Sunday, April 27, 2008

A cocktail of drugs

It's been nearly a month since I fucked up my arm, and although the excruciating pain is gone, I'm still not back to normal by any means. I'm in constant mid-level pain - sometimes more, sometimes less, but always there.

It appears that I have a combination of OOS in my arm and shoulder, together with a nerve trapped in my neck between C2 and C3.

The neurosurgeon I went to see a week or so ago gave me three options. Go on as I am, with osteopathic treatment, acupuncture, acupressure, and loads of drugs; or have cortisone injections into my spine; or have surgery to remove the knackered disk between C2 and C3 and replace it with a plastic one. Um... I think I'll take option number one, thanks!

My right arm, elbow, shoulder and neck hurt in so many places, and in so many different ways...

There's the burning pain, the deep in-the-bone ache, the waves of pulsing pain, the "eeeeee" unbearably irritating zizzy pain... it goes on and on. If I keep completely still, with my right arm bent up across my chest, right hand gently resting on my left shoulder, I can make the majority of the pain subside, but the moment I move, or do anything (like stand up, move around, reach out, pick something up - basically do anything), the pain flares up again, just as bad as ever.

I'm now taking a cocktail of drugs.

I'm on the anti-inflammatory Sonaflam, (Naproxen sodium - 275mg, three times a day) to reduce the inflammation in my neck, back and arm. Because it does nasty things to your stomach (like make it bleed), I have to take 20mg of Omeprazole every morning to protect my tummy.

Because I'm having trouble sleeping (due to the pain, and the fact that I have to sleep on my left side with my arm resting on top of my head), I'm on Amitrip sleeping pills (10mg of Amitriptyline). I can take up to five a night, but I only take two. I'm scared of becoming dependent on them.

I was initially prescribed paracetamol for the pain, but it didn't have any effect at all. After a few days of agony I went back to my doctor and got a prescription for codeine (codeine phosphate). I'm now on my second bottle of 100 x 30mg tablets. I take two pills, three times a day.

The codeine gives me horrible constipation, so to combat that I have Lactulose syrup (6 teaspoons a day with a large glass of water) and three Senokot tablets at night (7.5mg sennosides per tablet).

The worst thing about the codeine, though, is that it's giving me auditory hallucinations and very bad nightmares. Bloody, murderous, terrifying nightmares. This only happens to about 1% of patients, but I appear to be one of them.

The auditory hallucinations happen as I'm falling asleep, when I'm in what appears to be an extended state of half-asleep-half-awake-ness, which seems to last far longer than normal. When I'm in this state, I hear strange noises that I know aren't there. Bangs, crunches, squawks, grinding noises, things that go bump in the night... I'm not sure how I know they're not real - I think I'm awake enough to logically understand that they are hallucinations, and yet I'm too close to sleep to be able to stop them.

They're quite frightening, but the nightmares are far, far worse. They're the kind that are so bad you're terrified to go back to sleep again, and yet you are so sleepy you can't stop yourself drifting off. The other night I got the auditory hallucinations at the same time as the nightmare - as I tore myself out of the dream I could hear all those strange sounds again.

I think it's time to get off the codeine. Hallucinations, nightmares, constipation (which I can tell you is no joke...), plus the fear of becoming addicted to the drug - seeing as it's a morphine derivative... right now the painkilling benefits are vastly outweighed by the negatives.

My osteopath was also not happy with the fact that I'm taking codeine ("much too strong!" he muttered to himself) - and seeing as no-one has been able to tell me how long the recovery is going to take - weeks, months, who knows? - I really don't think it's a good idea to be ingesting a member of the morphine family indefinitely.

So I've decided that tonight for the first time I'll take my sleeping pills and the anti-inflammatory, and leave out the codeine. I'll take a couple of paracetamol instead, and hope that's sufficient. Tomorrow I'll ask my doctor if she can prescribe me something slightly less freaky than codeine. We shall see...

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YSRN said...

Aww, sorry to hear about your pain!!

In case you want to try an herbal anti-inflammatory, I was turned on to Zyflamend by my chiro for horrible shoulder pain... I didn't even bother for more than a year, and then, I read the ingredients list, and compared them to a list of anti-inflammatory foods, and wtf, they matched. So I started and I swear to Buddha, it helps!

Try checking into an anti-inflammatory diet too. Can't hurt. I completely cut out the things on the "bad" list and again, some serious success.

I hope you feel better!! And no, I'm not a hallucination. Sounds scary... you must be exhausted!


WhimsicalMadCap said...

Oh my gosh! It was heartwrenching to read this, bec. having FM myself, and to boot, a terrible bout of the same kind of arm problems in '03, I can totally relate to what you must be going thru. I know it's now 3 months after you posted this, but still, I just wanted to wish you the best in finding some sort of relief.

With empathy,


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I am going through EXACTLY the same thing. It is terrible. The pain is so bad but the codeine is giving me auditory hallucinations and terrible nightmares. I just woke up from a nightmare if my dad trying to murder me.

Anonymous said...

Same thing here...The voices start of while drifting asleep then im submerged into my habitual enviroment where i can hear scary voices and noises that get louder and louder and i also see imaginary figures that dont exist in my room.. then i wake up ... the worst part is that all of these hallucinations during my sleep all occur in my room in my dreams so its super realistic Oo scared to go to sleep right now.