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The Opioid Crisis And The Other Side: Group Calls For Better Access To Medication

Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public Radio
This was one of the signs created by the group that organized a rally in Hartford on January 29, 2019, CT Chronic Pain Patients.

Chronic pain sufferers want people to know that the opioid crisis is affecting the way they manage pain.

Volunteers with a group called the CT Chronic Pain Patients gathered at the Capitol building in Hartford on January 29.

Kelly Eaves, a resident of Lisbon, sat near the steps of the building in a wheelchair. Eaves spends parts of her day in the chair because she said she has a genetic disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome that impacts connective tissue in her body and causes severe pain flares.

“Sometimes I can’t let anything touch me – nothing can touch me – because I am holding on to the rails of my chair for dear life and I’ve got tears running down my face because I’m in that much pain,” Eaves said.

Eaves said there’s a difference between addiction to opioid painkillers and what she has: medical dependence. But she said guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention make it very hard for her to get opioid treatment.

“I’m afraid that somebody’s going to take my medicine away, cut me off, taper, whatever that they can do because of this opioid epidemic,” Eaves said. “People like me shouldn’t have to suffer – law abiding citizens that do exactly what we’re supposed to do with our medication.”

Credit Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio
Connecticut Public Radio
"Sometimes I can't let anything touch me - nothing can touch me - because I am holding on to the rails of my chair for dear life and I've got tears running down my face because I'm in that much pain," said chronic pain sufferer Kelly Eaves.

Erica Hutzler of Canterbury, Connecticut organized the rally.

She said that her son Corey has been a quadriplegic since 2012. That’s when his neck was broken in five places when he was hit by a drunk driver.

“He’s on prescriptions,” Hutzler said. “They cut him down a little bit, which has started to increase the pain so that’s why we’re trying to fight this because they can’t cut him down anymore. He’s in intolerable pain.”

It was a small rally. Only eight people attended and the organizers said cold weather was a big factor in that.

“My son can’t be here,” Hutzler said. “His body does not retain temperature, so he can either freeze to death or he can heat to death.”

The event was a part of group of national rallies organized by Don’t Punish Pain. There’s been controversy over some patient groups that receive backing from foundations funded by pharmaceutical companies. Don't Punish Pain is promoted by the American Chronic Pain Association, which lists several drug companies among its partners.

Hutzler did say she was contacted by Don’t Push Pain about holding a rally, but that her group is not affiliated with them and doesn’t accept funding from anyone.

Before the event outside, Hutzler’s group attended a legislative breakfast at the Capitol to learn more about lobbying for a bill to help Connecticut’s chronic pain patients. She said the CT Chronic Pain Patients group paid for it with its own money.

If you read any of Frankie Graziano’s previous biographies, they’d be all about his passion for sports. But times change – and he’s a family man now.
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