Did it hurt ?

What a stupid question, of course it hurt.  What would be the fun of major surgery if it didn’t hurt?

But pain is a funny thing.  I have great difficulty with the medical profession’s current approach “what is your pain out of ten”.  Ten of what? Pain is multi dimensional so what am I to measure?  And which pain ?  I can’t remember the last time I had only one.  So my response is calibrated according to the response I desire.  If I think I need pain killers, it’s a higher number than if I don’t.

But pain is also a very personal thing.  How dare I think my pain is so bad.  This isn’t a heroic thought, in fact it is anti-heroic. Being of an age where it has special significance, I am always reminded of the words of the Red Gum song “I can still hear Frankie, lying screaming in the jungle; ‘Til the morphine came and killed the bloody row”.  Sure I’ve had morphine for pain but it wasn’t as bad as Frankie’s.

Anyway, the op in question cut up a fair part of my lower abdomen.  In anticipation of the post-op “discomfort” this was going to cause, pre op the anesthesiologist (I always have trouble with that word) had planned to give me a long acting spinal injection.  But after three or four attempts to find a way for the bloody big needle between my collapsing vertebrae (now THAT hurt), that plan was abandoned.  The irony is that, because of the excellent care I received and the excellent opioids of which I was able to partake orally and intravenously, the worst pain I experienced through the whole hospital experience was the pain inflicted trying to prevent the pain.

Post hospital, I did have one glitch.  The op was performed in a public hospital and so they showed me the door as soon as they thought I was ready.  It turned out I wasn’t.  The three-hour car trip home was a misery and once home, neither I nor my reluctant nurse, Maureen were ready to cope emotionally.  Luckily I had an appointment with my GP to days later, he took one look at the M and at me and immediately packed me off to a local rehab hospital for another week.  The message here is, it takes time and you can’t push it.

So now as I write this, externally, healing is well advanced and the only tender spot still remaining is from some yet to dissolve stitches in my new boy fanny.  No biggie, just a bit uncomfortable.  Internally, I am still aware of the mauling I have received.  By that I mean there is some deep grinding pain but I feel it is lessening every day.

The slowest part of my recovery is proving to be stamina.  My fuel tank doesn’t seem to hold much and I run out of petrol pretty quick and I don’t have to do much to run it down.  Just a walk around the shops will do it.  Long trips in the car are draining.  But it is all improving and once you get the idea to forget any macho bullshit and not to expect too much of yourself, its manageable.  Opioids are a thing of the past as of yesterday when I took my last Oxycontin (good stuff that).  So as long as my liver doesn’t complain too much about paracetamol, my body and I reckon we can get on with it.

3 thoughts on “Did it hurt ?

    • Thanks for the comment Maggie. To be fair though, doctors and nurses need something to go by. I tried personalising the calibration by scoring against the benchmark of “the worst pain you’ve ever had” It didnt help because they all have their own unique character. For me, maybe it was the pain of the two ends of a cleanly fractured humerus banging together. Or maybe gall stones, or maybe diverticulitis. Or maybe when a cardio specialist stopped my heart after warning “this is going to make you uncomfortable for a few minutes” All pretty spectacular on their day but all unique and of importance to this blog, all a bloody sight worse than the dickectomy discomfort.
      Cheers, Nilwilly


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