We are all very aware of the opioid epidemic in Vermont and across the country. But as you noted in ["Do No Harm: New Rules Discourage Overprescribing Opiates," April 26], the great majority of physicians in Vermont have already modified their prescribing practices. What concern me are two issues:
1. This new law is a very bad precedent to set when a governor and legislature — none of whom are physicians, except for Rep. George Till (D-Jericho) — set clinical treatment guidelines. We have a medical licensing board in Vermont that certainly can and should be monitoring prescription patterns of medical providers and counseling the outliers. That would be much more palatable to me and other physicians than having the government do this. After all, now that this precedent is set, what stops the governor from deciding what blood pressure and diabetic medications physicians should be prescribing?
2. We live in a country that tends to careen from one extreme social policy to the next, and that is certainly reflected in the medical field as well. When I went through medical school and residency in the 1990s, it was felt that physicians were under-treating pain. The pendulum is now swinging again, and it has already begun to be very difficult for people who are in really debilitating pain to find relief. I would point out that "pain management" centers are very scarce, and mostly what they offer are highly expensive injections — treatments that usually offer temporary relief at best.
I don't see anyone mention India, a country that shuns any opiates for pain relief. There are many patients there — especially cancer patients — suffering horribly. I think we are going to overreact and quickly head in that direction.
Meyers is a physician at Rutland Regional Medical Center.
An Addict's View
With great respect for Donna Constantineau and what she wrote in her letter to the editor [Feedback, "Have a Heart for Heroin Addicts," April 19], I'm a heroin addict with hopes not to be one day! I'm an inmate who lost everything and everyone important to me to heroin addiction. Did I wake up one day and say, "I'm going to try heroin"? Definitely not! It started after two back surgeries and many years of legal pain meds, which were stopped not because of misuse or illegal actions but because my new doctor is against them and believes aspirin works for the pain of rods and screws in the body. Want to understand the disease of heroin addicts? Find my info on inmatelocator.com. I'm currently at Rutland's Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility, then on to Grafton County, N.H., because of heroin addiction! Thank you, Seven Days and Ms. Constantineau. PS: Once an addict, always an addict in recovery!
Aaron W. Goodrich
Tit for Tat
[Re "Skin in the Game," May 10]: I read your article profiling the many talented women tattoo artists in Vermont and, within seconds, found that you missed the best female tattoo artist in Vermont: Cori Jean Sanders of Craftsbury's own Kingdom Ink.
Cori is by far the most talented artist I have ever seen in Vermont, and she just so happens to be female, too, so it was a glaring omission on your part that I would love to see you rectify with a future visit to and interview of Ms. Cori Jean, although she is very busy with a jam-packed book of appointments and planning her upcoming wedding.
I am a repeat customer to Kingdom Ink, and I can attest to Cori's friendliness and artistic skill. She works hard to make your vision come to life in ink while still adding her own unique touch. She listens to your ideas and will let you know if something will not look right or hold up well, and she makes sure that you have the proper home-care instructions to heal and to maintain your new art.
She also offers free touch-ups, if needed. She stands behind every piece she does and is often called upon to fix others' mistakes, which she does brilliantly.
I look forward to seeing a future article on Kingdom Ink.
Editor's note: Our article was not intended to be inclusive, just a sampling. Absolutely Vermont has many more fine female — and male — tattoo artists.
The NEA Way
[Re Off Message: "Walters: Vermont Senate Scorns Scott on Teacher Health Care," April 28; "A Legislative Showdown Over Teacher Health Insurance," May 2; "House Dems Narrowly Win Vote on Teacher Health Care Negotiations," May 4; "Walters: The Day After the Big Vote," May 4; "In the Vermont House, Freshman Dems Become a Moderating Force," May 10; "Vermont Legislature Delays Adjournment Again as Negotiations With Scott Falter," May 12]: What's causing the budget impasse in Montpelier is the insistence of the Vermont-National Education Association and its legislative supporters that negotiations for teachers' health benefits take place at the local level rather than statewide. At the local level, the Vermont-NEA, with its staff of highly paid trained negotiators, has a decided advantage compared to volunteer school board members. It's loath to give that up.
The nonsense of this actually being about collective bargaining is becoming clearer each day as facts come out. Years ago, for example, Democratic House speaker Ralph Wright, a teacher and union activist, supported statewide collective bargaining for health benefits because he knew it was fairer and would contain costs.
The nonsense about timing is also revealing itself. The opportunity to take advantage of a unique situation to make significant savings is now, and Gov. Phil Scott is correct to push the point. With this critical issue, legislators need to decide whom they really represent: the Vermont-NEA or the people of Vermont.
The Problem With Plastic
I've always thought dryer lint was one contributor to climate change ["Vermonter Aims to Save Our Water — One Laundry Load at a Time," May 3]. All those fuzzies — from clothes made of plastic bottles — are making a mask around the Earth. But it doesn't matter, as the Earth will be sealed in plastic soon, judging by the countless water bottles I pick up on the roadsides.