Pain, Illness, Medication, Addiction

A few months ago I had an e-mail conversation with a friend and business associate. It dealt with his wife who was recovering from very painful medical issues. Names and a few facts are changed to assure privacy.

From Bob:
She is holding her own, but is also on very strong med's yet.  Her adrenal gland has completely shut down, and if we go lightly on her med's, she actually collapses, and it takes a couple of days to get her back up to a real person again.  So I think I can better understand what you have been going through all these many years now.

From Me:
It is good to hear that Mary is "holding her own." I think the hardest thing for me was finding inner peace about my limited capabilities. Having been an athlete in my youth I lived by the motto "no pain no gain."  For a person with medical issues, that mantra can spell disaster. It is important to avoid pressing the body so far. I used to push myself too hard out of guilt, need, and drive for completion. It took me 20 years to finally start pacing myself and allowing "I've done enough" to enter my vocabulary.

I sure hope that Mary does not have to limit herself as much. It would be wonderful for her to make that steep climb to regained health. I do desire that she improves and discovers her never ending energy stream. When it comes to pain, it seems best to stay ahead of it with the medicine. In the long run it takes less medication and is more comfortable.

Have a great day and I''ll be in contact soon.

From Bob:
Thank you for taking the the time this morning to help educate me and Mary on what You have had to do to cope with your life's pain.  It was very timely, as I have had to impose on Mary to take a higher medication level, because She has "large pains" in some areas, and the Doctors and Nurses have all said what You have laid out here, to get ahead of the Pain  Mary hates to take medications, so She suffers with the pain because of her wanting to take the minimum med's.  To hear from someone like you that She trust's and knows has suffered through a extremely long period of life as you, to say it is best to get ahead of the pain helps her today!
Thanks so much Miles, we appreciate You very much!  Your guidance here is really on point for Her.
Bob and Mary

From Me:
I am happy that my comments were of value. If it's OK I'll share something that I have learned about pain management vs pain killers.

People tend to fear pain meds because of the "addiction" risk. Think of addiction as a behavior similar to what an alcoholic experiences. There is an underlying need for the drug to avoid dealing with real life. For someone that has an injury or medical issue, their body has a dependence on the medicine to continue normal function. Think of a diabetic with insulin. Without the pain meds, the body has increased trauma, slowed healing, and the potential for continued or permanent problems. 

If a person takes pain meds and lets the serum level drop, then takes again, they end up needing higher doses to accomplish relief, over time the dose and tolerance grows and it becomes a difficult cycle.

On the other hand by staying ahead of the pain, the body calms down, healing speeds, and recovery has a higher probability.  If, when the illness is over, the person has developed a chemical dependence for the narcotic, there is a simple process of slowly reducing the  medication amount thus allowing the body time to overcome it's acquired need.

However, if people stay ahead of the pain the chance of chemical dependence is reduced and tolerance can be avoided or reduced substantially.

The last thing Mary needs right now is to worry about pushing herself to hard. She needs the healing magic of her body. 

Good luck. It must be difficult for Mary it would nice to have a fairy godmother sweep in the window and fix everything.  I imagine this illness is also a hardship for Bob who must feel powerless to help the love of his life.

From Bob:
This is amazingly helpful right now for Mary, as you would know!   As I read Her your email, it was like she could REALLY HEAR this for the first time.   The very way you layed this out was perfect for Her to understand.  She finally got the idea behind the message.  It finally sank in, to stay ahead of the pain for the reasons that you pointed out.  I could not have had anyone explain it better for Her to comprehend  it at this time especially when She knows you have dealt with this first had most of your adult life.  She is now not arguing with me about going "up" some on her Med's (to relieve her surgery pains), because She now understands the bigger picture that you helped Her see.
When I first read this alone without Mary, it almost made me cry, because You are so spot on.  The trouble with that is it tells me that You have learned this the hard way, but I sure appreciate that You have the wisdom to pass it along to someone else in need of your experience.
I plan on not deleting either of your emails', as I am going to keep them to reinforce these messages again over the short run to Mary if She tries to slip back to Her old comfort zone.  You don't know how exciting this is for me, to have someone that She can believe in, (You)  to reinforce what I have tried to get Her to understand.  After I repeated Your email to Her, that's all it took.   
Thanks again My friend,

Use a Grabber / Reacher

I wrote an e-mail to a friend who was caring for a man who had broken most of his ribs, messed up his shoulder, and smashed other stuff: 

Can I offer one suggestion that will substantially improve his comfort and ability to manage small tasks? Get him a reacher from the pharmacy. A medium length one that is very light is what he will want. 

There are a few types the best looks like a straight bar and a hook thinggy that moves. It looks stupid
but it grabs most things except glasses of water.  With a reacher he can move blankets for himself, pick up phones, grab remotes that fall, etc. Without having to change position or call someone who has just walked out of the room.

As for drinking what worked for me was the water bottles from 7-11 that have a pop top that can reseal without removing a cap. He can drink without spilling and save the rest for later.

I had broken ribs once and feel great empathy for his condition. It is nearly impossible to get comfortable, and if it is achieved, he will not want to move.
I have been living with Chronic Pain for more than 20 years. Without my Grabbers I would accomplish far less in my life. Sometimes I just feel rotten, moving is the last thing I want to do, yet, I need to get paper out of the printer, grab a telephone, pick up a mouse that fell on the ground, even scratch my back. I have a Grabber next to the chair I use during the day. Another one sitting next to my printer (it is longer since the printer is a real reach for me), and a third one next to my bed. If I could afford it and find a way to store it conveniently, I'd have another in my vehicle so I could grab things while sitting in the drivers seat.

Bending, turning, reaching, grabbing, all tough when you are limited in your mobility. Get a grabber and life starts to flow. Get two and it's even better. Who knows you might end up putting one in each room of the house so everything is within reach. Most Pharmacies have them for about $15.If you look online you might save a few pennies or get a bigger selection.The first grabber shown in this article (blue handle example) is NOT the best choice. It is most useful for grabbing delecate items that are small or weigh very little. For more utility get a hook type (black handle example) or one that does not use round rubber suction cup type ends (yellow handle example). The more versitile the grabber the higher the price tag.