Mike Lauer, a resident of Lehigh Acres, says he is having problems getting pain-killing prescriptions from his doctor in the Veterans Administration and may have to look for a pain control physician somewhere in Lee County.
Lauer isn't alone. He said others in Lehigh who go to pain specialists have told him they are also having problems filling out prescriptions for pain-killing drugs. Some have gone for a couple of months like Lauer.
He told his story to Diana McGee, the regional director for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida. She was in Lehigh on July 11 and met with local residents in the conference room at the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce. McGee, who comes to Lehigh about once a quarter, said more people turn out in Lehigh than in most other sites that she visits. She has nothing to do with politics and does not discuss politics, nor does she ask for the party affiliation of those who come to seek help.
Lauer has been taking a narcotic drug for pain he suffers from a five-story fall on a construction job. He is on disability and his physician is with the Veterans Administration.
He told Sen. Nelson's regional director that because of the plan to shut down "pill mills" in Florida and to "remove doctors" who over prescribe what they consider too many narcotic pain medicine, that it has caused him severe pain and stress.
He wants Nelson's office to look into what he calls the crackdown on narcotics on folks who are seeking legal pain killers from their doctors.
"When you have legitimate pain, only a pain killer that has been prescribed, helps to alleviate the pain," he told McGee, whose offices are at 2000 Main Street in Suite 801 in Fort Myers.
A pharmacist in Lehigh who didn't want his named used, said that because of the crackdown on illegal drugs, his office is unable to fill narcotic pain relievers such as hydrocodone and other condones because his supplier won't deliver them anymore.
Now Lauer said he takes 150 aspirins a month just to help, but it does little to relieve his pain and he is afraid the side effects of aspirin will hurt him in the future.
Nelson's representative, Diana McGee, took extensive notes and said they will be given to case workers in Orlando who will resolve his complaints.
Lauer said he suffers from chronic pain after two surgeries on his neck and back.
"Now that the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) has cracked down on the use of illegal drugs on the streets, it is hurting legitimate people who need the medications to function," Lauer said.
"These new laws are way out of hand," he said. "Do I stay in pain and go whacko?"
Others stopped in to talk to Nelson's representative, too. One was Ruth Ann Anglickis, who told McGee the need for more senior housing in Lehigh. She is active in the One Voice group in Lehigh.
Chico Rivera, a businessman from Lehigh, who operates a fairly new business firm, Hertz rentals at 5280 Lee Blvd., said he wanted to make contact with Sen. Nelson's office as he works with Hispanics in the area and had formed the Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
A single woman, who said she has been out of work for three years, visited Nelson's aide, to talk about the need for more doctors at Compassion Care. She said the offices are on Homestead Rd., and that there is only one doctor there volunteering his time while four others have pulled out. She said she has dental problems, no money and no insurance, and the Compassion Care Clinic needs a dentist.
She wondered if Nelson's office could be of any help. She said Compassion Care is for adults who have no insurance and no money to pay for doctors and hospitalization.
McGee spent two hours in Lehigh. For those who want to contact her, her phone number in Fort Myers is 239-334-7760.