I started taking regular pain killers many years ago, as it was the only way I could control the pain that wrecks my body.
I fought against being dependant on painkillers for a long time, but eventually had to come to terms with the fact that the only way I could control this beast was by regular analgesia.
I tried acupuncture, relaxation, mediation, even cannabis (kindly given to me by the boyfriend of my then flat-mate) but nothing worked well enough to reduce my chronic pain. Eventually my GP suggested I attend a pain clinic, the consultant was very good, recognising my professional background and knowledge, he felt that the only option I had was to try morphine patches.
Deep down, I knew that was what he would tell me. I hoped he might be able to give me details of research outcomes of long term use – I was only in my early 50s at that time – but none was available. Despite this, I decided I would try the patches. I’m really glad I did. They really have made a big difference to my daily life.
The morphine has helped not only with my pain, but also with muscle stiffness. It is not a cure all, I still get pain if I stand for more than a few minutes, try to lift anything heavy or sit in my wheelchair for more than a couple of hours. At times I need to a take top-up Tramadol for break-through pain, especially in cold or damp weather but for much of my day my pain is bearable.
However, I’ve learnt four things that I want to share as I hope they may help others
Always have a spare patch…….
and carry it with you at ALL times. I learnt this the hard way. About a year after I started using morphine patches, I was enjoying a day out with friends when I slowly became away of my pain increasing and feeling very strange. When I went to the loo, I discovered to my horror that my patch was almost off and that it had folded over and stuck to itself!
There was no way I could unstick it. I was several miles from home, and didn’t feel safe to drive. Luckily one of my friends, another nurse, was able to drive me home. I can’t remember much of the journey as I felt a sense of unreality and as if I was going in and out of a series of tunnels.
Once I was home I quickly put on a new patch and climbed into bed, still feeling very out of sorts. My friend told me that I was experiencing morphine withdrawal and gave me much much reassurance that once the new patch had started to work it would soon recover, she also advised me to take 10mg Valium (I have a prescription for occasional use if I get severe muscle spasm in my back) to ensure I slept whilst the new patch was getting into my system.
The next morning I work up feeling fine, and much wiser.
There is now always a spare patch in my bag!
Take spare tape as well
Occasionally a patch came can become unstuck at the edges. Sometimes this can happen if skin is not completely dry when the patch is applied, or if I’m wearing really tight trousers which rub at the patch and cause it to come loose. Just using a strip of tape, can save the day and help the patch to re-attach to my skin. My tape of choice is 3M Transpore, as I find it the least irritant on my sensitive skin.
I also find 3M Transpore great if I’m having a blood test as I’m often allergic to the tape the venepuncturist uses. Supplying my own reduces my chance of skin reaction.
My Wipe is great for removing sticky residue
Once a patch is removed there is always a ‘tide-mark’ left, just as there is with a ordinary sticking plaster. I tried various acetone based removers but they all seemed to cause a skin reaction. Then I found My Wipe on Amazon, it’s it easily removes the sticky residue and doesn’t unduly irritate my skin.
Use Derma Cream to reduce skin redness
This honey based cream is really great, it has many other uses, including helping with wound healing and infection. Again buyable from Amazon
I usually apply it directly after using a My Wipe and it substantially reduces redness and inflammation.
Beware though, it is quite sticky, and washing or using a baby wipe to clean your hands afterwards is essential.