Lesley Young testified that she has driven 100 miles to try to find a pharmacy that would fill painkiller prescriptions for her husband Chris. (Photo by Jessica Palombo/For KHN)
By Rachel Gotbaum
The accident happened 10 years ago when Chris Young was 35.
He owned a salvage yard in Maui, Hawaii, and his employee had hoisted a junker on a machine called an excavator when the hydraulics gave out.
The car fell on him from above his head, smashing his spine.
“He was crushed accordion-style,” says his wife Lesley.
The accident left Young with a condition known as “partial paraplegia.” He can’t walk and he needs a wheelchair, but he does have some sensation in his legs. Unfortunately for Young, that sensation is often excruciating pain.
“It feels like electric shocks, like lightning bolts going down my legs. And when it gets down to the bottom, it feels like someone is driving a big metal spike up my legs,” says Young.
To control the pain, Young, who has since moved to Florida, needs high doses of narcotic painkillers, but he can’t always fill his doctor’s prescription.
He is not alone. In what may be an unintended side effect of a crackdown on prescription drug abuse, Young and other legitimate chronic pain patients are having increasing trouble getting the medicine that allows them to function on a daily basis. Continue reading