By Jesse Church
Aloha all my fellow veterans and residents of Molokai, old Jesse here with all the veterans news and upcoming events. For all our veterans out there who get pain medication from the Department of Veteran Affairs, beware. The VA has begun a crackdown on prescriptions for pain medication. You now must see a VA doctor every month, and give random, unannounced urine samples, so they know that you’re taking your medication, and not selling it, before you get your prescriptions. The problem is, the VA failed to tell anybody about the new program so some veterans got their medications up to seven days late, and some never got their prescriptions. This monitoring program could have some very serious consequences for veterans that have turned to the streets, and in some cases, suicide to get relief from their pain.
I can truly sympathize with these veterans, because I was one of the veterans caught up with this. For three months, I got my pain medications up to a week late, and I would call the VA pharmacy in Honolulu, and argue with them that I needed the medication, but it did no good, and they still never told me about the new program. Finally, after three very bad months of going in and out of withdrawal, and arguing with the pharmacy, I said to myself, “I have to do something, I can’t go on like this.” After some weeks of some serious soul-searching, I made the decision to stop taking the painkillers and break my addiction to them. So I walked into the VA Clinic here on Molokai and handed what medications I had left to my care coordinator, and told her that they can shove the pain killers where the sun don’t shine. I was able to kick my addiction to the painkillers the VA had me on for 18 years, and I was able to go it cold turkey. I do miss the relief they gave when the pain gets bad but I just grin and bear it. I know that I’ll have the pain to the day I die, so I have resigned myself to the fact that I must deal with it the best I can, just like I did before the VA started giving me painkillers.
The VA has stated that since they started this program, the number of veterans prescribed opioids has been reduced by nearly 110,000, but I don’t believe that number. The VA also said no statistics are available regarding the number of veterans in chronic pain who buy opiate-based prescription painkillers or heroin on the illegal market. The Department of Veterans Affairs has many things to remedy and this needs to be up near the top of the list, if not at the top, so come on and fix the problem before we lose more veterans to suicide, or bad street drugs. Part two of this story will be in the next week’s edition.
Please remember that old Jesse loves all the residents of Molokai very much from my heart, and I consider you all my family. Everyone have a great week, remember part two next week, see you then. Aloha.