Thursday, February 2, 2017


My Husband Killed Himself.  
I’d Like You to Know Why.

Dennis Prager, author and radio talk show host
 January 31, 2017 12:00 AM  

The government has made it almost impossible to prescribe desperately needed painkillers. Last week, my two stepsons’ father, a man who loved life, killed himself. I would like to tell you why. 

Two years ago, a 62-year-old father of three named Bruce Graham was standing on a ladder, inspecting his roof for a leak, when the ladder slipped out from under him. He landed on top of the ladder, on his back, breaking several ribs, puncturing a lung, and tearing his intestine, which wasn’t detected until he went into septic shock. 

Following surgery, he lapsed into a two-week coma.  In retrospect, it’s unfortunate that he awoke from that coma, because for all intents and purposes, his life ended with that fall. Not because his mind was affected; his mind was completely intact until the moment he took his life. 

His life ended because, while modern medicine was adept enough to keep him alive, it was unable or unwilling to help him deal with the excruciating pain that he experienced over the next two years. And life in constant, excruciating pain, with no hope of ever alleviating it, is not worth living. 

As a result of the surgery, Bruce developed abdominal scar-tissue –– structures known as adhesions. Adhesions can be horribly painful, but they are difficult to diagnose because they don’t appear in imaging, and no surgery in America or in Mexico, where out of desperation he also sought treatment, could remove them permanently. 

Many doctors dismiss adhesions, regarding the patient’s pain as psychosomatic. The pain prevented him from getting adequate sleep. Nor could he eat without causing the pain to spike for hours. By the time of his death, he had lost almost half his body weight. 

Prescription painkillers — opioids — relieved much of his pain, or at least kept it to a tolerable level. But after the initial recuperation period, no doctor would prescribe an opioid despite the fact that this man had a well-documented injury and no record of addiction to any drug, including opioids. 

Doctors either wouldn’t prescribe them on an ongoing basis, because they feared losing their medical license or being held legally liable for addiction or overdose, or because they deemed Bruce a hypochondriac. 

The federal government and states such as California have made it extremely difficult for physicians to prescribe painkillers for an extended period of time. The medical establishment and government bureaucrats have decided that it is better to allow people to suffer terrible pain than to risk exposing them to the danger of opioid addiction. 

They believe it is better to allow any number of innocent people to suffer hideous pain for the rest of their lives than to risk having any patient getting addicted and potentially dying from an overdose. 

Dr. Stephen Marmer, who teaches psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, told me that when he was an intern, he treated children with terminal cancer — and even they were denied painkillers lest they become addicted. 

Pain management seems to be the Achilles’ Heel of modern medicine — for philosophical reasons as well as medical reasons. 

Remarkably, Dr. Thomas Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control, wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine last year that “whereas the benefits of opioids for chronic pain remain uncertain, the risks of addiction and overdose are clear.” 

Isn’t accidental death from overdose, while allowing patients to have some level of comfort, preferable to a life of endless severe pain? 

To most of us, this is cruel. Isn’t accidental death from overdose, while allowing patients to have some level of comfort, preferable to a life of endless severe pain? 

Though I oppose suicide on religious and moral grounds and because of the emotional toll it takes on loved ones, I make an exception for people with terrible, unremitting pain. 

If that pain could be alleviated by painkilling medicines, and laws or physicians deny them those medicines, it is they, not the suicide, who are morally guilty. 

Bruce was ultimately treated by the system as an addict, not worthy of compassion or dignity. 

On the last morning of his life, after what was surely a long, lonely, horrific night of sleeplessness and agony, Bruce made two calls, two final attempts to acquire the painkillers he needed to get through another day. Neither friend could help him. Desperate to end the pain, he picked up a gun, pressed it to his heart, and pulled the trigger. In a final noble act, he did not shoot himself in the head, even though that is the more certain way of dying immediately. He had told a friend some weeks earlier that if he took his life, he didn’t want loved ones to experience the trauma-inducing mess that shooting himself in the head would leave. Instead, he shot himself in the heart. 

An autopsy confirmed the presence of abdominal adhesions, as well as significant arthritis in his spine. May Bruce Graham rest in peace. Some of us, however, will not live in peace until physicians’ attitudes and the laws change. 

[Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at © 2017 ]

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  1. I wish that every single one of these bureaucrats could suffer for three months with neurogenic pain (including severe neuropathy). Let's see what they decide then!

    I speak from personal knowledge: the worst toothache you ever had is as NOTHING as compared to neurogenic pain.

  2. My dental hygienist recently had a double mastectomy. No pain meds prescribed!

  3. WE WANT POLITICAL BOGS, not this bullshit

    1. What YOU want is of no interest or concern to me.

      If you don't like it here, please GET OUT and STAY OUT.

  4. Sue makes a fair point, it's hard to see how the Right has done anything to make life better for most Americans.

    AOW blames "bureaucrats," as always, but misses the target.

    The PROBLEM is this stupid War on Drugs, yet another endless unwinnable war brought to us by American conservatism, and enabled by the politically weak-kneed otherwise.

    I live in Florida, infamous for it's "pill mill" doctors and Rush Limbaugh's drug problems. To get pain medicine of any kind (I have to take a couple of things now to deal with some issues I have), you have to go through "Pain Management" and see a doctor who specializes in the subject. Once in a while, I'll be visiting this doctor, and I'll be hearing from the back of the office yelling, and threats, and warnings that the police will be called, as desperate drug addicts - or just people who seem that way, as who am I to judge - try to get more pills. It's a little disconcerting. I've thought, "Gosh, I hope I don't have to get involved! I'm not in shape for physical confrontations these days!" And really, it's none of my business. But I like this doctor a lot, good man, and would hate to see him assaulted over such nastiness.

    Really, though, this all comes down to this stupid infatuation we Americans have with what other people do with their lives and bodies, regardless of it's impact on us, personally. Yes, drugs are a problem, especially in America, but the way we go about handling this problem - with guns and handcuffs and prisons and endless laws and rules and regulations- is ALL and COMPLETELY wrong.


    1. Well, that is one man's opinion, Jersey, but in my view the problem with widespread drug abuse and the CRIMINALITY it has spawned began with the advocacy of ANARCHY espoused by early lawless, radical leftist-activists who practically BEGGED on bended knee for the implementation of a POLICE STATE.

      The wild, chaotic upheaval of the SICK-sties engineered EXTREME PERMISSIVENESS the result of which we see –– and lament –– today.

      But please make no mistake about it, the idiotic inconveniences and cruel deprivation that you, AOW, her dental hygienist, the man in the article, –– and doubtless millions of others –– have been forced to deal with came about through the blind, blundering machinations and monumental insensitivity of GOVERNMENT interventionism.

      We will be subjected to more and more abuse of government power, until at least two-thirds-to-three-quarters fully realize that GOVERNMENT is NOT, never has been, and never will be OUR FRIEND.

    2. By the way "Sue" NEVER males a good point."

      "NEVER! "

      "Sue" has long been persona non grata at this blog, and is ALWAYS deleted on contact.

      Please try to keep that in mind before attempting to "answer" her another time.

    3. JMJ,
      The bureaucrats are "involved in" the war on drugs.

      The pain management doctors have to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops. I never said otherwise.

      Addendum: neither right nor the left is innocent when it comes to the war on drugs.

    4. FT,
      the idiotic inconveniences and cruel deprivation that you [JMJ], AOW, her dental hygienist, the man in the article, –– and doubtless millions of others –– have been forced to deal with came about through the blind, blundering machinations and monumental insensitivity of GOVERNMENT interventionism.

      Spot on!

    5. ... neither right or the left is innocent when it comes to the war on drugs.

      Absolutely true!

      Government has an obligation to work diligently at trying to protect its society against criminals. Government is an institution operated by your peers, many who you are responsible for electing to your government.

      Why our government believes it has an obligation to prevent the individual from doing what they choose with their life given circumstances such as this post talks about (and ones like JMJ, AOW, my mother and father, both deceased) is beyond me. For me policies and or laws that prevent people from acquiring a tolerable level of discomfort and a livable quality of life are ignorant and IMMORAL, period.

