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.


Pain Management, A Stroke, and How I Hurt My Arm

A picture of a golf cart.

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     I saw a pain management doctor last week.  He took me off the percocet due to the Tylenol and my liver enzymes, and changed up some of my other meds.  I really liked him.  He got into how my pain is affecting my life and thinks we can maximize my pain meds to improved my level of functioning.  I’m definitely feeling “stoned” from the new meds but he assures me that my body will adjust.  I’m doing more at home and I’m looking at the meds a little differently,  instead of seeing them as a crutch, I’m seeing them as a tool that allows me to participate in my life.  As Martha Stewart would say “It’s a good thing.”

    A very scary thing happened Saturday evening.  Rudy and I went for a golf cart ride and he ran over the mailboxes in front of our house.  I didn’t really think anything of it except that it was an accident and kind of a funny one at that.  When he turned around he narrowly missed the utility pole and I thought he was just being a smart ass.  We continued on and he was driving so close to the right hand side of the road that it was starting to scare me.  I still thought he was being a smart ass.  He hit a tree that caught me in my right shoulder and pulled it all the way behind me.  The pain hit so fiercely that I immediately vomited and started yelling at Rudy to take me home.  He was looking at me blankly and wouldn’t stop driving.   He kept narrowly missing everything on the right hand side.  I was starting to panic and was yelling at him to either take me home or stop so I could walk home and he kept driving past our street.  He finally dropped me off, and I ran into the house cradling my arm.  A neighbor of ours was sitting outside and he later told me that Rudy hit his truck twice and the fence leaving again.

     When he got back he came into our bedroom and kept asking me why I was so mad at him.  All I could say is “Are you kidding me?”  I told him what he was doing and I noticed he still had a blank look on his face, when it suddenly hit me what might be wrong.  I googled stroke symptoms, asked him a few questions and had him take his blood pressure.  I knew we had to get him to the hospital, but he was so hostile with me it was like he didn’t even know me.  I went to our neighbor and one of our best friends and told him I think Rudy is having a stroke, please come down and see if you can help me talk him into going to the hospital.  That’s when he told me about Rudy hitting his truck and the fence.  He came down and told Rudy what happened and he finally consented to letting us take him to the hospital.  Cat scan showed no brain bleed and we followed up with our own Doctor on Tuesday who told us this could absolutely be a residual effect from the electrocution.  He also said this might never happen again, but he wants us to follow-up with a neurologist as a precaution.  Basically he thinks Rudy might have thrown a clot.  He referred to it as a transient ischemic stroke aka a warning stroke.