Friday, July 08, 2005

Twilight Zoned

I really didn't mean to be gone so long. Unbeknownst to me, I inadvertently moved to the Land of Adverse Events.

After my last procedure, the doc prescribed medication for chronic pain. Those words, "chronic pain" are frightening if you work in a health profession, because for too many people, "chronic pain" sometimes translates into "permanent and intractable pain".

The medication given to me is not really a pain reliever. And no one really knows WHY it works. The theory seems to be that in some types of nerve pain, the pain transmitters become irritable and transmit the pain sensations too quickly and too often, so that one feels more pain than there actually is...or may even be feeling pain that no longer exists. Theoretically, it slows the pain transmitters and eventually calms them. The medication is slowly increased to a high level, and then slowly decreased until the pain returns or the medication is discontinued. I am now in the decreasing stage.

Whatever the mechanism is, I can say that I experience little to no pain. However, I experienced some unusual adverse events (also known as "side effects"). The first one was sedation; the medication made me sleepy. In fact, it made it almost impossible to get up in the morning, even after I instituted a second alarm. And by the time dinner was over, I was so tired that I had trouble even reading more than a few pages before falling asleep.

I have always been the type of person who awakens before the alarm goes off (if I even bother to set one), springs out of bed in a happy mood, and sometimes, if I'm especially sunny, I even sing to awaken other people who have to get up. I know that this is extremely annoying to people who don't awaken easily, but it's irrepressible. (Really. And you should see the look on Gavin's face when I wake him up this way...heh.) So the sedation was problematical, but I could live with that as long as there was no pain. Especially since my workplace is the point that I'm not entirely sure anyone would notice if I didn't show up. Luckily for them, I have a pretty good work ethic.

The second adverse event is rare enough that it doesn't show up in the PDR. I felt foggy all the time, like my thoughts were trying to swim through sludge. I would sometimes find myself spending several hours moving paper from one spot to another, without having actually done anything with it. I started projects only to be distracted into working on something else, sometimes even repeating something I'd already done because I'd forgotten I'd done it. I walked across campus several times (hurray for walking!) only to find I had forgotten why I went. I didn't really notice the cognitive deficit until after it started getting better (which is maybe the scariest part). I knew I wasn't getting anything done, but I couldn't figure out why I wasn't. And I couldn't figure out where all my time was going.

The time loss is compounded by feeling physically better and getting some housework done (despite starting something and being distracted and starting something else), Mom's birthday, trips to see Mom (yes, I was driving throughout this, also scary now that I think about it), starting my tile floor (pictures to come), working extra at the second job to pay for the healthcare bills, time with Rog, time with Betty (ex mom-in-law), and time with friends.

And then Buddy, cat extraordinare, leader of the neighborhood cat gang, able to swagger past snarling dogs with a bare twitch of his Manx stub to show his indifference, twiner of legs, lord of my keyboard, my lovely cat rescued from a life at the shelter...died. He was suddenly having trouble eating and breathing; when I took him to the vet, the vet didn't think he could save him, so Buddy had to be euthanized. The vet was curious, though, and did an autopsy...Mr. Bud had a tumor the size of a child's fist in his chest cavity. Yet he never acted like there was anything painful or wrong, until the day before I took him to the vet.

I do hope the first half of this year was the difficult half. I have high hopes for the second half.

I'm much less foggy now. If the pain comes back, it will be a tough choice between my physical well being or my intellectual well being. I hope it will not come back.

Thank you all for letting me know you missed me. I missed me too. And I missed you. And yes, Anonymous, mi hermano es muy loco.


Leann said...

It's good to see you back!!

I"m so sorry to hear about your beloved Manx. They are beautiful cats.

I will pray the pain stays away and you are able to improve and the second half of this year will be all you wish it to be!

Rhodester said...

Aw, sorry about poor Buddy! We lost our 6 year old Sheltie in almost the exact same way a few years ago and it was devestating.

But.. welcome back to YOU! I hope you get to feeling better and slap a few comments on my blog.. I have indeed missed you :-(

Anonymous said...

From the non-spanish speaking anonymous... so glad to see a post from you after the long dry spell. Hope the pain is kept at bay without the zone out drugs. Just checking to make sure that you got the parcel on the porch on Tues.

Jodie said...

Thanks Leeann and Dave -- I feel like I've returned from a long journey, except that I really didn't go anywhere. It's a very odd feeling.

I did get my package! And it's wonderful! You'll see a post on it this weekend. :D

Glod said...

Your what is your what???
Can you provide a translation?
Oooh, you need to update the link to me, because the blog's gone into hiding. It now lives at

Lita said...

It's so good to have you back and feeling a bit better. We missed you in blogland.

I'm sorry to hear about Buddy.

Jodie said...

Hey Glod, the link is updated. And that translates to: My brother is very crazy. Which is true. :) Of course, I'm sane...

Lita, it's nice to be back in so many ways. I don't think I've ever felt I have the past weeks.

Gone Away said...

So good to have you back, Jodie! Sorry I haven't been around until now but it's been a weird couple of weeks for me too. I have had to force myself to blog and was rescued only by the timely arival of my daughter on occasion.

It sounds as though the problems have been fought through, however. May your year from now on be as easy as the first half has been difficult!

Meepers said...

I'm sad to hear about your cat. It sounds like you loved him very muhc.

You know, I think what my best friend and I have been calling pregnancy brain would sound better and more convincing if I called it cognitive deficit. I have to constantly remind myself to work on one project at a time, and it takes actual work to remember which project it was I was supposed to be attending to.

Things have been pretty crazy over at my blog - I seem to have attracted a detractor that sets my ego all aflame. So you didn't really miss much, other than the fact that I started liking books again and have been talking about them way too much.

It is really great to have you back online, and I hope your hip keeps mending. Chronic pain is scary, but I'm sure you have a great doc who will help you get it figured.