Speaking of Morphine

infusion pump

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     It’s funny how you start to remember things.  On the same note as my last post, I’ll be speaking of morphine once again.  I don’t remember the particular reason for this admission but I do remember being on a morphine PCA.  A PCA is patient controlled analgesia, which basically is an IV pump with a button allowing you to administer your own pain meds as needed.  Now you can’t just hit the button willy-nilly, it’s programmed with your dose and the timing of that dose.

     What made this particular occasion so memorable is one time when the morphine syringe needed to be changed.  The nurse came in with the box from the pharmacy, sat in the chair next to me while she did some paperwork and then she opened the box.  The box appeared to unsealed and perfectly legit, but when she opened it, the syringe was completely empty.  The look on her face was one of genuine surprise.  I’m sure mine was the same.

     I do know there was a lot of paperwork to fill out, some of which I signed as well.  I never did find out what happened but I do know this seems to be a taboo subject.  I have read that there’s a fairly high rate of drug addiction among the medical profession, but it’s not really something I read about in the blog world.  I read quite a few blogs written by Doctors and Nurses, most of whom blog about all of the drug seekers among patients but I’ve never read a single post about drug use among hospital staff.

     There is so much disdain for the “drug seeking” patients, and I’ve no doubt there are quite a few of them, and I can only imagine what that would feel like day in and day out.  In fact this letter was posted in every patient room in the ER of the hospital I go to.   I was going to take a picture of it but didn’t have my camera with me.  This is the jist of it:  If you are here for chronic pain you will only be given non-narcotic pain relievers.  There will be no refills for narcotics or sedatives of any kind.  Every patient will have their prescription drug use for the past 24 months checked by the ER doctor on the state data base.  If you are not here for chronic pain and you need narcotic pain relievers you will only be given them if you have a licensed driver over the age of 18 to drive you home.

     So, I am aware of what the profession is up against, on the other hand I also try very hard not to appear to be drug seeking whenever I have to go there.  I never know if they suspect that about me or not.  I never ask for pain meds but I do have issues with some meds that might be a red flag.  I can’t take any NSAID‘s due to the severe GI bleed I had with one in particular.  It’s not an allergy, but it is a reaction, also I can’t take a lot of Tylenol because my liver enzymes are usually elevated. 

     I will say that all of these issues are well documented medically and due to my history the doctors and nurses know me pretty well.  In fact some of the ER docs know me so well that before they even see me, being busy with other patients and all, they’ll give orders to access my port, usually running fluids in wide open and in fact will order phenergan and dilaudid, and labs.  However when there is a new doctor he will examine me and usually order toradol, and I have to turn that down I always feel like there’s an immediate suspicion.  They’re also surprised when I give them my med list to find that I’m on dilaudid and morphine at home, and I have to admit to being a little defensive about it.  I guess I have to work on that.

     My philosophy on pain medication is that for me, it’s a tool.  It allows me to live and participate in my own life.  I can do laundry, and make my husband dinner.  I can jump out of the occasional airplane, and kayak, and next summer I want to try paddleboarding.  I’ve been on the same dosage for well over a year and so far it’s still just as effective. So, that’s where I’m at on that subject, as always I thank you for reading and welcome your comments.


14 Days in August or The Tumor that wasn’t

     I spent more time on the title then I did thinking about how I would write this, because truly this is the hardest thing that I’ve written.

     I went to the hospital in August certain this was just another flare-up of my pancreatitis.  They accessed my port line, ordered meds and sent me off to cat scan after telling me that I could have ice chips after the scan.  It’s  hours later and no one is talking to me, except to tell me I’m still npo waiting for the surgeon to see me.  I can’t wait any longer and ask to see the house supervisor.  She tells me there is something wrong and that’s why I have to wait to see the surgeon.  When I asked her what was wrong she showed me the preliminary cat scan report.  It showed a 2 and a half centimeter tumor on the head of my pancreas, by this time the doctor arrived and said it looked like pancreatic cancer.  I asked what else it could be, and he said pancreatic cancer.  When I asked the Dr of Radiology what it could be, he said pancreatic cancer.  I’m starting to sense a theme here.  The hospital doc offered to keep me in over the weekend but I chose to go home.

     I followed up with my doctor on Monday films in hand and asked him what it could be.  He told me pancreatic cancer and sent me to a follow-up a hundred miles away but they’re not going to be able to see me for 2 weeks,  Scary.  Left the doctor’s office with fistfuls of prescriptions and pills with the hope that one of these things would help me cope with what I considered my death sentence.

     In some ways those 2 weeks were a gift.  The people most important in my life and people who became important in my life were there for me, to nurture me, heal me, and pray for me.  It was then that I understood the power women wield when caring for their sick and praying for their dying,  It’s beautiful and I’m privileged to participate in it,  My husband told me I hold his heart in my hands and he lives and breathes at my wish.  It was the scariest time too, I had friends over and we just held each other and cried. But there was healing in that too,  Sometimes we put make up on and styled our hair for no other reason than we wanted to look pretty.  There was healing in that too.  I started making plans for my own funeral I knew what I wanted to wear and who my pallbearers were,  I found healing in that too.

     Then Rudy took me to the Big City hospital where I was to stay for a few days,  They showed me the first cat scan where the tumor was and you could clearly see it.  They roto-rooted me from one end to the other if you know what I mean.  Instead of doing everything 2 days apart they could have done everything on one day and just met in the middle.  I really don’t think my humor was appreciated there.

     They sent me back home and the cat scan was repeated on the same machine that found the tumor.  Lo, and Behold, the tumor is gone, there is nothing there.  I have no explanation for it but that God thought to grant me a miracle.  I’m humbled by it, I don’t deserve it. but here it is.  Through God’s Grace I get to live a little longer