      Thank you for posting this FreeThinke. This subject should be kept front and center. It transcends political differences.

    6. policies and or laws that prevent people from acquiring a tolerable level of discomfort and a livable quality of life are ignorant and IMMORAL, period.

      Hear, hear!

    7. Well, FT, I'd certainly agree the government down here in Florida has not been very friendly! I had and saw better experiences in the Northeast (though not so much the West Coast). Mainstream Democrats in the big urban areas share a lot of the blame for the excessive police state, this is true. But that is not nearly such the case today. You're going back 20-50 years ago. Realization of the failure of the Drug War, on so very many fronts, has been sinking in for many years now. Conservatives and libertarians have been coming around quite a bit too!


    8. Thank you for the honest observation, Jersey. Of course, I bel
      eve the reason "DRUGS" became such a tremendous problem has more to do with the chaos, active disrespect for authority, and extreme permissiveness that ELBOWED, KICKED, PUNCHED and then SUED its way to dominance back in the late fifties and early SICK-sties.

      The reason I believe THAT was permitted to happen I've explained in hundreds and hundreds of posts at many blogs and websites –– but few-if-any want to believe me. (:-s

      Unfotrunately KNOWING the Truth and PROVING it beyond a reasonable doubt are two different things, and even when positive PROOF does manage to get supplied by qualified experts, the deep and biding Prejudice of those who don't want to accept the truth overrides Reason.

      As atheist, Scottish philosopher David Hume told us back in the eighteenth century:

      "REASON is BUT the SLAVE of PASSION."

      I have found it to be very rare when such is not the case, Jersey.

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  6. Merciful Agnostic said

    "A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end for a pleasant death"

    - Nietzsche, "Zarathustra"

  7. Yea, They've gotten unbelievably dysfunctional. Just in my little circle, I know of at least three similar stories. boss's daughter gets migraines. Needed medicine is restricted to 5 doses in a timeframe. Docter wants her to have 10 doses. Like pulling teeth. Same boss - his wife has narcolepsy which requires the 'date rape drug'. It's like pulling teeth anytime she needs a refill.
    I need sudafed for mostly allergies to keep my nose dry. Gotta show my license and can only buy small amounts because some a$$holes are making meth with it. So, because the 'war on drugs' is a complete failure and the cops are incompetent to shut down the meth labs, etc. the consumer is punished on a daily basis. This ain't America folks. This is seriously *ed up. Apply this to everything else. moslem vermin, criminals, etc are having the time of their lives while we shoulder the cost.

    1. Kid,
      Sudafed is restricted in such a manner? Are you kidding me?

      Years ago, when my allergies were so awful, Sudafed was easily available in the OTC aisle.

      Needed medicine is restricted to 5 doses in a timeframe. Docter wants her to have 10 doses.

      Doctors' medical licenses are revoked if these doctors don't comply with the feds' guidelines -- and to hell with the patients!

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Replies
    1. Thank you for providing that information.

      Liberty –– to me –– means that we should NEVER have to be subjected to laws, regulations or even guidelines that forbid adults and those with whom they consult or do business –– to make transactions or private agreements simply because those in power have arbitrarily decided such transactions or agreements are not GOOD for them.

    2. "Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
      ~ C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

    3. "When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws."

      ~ G.K. Chesterton - in the London Daily News, 7/29/1905

      What do you think Chesterton means when he refers to "The Big Laws?"

      D yo regard the increasing proliferation of increasingly bothersome –– even THREATENING –– Red Tape now forcing doctors to abandon the best interests of their patients in order to keep their licenses to practice medicine as one of the "Small Laws?"

    4. No. When a competent doctor is prevented from administering care that he or se knows is needed to provide their patient with a livable quality of life it's a damn big law... to the patient who is suffering.

    5. It may cause BIG problems in the lives of those it affects, but the nature of such regulation is inherently PETTY (i.e small-minded and parochial.

      The "Big Laws" are better known as First Principles –– a concept of which leftists who profess to be atheists to know little or nothing.

  10. By chance are you referring to... THIS FreeThinke?

  11. Clarice Anna Gunnisachs said

    What is it that makes Dennis Prager such a dork?



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