Trolley Square shooting survivor speaks out against hydrocodone changes

Posted at 11:26 PM, Feb 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-08 01:26:26-05

SALT LAKE CITY - A woman who survived the 2007 shooting at Trolley Square is speaking out about changes proposed by the FDA.

Six years ago this month, Trolley Square was the site of a mass shooting. Nine people were shot and five of them died.

Carolyn Tuft is a survivor of the shooting, but she manages the pain from her wounds with a strong painkiller. She's now speaking out about changes that the Food and Drug Administration wants to make that she says would destroy her quality of life.

"Every minute of the day is pain. Everyday is just managing pain, it's exhausting," Tuft said.

She was shopping at Trolley Square with her 15-year-old daughter Kirsten when 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic opened fire, killing Kirsten. Carolyn was shot three times, but she survived.

"He shot the back of my arm off, but also shot into my chest so the top of my lung he shot off and also my low back. So the back of my pelvic bone is gone right next to my spine," Tuft said.

She now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, lead poisoning and the residual pain of those gunshot wounds. Tuft says that pain is too much to bear without the relief of hydrocodone.

"It takes me three hours to get dressed on a normal day," she said.

The FDA is now considering making hydrocodone a schedule two narcotic, which means patients would need a hard copy prescription for each refill. They say the change will help prevent prescription drug abuse by making hydrocodone harder to get.

"We have a major prescription drug problem in the country. One of the most, if not the most, common drug misused and abused drug is a hydrocodone formulation. So something needs to be done," said Dr. Lynn Webster.

But Tuft says that while some people misuse the drug, others need it to survive.

"I understand that there's people who misuse it. That's scary and I don't know how you deal with that, but there's a lot of us who need it," she said.

Webster says that if the FDA reclassifies hydrocodone, people who need the drug will have to be seen by a doctor on a monthly basis.