Hello and good morning.
It’s Thursday again. It feels as though it ought to be Friday—some Friday in 2029, or 2929, or 20,299 or something, given how horribly long this week feels as though it has lasted.
I’ve rarely felt as unpleasant as I do this week. First of all, as you know, despite medication and my attempts to improving my schedule and lifestyle, my depression has been very bad, and it doesn’t really seem to be improving. Also, my pain has just been awful this week.
Yesterday I felt as if everything from my left shoulder blade on down was being eaten away by Drano™ or something similar from the inside out. Then it spread out a bit. It’s not much better now, though it’s not as severe as at its worst. I don’t know what has set it off. I’ve tried not to do stupid things, physically. I’ve tried using knee braces and ankle braces and shoe inserts, but those quickly seemed just to make things worse (annoyingly). I’ve tried various different brands and types of shoes. And, of course, I’ve slightly but frequently overdosed on naproxen and aspirin and acetaminophen, which don’t help me feel much better.
There have been several times that I’ve been tempted just to grab a double fistful of aspirin and/or acetaminophen and just gulp them down—I only have about ten or twelve naproxen left in the little bottle on my desk, so I could add them to the meal, but they probably wouldn’t make much difference. However, I know that the process of dying from even a large overdose of such combinations would be extremely drawn out, and I would probably have bad nausea and vomiting and the like as part of it. It would be hard to tolerate without seeking some kind of help, and certainly without being obvious and intrusive to other people. I hate nausea probably more than most anything else (I doubt this is unusual, given the nature of nausea and the purpose it serves).
I have to admit that I have harkened back with some nostalgia to the time when I had prescription opioids of one kind or another. The side-effects and the dependency on those is annoying—so annoying that I weaned myself off the meds on my own—but at least they definitely work, for a while, to alleviate pain.
I’m getting very tired of pain. That’s an unusual reaction, isn’t it? Ha ha.
Seriously, though, I’ve been in chronic pain for a little more than twenty years now, and it’s not really getting better, or stabilizing, and although I’m still alive despite it—obviously—it cannot be said that I’m getting used to it, other than to say that it’s become almost a part of my identity by now, which is a horrifying and infuriating thought.
I keep thinking of a line from the movie Dragonslayer, when the wizard, Ulrich, says, “When a dragon gets this old, it knows nothing but pain, constant pain. It grows decrepit…crippled…pitiful. Spiteful!” I can definitely sympathize with the dragon’s wish to burn the entire countryside, the entire world, out of frustration and rage and hatred because of constant pain—though I have no interest in burning and eating young virgins. Is that the dragon equivalent of veal or lamb? I don’t know.
I’ve tried many massagers (and I used my seat and feet massagers about five times yesterday at the office, to little or no avail), and patches, and creams, and ointments, and stretches, and exercises, and of course, medicines. I’ve tried herbal things, and I’ve changed chairs, and I’ve changed the way I sleep. I’m not a person who gives up easily; I tend always to be willing to check things out and experiment. But there is a reason that opioids exist, despite the fact that they can be abused by those who suffer from psychological as well as physical pain: they work. What’s more, unlike the various OTC meds, when necessary, their doses can be increased without causing inescapable and catastrophic organ failure and a lingering, horrible death.
Even when one does die from opioids, it’s liable to be more peaceful than dying from too much Tylenol. That is a terrible spectacle, involving total liver failure and all the dreadful, slow, wretched, painful ordeals that brings to the body. NSAIDs, including aspirin, are not much better. I suppose if one has a sudden, severe GI bleed from aspirin, it can be relatively quick, but it is likely to be messy, and extremely unpleasant, with nausea and pain as well as vomiting and/or defecating blood.
It’s somewhat ironic that the main cause of my disgrace and loss of career and what little was left of my life was born of my desire to try to help other people who have chronic pain—people who might not have the resources I had—to get their pain treated with the best medicines we had, however flawed they may be, in a society that looks at everyone* who picks up a prescription for an opiate or opioid as a disgusting, weak, criminal, degenerate drug addict who doesn’t really have any serious pain. Only people with terminal cancer get a pass on treating their pain, even though, ironically, their course is usually much shorter. It’s okay to treat your pain if you’re dying—which it ought to be, of course—but if you have to keep on living with your pain, and to keep on trying to make a living, then treating your pain makes humans see you as just a disgusting lowlife, which makes no sense at all.
Even those on the floors of hospitals taking care of patients with, for instance, sickle cell disease sometimes have the temerity to sneeringly refer to “drug-seeking” behavior in their patients. As if they would not seek drugs for pain if I were to take a large baseball bat or sledge hammer and smash their major limb joints into powder for them, which is much of what the experience of a sick cell crisis can feel like.
Believe me, it was sometimes tempting to do such a thing. Okay, it was often tempting. See above about the whole “burning the countryside” thing.
Was I naïve about the pain treatment practice? Of course I was. I don’t tend to look for ulterior motives in people unless and until it’s glaringly obviously that I need to do so, and I don’t generally even try to understand hidden motivations and machinations of humans, who rarely seem to understand their own minds. But even the book promulgated by the Florida Department of Health (or lack thereof) said—correctly—that there is no way accurately to test the degree of a person’s pain, and the general guideline is to take patients at their word unless and until there is a clear and good reason not to do so. They actually sent this book out to all the doctors in the state who worked in that business.
Patients, in other words, should be considered innocent until proven guilty. Too bad our justice system doesn’t have a principle like that to apply to it. Oh, wait! It supposedly does. However, that really only applies to those who are wealthy enough to hire private defense attorneys (a rather obscene notion if you think about it). It certainly doesn’t apply to the average person, certainly not to a person who has to use public defenders because he cannot afford an attorney, a person who hasn’t saved any money because his own life is in disarray from chronic pain, and because he doesn’t have a clue about money management or life management, or the ability to focus on them, and ends up giving much of what he earns away, and having the rest of it taken from him, because humans tend to take advantage of people like him, who are very smart and capable in some ways, but who are so very bad at taking care of themselves, and who find it hard to understand people who use others and take advantage of others and set them up to take a fall, and so on.
Again, see above about the burning of the countryside and/or the planet. Doing that becomes more and more attractive with every moment. Not just humans, but every life form on Earth is unworthy of existence, frankly. At least, that’s how I often feel. There is no innocent form of life. Even green plants compete ruthlessly, choking each other, jockeying for the light and for water and all that stuff. It’s all ugly and disgusting, even when it’s beautiful and amazing.
Anyway, that’s that. I don’t even really know what I’ve written, other than general vague impressions, though of course, I will reread it as I edit it before posting. I hate the universe at the moment, though not as much as I hate myself. But I’m still grateful to those of you who read this blog, and so, to you especially, I hope you have a good day.
*This includes doctors, as I knew from repetitive experience.
I think it’s the anti-natural Christian worldview in the history of our Euro-American culture, specifically the Puritan and Protestant, that has given us the false notion that pain is not just something to tolerate but something to welcome as a blessing, because, as a priest once explained to me, it gives us a deeper understanding of Jesus’s Passion. Such hogwash is holding up our progress towards a more enlightened society. No one should tolerate pain let alone live in pain constantly. The body rightfully seeks to exist with pleasant sensations in its environment. I realize that is easier said than done sometimes. I’m sad to read that your existence is one of those sometimes, and I hope you can find relief soon.
Thank you. Today it’s not great.