Saturday, November 27, 2010
My Cup O' Pain
We are all born with an innate ability to withstand pain. Some of us are born with more "capacity" to withstand pain than others. Chronic pain effects us differently than acute pain.
The question I ask myself, what "switches" me over from having pain I can tolerate and work with and deal with to having pain that makes me shake, get "shockey", unable to think? It literally can feel like one minute I am dealing with pain just fine and the next I am past my limit. I don't know how to plan for this, how to prevent it, or when in the midst of it I sometimes can't even think of anything but the pain.
I have decided that I have a cup, like a teacup, that holds my pain.
If everything is going fine, I don't overdo anything, The Headache behaves, The Legs are OK, The Belly rumbles onward, I am able to sleep and rest, the pain drips into the teacup but then gets emptied every day, and I start off the next day with an empty cup ready to fill it up again.
If something happens, and I have acute pain (like The Headache) instead of dripping pain into my cup, it POURS into the cup in great gushes. If I medicate, or get my stimulator set just right, or am able to sleep (or maybe combinations of all three) the gushing stops and the teacup holds at that level, and if I'm lucky empties. If I can't stop the gushing, the teacup overflows and I am at the point I can't walk, talk, or think from pain. If the teacup just holds and doesn't empty, I am still at risk of overflowing it, since now I am working with a cup that is half full, three quarters full, or to the brim instead of the nice empty cup.
If the cup doesn't get emptied, and the pain just drips onward with my normal levels of pain (instead of gushing full with acute pain) I come to a tipping point. One more drop, and it is overfull. Being overfull, my body doesn't seem to care if the extra drop of pain is from a too tight blood pressure cuff, a needle stick trying to start an IV, or an extra bright light boring into my brain - it just starts the same shaking, not able to think, freezing cold reaction it does when I have great gushing extreme levels of pain. The only difference seems to be that I am not as agitated as I am when the pain comes too quickly and overflows my cup too fast. Perhaps my body and mind has had more time to adjust? Or the physical shock is not as great? Just not sure.
My PCP tells me that allowing my pain to stay uncontrolled puts me at risk for "overflowing my cup o' pain". Not enough sleep puts me at risk. Doing too much without controlling the pain puts me at risk. He gives me plenty of medication so I CAN control my pain. He worries that I WON'T control my pain.
Here is my dilemma: I am not afraid of addiction, but I fear not being able to "function" on the pain medication. I am sleepy. I don't think right. I have poor impulse control. I have poor balance. My nausea gets worse. I won't drive because of these side effects. I find it difficult to be productive because of these side effects. I like being productive. What to do?
I can't function at all when my cup o' pain overflows, and I can't function well with the pain medication. Logically I know the answer. It is the same answer my PCP tells me. Not functioning at all is not acceptable. Not functioning well is not optimal, but it is better than not functioning at all. I probably am not functioning with the pain as well as I imagine, because the "drip drip drip" into the teacup does take a toll.
I hate having to change, having to admit I am not in control, having to deal with this. I'm a big wuss....and a complainer....and a griper. Determining this weekend that next year will not be the same as this year. I will take a hard look at what works, and what gains the most ability verses the least disability, and I will make permanent changes. I am positive that I will continue to endure and there is either going to be a way to upgrade my teacup o' pain to a bucket, or a way to keep that cup empty more often.
Here are some links to more information on Chronic Pain, Chronic Pain Syndromes, and Pain Management (I hope none of them are wackydoodles - I visited all the websites but didn't research their bonafides):
American Chronic Pain Association
International Association for the Study of Pain
Alliance of State Pain Initiatives
American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association
American Headache Society
American Pain Foundation
Chronic Pain Association of Canada
The Endometriosis Association
The Facial Pain Association
International Pelvic Pain Association
National Headache Foundation
National Pain Foundation
The Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Association
Next year will be better, tomorrow will be better - there is always tomorrow! (PS I am thinking of capitalizing on the poor impulse control while on pain medication - what kind of whacky behavior can I just have fun doing and THEN blame on the medication? Hmmmmmmm....)