Today I read heart wrenching posts of bloggers who are in so much pain! Katie Mitchell’s post filled me with a deep-seated sadness and a horrible, familiar feeling of helplessness. I am so sad and angry for all the pain out there.
Katie blogs as follows: “Where do I even begin? I am hollow, at my lowest and very near the end of my rope. I’ve been in bone shattering pain now for a week and three days. Not my daily chronic pain, but a pain that is making me lose all faith in ever getting better, or ever surviving long enough to find out. I’m angry at the world and everyone in it, but most of all, I’m angry at a body that is failing me and falling apart.
I’m not suicidal, in fact it’s probably just the very opposite; I’m trying with all that’s left of my strength and going through hell just to live. When I have those thoughts; the ones where I do wish to no longer exist, it’s not because I want to die, it’s because I
want need the pain to end.
I’ve been on a much higher dose of my pain meds then I care to be, but even with that I’m barely hanging on. If it weren’t for it though, I would’ve had no alternative but to check myself into the hospital and hope that they would help. I don’t even know if they would do anything for me. The experiences I’ve had with the hospital in relation to pain have never been pleasant or successful. At the most, you get a shot of pain killer and are sent on your way, no thought given to what happens when the medication wears off. Not to mention you’re often treated like a wussy or drug seeker.
My ribs slid back into place about a week ago only to subluxate once again not even 24 hours later. I still can’t bend, can’t breathe deep, dressing myself is a balancing act, showering is difficult and painful. And, I’m scared. Scared that this is a new stage in the progression of my disorder and the deterioration of everything holding my body together. I’m scared that they’re going to stay this way and that I’m going to have to learn to live with this new pain, a pain that made me wonder more than ever how I would ever survive to meet tomorrow. My tailbone is also dislocated or partially dislocated. It’s been doing this sporadically since I was about 10 or so but it’s also very painful none the less.
And then there’s my back. I almost get stuck in my bed everyday when I wake up. Between my ribs and the back pain I can’t sit up to get out of it. Half of the time I’ve been having to roll onto my hands and knees on the floor and struggle up from there. My toes and feet are constantly numb or tingling, my hips and legs are cramping and there’s a constant stabbing pain in my back. I have a doctor appointment on Thursday but I’m considering calling in today to see if they have an earlier opening. I don’t know what to do anymore, I can’t take it. It’s taken me four days of trying, to be able to write this. But I needed to unload and write out some of my thought and feelings. What else am I to do with them?
I’m sad. I’m tired. I have the desire and need to be comforted but am in too much pain to want to be touched. I’m uncomfortable with physical vulnerability but don’t have the energy or will to put on a brave face right now. And then, like I mentioned above; I’m angry and testy but don’t want to take out my pain on anyone that doesn’t deserve it. So, as much as it makes things worse I’ve still been isolating myself.
In the end, pain is a lonely thing.”
I shivered when I read this post and for a while I was blinded by tears. I do not cry easily. I reread the post…. How is it possible that one young person can suffer so much pain?
It is a basic human right for chronically ill patients to receive palliative care services while they are receiving life-prolonging or curative treatments…. Why is pain treated with so much disregard by the medical profession? Is it because people on the other side of the prescription pad are inadequately trained or like me they have never experienced pain?
Doctors are taught that pain is a sign of illness. In their quest to find and treat the cause, they often neglect to treat the pain.
Vic was treated by the pain clinic for the past five years. The head of the department is a professor of Anesthesiology. Vic’s surgeon has been operating on her for the past 10 years and performed at least 60 of her 80 operations. He knows how little of her intestines are left…. So does the professor. Yet both these doctors chose to ignore this important factor when managing Vic’s pain.
At best her absorption is extremely poor and we constantly battle malnutrition. We fluctuate between mechanical obstructions and diarrhoea. 400mg of MST twice per day just accumulates above the heavy fecal loading or is literally being flushed from her system within a very short period of time. Combine this with severe vomiting bouts…. Often we lose tablets, either end, which is still totally intact…. Maybe the Jurnista worked because it is a slow release tablet that absorbs differently to the MST.
“In simple mechanical obstruction, blockage occurs without vascular compromise. Ingested fluid and food, digestive secretions, and gas accumulate above the obstruction. The proximal bowel distends, and the distal segment collapses. The normal secretory and absorptive functions of the mucosa are depressed, and the bowel wall becomes edematous and congested. Severe intestinal distention is self-perpetuating and progressive, intensifying the peristaltic and secretory derangements and increasing the risks of dehydration and progression to strangulating obstruction.” http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal_disorders/acute_abdomen_and_surgical_gastroenterology/
Now with Hospice the team has realized that her tissue is too poor for subcutaneous morphine, tablets don’t absorb, morphine patches cause skin irritation….Now I administer morphine injections into the skin. At least the Hospice team is looking for a solution and we have had more good days in two weeks than we had in six months!
In my book every single person is entitled to proper pain management. In the past, management of chronic pain has often produced unsatisfactory results. For approximately 80% of the world’s population, pain relief when needed, is a right yet to be realized. One of the chief reasons for this stems from misunderstandings about the pharmacological characteristics of morphine and other opiates. Furthermore, in an attempt to limit the opium trade, barriers were put into place, to prevent people from accessing pain medications.
Morphine is an opioid. A psychoactive chemical which has been used for centuries to treat acute pain….
A number of medical schools no longer teach opioid prescribing. Doctors inexperienced in the use of opioids do not know how to initiate, titrate, and withdraw the medication. Faced with undesirable outcomes in patients (e.g., respiratory depression after a rapid increase in dose), physicians have become reluctant to prescribe these medicines. Recent studies have proved conclusively that as long as the patient is in pain they would not develop a psychological dependence on the drug. It is encouraging that the recent increased interest in the clinical pharmacology of symptom control has demonstrated that it is possible to use morphine safely and effectively, even in patients with advanced disease.
I have seen with Vic that freedom from pain actually prolongs life and allows the body to heal or recuperate. It is virtually impossible for Vic to die of a morphine overdose even if the dosage is increased substantially.
The human suffering due to lack of pain relief is an affront to human dignity!
In South Africa a large portion of our population is HIV positive. They live in rural areas where there are no doctors or pharmacies. If they are lucky there may be a clinic with a nurse…. A doctor’s prescription is needed for morphine. No doctor = no morphine = painful death. In syrup form it is cheap!
What a cruel world we live in! When a young girl is fearful of seeking medical help in a first-world country it is truly a disgrace. “I would’ve had no alternative but to check myself into the hospital and hope that they would help. I don’t even know if they would do anything for me. The experiences I’ve had with the hospital in relation to pain have never been pleasant or successful. At the most, you get a shot of pain killer and are sent on your way, no thought given to what happens when the medication wears off. Not to mention you’re often treated like a wussy or drug seeker.”
I am grateful to the Hospice team! I am grateful that Vic has been spared further suffering. We cannot prevent death only unnecessary suffering!
“Sometimes the pain’s too strong to bare…and life gets so hard you just don’t care. You feel so alone you just sit and cry…every second you wish you could die. Then you start thinking who would care…if one day they woke up-and you weren’t there.” Unknown
I would like to list some of the wonderful blogs on pain that I follow slavishly.