When getting pain meds is a pain

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

A decade ago, I was given pain medication liberally for back pain from a bad cycling accident. I did not abuse it.

Recently, I reinjured my back in a car accident. After I went home from the hospital, I had to argue

with one doctor who finally gave me only a few painkillers.

I thought it was ridiculous that I had to argue with a doctor to get a few pills to be able to go through physical therapy. I then went to a different doctor. He was worse and treated me like a child. He scolded me, shamed me, and I left without a prescription.

I went to the hospital the next day because my pain was excruciating. They gave me a prescription for nine pills.

Why is everyone suspicious of anyone who wants help for their pain? Doesn’t anyone care that I am clearly not an addict? I’m a professional legal secretary who has been at the same wonderful job for 20 years.

Why is the world judging me as “less than” because I want pills for my pain?

I shouldn’t have to feel like a criminal when asking for pain-pills!


Not a criminal

Dear Not a criminal,

We agree that you shouldn’t be made to feel like a criminal when you are a patient in chronic pain who needs relief.

The problem is the addiction pendulum is swinging heavily on the side of trying to help the many who became addicted to opioid painkillers. This has caused authorities to clamp down on the once over-prescribed drugs.

Now, patients like you are lumped unfairly into the addiction category.

Balance is the answer. Yes, there is a crisis of too many opioid addicts.

However, there are too many patients who are now being denied medication that relieves their pain.

The shaming of legitimate patients is damaging.

Every patient needs to be treated on an individual basis.

The following stats are from the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association:

• 71 percent of patients report being switched to less effective pain medications by their doctors, who fear lawsuits;

• 52 percent felt stigmatized as a patient receiving pain medication; and,

• 27 percent of patients reported suicidal thoughts when unable to receive pain relief.

There is truth to both sides of the addiction and pain-relief problem. The solution is to increase awareness and individually assess each patient.

Signed, Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Incest victim: Why don’t they believe me?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I am a woman in her fifties and I was a victim of incest from ages 4 until 11 years old. My grandpa finally admitted he did it before he died.

My grandma knew about it, but said no one would believe us. She told us that we would get over it and have happy lives.

My parents did not believe me.

I did not live a happy life until I went to therapy a few years ago.

My parents believed my grandpa when he finally told the truth, but they acted like his admission was an apology (it wasn’t) and I should get over it.

I spent my whole life feeling badly because people didn’t believe me. Of course, I didn’t believe in myself, either. The shame I felt nearly drove me to suicide.

If I had been raped by a complete stranger, my parents would have believed me.

If a child says they were sexually assaulted, the parents need to believe them or the parents are responsible for ruining their child’s life.

Why didn’t they believe me?

Not a liar

Dear Not,

Yes, parents should believe their children when they claim they have been sexually abused. There is no benefit for children to lie about being abused.

There are rare exceptions, but kids don’t lie about incest for negative attention. There are many harmful consequences children face for telling the truth about abuse by a trusted family member.

Consider the following:

Incest takes place in one out of ten homes;

Research indicates that 46 percent of children who are raped are victims of family members

Sixty percent of victims who reveal episodes of assault are not believed by their families;

Incest does not discriminate by socio-economic status, religious faith, or race; and,

Incest remains an extremely under-reported crime.

Adults don’t always believe children’s claims because:

Adults don’t believe incest happens as frequently as it does;

Children are less likely to accurately recall details about what happened to them;

Children can’t communicate well about things they don’t understand, such as incest; and, It’s hard for parents to believe that a trusted family member could behave in such an immoral manner.

You said parents are responsible for ruining their children’s lives, if the children aren’t believed. While we understand the enormous difficulty involved, we believe that victims have to choose not to stay a victim.

This is the choice you made when you went to therapy. You chose to define yourself in a loving, valued, and worthy way.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Transgendered at age 9?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’m a concerned grandmother. My son and his ex-wife share custody of three girls, ages 10, 9, and 7.

The ex-wife is a high school teacher and sponsors an LGBT club.  Two years ago she announced that the middle girl was transgendered, cut her hair in a boy’s style and wanted everyone to start calling her by a male name.

I make a point to spend individual time with each child. Never in seven years did I hear my middle granddaughter make any statements about feeling like a boy.  She did, however, ask once if her mother would love her more if she was a boy.

My son attended counseling sessions with a LGBT therapist at ex-wife’s request. I encouraged him to be an advocate for his daughter. The ex-wife cancelled sessions after just a few appointments because she felt the therapist and my son were ganging up on her.

The ex-wife changed the kids’ school and enrolled the middle girl with a boy’s name, demanding the staff acknowledge her as a boy and they have complied. My son won’t confront his ex-wife about his daughter.

The ex-wife is insisting they start hormone treatments to avoid the natural changes coming with puberty. My son doesn’t want this to happen but won’t confront his ex.

