Pain – the problems and dangers of control…

For new readers, or old readers that might have missed it, a little background about pain as it affects me.

The most dominant pain is that resulting from being struck by lightning, in the hills of North Wales, in the summer of 1983. This damaged most of my joints, but those in my legs are affected more than others, and it quite literally fried my feet, internally – melting the fatty pads in the soles, so that all that’s between the bones of my feet is skin and a very thin layer of muscle, the effect being akin to walking on shingle. It also destroyed an expensive pair of walking boots. I have no doubt I was very lucky (ha!) to survive, and had I not been so incredibly wet from the most torrential rain I’ve ever seen – I think much of the charge tracked over my saturated waterproofs instead of through me – I wouldn’t be here to bitch about it.

The end result is that, now, almost every joint is affected by osteo arthritis, hips, knees and feet being very badly affected as, increasingly, are my hands. And as there are 33 joints in each foot alone, every damn one affected by o-a, from the feel of it, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I’m in a lot of pain. Sadly, my GP isn’t a genius.

It’s quite possible that the lightning strike, alone, is responsible for almost all my pain – it’s impossible to know for sure – but it was certainly the trigger for my ME/CFS 2 years later, which as any sufferer will tell you, brings its own freight of intransigent, possibly neuropathic, pain (which, alternatively, may derive from the lightning strike – as I get older, I increasingly feel that everything that ails me, except my COPD, results directly from that event, and years of research tend to support that view). This page, and the one it links to, will explain why (it takes you to my website).

Then there’s COPD, which many people don’t realise can be very painful. See this post for details.

So, for some years now, when I take my first COPD meds of the day, at 06.00, I’ve also taken 120mg of DHC Continus (sustained-release dihydrocodeine), supplemented during the say with 30/500 Co-codamol or Paracetamol, depending on how bad things are, or how much I can tolerate on any particular day (not, I hasten to add, that there is any virtue whatsoever in tolerating pain**, but the drugs cause their own problems).

**The only people who believe in the “redemptive power of pain” (in quotes because it’s a load of crap), are those who have never experienced it.

DHC, I’ve recently discovered, can cause paradoxical pain – that is, the drug itself generates pain, rather than relieving it. Not too helpful.

The biggest problem, though, with opioid analgesics is constipation, and those of you so afflicted will know the problems, and the more unpleasant solutions, so there’s no need for me to gross everyone out. Suffice it to say that a twice-weekly trip to the pub kept things just about ticking over. Then, because it’s getting increasingly difficult to get good beer round here (Wirral), because publicans are cutting so many corners during the recession beer quality is suffering (I spent over 20 years in the trade, from barman to manager – I can see all too well where corners are being cut), that I’ve pretty much stopped drinking. Plus, to be honest, I’m getting bored with it. And, of course, now there’s the World Cup to avoid – can’t stand the stupid game – never could.

The result was that my bowels simply stopped working, backed up, and got me hauled off to A&E after a 12-hour, every 10-15 minutes, vomit-fest that resulted in a gastric bleed**. The hospital was no help, and it’s taken me a little while to figure out why it all happened. Because it happened again a few days ago.

**I had thought that this was the cause, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I probably tore something with all the barfing.

You can vaguely feel your bowels working, and occasionally hear them growling and gurgling, and a few days ago I realised that mine were at a standstill. However, this time, being on the lookout for anything untoward (that’s not a experience I’m keen to repeat), I was able to fix it overnight. A couple of Senokot, a bowl of oat bran porridge, and a good slug of prune juice and I was, as it were, good to go…(as it turned out, that was overkill, but preferable to the alternative). It’s something that’ll bear watching closely, though, as right now it doesn’t take an awful lot to bring things crashing to a halt.

Hopefully, tomorrow, or maybe later today, I’ll feel good enough to make some hi-fibre bread – my normal white, with a good dose of oat bran. And here’s something to think about. Organic oatmeal costs me £1.30 per kg. Non-organic oat bran – a waste product – retails at twice the price. WTF is that about?

By the way, if you do suffer from drug-induced constipation, starting the day with a large mug of strong coffee (caffeine has a laxative effect), is a good idea . As is eating breakfast – the act of eating in the morning triggers an evacuation reflex. That might be more than those of you of a more sensitive disposition need to know, but those of us affected are so over being sensitive! A tablespoon of Golden Syrup works, too – my scaling up of giving honey to a bunged-up baby – the high level of sugar works by drawing water into the bowel by osmosis, in an attempt, by your body, to dilute it.


12 thoughts on “Pain – the problems and dangers of control…

  1. I’ve often wondered, Ron: Do worse things happen at sea? If so, what? I wonder where the phrase comes from? I should be working, but have now devised my displacement activity – a spot of research on ‘worse things happening at sea’.x

    • I think rather more terminal things happened at sea, especially in the days of sail. The fact that many a ship which set sail was never seen again probably gave rise to the saw.

      • …oh, I dunno, lots of people croaked prematurely on terra firma too. I’m more convinced by the idea of ships never being seen again which must have given rise to all kinds of horrible imaginings about what might have happened to the people on board.x

        • I’m more convinced by the idea of ships never being seen again which must have given rise to all kinds of horrible imaginings about what might have happened to the people on board.x

          Indeed – quite possibly those worse thing, which are reputed to happen at sea. . .

    • “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good” actually does work. It might blow your roof off, but that’s good for roofers. It’s good for kite makers, and makers of umbrellas (to replace yours, which has blown inside out, or away). In my backpacking days, it was certainly good for tent-makers. Undertakers, too – on the weekend a police car was blown into the sea at Blackpool, and the occupants killed (1977-ish, I think) we were camped up at Mungrisdale, at the northern end of the Lake District. One guy’s tent was shredded and, to add insult to injury, the next day he was picked up bodily by the wind, backpack and all, and carried away. Luckily the wind dropped, just before he’d have been carried over a cliff-edge.

  2. Hi Ron,
    As for constipation because of painkillers – I know just where you are coming from! My GP says I have a very slow digestive system despite my love of fruit & salads. I have found that 1 sachet of “Movicol” daily is a great help! You shouldf try it. I have found your blog very very helpful. Many Thanks. Knitty.

    • Thanks, Knitty,

      Not sure if I’ve tried that, but I’ve tried a lot of fibre supplements, to no avail, unfortunately. Still, I’ll check it out. All Bran, by the way, makes matters far worse – go figure. At the moment I’m eating whole-grain oat flakes (spiked with freshly-ground nutmeg instead of sugar).

      A trip to the pub twice week fixes things, too – that’s what brought on the crisis, I’d stopped going (to the pub, that is. . .).

      I’ve found, too, that just one dose of DHC, now, is enough to bring things crashing to a complete stop (so I’m clearly sensitised), but, surprisingly, I’m getting by quite well without it, and I’m certainly more alert for not taking it.

      I’m also adding fibre to my bread – last week it was oat bran, this week it’s wholemeal spelt.


  3. Ron, I always have my wheatabix! I used to take Fybogel but eventually they didnt do anything. The Movicol is OK, just a lemon flavoured drink, get it on prescription.
    I wont need any tonight though…………
    I have my DLA tribunal tomorrow, I have only been waiting 11 months & I am bricking it now! Knitty.

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