Thursday, May 13, 2010

When Painkillers Go Wild

Hi. I recently had a bad experience with narcotics. They're prescribed for a reason! Along with my fibromyalgia, I also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. And yes, it's named that for a reason, too. Irritable bowel makes for a cranky Cathy.

Let me explain. I developed IBS after a complete hysterectomy in 2001. I suffered from severe endometriosis and my bowel was heavily involved. A year after the surgery I discovered that I had nerve damage in the bowel. The pain is not present 24/7, fortunately, for me. When the nerve pain revs up, it is very different from the ususal grumblings of IBS. Nerve pain is hard-core, in-your-face, up close and personal pain. It attacks at any time and can go on for weeks. It is a sharp, burning pain. Imagine someone shooting elastics at you. Ouch, right? Now imagine those elastics shooting you from the inside. Imagine the pain branching off and shooting out along nerve paths all over your body. Imagine watching the hairs on your arm raise as a stabbing pain in your gut explodes along the nerve network. Very ouch.

When the nerve pain persists for weeks and nothing I take even remotely touches the pain, I can become a little desperate for relief. That's when I call in the big guns: narcotics. I hate to take them but they are the only meds that stop the pain. Trouble is, they make me agitated and irritable. So me and my grouchy bowel are not fit for human company at this point.

I take a teeny weeny bit of a narcotic. The first day is okay - on the second day I take a wee bit more. The pain persists and on the third day, I swallow a fraction of a pill. Within fifteen minutes, I start to feel abdominal pain, gnawing in my stomach. It becomes stronger and starts to spread like wild fire. My whole abdominal area has gone into severe spasm and I double over. I'm in acute agony. Tears are pouring from my eyes, I'm sobbing and crouched into the fetal position on my bed, my knuckles white and talon-like from gripping the bedspread. This is a phenomemon known as 'just f***ing shoot me!' The pain, seriously, cannot get any worse. On the pain scale from 1-10, it has reached blast-off proportions.

Enter my husband - a physician. He is my knight in shining armour. He need not gallop in on a mighty steed, sword poised for battle. All I want at this point is a long, sweet needle - loaded with narcotic #2. It will over-ride nasty narcotic #1 - I speak from experience. I already have my bare behind exposed as he walks into the bedroom. A swab, a jab and a bandaid is administered none too soon. I await nirvana. Nirvana = no pain. Oblivion. It takes a little longer this time to experience relief but when it finally comes, my body uncurls, unfurls and relaxes. I sleep it off for the night.

I had been having a good week fibro-wise prior to the spasm. The morning after, I awoke feeling like Mike Tyson had backed over me in a Mack truck. The tension from clenching my muscles in pain had kick-started a flare. I'm exhausted, groggy and it takes over 24 hours for the drug to leave my system entirely.

Meaning of unfair? Taking a painkiller for pain and ending up with more pain than you started out with. Fibro sucks.

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