Iowa Stubborn? Nothing Compared to Greenlaw Stubborn.

The song says: And we’re so by God stubborn/we could stand touchin’ noses/for a week at a time/and never see eye to eye

Me? I’m just stupid-stubborn.

I can’t decide if it is a case that I felt as if I needed something I could control – we’re pumping all these poisons into my body to kill something that is out of control, but by God, I’m not going to take any drugs I don’t have to; or if it’s more that I felt I shouldn’t be having so much pain, so I refused to acknowledge (whine, yes; acknowledge, no) that I was nearly crippled by the pain I’ve been having.

Damn it all! I can take care of it by just ignoring it, trying to move through it, blogging about it; but take a pill, NO!

So instead I ended up at the ER for 5 hours last night because the pain in my chest was so bad that I knew Dr. Medici would have a fit if I didn’t go in. His concern is that chest pain could be a sign of another pulmonary embolism. I was guessing that it was just a new and interesting chemo side effect, but was willing to consider that maybe I’d gotten pneumonia again; as it turned out, it was nothing that could be identified, so the (very kind and sweet) ER doctor had a serious discussion with me about pain management.

Initially I refused to have them put a morphine drip into my IV, but they convinced me to have at least a little bit. After that kicked in, my brain (oddly enough, on morphine) cleared, because all of a sudden, I was down from a 6 – 7 on the pain scale to about a 2 – 3. I began to see the insanity inherent in my “no drugs” position – I don’t have to suffer, and if there’s some perverse sense of satisfaction at betraying my body which has betrayed me, then I really do need some sort of mental health counseling. And if it’s just being Greenlaw Stubborn (my maiden name – whatever else we are, stubborn is possibly the number one trait that my immediate family has in common), then it’s stupid-stubborn. I have my moments, but I’m not stupid. Not for long, anyway.

So I asked, “Please Ma’am, may I have some more?”

Today I called Dr. Medici and asked him for prescriptions for day/night pain pills. One of my reasons for not taking pain pills is that I don’t want to have my brain fogged; but I can see now that the pain had my brain fogged at least as much, if not more, than any pain pills will; plus the lack of sleep due to pain has just been fogging it more. I haven’t felt up to driving due to the pain and foggy-brain, so it’s not like I’ll be missing out on anything by not driving because I’m on pain pills.

My biggest worry is addiction. My mother was an alcoholic, and I have sworn that I would never allow myself to become addicted to anything (gaming excluded – not gambling, RPGs). I think this is truly the root of my concern about taking pain medication. Anything that is going to truly help is an opoid, thus addictive. I also have been trying to avoid taking insomnia medication for the same reason, but have been doing so when the pain was so bad that I just couldn’t sleep at all.

The good news there is that the more pain medication I take, the less insomnia medication I will have to take. At least if I do end up having to break an addiction, it’ll only be to one thing!

Also, I think it is pretty likely that a lot of my emotional distress has been caused by the pain – thinking that I’m less than one month into the rest of my life going through some form of treatment or another, and that much of it might be defined by the kind of pain I’ve been suffering has been extremely depressing. Yet another type of fog that should lift with the cessation of the pain.

So I’m waiting to hear back from the pharmacy on when my prescriptions will be ready. I have overcome my stubborn streak, at least this once. Hopefully any brainfog from the pain pills will be less than that garnered by the pain itself, and I can start to feel human again.

And seriously, I understand that I have reason to be depressed even without the pain; but that’s just not like me to be *so* depressed. I’m a strong woman, and typically have an optimistic outlook – it was a road I traveled for many years to get me to that state, but once I achieved it, it hasn’t been hard to find the positive mindset even under significant pressure. I look forward to getting back there.

6 Responses to “Iowa Stubborn? Nothing Compared to Greenlaw Stubborn.”

  1. 1 Carrie
    April 14, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Pain has a way of creeping from body to mind. It tricks us into submission and makes us believe we’ll be there forever. I am sad you had to go to the ER, but thankful that the doctor was able to ease your pain. As for being stubborn… isn’t it simply the circumstances that switch stubborn to persistent or determined or, better yet, steadfast?

  2. 2 Margaret Stonich
    April 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I have so much to say I don’t know where to begin or end. I was wondering if you were taking pain meds…now I know the answer. I have been on pain meds for 2 years to deal with the chronic pain I have from all the radiation to my pelvis. I too am/was worried about addiction. I went to a pain specialist and he really helped me see that there are 2 aspects to addiction: biochemical and pyschological. If you take narcotics long enough, you will get biochemically dependent but not necessarily “addicted”. Also taking an antidepressant really helped me with the depression. I felt like I was a “weak” person using these meds but then I realized that they are tools to help me get through this. Also when you are not in pain and depressed your body can focus on recovery.

    Please be kind to yourself.

  3. April 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I am so relieved to hear that you will have some relief with this pain. It’s hard to imagine how bad you have been hurting, but have to agree that chemo + sleep deprivation + pain = a mental place that is hard to see from where you are. If you are to be in one form of treatment or another forever than it is so good you realized now that you may need relief in places from which you did not need before. I truly know that you can get back to your happy place! I agree with Carrie about the definitions of stubborn…in the case, call it what you will, you figured out what you desperately needed after 3 chemo treatments. That sounds like smart stubborn to me! Thinking of you and sending you much love! πŸ™‚

  4. 4 Laura Illige Harvey
    April 15, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Julie, I’m so sorry you’ve been in horrible pain. Sounds like crawling through some sort of bleak netherworld, and then feeling bad about yourself at the same time. Urgh. I’m glad to hear that you’re getting some treatment for the pain. As Margaret posted, biochemical addiction just means increasing tolerance for the dose – it’s not the same as getting Rush Limbaugh style addicted. (Now there’s a name I never thought I would link with yours). I think our country and our medical system has been puritanical about pain management because of fear of recreational use – but proper pain management is essential to your healing. Take the damn pills already!

    Love you, hope that the new pain meds kick in and help with the side effects.

  5. 5 kevin
    April 15, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Amen Julie, you are doing the right thing here. Take them and live with the least amount of pain possible. This is the exact reason why there are pain meds….this is what they are made for.

    This makes me feel much better, knowing that you can have some control over the pain.

    I wish all of the pain could be taken away, however my “wish” isn’t necessarily considered by Picard to “make it so” πŸ™‚

    Love you, Julie!

  6. 6 Cathy
    April 17, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Out of all the different pain meds Wally has been on, Morphine is the one that he feels the most like himself. He actually likes doing things. And from my prospective, he is far less crabby.

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