Through a series of illuminating vignettes, this compassionate pain specialist addresses the complicated and misunderstood aspects of people grappling with chronic pain and the important steps toward improving their lives.
The patient portraits range from a woman who survived a mall shooting only to be left with lifelong major nerve damage to a former Buffalo Bills linebacker who suffered an unexpected spinal injury during practice. Others have been devastated by pain treatments that have led to serious opiate addictions. In addition, Lynn R. Webster highlights “every day saints and unsung heroes” who selflessly offer “therapies of the heart” by taking on the years-long challenge of offering constant support to suffering loved ones.
Along with the vignettes, the author discusses the many limitations of current pain treatments. Equally problematic is how patients suffer socially and emotionally because those around them either don’t believe how intense their pain is or practice avoidance rather than support. He says pain doctors are in limited supply because many medical professionals won’t offer treatment, fearing later repercussions; doctors who do offer treatment sometimes fall under unwarranted DEA suspicion for administering opioids critical for relief.
Webster, a now retired physician, operated a Salt Lake City-based pain clinic for many years and currently leads research programs for promising pain therapies. Not only is he well qualified to address this topic, he does so eloquently, beginning from the book’s opening lines: “Pain is an unbidden guest, humanity’s shadow companion down through the ages. It is an interloper, a despoiler of dreams, a thief.”
Powerful, engrossing and clear-eyed, this is a critical book for everyone—those dealing with chronic pain, medical professionals, caregivers, and anyone tempted to turn a blind eye to a problem that affects 111 million people in the United States alone.
Also available in paperback.