Local man speaks out on disability, prescription pain meds
Father: 'Anything is better than narcotics'
Local father Shane Peterson is like any other dad who wants to be a good parent — he wants to be productive, make a good living, teach and guide his son and provide for his family.
But, a back condition and ongoing pain prevents him from doing all of the things he would like to do. As a result, Peterson, like many in similar circumstances, is limited on what he can do for work and relies on disability.
To help make ends meet, he started a business selling T-shirts, of which he donates $5 of each sale to various charities.
"I started it to help pay my doctor bills, then used a portion to help other people," he said.
Peterson feels his business idea was God-inspired, because it is helping to support his family, and helping untold others in less-than-ideal circumstances whom he will never meet.
"The Lord gave me these ideas to help others and help myself, because I believe that [the people in the] world have lost their empathy for each other, and I want to be able to give back," he said.
The funds go to many different organizations, such as those that help veterans, children, and prevent human trafficking. His T-shirts come with over 2,000 designs and themes to choose from.
"We have a custom T-shirt coming out for the military to help veterans," Peterson said. "We also donate to the Crippled Children's Fund. They saved my life when I was a boy."
At age 13, Peterson had a major surgery to correct scoliosis, thanks to the help of the Crippled Children's Fund.
"I had a surgery that was $300,000," he said. "My parents didn't have to pay a dime. The Fund offers free medical [assistance] for children."
Today, his back issue causes him a lot of pain. But, his doctors say they can't do much to help alleviate the pain other than prescribe pain pills.
"The doctors say, 'We can't fix you; there's nothing we can do,'" he said. "All they can do is make me comfortable."
To get through each day, Peterson has to take the pills, because he doesn't really have any other choice.
But he would prefer not to, if he didn't have to.
"Anything is better than narcotics," he said. "Feeding people pain pills is not the solution. That just creates more problems. But, if I want to be able to move and function, I have to take four pills a day. I did the shots, and they don't work. Pain pills were meant for a short-term solution to a broken bone, or a surgery. They were never meant to be a long-term solution, but that's what the doctors are stuck with — they don't have a long-term solution.
"I would do anything not to be in pain. You lose your social skills, you lose your empathy for people. Pain pills shut down your kidneys, mess up your heart and your belly."
Still, Peterson makes the effort to do what he can each day, because he's a dad.
"Things need to change and people in pain should have a better alternative to help deal with their pain," he said. "But, until they do, they can't just dump all these people off. We have to find a solution first. People need to find a better way."
Along with physical restraints and pain, another issue that troubles him are the challenges being on disability present, including financial restraints, and feeling unproductive.
"They don't have jobs for people who can't stand up [for long periods] like me, or sit down if they're in pain," he said. "The government needs to find jobs for us so we can be productive and don't have to live off the government; so we can feel our worth.
"It's no fun sitting around the house wondering how you're going to get food or get by every month.
There is a reason I started this T-shirt business, because it gives me self-worth. I can go out and work a few hours each day."
Contrary to what some might think, not everyone on disability is lazy, Peterson says.
"I want to work," he said. "People look at people like me and think we're lazy and don't want to work."
Peterson said he is not ashamed to speak up and share his circumstances and opinion on divided issues like disability and addictive pain meds like narcotics that come with a host of side effects, especially in light of current grassroots efforts across the country to legalize medical cannabis as a safer alternative to pain meds for people like himself.
"People need to know these things," he said. "There has to be a better way."
Like any good parent, Peterson just wants to be and feel his best so he can provide a good future for his son, Cody, 10.
"Me and him are tight," Peterson said. "I can't imagine a world without him."
For more information on Peterson's T-shirts, he can be reached at 417-665-9666, or at www.Facebook/stuffuneedandmore or etsy.com/StuffUNeedandMore.