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Living with chronic, severe and intransigent, pain…

Posted Sep 06 2012 1:50pm

Note: I started this some time ago, but have been undecided whether to finish and publish it as it seems a bit whiny. Right now, though, I’m hurting enough not to care. That, and I think it’s better out of my head than not – gives me some perspective.


I’ve been taking 30/500 Co-codamol for a long time now, except for relatively brief diversion to Dihydrocodeine (DHC), which was somewhat more effective but, given my heart problems since January 2011, has had a tendency to trigger pulmonary oedema. I still take DHC occasionally as part of my “Spoonie Speedball” – 2 Co-codamol + 60mg DHC and 200mg Naproxen, on the intolerable days.

Been a lot of those of late… Not good on several levels, not least because Naproxen screws with my heart. Last thing I need.

For some reason – over-exposure, I suspect – I’m finding pain impossible to quantify, having lived with it for so long. With new pain I have no problem assigning it a place on the simplistic 0-10 scale (relatively new O-A in my right hip, for example gets 9 or 10 when it bites), but I’ve had it in my left hip for 35 years, all through the backpacking/rambling years,** and, like the rest,***  it’s become so much a part of me, life would feel very strange without it. Wouldn’t mind the chance to find out though!

**Got me a rep as a hard bugger. I just felt that if I wanted to do something I loved, then it was part of the package, to be borne, like aching feet and shoulders.

***There’s barely a joint or muscle group that doesn’t hurt to some, often high, degree. Even my long bones ache as if they were broken only yesterday. Almost everything hurts to touch, and all except the original O-A dates from the period summer 1983 to autumn 1985 – no break, no let up. (Friends, by the way, have mostly figured out my code when asked how I am…)

As I said, quantifying pain in any meaningful way is the problem. Sitting still there’s a sort of background level 8 if I concentrate – but like I said, it’s simply become part of what’s normal for me, and it really is very hard to assign a meaningful number.

Getting up from a seated position, though, is a very definite 10+, ditto standing/walking. But here’s the thing –15 years ago I’d have used 10 as the starting point, just sitting around. I’m in no less pain now. A lot more, in fact, as I’ve picked up a few injuries (from falls), and developed widespread O-A since then, and yet, subjectively, I’ve downgraded it, which is foolish and wrong. I know that for sure because it’s times like this, writing about it, that bring it back into focus with a vengeance.

I know that the only sensible answer, if asked to pick a number from one to ten, is don’t be bloody stupid – go find a useful scale! I just have trouble admitting it to myself.

And at night I often wake screaming in agony, as my defences are down and denial doesn’t work.

That is the reality. 10 points high – and rising…

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