Monday, 27 September 2010

Anatomy of Agony

I have finally come out the other end of a period of chronic pain. Spending three weeks coping with a level of pain that meant sleep was impossible, driving would have been very inadvisable and even dressing became too difficult to consider has dramatic effects on both your physical and mental well being. Everyone who suffers from chronic pain has the same experience of this debilitating problem.

Now I have a usual level of pain, caused by a spinal injury, a dislocated right hip, trapped nerves and aging shoulders (one of the joys of using a wheelchair, your shoulders do much more work than they were meant to and so age more quickly). I am used to dealing with this, and have found ways of doing so. Yes, it can be annoying and can mean that I find myself less focused or easily annoyed on a day when the pain is a little more than usual. However, every now and then events conspire to create a massive spike in my pain levels, and then things really do go off the rails.

This time I fractured my ankle, tore a muscle in my back and thus caused a set of trapped nerves to become inflamed. This led to my sensation below my waist to become "hyper-sensitive". Hyper-sensitivity is where all normal feelings and sensations are increased to an almost unbearable level. When it happens I find wearing socks and trousers an agony, so you can imagine what might happen when it combines with a fractured ankle. Stupidly I did all this when trying to find out if I might be able to go back into club DJ-ing. Proof that however much this government might be trying to get disabled people back to work, until the built environment is fully inclusive this ambition is going to be one hell of a struggle. Whatever this event meant politically, personally it was a period of hell.

It started as a niggle in my right ankle and within two hours had grown to a level of pain that had me screaming the house down. My poor neighbours, they must have thought someone was murdering me. It felt they were to me. Pain is strange. When it takes hold it almost has a physical presence. I know when I had broken my back for the second time in 1999, as my spine collapsed the pain took on a physical element. As the nerves to my toes where being crushed I was kept awake by what felt like rats gnawing at my feet. Of course I didn't have rodents eating me, but what was happening was the brain read the different nerve impulses and tried to make sense of them. But not only do situations like this happen, but pain itself feels like a entity has taken hold of your body. Especially terrifying as I could not feel my feet at this time. I know have full feeling below my waist, but at times of extreme pain this is not a boon. Oh no.

I will admit I have a strange relationship with my body. It has been the cause of many problems in my life, and so I do tend to feel that "I" live in my body and we are at constant battle. It's how I have overcome many illnesses and debilitating physical problems. I battle them and my body equally. It never wins. When this hyper-pain strikes it isn't my body that is fighting me yet again, it feels like something else. Like an dark entity takes over and it is trying to break me using pain as a weapon.

All this might sound like it is taking on a spiritual element but it is more that the way the brain struggles to cope with situations like this are what has led to our need to find supernatural reasons and causes. I know there isn't an evil spirit taking over my body, and that it is a purely physical function of pain, it does feel like you are battling something "other". I am sure that this is something that evolved to enable us to fight back, by battling against this entity instead of our own bodies. And it is a battle. Many times in the last weeks I have found myself unable to continue. Yet continue I must, and did. I also won. I always have. I always will.

During the moments where I feel the battle is too much to continue, I have an insight into those people who want euthanasia. Yet I know in my heart I will prevail, and so it saddens me. During the huge internal battle against this pain monster, I regularly am struck with tragedy of those who want to die, and especially those who do. I know how easy it would be to bow out, and what a relief it would be too. But there is no way I will go without a fight. Once the battle is over I know I was right.

I don't know why I felt I should write this blog. I just wanted to put out into the ether my thoughts on pain and how it effects you. Everyone I have spoken to who suffers from chronic pain has a similar experience of it. Those who have continuous chronic pain seem to cope better on a day to day basis, thanks to finding mechanisms of treating the pain via various ways, but they do find that the pain gets to them eventually, whether it is physically or mentally. I know I am lucky. I have these periods ever six months to a year, and while they are terrifying while they last, once they are over I can go back to my usual pain and my usual life. Yes even my usual pain does effect the way I live, but it doesn't stop me dead.

All of us that has pain as part of their disability knows how little that is considered by the greater public. No one looks at someone like me and even thinks of pain. In fact feeling isn't normally something people associate with paraplegia! Many conditions that are hidden disabilities have pain within them. One day I hope that the public, and especially the government, understand how pain effects ones life and might even start to find ways of helping us fight the spectre of pain.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Catch up rant no.1

Well I'm finally out of the pain woods. I am still having twinges in my right ankle but they are nothing to worry about. The last two weeks have been a bloody nightmare. It gave me an insight into torture and how it can break you. The combination of sever pain and lack of sleep really sent me nuts, and nearly did break me. But only nearly! Annoyingly I used to be better at handling pain, but after my last spine operation, and the spinal injury it fixed that caused four years of excruciating agony, my pain threshold has dropped somewhat. But then a fractured ankle, torn back, trapped nerves and twisted dislocated hip are quite painful, so I shouldn't knock myself too much. And I got them all DJing in a Goth club. That'll teach me. Great club though. If you like you clubbing dark and Gothic visit Club Antichrist.

