The Price of Pain

Well I think I now have a strategy for October, but it it will come at a price.

I have found that in dealing with the annoying reality of a knee that just won’t get over itself and is still causing me considerable pain, I have developed a number of coping strategies. These have ranged from getting uselessly angry about it to behaving superstitiously. For example, if I find one week that my knee seems to have hurt less I may attempt to replicate the pattern of footwear (including socks) that accompanied its lack of discomfort to try and maintain the relief. It is a tricky exercise and so full of variables that it is almost impossible to do. Plus, it is rubbish.

I have also tried flat-out denial, so that conversations with colleagues have gone along the lines of:

Colleague (sympathetic held tilt), ‘Awwww, still limping, then?’

Me (limping), ‘No.’

I am also trying to lose weight by having cut out all carbohydrate and increasing the amount of fat in my diet. All I can say so far is that I have not put on any weight. I am certainly not getting ready to rush out and buy a new wardrobe just yet.

Lastly, there is the dark art of pharma.

The most recent event, which required walking around for almost a week on hard concrete surfaces for 10-12 hours a day, seemed like a good time to trial a strategy for October, when I will be doing much the same thing, but with possibly more walking. Short of hiring a personal Segway or hot wiring a golf buggy from opposite our hotel (which conveniently overlooks a golf course) I will need to develop a plan to get around and now seemed like a good time to start experimenting. The latest Cortisone injection had been a good few weeks ago and I had begun to feel the tell-tale tightness in the joint that suggested to me that the fluid was beginning to build up again.

For this exercise, I decided to take a prescription anti-inflammatory (that you are only supposed to take for seven days). I have resisted this approach before because the idea is that you take it at night, which seems stupid as it is during the day that I get the most grief. However, it seems that the job this pill does is to work on the swelling while you sleep so you can skip out of bed in the morning and survive the day.

Which you need to do, because you are not supposed to take any other NSAID pain killers at the same time. NSAIDs are non steroidal anti-inflamatories, like Ibuprofen, my pain killer of choice. If I take the pill, I can not treat any pain I get during the day with that. But I do have Panadol, and even better than that, Panadol with Codeine.

So this is what I did for the last week. I took the pill at night, then two Panadol with codeine painkillers during the day and that was it. It seemed to work. I mean I was not dancing the quickstep or anything, but I was able to get around and do what I had to do all day every day.

Codeine makes me very tired though. I sleep, but it is never enough sleep and the sleepiness seems to accumulate. I fall repeatedly into a drug-assisted sleep and annoyingly I do not awake from it, seize my pen and dash out Kubla Khan. I just get sleepy and grumpy because my eyes get tired and I find it difficult to read.

Today, I decided to give myself a break and take a day off work tomorrow, which will give me a three day weekend, to get my hair cut, to watch a couple of movies, to finish my book and to sleep.

Hopefully, in under 50 days when I replay this dark alchemy on the other side of the country, I will succeed in getting around and also accumulating enough sedative in my bloodstream that I will sleep all the way home on the plane. We shall see.

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