I feel its child abuse to push medical treatments without a professional therapist helping her make this life-altering decision.  I’m hoping no doctor would agree to this without something more substantial than her living with a boy’s name and dressing like a boy.

This isn’t a happy boy. He/she spends recess alone. He/she is never invited to play or have sleepovers.  I love this child and feel helpless.


Worried Grandmom

Dear Worried,

Encourage your son to actively co-parent with his child’s mother, voicing his opinion.

Your son needs to take his 9-year-old to therapy, with or without the ex-wife.

You both will fare well by staying on the high road. Kids know when there is tension and could react negatively.

The most important factor in dealing with the kids is that they know they’re loved no matter what decisions are made.

Do everything within your power to be the best advocate for your grandchildren. Your voice counts.

What you can also do:

You can encourage your son to be fully engaged with his 9-year-old (and all of his children). She needs him.

His daughter may have hormone treatments, and it is often highly recommended pre-puberty. The real question here is – can she have the treatments at this young age without your son’s permission? Know that hormone-blocking is reversible.

At such a young age, this decision requires thorough therapy with a qualified and OBJECTIVE opinion.

Tell your son that MD’s are obligated by law to explain everything, including risks and long term ramifications — most require psych assessments.

You can express your concern over her isolation and sadness.

Continue your loving one-on-one conversations with your grandchildren.

It doesn’t look like you can report your former daughter-in-law to a Child Protection Agency, based solely on allowing medical treatments.

Please stay in touch. We are concerned about your family’s situation.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Is this elder abuse?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My sister has been taking care of my mother for nine years. My mother is 93, but she’s walking everyday and was talking with me on the phone once in awhile until last year.

My mom had a knee and hip replacement a decade ago. My sister moved her into her apartment and was supposed to sell the house.

I understood that and agreed she should. She said she also wanted the money from the sale of the house to put Mom in an assisted living facility.

We both picked out the facility together. I live in a different state. While I was visiting recently, I learned my sister talks about what a “pain in the neck Mom is,” and what a “complainer” Mom is and how she’s a big “baby” now.

I also found out that no one but my sister visits Mom. I went to visit her the next day and Mom was the same sweet and elegant lady she’s always been, except that she was very sad to lose her home that she and my dad lived in all their lives.

Turns out my sister moved into Mom’s home. She redecorated it and bought new furniture. She has complete legal control over my mom’s money.

Mom said she yells and curses at her and Mom can’t spend any money on anything. My sister doesn’t allow Mom to go anywhere or do anything that costs money. She can’t even take a knitting class because she can’t buy yarn.

Mom takes all of the abuse and says she understands it’s a burden for my sister to take care of her.

Mom’s caretakers told me that she’s depressed.

I feel guilty that I’ve been so busy with my work and family that I haven’t taken notice of how bad this situation is.

What options do I have?

A neglectful son

Dear Son,
Fortunately, you’ve recognized the severity of your mom’s situation and you are willing to take responsibility in helping her.

Unfortunately, your mom has taken on the victim’s role with shame by accepting the validity of your sister’s accusations. Because it’s her daughter, she may be unwilling to “get her into trouble” or she may be living in fear of retaliation.

Elder abuse is, in many respects, just like any form of mistreatment that results in harm or loss to a person. This can be in the form of physical harm, sexual abuse, verbal or emotional abuse, and neglect.

However, with elder abuse, there is the added significance of financial mistreatment. You need to address the situation directly with your sister. Although we can’t predict how your sister may react, chances are that she’ll resent you as an intruder to her caretaking and become defensive.

Communicate with management of the facility first.

Be prepared to contact a long-term care ombudsman. Each state has an ombudsman program, which resolves complaints and advocates on behalf of residents and the quality of their care.

You may also contact the National Adult Protective Services Association.

Plus, you have federal and state laws that have been enacted called the Elder Justice Act of 2009.

If your sister is unwilling to cooperate in changing your mom’s conditions, we give you the same advice we give all cases of abuse and bullying: report, report, report. Your mom deserves dignity and a chance to choose not to be a victim.

Her vulnerability is in your capable hands. Please help her to recover her confidence and courage to define her worth.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Jerald Monahan and “Start by Believing”


Jerald Monahan, formerly the police chief for the City of Prescott (Arizona) and now police chief for Yavapai College,  has long been an advocate of the “Start by Believing” campaign developed by End Violence Against Women International.

The program essentially asks law enforcement to start investigation by believing the victim, and working from there, as opposed to treating victims with skepticism.

When victims are doubted or blamed, they may never tell anyone else. They won’t get the help they need, and they won’t report the crime. Stop this cycle of silence and help victims on the path to justice and healing,” the website says.

Tragically, not everyone in law enforcement agrees that this is a valid way of dealing with crime victims, notably some Arizona officials.

See a story on that here.

Monahan explains why that’s a short-sighted viewpoint and how the organization plans to fight back.