Twelve years ago, after building a rugged, heavy duty workbench for my woodworking tools, I needed to move into position in the corner of my garage. I really put my back into to push it the last few inches. At the maximum stress point on my back I suddenly a hot flash of pain. Two discs in my lower back had ruptured. Within an hour I was experiencing pain at level I had never imagined possible.

I have gone through almost 400 hours of training as an Emergency Medical Technician. One of the most common questions I was taught to ask a patient in gathering baseline data was about their level of pain. "On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst pain you can imagine - how is your pain?" Many patients would immediately answer 10 even though I could tell their pain level was no where near that bad. A few hours after my event I had my own definition of pain at level 10. I couldn't move. I was experiencing psychogenic shock. I could barely speak. My entire world was sucked into a maelstrom pain. My brain was overwhelmed.

Eventually, feeling as if there was no alternative, I had surgery on my back which fused 3 vertebrae together with a titanium cage. Recovery was not easy. There was still a great deal of pain. Within a year, a time in which all my problems were supposed to go away, Something new added another level of complexity. I had developed peripheral neuropathy. The sensory nerves that radiated from my spine to my feet and lower legs had somehow been compromised and rather than feeling tactile stimulation such as when my feet contacted the floor, all I felt was a tingling, burning pain. Eventually my feet became numb to the touch. After another year had passed the burning, tingling pain affected everything from the middle of my thighs to my feet.

During all this there was only one effective treatment to control the pain - fentanyl and oxycodone. I visited a pain management physician every two months, got a quick checkup and refill prescriptions for the pain drugs. This went on for 12 years.

Once you're "on" pain drugs, getting off is extremely difficult. On good days when my pain wasn't so bad, I still had to take oxycodone. Otherwise, withdrawal effects would make me sick. It always felt that whatever I took - it just wasn't enough. I always felt as if I was just on the edge of having my pain controlled. I would wake up in the middle of the night from the burning pain on my legs and the constant aching in my lower back. I felt controlled by the pain and the drugs. My body suffered from long term use of narcotics. It all felt like an unescapable trap - which in many ways it truly is.

Having had some training in pharmaceuticals, I was always researching alternatives. I can generally read research reports on various drugs and have a reasonable chance of understanding the results. I don't generally spend any time on data that is not based on real science. So, I generally ignored accounts of kratom from anecdotal sources. There are a lot crackpot ideas that have no scientific basis which I automatically avoid. Eventually though, I found some real research supporting the efficacy of kratom for pain management. I began to connect the dots. I found lectures on YouTube as well as serious research from Japan and Thailand. I reached a certain threshold where I began to trust what I read. I went to a local "head shop" and bought some.

The positive effects were obvious immediately. I began to taper off narcotics and substitute kratom. It not only controlled my pain - it also worked as an antidepressant. (Chronic pain can be a serious source of depression.) There were no negative side affects; no downside to using kratom. Everything about my experience with kratom was completely positive. It controlled my pain and lifted my general sense of well-being.

The most important piece of data I received from switching from narcotics to kratom came from my wife. She said unequivocally that I was practically a different man. Our relationship became stronger and happier. We've been together for over 25 years. She knows me well. Hearing her say that meant a lot to me.

These days I take 3 to 5 grams of kratom 3 times a day. My pain load is better managed than it ever was on narcotics. I have developed a much more positive outlook on life. I sleep better and I'm much more physically active. All this and more.

The bottom line here is kratom is a kind of simple miracle. Anyone can get off narcotics with the help of kratom if they use a little will power along with it. I have no doubt that it has already saved lives. It can save many more. It is, without a doubt, an important tool in fighting the opiate crisis.

Unfortunately, the FDA doesn't see it that way. They've already tried to outlaw it once. They relented after a huge outcry from the public. Their true reasoning has more to do with pressure from big pharma that any real desire to "protect" the public. Big pharma doesn't care how many people die from opiate overdoses. The profits are too great. Something like kratom poses a serious threat to those profits.

I hope we can convince the FDA to leave kratom alone. I support the American Kratom Association. The only organization dedicated to supported the free and legal use of kratom.