Morphine and Codeine – not a happy combination…

As I have COPD, I am fully aware that taking too much morphine could kill me, through respiratory suppression, if I were reckless or dumb enough to take too much. And no matter how desperate I might feel, at times, to escape this shitty life,** that is NOT a good way to go.

**Yesterday, the pain was so horrendous, even with my meds maxed out, I just sat and cried – for hours. Just couldn’t help myself. Today isn’t shaping up to be any better.

Last night, I took my usual 10ml of Oramorph at bedtime. My hand might have “slipped” just a tad as bed, once the only place I could escape from the pain, is now where it’s at its worst.

And then, as occasionally happens at that time, brought on by the sudden burst of activity and change of posture, I had an asthma attack (this, for me, usually manifests as uncontrollable coughing). I hit my inhalers, to no avail, so I had a dose of codeine linctus (10ml – this is also a drug for which my GP prescribes an unfeasibly low dose, 5ml, which, as with Oramorph, is utterly useless).

Bear in mind that this is something I’ve done scores of times since I was prescribed Oramorph last year, with no ill-effects whatsoever. Last night, though, within a few minutes, my breathing started to shut down. I have no idea why, except for the fact that the Oramorph and codeine doses were closer together than they would normally be – maybe 5 minutes apart instead of 20 or so. Either way, though, they would still be in my stomach at the same time.

So, yes, I should have been in hospital and, no, that’s never going to happen while I remain in control or feel my life is actually at risk (I have a lifetime’s experience in dealing with being barely able to breathe; panic, which could kill me, isn’t permitted).

The only way to deal with this was to force myself to relax, and to control my breathing as much as possible, but this wasn’t helped by the fact that my lungs began to flood with sputum. This is happening a lot lately, as is the bleeding (absent last night) – both signs that my COPD is worsening. End stage approaching? Probably.

Long story short, I managed to get things back under control, though it was hard going for the rest of the night.

I did manage to eat the fruit cake I’d taken to bed with me to help me sleep which, surprisingly, I did, though I woke repeatedly throughout the night to hawk up the accumulating crap. Other than that I have no idea whether I slept well or badly. Just sporadically.

And the point of all this? Simple – if you have morphine, especially as Oramorph, and codeine linctus among your meds, bear in mind that it’s a potentially dangerous combination and do try your best to keep them as far apart as possible as, indeed, shall I in future, though it’s not always going to be possible. The odd thing is that morphine is often used as a cough suppressant in palliative care, but it does sod all for me in that respect.

In fact, as my bedtime dose of Oramorph does little or nothing for me at all, I think I’ll scrap it and move it to the daytime, when it will be more use and when I don’t usually take codeine linctus. And as my respiratory crises happen only at night, it might alleviate some of those too, before one actually does kill me.


4 thoughts on “Morphine and Codeine – not a happy combination…

  1. On the bus in budapest going home after teaching…..hoping you have a better day today and a good night tonight.
    I’m sorry man.

    • Thanks – always good to hear from another fan.

      Last night and today have actually been pretty decent – not needed Oramorph at all so far, though that’s about to change. Partly my own fault – been on my feet too much.

      The sensible thing is to maximise the good days by resting but, but as that’s what I do on bad days, I’d get nothing done at all. A problem many of us are familiar with.

      Still, at least I’ve got a big pot of soup to show for it (roasted cauliflower and parsnip, spiked with Harissa and a handful of dried Ceps), or I will have tomorrow, when I put the finishing touches to it (run it through the blender then, for protein, add some butter beans (or chick peas), and maybe diced Quorn.


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