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Opioids saved my mom’s life
Here’s what readers had to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
 
Medications that are stored in the police headquarters slated for destruction, are shown in a locked storage area, in Barberton, Ohio.
Medications that are stored in the police headquarters slated for destruction, are shown in a locked storage area, in Barberton, Ohio. [ KEITH SRAKOCIC | AP ]
Published Dec. 21, 2019

Opioids helped my mom live

Opioids have ruined my life, but not for the reason you might think. My mother is a chronic pain patient. She fell from a step ladder when I was 8 and suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as permanent damage to her neck and back. Her entire life shifted that day, and mine as well, although I didn’t comprehend it back then. In a sense, I lost my mother. She became confined to her bedroom. But here’s what no one wants to hear: Opioid pain medications gave my mother her life back. They allowed my mother to live a relatively normal life for the past 20 years.

After her doctor prescribed her opioid pain medication, she began piecing her life together again. No mind-blowing highs or states of ecstasy, just freedom from pain, which restored my mother’s agency. She took up painting to find peace. She pursued fitness regimens to rebuild her withered body from years of inactivity. She dedicated her free time to visit the local nursing homes.

It goes without saying that the misuse and abuse of opioids have left a mark on this country. What you won’t hear much about is the domino effect this has caused in our medical system. Chronic pain patients are being abruptly denied access to the medication that allows them to function. Chronic pain patients include people like my mother, injured veterans and cancer patients, among others with a wide array of diseases and conditions that simply cannot be cured.

The opioid crisis has ruined my life because I’m watching my mother suffer every day and every night. I’ve been driving back and forth from my city of work to my hometown every weekend to drive her to appointments and be her voice. Recently, one night during a particularly bad pain flare, she collapsed and suffered a concussion. My mother is bedridden again, and I am watching her deteriorate day by day.

Jennie Robinson, Tampa

So much for urgency

Showdown over Senate trial | Dec. 20

For months we have heard nothing but “he must be impeached” from the Democrats. They said it was at the utmost urgency that it be done. Rushed hearings, then condemnation, with articles forwarded to the full House of Representatives. They quickly “debated” the articles, having settled on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote to impeach was passed (all Democrats, save for one independent, by the way). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi then shelved the articles and refused to send them to the Senate because the Senate wouldn’t play by her rules. Congress then adjourned. Where is the urgency now? The Democrats couldn’t control the trial so they simply took their ball in a tantrum and went home. My, my, my. What infantile children will do. It was so important that they left town and went home to brag about the fine game they played. I wonder who their MVP will be? Adam Schiff? Jerry Nadler? Nancy Pelosi? Rashida Tlaib and her three cohorts? Or maybe the “whistle blower”? My personal choice is President Donald Trump. He outplayed them all.

Wayne Parlow, Ridge Manor

Mental health’s ripple effect

Baker act isn’t working in schools | Editorial, Dec. 13

Staci Plonsky holds art from son A.J., who is autistic, that depicts his memory of being taken by the school resource officer to a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act law.
Staci Plonsky holds art from son A.J., who is autistic, that depicts his memory of being taken by the school resource officer to a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act law. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Tampa Bay Times ]

Kudos for your coverage of Baker act scenarios in the schools and mental hospitals. We all remember Boo Radley in Harper Lee’s classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, the reclusive neighbor who becomes a receptacle for the town’s fears and superstitions.

Your in-depth stories, as in Radley’s character, shows mental health is very delicate to all the players. Students, parents, school administrators, mental health providers, as well as law enforcement, are all the key players in this difficult-to-diagnose process.

Unfortunately, for example, the autism spectrum disorder students can come across sometimes with a “Hulk-like” rage but are only working through the situation with their minimal, many times immature, emotional range.

Mental health issues have a ripple effect in our community. The unfortunate epidemic of law enforcement suicides, I believe, is also tied to this complicated area of law enforcement and mental health care interactions.

Yes, protection of the patient, as well as anyone the patient comes in contact with, must be scrutinized with the utmost care.

Dale Kimball, Wesley Chapel

It snowed on my birthday

Remember when it snowed in Tampa Bay 42 years ago? | Jan. 19

Snow in Tampa Bay made front-page headlines on Jan. 19, 1977. [Times files]
Snow in Tampa Bay made front-page headlines on Jan. 19, 1977. [Times files]

I wanted to thank you for writing about the day it snowed in Tampa. I have been told a version of this story every single year for the last 42 years because I was born that day. My parents and relatives all remember they were at the hospital waiting and looked outside the window and watched as the snow fell. They each went outside just to play in it.

My aunts and uncles, who grew up in Kentucky, knew exactly what to do as they taught my sister and brother and their children to lie down and make snow angels. They also taught them how to get in a snowball fight, right on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital.

By reading your article, I was more enlightened on the events that occurred throughout that day (remember, I was just a newborn) and was filled with a deeper respect for the broader history beyond my personal one of that day. Your article will now be added to my book, the story of my life, which began on Jan. 19, 1977.

Tammy Holland, San Antonio

City could run a grocery

City seeks proposals to redevelop Tangerine Plaza in St. Pete | Dec. 18

The grocery store at Tangerine Plaza has sat empty since the Walmart Neighborhood Market closed unexpectedly in 2017.
The grocery store at Tangerine Plaza has sat empty since the Walmart Neighborhood Market closed unexpectedly in 2017.

If St. Petersburg is unable to find a company that will provide a grocery store for Tangerine Plaza, it should do what Baldwin, Fla., has done. After losing its last grocery store, that city decided to buy an IGA Grocery store and run it for the benefits of its residents. It’s a profit center for the town coffers, the store is providing a service to the town’s residents and giving jobs to its residents.

Baldwin, in rural northeast Florida, is like a lot of rural towns that are losing vital services. Since there was nowhere close by for the residents to shop, what the elected officials did made economic sense — once it became a food desert, the city did what was in the best interests of its residents. It seems their situation is similar to South St. Pete.

Karen Hodgen, St. Petersburg