Back in 2007, before I had my big cancer surgery, I was taking morphine tablets a couple of times a day. As of yesterday, I am again—quite possibly indefinitely. It's because of that pain I've been having in my torso, which so far has no obvious source, but which I'm guessing is simply the result of my ever-growing tumours. In recent weeks it's been keeping me from going to sleep easily, or waking me up in the night. I was taking too many Tylenol 3 and Advil pills. For someone like me, morphine is a better and safer painkiller.
The drug is pretty amazing stuff, really. When I had my last partial bowel blockage in 2008, it was excruciating. But a single injection of morphine abated the pain within minutes, and was able to keep it at bay in hospital while I waited for my body to clear the obstruction. So far the low-dose, twice-daily pills are working well against my current pain, and I have shorter-acting tablets I can take if things act up in between.
The team at the Pain Clinic yesterday also prescribed me Zopiclone, a sleeping pill, in case I needed it. Last night I tried half a tablet because the morphine hadn't fully kicked in by bedtime, but so far I'm not a fan. I've been in a zombie-like state most of the day, much more so than my usual chemo-recovery Thursday. I'm certainly in no shape to drive or operate heavy machinery. Or light machinery, for that matter. I'll keep the sleeping pills in reserve in case I really need them. But I think I'll sleep fine just reducing the pain first.
Morphine is wonderful, wonderful stuff. I only had it once, but they gave me plenty and I swear I saw angels surfing on the rays of the setting sun.
I had the dubious honour of running my hand (thumb, index, middle fingers) through a table saw last May. It was pretty awful, but all in all not really that bad (the nurse at the hand clinic reminded me that it could be worse - like the previous guy she saw, who had taken off 2 fingers with a grinding wheel. At least mine were all still attached)
But in the ER I was given some of those synthetic opiates - Oxycodone, as I recall - 5mg was enough to eliminate all of my pain, and I was in a lot of pain. But what was more, I was under the impression that I had a clear head - I felt just fine.
Of course, as I left the ER with many stitches, I asked the nurse for some of the Oxycodone - the doctor told me he would give me a couple. The nurse looked me in the eye and cooly said, 'it's not on the chart' which I also took to mean, 'if you ask again I'm going to have Vinne and Lefty escort you out.'
...could have really used them that night, though.
Sorry to hear it's necessary, but glad it's working. Speaking from experience, there are levels of pain morphine won't handle, but you're unlikely to get there. And for most people with serious pain Morphine is safer than drugs combined with NSAIDs, which have some nasty side effects.
Hospitals/doctors/nurses can get real twitchy about giving out opiates, however, 'cause a lot of people do get addicted (less than they think, however, and it can be a real problem, stopping people from getting the pain relief they need.) However, Stage IV cancer patients don't usually get put through that BS, one of the few silver linings.
The Cancer Card has a few of those side benefits. It's a great nuclear option for obnoxious telemarketers or door-to-door salespeople, for instance.
Pharmacies can be sticklers too, as you would expect. Mine won't process refills for morphine or even for T3's: I need a fresh prescription when I run out.
Alastair, just your description of your accident gives me the jibblies.
I read once that morphine was, chemically, very similar to heroin. Powerful stuff, but I'm glad it's there for you, Derek.
It is an opiate, like heroin—and also like codeine. There are also opioids like loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium, the anti-diarrhea drug. Hydrocodone, acetyldihydrocodeine, oxycodone, and oxymorphone are opium derivatives too. We get lots of uses from those poppies, some good, some not.
When I ended up in the hospital with those five broken bones in my face, the nurse decided to give me a morphine injection in the morning. Truthfully, I wasn't really in much pain since the nerve in the left side of my face had been damaged and everything was numb, but I wasn't really in any shape to argue. I had never had it before, and it was the weirdest feeling. It felt like someone was slowly sitting on my chest and the pressure was building and building. It was probably just a relaxation effect from the morphine, but I remember feeling anxious and somewhat scared as the morphine worked it's way through my body. After a few minutes though I just got sleepy and and a bit high I assume. I eventually passed out and slept most of the day.
When I left the hospital they gave me a two week supply of oxycodone. I've never been into drugs or anything, but I can see how easy it would be to get hooked on something like that. All week I slept like a baby, had no pain, and was sort of in a state of bliss.
Assuming the cancer continues to grow, I'm sure I'll graduate to the stronger stuff eventually.