Maybe it’s because my most tumultuous years were spent in the 80’s. Maybe it’s because my friend and I sang little blue Chevette instead of Little Red Corvette because that’s what she drove. Or perhaps it’s the fact that When Doves Cry perfectly described an abusive relationship I was in. Or maybe it’s because I feel that Purple Rain described the difficult relationship I had with my mother and would have been more relevant at her funeral that the Christian songs selected. Perhaps it’s because I wish Prince wouldn’t have let the elevator bring him down and he’d punched a higher floor, just like he taught me to do. But if I’m perfectly honest it’s likely that if he did indeed die of a drug overdose it could have been me any number of times. Whatever the reason, Prince’s death has left me with a myriad of unwanted emotions.
Rather than talk about his fame, fortune, and iconic status I want to talk about what I truly believe Prince would want us to be talking about – chronic pain. His death is shaping up to point to a Percocet overdose. How can that be when he spent the majority of his life living clean, no drugs or alcohol, citing his faith as the reason? Something happened to Prince that was stronger than his faith. I can easily imagine the mental battles he had with himself before his death. It makes me shudder because I understand them.
I don’t classify Prince as just another drug addicted celebrity. No, understanding his faith, the life he lived for the majority and his hip replacement leave me thinking Prince wanted only what the majority of people take for granted; a life that is pain-free. I know this because I live with chronic pain. It’s like a migraine – no one understands it until they have endured it. It’s a constant battle between what’s right, what’s wrong, where faith will take you and the overwhelming desire to simply not hurt anymore.
Chronic pain is a silent thief of life, mental balance and sometimes even faith. It’s the devil itself, come to steal and maim. It’s the unrecognizable disability and more needs to be done to address it. How many must die before we stand up and say ENOUGH? What those in chronic pain need the most is a physician daring enough to try new procedures, willing to prescribe pain medication if needed but diligent enough to micromanage those medications, regardless of who the patient is. We need doctors committed to patients, not revenue or government. We need a strong government committed to doctors and patients. Where are these men and women of courage?
More than his musical talent Prince should be remembered for shining a light on chronic pain. He should not be thought less of if his death is due to a drug overdose. Instead,it should inspire conversation in government, the medical community and ordinary citizens about what can be done about chronic pain. How do we help and protect the silently suffering? How do we simultaneously remove the stigma of narcotic pain management while preventing those in need from abusing? It’s a conversation worth having.