Cold Turkey


Pain / Friday, October 4th, 2019

Y’know, something seemed mighty appropriate about a month ago, when I realised I was coming up to the 30th Anniversary (27/09/1990) of my motorbike accident, that it was time to go Cold Turkey & quit taking my Opiate medication, a slow-release form of a drug called Palexia.

Me being a stubborn kiwi bastard, means I of course decide to tell no-one, just so I can run this little experiment hopefully without causing worry to my wonderful family & colleagues.

Success or Failure?

Dunno. It’s been brutal but I have endured so far, with the only concrete consequences being:

  • digestive tract renews itself.
  • return of high pain.
  • insomnia.
  • nausea.
  • a few days I had to have early finish to work.
  • mood changes.

I started on a weekend and by Thursday I realised I probably should call my Pain Specialist & update them. They were really helpful & when I mentioned at one point it seemed to coincide with getting a bad bout of Gastro, Mel chuckled and explained it was normal…

Shit Happens

Opiates have a side-effect of causing constipation, so given I had been taking them non-stop, in a sustained-release form for 5 years, it’s no surprise that the great purge occurred. it was nasty! I’m mostly normal now thank god! I did have a funny thought to myself, “Oh so people go for number 2’s daily? Wow.”

Ouchies.

The return of Pain, even though I have the Spinal Stimulator, has been unexpected & difficult to endure. (sometimes impossible) I have a wide-range of pain sensations that can occur, and for some reason the return is specifically to one area & one sensation. Right upper-back & shoulder, it feels like I have a bad bruise that is being constantly pressed. Intensity ranges between 3 & 7 out of 10, it messes with your focus & concentration & during a random spike in pain all that can be done is gritting my teeth & bend over & wait until it stops. Frantically shrugging my shoulder can help also. Quite the sight at work I can tell ya!

Endgame

Well, it can’t continue as-is. I don’t want to come home exhausted, be distant or moody, flop onto the couch, eat dinner then fall asleep by 8pm, wake up at 3am, leave for work at 5am & return by 3:30pm. Unfortunately it’s been like probably 75% of the time. We don’t know why for sure, but the experience is always far worse at work than home.

This is the third time in my 15 years at Bupa, that I’ve realised I’m close to the limit, that it’s time to consider what’s fair for my Employer. They have been wonderful, caring & offering any support they can. I know deep-down that just taking a medical-leave ‘holiday’ isn’t a good idea as when I return to the Office, that unwelcome beast will be upon my back in moments.

My colleagues are awesome & I’m so grateful to them for asking how I am, when they clearly know it’s not good. It takes a brave heart to reach out like that, it really does. We all have our aches, pains & struggles & sharing that connection & experience has been really beneficial.

End Game Bupa? I’m considering things very carefully.

Back to that Turkey

I’m seeing my specialist on October 15th. I’ll do everything possible to convince Dr Pendleton that I should continue eating Turkey & that means no more Opiates of any kind. I still take a non-narcotic medication called Lyrica as this helps with my other nerve pain.

Some thoughts on long-term suffering.

Honestly it’s a little surreal to think I’m now 30 years later, still one-armed (no surprise!), still experiencing chronic pain, but mostly… still me. It’s critical for someone in this position, or similar, to not let the pain define you. I’m one-armed and frikken proud of it, it is part of me but a very positive part. Pain is insidious & given half-a-chance will become like a leech, sucking all the good stuff out.
You gotta get on top of that mind-game. For me, it was a combination of my personality, of learning CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy), psychology, taking a course in Chronic Pain & just being curious. You can’t go looking for a magic pill solution & you can’t approach the problem with a mindset that is still resisting the pain. Accepting the present moment for what is, simply just now.

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