Minn. musician remembered after overdose - KMSP-TV

Minn. musician remembered after overdose

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Some remember Steve Rummler from his days with the Gooney Birds playing shows at the Cabooze, others remember his expertise as a top financial planner. Lexi Reed Holtum knew him best as the love of her life.

"If there was anyway we could take it back......and do it differently to have a different outcome we would," says Holtum.

Too many memories are painful ones for Holtum. Following an accident in the late 90's her fiance and high school sweetheart, Steve Rummler, was left with a spine contusion and lived with chronic pain for more than 10 years. Eventually he became addicted to prescription drugs.

"After Steve's death we found a post it note that said... ‘At first they were a lifeline... then they became a noose around my neck."

At 43-years-old, just before his third trip to rehab, Steve's pills ran out. On the last day of his life he tried heroin for the first time -- and it killed him.

Dr. Miles Belgrade works at the University of Minnesota Medical Center and is the Medical Director of the Fairview Pain Management Center. He never treated or even met Steve, but hears stories like his all too often. People suffering from chronic pain sometimes turn to heroin because it's cheaper and can be easier than going to a pharmacy.

"20 percent of people in the United States have chronic pain of some type," says Dr. Belgrade.

That's why Dr. Belgrade joined the board of the Rummler Foundation. Steve's family and fiance started the non-profit following this death 10 months ago. The goal is to help educate as many people as possible starting with those writing prescriptions.

"I'm thinking the physicians need education and they are the first to admit it," says Dr. Belgrade. "They do not get adequate education for pain management...or addiction in their medical training. It's too big gaps in the medical school curriculum."

Steve's primary care physician surrendered his medical license following an investigation about the prescriptions he was writing. Holtum doesn't fault the doctor, she faults the disease. Through the foundation she hopes other's suffering from chronic pain and addiction will find the help they desperately need.

"Everyday we live with, his family myself, his dear friends… remorse... over what could we have done differently," says Holtum. The things that I have learned...our foundation has learned we would like to share with others."

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