Gregory McAuliffe was quoted in the Valley Courier: “Anyone … on a controlled substance for more than 90 days is expected to sign this agreement” (in place since 2012.) In my case that is a lie. I was on oxycodone for 10 years before I even heard of the agreement. (Aimee Johnston, N/P, introduced me to it less than three months ago.)

Dr. McAuliffe also said, “We are going to support those patients who have a true need for ongoing narcotic pain medication. We are not trying to interfere with the appropriate use of these medications.” As explained above, that too is a lie in my case.

Dr. McAuliffe concludes his article with “every patient should be treated … respectfully.” Does he define causing an 80-year-old woman to lie on the sofa and scream as “respectful treatment”?

SLVH has responded to a serious substance abuse problem with the cruel and absurd tactic of tricking unsuspecting innocent patients into renouncing their born-to rights of protection under the American Bill of Rights. This must mean that they think the end justifies their sneaky means. Afraid not, sirs and madams. Not in the America I knew until February 2017.

P.S. One minute ago I spoke with a SLVH staff member who admitted she doesn’t know much history and government but still thinks I should sign because they’ll “never do that” to me. Then why are they fighting so bloody hard to make me let them do it?

Dr. McAuliffe failed to address the major issues of morality and legality when asking American citizens to give up their American rights. And he submitted no verifiable concrete facts and figures; he merely made assertions.

Laura Gail Armstrong, Ph.D.

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