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I learned a good lesson in pain management yesterday, courtesy of my wife, which will be useful when I have my bigger surgery in a week or two to remove the cancerous tumour from my intesine. On Tuesday I felt pretty good, so when I ran out of the Tramadol painkillers my surgeon had prescribed for me, I figured I would simply switch to something non-prescription like Tylenol or Motrin. After all, it had been more than a week, and I had only needed a couple of pills over the whole day.
Wrong. The nurses at St. Paul's hospital had told me that the best way to heal was to reduce any pain as early as possible, because pain runs in a feedback cycle, and eventually your muscles tense up and your body releases stress hormones that can slow down the healing process. It makes sense, and that sure seems like what happened yesterday. I walked the kids to school, with an awkward, uncomfortable gait, and then slept most of the rest of the day away.
Each time I woke up, I had to heat up the Magic Bag. I contorted myself into all sorts of strange positions to try to be comfortable, and it didn't work. I was in the bathroom all the time, because while things seem to be healing well in my rectum, it was also a bit like the intersection of 12th Avenue and Cambie Streets in Vancouver right now: things were moving, but considerably slower and more painfully than normal because of all the construction. I didn't even want to play Wii Tennis, which is saying something.
In the evening, my wife returned from dropping off our oldest daughter at Brownies, saw me on my elbows and knees on our bed with a hot pack on my back, and said she thought we should visit the local medical clinic and get me more proper painkillers. I didn't argue.
An hour later I had taken a dose, and not too long after that I was sleeping again, much more comfortably. I took another about 3 a.m., and again when I woke. This morning I feel more like a normal human being, and will be walking the kids to school with a much better approximation of my regular step. Plus traffic is moving more smoothly again, if you know what I mean. So managing pain does help other things work better too.
Yay painkillers. Yay my wife. The only downside is that it will be even longer before I should drive a car again, but that's okay by me.