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...