Club Antichrist

But enough with my moaning about which bits of me have fallen off this month. By not writing a blog for a while I have few things that feel I need to talk about. Firstly I must repeat my congratulations to Channel 4 on their Paralympic coverage. I caught another episode of That Paralympic Show and it blew me away. I absolutely loved the Pimp My Chair section and really feel the show is hitting the spot. Whenever C4 put their mind to making a show aimed at disabled young people, as well as a wider audience, they hit the spot. This will sound big headed but TPS is as good as the show I did with C4 back in the early 90's, Beat That. Both shows talk to kids in a grown up way and make disability normal. C4 just seems to know how to appeal to disabled youth without alienating everyone else. Well done to everyone involved.

That Paralympic Show

Enough of Happy Mik. Here's Cross Mik. The first thing that made my blood boil is the content of the speeches the Pope has made during his UK visit. OK, I am an Atheist so I might be biased, but as this is a state visit I am shocked that the Pope feels he has the right to make the theme of his visit a criticism of our secular society. What other head of state would go on a state visit to a sovereign country and feel that they can condemn the way it decides to run itself? The UK is a proud secular democracy, and the laws and rules we live by allow people of all beliefs to live their lives in freedom. Being secular allows all religions to be practiced freely. We even finance faith schools, even if they insist on teaching that faith as fact and thus put their pupils at a disadvantage. Their exam results might be high, but giving beliefs that same educational value as facts could only happen in a secular society like ours. Well, that and a religious dictatorship. But it would only be one faith that would be allowed and not the multitude of religions that flourish here in the UK. Let's face it, it was only our society becoming more secular that allowed Catholicism to be accepted.

I have never understood why religions seem to be unable to absorb scientific break throughs into their doctrine. I mean Evolution could be said to be the mechanism that God used to make Humankind, and that his hand was at play in placing the Earth in the sweet spot in our Solar System that allowed life to evolve. But no, all advances in our knowledge are seen in the same way. Damaging to the faith. Contradicting dogma. Now it seems that more and more religions are trying to increase the influence they have on how we run our country. This worries me greatly, and those of us who believe a secular society is the only rational way forward must make our voices as loud as those who are religious. We must not allow people like the Pope to use their public voice and huge following to curtail our freedoms and rights. Otherwise the very tolerance of a secular society that may lead to it's down fall.

Another bug bear lately is the way the London Fire Brigade is planning to impose new contracts on London Firefighters under the threat of being sacked if they do not take them up. The current work practices make total sense to me. Two nine hour days, then two fifteen hour nights followed by break seems the obvious way to go. In the day the firemen have many other duties as well as saving lives. So the day is shorter, so they are fit if they are needed in an emergency. Then two nights where these brave people have a longer shift, and during which they only have to concern themselves with saving lives. But no, the LFB wants to change that to a new shift pattern. Well not change it, enforce it. "Sign your new contracts or be sacked". What is this, Nazi Germany or Communist Russia? Contracts are legally binding documents and to alter them requires agreement from both sides, by law. Whatever the need to make cuts, any good manager knows they have to get their workers on board. Taking draconian action like this is crazy. I know I shall be supporting the Firefighters all the way.

The only ray of hope out of way our country is going right now, is that the UK may finally go back to being politically active. It won't be long before we learn how screwed we all going to be by the up and coming cuts in services and benefits, and I'm pretty sure they are going to make Thatcherism look like a picnic. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the fact that the poorest are being expected to pay for the bills run up by the richest will make people get out and protest. I know I'll be there on the barricades.

Well my blog has definitely gone all radical this time, that's for sure.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Still Ill

Hi there everyone.

No big rant today. Just a very short note to say sorry for going quiet. I've been struck down an attack of nerve pain that has stopped me from doing anything. Been laying in bed going OUCH!!!!! for nearly a week. It's finally stopped now, but I still have to withdraw from the pain killers I need to take during these attacks.

The doctors never tell you about these hassles when you go into a chair, and they sure has hell don't tell you that getting back your feeling will make them worse! I can honestly say that this week has been like being tortured. So if anyone in the secret service reads this, I know I would make a great spy. If I was captured then nothing any torturer could throw at me would beat what my body hands out. I tell them nothing! Ha ha.

So hopefully I'll be back to blogging in a few days, once the fog of Codeine and Morphine lifts. Groovy man.