After meeting with Senator Jehlen, I felt more confident to meet with other elected officials, so I decided I wanted to meet with my congressman, Congressman Michael Capuano. Again, I was surprised to even get a meeting – I mean, he’s a congressman! He works on Capitol Hill, and he’s going to meet with me?
When I met with him at his office in Cambridge, he told me that the reason I wanted to meet with him grabbed his interest, especially because I’m one of his constituents. We talked a little about EDS and my story, and about the challenges chronic pain patients are facing. He, too, had been under the impression that nobody was being hurt by the recent legislation and current climate of fear around opioid prescription, and was upset to hear how I’d been received by various Boston hospitals.
I was happy that we were joined by Kate Auspitz, his Issues Director, who I had been corresponding with via email and over the phone. She was the one who suggested I meet with Senator Jehlen, because the senator is interested in public health issues and patients’ rights. She was also very interested in what I had to say because, she told me, she has a friend who is also having trouble receiving adequate pain management, who told Kate she was being treated like an addict. It was great to meet Kate face-to-face, and we talked by ourselves for a while after the meeting.
Congressman Capuano thanked me for bringing the issue to his attention, and I think he meant it. I’ve always been kind of skeptical about how much politicians really care about their constituents, but he genuinely seems to. Just the fact that he and Senator Jehlen met with me and listened to my concerns meant a lot.
He also gave me a message – anyone else who is concerned about the damage being done to pain patients’ rights should meet with, speak to or write their elected officials. They don’t know this is a problem, so it’s up to us to speak up! Even if you’re totally healthy, none us know what tomorrow may bring, so it’s in everyone’s interest to fight this. You can find out how to reach your elected officials here – https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.