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Coping with work, life and painkillers

Back at my money-raising post I asked for some ideas about subjects I could blog about and Lucy suggested a post about coping with the effects of painkillers. So here it is folks!

The first thing to realise with painkillers is that they have a number of effects that aren’t technically ‘side effects’ because these other effects can be just as strong as the painkilling.

The second thing to realise is that what happens to you will be different to what happens to me, and both of us will be different to John over at Foul Bowel or any other person taking the drug.

The third thing to realise is that your experiences will change as your circumstances change, as you grow older, as you gain or lose weight or as your pain increases or subsides. For example Tramadol has worked fine for me as the step down from morphine in a hospital setting, I could happily take it and carry on about my business of lounging about, reading magazines and accidently overhearing my neighbours conversations with their visitors, but at home it was quite a different matte – I go quite loopy, quite bonkers.

So here you go….

1. Be aware of your body and your mind – developing awareness of your body and mind can help you understand how the medication affects you. You can do this by simply sitting quietly for a minute or two and focussing on your body and noticing it.

2. By being aware, monitor how the medication is working. Has the pain reduced? That is quite an obvious one….. What other signs and signals is your body giving you? Are you feeing drowsy or tired? Nauseous? Lively? Absolutely out of it? With new medication, it is worth keeping a note of how it makes you feel for the first few days.

3. Don’t rely on just one type of painkiller. By doing 1 and 2 above you may realise that you need a small toolkit of different painkillers for different occasions. For example, the pill that can kill your pain enough to help you get a good night of sleep might make you randomly fall asleep drowsy during the day. Talk to your Doctor or a specialised pain nurse / medic about the different options available.

4. With number 3 in mind, there are loads more painkiller options than you might think there are. Most ‘pick up off the shelf’ medication is a variation of Paracetomol and Ibruprofen, and many doctors in the UK will respond to the need for more intense pain relief by prescribing something like co-codamol or di-hyrdocodeine. However, there are many more options available and these might work better for you than the standard options (or you might have a weird and wonderful experience). If you are in the US, YMMV, please let me know!

5. Work out a dosing regime that fits with your work/life-style. For example, for me, taking a dose at 4am means that I get a few hours of good sleep, followed by a few hours of pain free work/life in the morning which is usually my busiest / most creative time. If I took a dose at 7am I would just fall back to sleep and the day would be a complete disaster as a result… You can use the ‘day sectioning’ technique to help you develop your regime, and you may resolve to use different medication at different times of the day / night.

6. Once you have worked it out, Stick to your dosing regime, as the general consensus from the medical community is that it is better to keep the pain at bay than to oscillate between in pain and pain free.

7. It is OK to cut back some activity when you are in pain. So do so. In a future post I will show you a good technique for working out what to do and what to let go.

8. Tell other people who need to know that you are in pain and taking medication. This is especially important if your medication affects your alertness, concentration, hand – eye co-ordination etc. You might think you are OK, but you’d be surprised….

9. Try to be ahead of schedule / super organised in general so that you can slacken off the pressure to accommodate your pain days.

10. Be absolutely amazing to other people in pain / on painkillers, be completely there for them – think of it as paying it forward, what goes around comes around or universal karma.

So there it is, my top ten tips for coping with work, life and painkillers.