Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Day of Arguing with Myself

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It’s only midday, and already I’m sick of arguing with myself. I just had to look up the rules for capitalization in titles because I couldn’t remember if I should capitalize “with” or not, and it was looking like something else I could spin my head around indefinitely. Thank goodness for Google.

My major arguments this morning have been on two subjects. First, I woke up feeling not-great and not-miserable.

[Side Note: If you don’t have chronic pain, and you woke up feeling like I woke up feeling this morning, you would probably call in to work and/or get a loved one to take you to the hospital, but my definitions of not-miserable have undergone a radical shift in the past few years. You’d be amazed at what a person can be happy to live with after enough practice. I don’t say this to make you feel sorry for me, or bad for complaining about your own stuff. I actually feel–I guess you could say that I feel reluctantly honored that the universe has bestowed this lesson of what I am capable of getting out of life upon me. I’ve been able to pare away some of the fluff of existence and get down to some of the more important things, and learn to not get as worked up about some of the less important things. I can’t say that I’m any happier than I used to be, although perhaps that will come. I can say I’m not as unhappy and I feel like my life has more reality to it, even if I do struggle with my sense of purpose at times. Get back to me in a few more years and perhaps I’ll be able to make more sense out of this than I can at the moment. =-)]

So my day began with what has become The Consuming Question lately–how much pain medicine should I take? As you may remember, I recently tapered off of morphine, started taking vicodin as a maintenance painreliever instead of a breakthrough painreliever in order to cope with the pain of coming off the morphine, and then began to taper off of the vicodin. This is not a function of addiction, by the way, just a function of the way one’s body adapts to having high levels of opioid medications in one’s system, and while I am blessed to not feel the need that an addict feels without his or her substance, the pain of being deficient in opioids when one’s body has added too many opioid receptors (also known as withdrawal) is bad enough. Honestly, I have no idea how an addict ever manages to quit.

Anyway, I had agonizingly inched my pain reliever levels down to four half-pills (of an extra-strength dosage) by the end

English: Vicodin tablets Italiano: Pillole di ...

of the MLK 3-day weekend. Since I had gotten stuck at five whole pills for about five weeks, this is encouraging, but I really want to have a chance for my body to get accustomed to ZERO added opioids–that way, when I do have a pain flare or a bad day, taking a vicodin will help a lot instead of barely at all. So this morning when I felt not-miserable, I thought, “Hey, maybe I can just stop taking all my pills and be done with this in about 3 days!”

Of course, I’ve tried that before, and it’s never worked–inevitably, if I drop my dosage too much, I end up getting a CRPS full-body flare from the withdrawal pain, and having to bounce back to an increased dosage just to manage the flare, generally always settling back to exactly where I was before. But it’s just so tempting to try and get it all done with so I don’t have to keep inching down the dose, dealing with the withdrawal pain for 3-5 days, not being up to do much of anything for quite some time after that, and then doing it again. I’ve been at this for about 4 months now. It sucks. I am ready to get to the part where I get to have some good days, and can effectively treat the bad days. I’m past ready.

So the morning was spent getting more and more painful, until midday when I was about to be down two halves instead of just the first one and I decided if I skipped the second as well, I’d never make it to my early evening appointment. So–I may be able to get down to three halves without too much trouble, or I may have to bounce back to four, but no cold turkeys–or even moderately chilled turkeys–for this cat today, and possibly a wasted morning. Ah, well.

The other subject on my mind for debate this morning was this Coursera class I’m signed up for. It’s on fantasy and science fiction and looks really interesting, but it requires a novel worth of reading and an essay every week. I went for it in the first place because even if I quit or decide not to do the homework or whatever, there won’t be any negative consequences–the courses are free, and if you don’t pass you just don’t get the Certificate of Completion (which doesn’t count for a whole lot anyway–it isn’t college credit or anything). But not having much to lose, while it did make it easy for me sign up for the course, also makes it easier to quit, and I think about quitting daily. I’d like to prove to myself that I can still accomplish something like this, despite my disability. But I also know that this might not be the right time to do it, or the right level at which to start (there are lighter-workload classes on the site). At the moment, I haven’t quit yet. But I feel like it’s going to be up in the air for the 11 weeks of the course, and all the deliberating whether I should give up or not is already a bit exhausting.

I’ve had similar thoughts about this blog, to be honest. I’m kind of an expert at starting projects and then wandering off to something else without finishing them. But the other bloggers on my reading list and the bloggers and non-bloggers who read Attempting Perfection are really important to me. My blog makes me feel like I’m making a contribution to the world, and while I may not be able to be as consistent about posting as I would prefer, this is something that is flexible enough that I can do it, disabled or not. And I still have things to get out there about pain, life with pain, and what we can do about it.

So the blog, I’m sticking with for this year. My little pipeline into the bigger world. And the rest I’ll just have to take one day at a time–just like the rest of my life. Keep on keeping on, my friends! See you soon.

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Some Holiday Cheer

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No matter what you celebrate, or do not celebrate, about this midwinter season, I hope everyone had a low-pain, low-stress, and enjoyable time over the holidays. To add some jolly to everyone’s mood, I offer you these photos of two of the lights of my life.

Harriett's Cow Nails 1

Harriett’s Cow Nails 1 (Photo credit: Chiquita Rosita)

Harriett's Cow Nails 3

Harriett’s Cow Nails 3 (Photo credit: Chiquita Rosita)

Harriett's Cow Nails 2

Harriett’s Cow Nails 2 (Photo credit: Chiquita Rosita)

Crackers's Tiger Nails

Crackers’s Tiger Nails (Photo credit: Chiquita Rosita)

Fancy Dog Nails

Fancy Dog Nails (Photo credit: Chiquita Rosita)

Festive Dogs

Festive Dogs (Photo credit: Chiquita Rosita)

Yes, I Am Adorable

Yes, I Am Adorable (Photo credit: Chiquita Rosita)

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CRPS and Noise Sensitivity

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Nervous system. Français : Système nerveux.

Nervous system. Français : Système nerveux. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was just reading this paper on CRPS. One the points of the paper is that in CRPS patients, startle responses, which make normal pain decrease (so one can deal with the threat better), make CRPS pain even worse. They go on to connect the data to the dysfunctional parts of the nervous system unique to CRPS.

What I found personally applicable to my life, however, is that they used a sudden loud noise to test their subjects, who reported significant increase in pain and sensitivity, especially when the noise was on the same side of the body in which the CRPS was found. In our noise-polluted world, as well as in our daily lives, we run across startling loud noises more or less frequently depending on our environment. It seems like this is one of those minor, unintuitive things that, as people who have CRPS, we may be able use to decrease our pain.

We already know that CRPS pain is heightened by emotional distress. But overstimulating environments could also be a pain-increasing influence that we can attempt to minimize, by our choices in where we live as well as the places we go outside the home.

I’ve always been very sensitive to noise, but I think since I got CRPS that sensitivity has become greater. I know I do tend to feel more stressed than I would like when the neighbors all too frequently play their music loud enough that I can hear it in my apartment, but I had not made the connection that the noises from the neighborhood could be directly affecting my pain. I do know that the next time I move house, I’ll be looking for somewhere with a little more peace and quiet than my current abode. And if I return to work, some day, I will make a quiet environment one of the things I look for in a workplace.

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