Thursday, 21 October 2010

My Codeine Coma

I approach this subject with great care, not wishing to sound like an addict or promote the use of prescription drugs to those who are not suffering with chronic pain. I wanted to give you an insight into what it is like for someone trying to cope with pain on a daily basis.
Nothing, it seems, warrants me the sweet release of pain more so than a petite prescription painkiller called codeine. On the nights where I wake at some unearthly hour with pain shooting down my legs or wrists as stiff as a board, I gently slip myself into what I call a codeine coma. I have tried several pain killers over the time I have been suffering with RA. I feel like I constantly am popping pills so I don’t like to take more for pain, but sometimes there is no other choice for me. I either deal with it by trying to ignore the irritating sensation that my joints are crying out for help or I take a tablet and hope for the best.
I save my codeine for night time. It is essentially a strong painkiller, however not as strong as some I have taken in the past such as Tramadol which, in my opinion, could knock out a horse. My experience with Tramadol is one of sheer bewilderment and confusion. Yes, it did stop the pain, but the side effects of drowsiness and the feeling of not really being on this planet didn’t agree with me. Codeine comas have helped me through some rough nights really. I can only describe the pain as similar to growing pains. It feels like my legs are trying to grow another few inches but with nowhere to go, restricted by my swollen ankles. So, at three in the morning, I admit defeat. Open my drawer of pharmaceutical wonders and swallow a codeine and paracetemal mixture. I then wait for the fuzzy, warm feeling of relaxation in my tired bones.
There are some occasions where this doesn’t work. My body doesn’t always respond to painkillers and when this happens I have to just accept its going to be a bad day. But when they do work, it gives me the freedom to get on with my day, even if I feel like I am floating for a few hours while they do their magic. My point is that there are lots of things that people don’t consider when it comes to understanding RA. We have to deal with not only the pain, but the side effects of drugs to control the pain and the disease itself. It’s frustrating that sometimes people don’t get it. Saying that you can just pop a few pills to ease your aches and pains is not how it works. There is an aftermath of taking pills, just like my codeine coma, which sometimes means you cannot drive or concentrate, making it difficult to go to work or do anything of any use until the effects have worn off. Weighing up the pros and cons of taking medication is exhausting sometimes and before the argument is over in my head I have usually swallowed the pills anyway and lie in wait for my release once again...


  1. Oh so true! The only thing I've found I can take without the repercussions you speak of above is Tylenol 4, which I've sadly found in the last week or 2 no longer makes things manageable. My pain relief reserved only for nighttime is a muscle relaxer that really does just take me away but hence why it's a nighttime med. I don't have to worry about not being able to drive or concentrate or stay awake. I wish people understood more of what it's like- the meds in particular in this instance. My mom has been a superstar the last 10 months since I was diagnosed and she is definitely trying so hard to make it the easiest it possibly can be for me but there has still been a time or two where she's said 'you need to take them when you hurt so bad' but to me I always hurt so bad. More weighs on my decision to take something... I have to hurt more than I normally hurt without waiting too long before I decide.. I don't ever want to get to the point that they don't do their job because I'm taking them too often but I'm also starting to wonder if I'll have no choice in the matter. Dealing with immense pain or letting a rx help me deal with the immense pain- if the latter will take less energy that I don't have to offer, chances are that's what I'm going to go with. I'm very glad I found you. :)

  2. Oh so true I wish the MD would understand how bad the pain gets and I wish I could fine a drug that would help the RA now on orencia and I dont think this is the one for me good luck

  3. I know where you are coming from.ive been diagnosed with R.A for the las 2 years ( had it apparantly for about 4-5yrs) and have it severe and aggresive in all of my joints.....They are just crying out to me all the time"HELP".!!!!!!!!! Drives me sooo mad.!!!

    Im on Humira and also methotrexate at present (in 09 i was on sulfasalazine and methotrexate)very bad to my liver.!!

    i have been quite ill with the humira/MTX combo also,but dealing with the pain via painkillers is sometimes the only real benefit to at least getting a few hours sleep at night
    I either take a couple of (100mg)tramadol tablets @ night and during the day co-codomol (30/500mg)
    these are ok but really play havoc with my stomach....Also because of the pain trying to get some sleep and do a full 9 hr day at work gets to me and at present feel really low and struggle for the will to live.... :(

    I just hope theres a cure for it somewhere in the near future.!
    ive never really had neat codeine tablets before and was just wandering perhaps i should try these as an alternative..?
    anyway good luck with your R.A and wish you all the best,i feel for the pain,the anxiety,the madness and the confusion that is R.A