Another view of the opioid crisis: I am a Vietnam War veteran.
I was stationed at an air base that distributed Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Years later, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
I underwent two surgeries.
Two years later, the cancer returned.
The second time, I was treated with radiation therapy.
As a result of the second surgery, I have a service-connected disability.
I have taken pain medication since 2000.
In June 2013, Veterans Affairs doctors began prescribing oxycodone, which I have taken for lower back pain.
This pain is with me every day.
Sometimes agonizingly bad.
Veterans Affairs no longer prescribes oxycodone to veterans and I was given no alternative.
My new health care provider cited studies and statistics and told me to “take the pain for six months.”
Is that the way to treat an individual?
As a Vietnam veteran, I feel used and thrown away.
The next time I am in bed at 2 a.m. and cannot sleep from the pain, I will try to remember the statistics to feel better.