Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It only hurts when I live

Well, today was the day of the much-anticipated visit to a new pain specialist. Compared to the last one, this one was a virtual saint. In fact, she made mention at the start about my visit to Dr. Doom-n-gloom, to which I told her to erase all such information. "I've met several people who've either seen him or know of him, and not a one seems to think he's a human being. It would seem that he's only still in business because he's the only pain specialist that's a part of the major health system in the area. If not for that, he'd be out of business."

Then we got into it, discussing what's been done for me in the past, what medications I've tried, and what I'd like to have happen as a result of treatment.

What do I want as a result of treatment? I want to be pain free. As in, I get up and I'm not in pain. I stand up and I'm not in pain. At no time during the day do I even briefly consider amputation a method of eliminating pain. That's when she slipped in an important question: "Do you think that that goal is realistic?" Nope. Not at all. If it was, all little girls would grow up to be princesses, and all little boys would grow up to be superheroes. She asked me what I hoped for, not what I thought I could get realistically.

In a semi-joking manner, I also suggested the concept of finding a way to sever the nerves in my neck to kill all pain below that point, but somehow maintain motor function. Again, it wasn't realistic, but a man can dream...right?

I'm honestly not sure what's what when it comes to pain management. Different theories keep getting thrown at me, and I'm left feeling somewhat lost when it comes to judging the validity of such theories. Could an abundance of opiates be causing me pain? That was one of the ideas floated during the visit today, and it doesn't ring true. I mean, during my toe amputation I found that 2 mg. of IV diloted worked wonders on my pains. Then again, I pretty much avoided all other painkillers whenever possible while receiving IV meds. My current list of painkillers puts me at a fairly high level of opiates almost all of the time. So what's right and what's wrong...? I don't know, other than the fact that I have yet to "get creative" when taking my meds, as my old neighbor in AZ did.

Becky stayed for most of the visit, but had to eventually leave to get to class. I ended up taking the bus to get home from the doctor. Because of this, Becky wasn't there for the discussion of whether or not a morphine pump would be a good match for me.

Right now, the general impression is that it wouldn't. Infections treat me like a Petri dish, and like to grow on or in me. This is why, if you've been following along, I recently lost a toe. Opening me up to install a pump would put me at risk for infection. What's more, a morphine pump would be intricately wound into my spinal cord, which runs its own risks of causing paralysis if something goes wrong. Add to this the idea that growths can start appearing along those co0nnections to the nerves, which could then create new of even greater pain.

No...for the time being, there will be no pump.

Instead, we're going to try a couple of new medications, both non-narcotics. I'd have them right now, if not for the fact that I dropped them off at the pharmacy, then came home and collapsed in bed for many hours. (I believe I slept from noon to 6:00 PM, with only a brief half hour of wakefulness in there.) I am to take this one pill at night, as it may knock em out, and see how it works. I'm not sure exactly WHAT it's supposed to work on, but...Well, I have another problem brewing. It's another tooth ache. That particular pain was growing during the entire visit, and my concentration was slowly evaporating as we went along. The other medication is a Lidocaine patch. I'm TOLD it will penetrate deep enough to address the various pains in my foot and hips. I'll be picking these up tomorrow and start them as soon as possible. With luck, relief is around the corner.

The doctor seemed to be at something of a loss with me. It was as though I wasn't targeted enough on my goals for her. What she wasn't grasping, I think, is my level of desperation. I'm in so much pain that I'm willing to try ANYTHING in the hopes of getting some relief. In fact, I said to her, "Doc, I'm so desperate for relief that if you told me to visit a witch doctor who would cast a spell on me to cut my pain down, I'd be out the door, making such an appointment for as soon as possible."

With that in mind, I'm also going to try therapy. Psychological therapy. I learned today that there are therapists who help patients deal with pain. Again, I remain unclear on what to expect. Will this therapist have some methods of pain relief that cannot be supplied by a prescription-writing doctor, or is this alternative professional going to teach me how to smile when I want to rip off body parts? No idea. But I will give almost anything a try if it means bringing greater function to my life, as well as relief.

Well, almost anything. The only time I'd ever let Dr. Doom-n-gloom treat me again is if I was unaware he was doing so. You know...me in a coma, with brain waves telling doctors I'm in great pain, and they call him in to consult. But if I was conscious...? I'd start throwing anything and everything around me at him until he took the hint to get the heck out of my life and to stay out.

It's time for this old, broken man to get more rest. Be well, and DFTBA.

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