Thursday, August 20, 2015

Recovery and the Pain Conundrum

Pain and Addiction, Pain and Addiction
They go together like dread and affliction
Bet your bottom twoonie
You can't stop both and not go loonie

Have you had the pleasure of visiting a walk-in medical clinic in a major Canadian city lately? I say pleasure, but what I really mean is desperation. No one other than hypochondriacs, citizens seeking non-emergency but somewhat urgent medical attention, or drug addicts go to walk-in clinics. I am in the "all three" category, however I have been clean and sober for a few 24 hours. To say they are depressing is making a mockery of hopelessness. Walk-in clinics are up there with government offices and collision centres, in my books.  My books have pages by the way. Actual physical pages.

A week ago my back collapsed. That's the good news. The bad news is that it has been doing a reverse four and a half somersault pike ever since. All this from falling on my ass while on a standup paddleboard. A standup paddleboard, the things that look so relaxing when gorgeous people drift peacefully on them. They are lethal weapons when boarded by an oaf in ankle deep water. Oh well. At least some kids saw me land hard on my butt and then pointed and laughed.

At the urging of loved ones and others unfortunate enough to be in my vicinity for any length of time, I inched my way over to a walk-in clinic after four days of teeth-grinding pain. I was whisked in rather quickly (an omen?) and left in an examination room, but not before I noticed the sign at reception: THIS CLINIC DOES NOT PRESCRIBE NARCOTICS. A middle aged man came in, a doctor I am happy to report, and we chitchatted for a minute until he said, "What seems to be the problem?"

Since time began, pain has been a part of life. And since time began, those suffering seek to eliminate their pain. Some do it through spiritual enlightenment. Others do it through various medical remedies. Still others do it through acquiring thousands of pairs of shoes. I have approximately eight pairs of shoes, and I say approximately because I only wear three pair. Being in recovery, I am to aim for the highest spiritual plane of being possible because I am supposed to be "awakened". I fall short. On my ass. I pick myself up, and try, and keep trying, but some days the world wins. Medical remedies have served me well when I use them as directed and for the length of time prescribed. I am okay with that. Recovery purists may argue otherwise, but there are certain medications I need.

The not-so-good doctor proceeded to grill me with questions about my history with back pain. I was not prepared for the Spanish Inquisition, although being prodded with soft pillows would have been nice. “What do you do to to deal with your back pain?” he asked, over and over again. Over and over again I explained, “I wait, take a few painkillers, and walk it off.”  
“But what do you DO?”
“I walk it off!”
“What do you mean, ‘walk it off’?”
“I WALK IT OFF. I grin and bear it until the pain subsides.”
“Why are you not ‘walking it off’ now?”
“Because this is no garden variety agony. This is different. Hey – my coworkers told me to come here – it was not my idea.”
“What do you DO?”
“What do you DO with pain?”
“Can you just examine my back please?”
“You DO what?”
“I am not going to ask you for narcotics, don’t worry.”
“DO you know what you DO?”
“I take a prescribed anti-inflammatory, but they aren’t cutting it… I’ll just leave now.”
“What do you DO when in pain.”
And that’s when I broke down in tears. I was looking for some sort of relief, assurance, anything to ease the pain. Compassion would have been nice. I do not cry often due to emotional constipation, so for me to sob was highly unusual. Maybe it had something to do with the excruciating PAIN.

And then he relented. He wrote a note for my employer. And two scripts.
And he got the hell out of the room.

I was not expecting a narcotic painkiller, but I have filled the prescription and use as directed and when essential. Is this relapse? No, this is self-care.
I really like my physio guy. 

Think I’ll just stick to standup, and leave the paddleboarding for now.