Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Healing is not without pain

I think I have discovered why some folks get hooked on pain meds after an orthopedic surgery (is the skull bone considered orthopedic?). Saturday night was a killer - lots of pain, and it freaked me out more than I would like to admit, since I knew extra pain might mean rejection of the plate or infection of the surgical site. After all, I had had little pain up to that point, and figured I was home-free. The pain lessened overnight, so I went about my business Sunday. Since then, I have had increased levels of pain, but have managed things with ibuprofen only (about 5x a day). So, I stopped by the surgeon's office on the way home from work today, just to see if they could more clearly define the term 'more pain' as a warning sign of trouble. Due to the ice storm that hit Omaha last night, they had a slot to slip me in (not my original intent, at all, I just wanted some information, but they were great to give me an appointment at short notice), and I got to see the whole team: the expert PA, the surgeon, and the nurse manager. I was reassured by all that there are no evident signs of infection or rejection, and the healing seemed to be taking a regular course. All that is happening is that the nerves are starting to wake up and/or knit back together, and are complaining loudly about the rough handling they had back on November 15. In the doctor's words: "The good news is that you are getting sensation back in that area. The bad news is - you are getting sensation back in that area." The doctor didn't see any need for a different pain medication at this time, saying that ibuprofen is the way to go, and my 2 grams per day is still below the daily limit for that drug. I am very relieved for his judgment and the reassurance given to me by the PA, as I wasn't looking for any further pain meds at this time. I have a practically new bottle of oxycodone that I have ignored since the Monday after surgery (hate what narcotics do to my innards, plus the drug didn't seem to cut the pain as well as ibuprofen, even in the days just following the surgery). But I can sure see how someone else might say - gee, I could go back to this stuff now - and then just get used to it, hooking themselves long-term on the pain medicine. Healing itself is a painful process (as is life, but that is for the future philosophy blog I might write). I have always known that about healing (many surgeries and boo-boos in my background). This time seems different, since it is my brain-pan we are talking about, and I really want to take the best care of that area as I can!
Now, does anyone know how to correctly dispose of pills that are no longer useful? Just let me know, and I will spread the word here.
Update: Suggested by a librarian and fellow blogger - Mix Leftover Meds With Kitty Litter http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21641396
And these posts by the Assertive Patient blogger - Dumping Leftover Drugs http://www.assertivepatient.com/2007/12/dumping-leftove.html
and, How About Recycling Leftover Drugs? http://www.assertivepatient.com/2007/12/how-about-recyc.html
Someone at the university med center had suggested that I find students that are going for their missions overseas, and offer the drugs to them. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They can't take them, nor can the faculty member in charge of the program take them, so dispose of the things before your kids and your kids' friends start selling them for lunch money, or taking the drugs themselves: Painkiller Abues Persists Amid Drop In Teen Drug Use http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071212/NEWS07/712120340/1009

2 comments:

whitneydt said...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21641396

Seriously, not a joke. Kitty litter--preferably used.

Teresa Hartman said...

Thanks, Whitney. For me, as a non-cat owner, the article says to that coffee grounds make a good alternative. Wonderful! I have some stuff I need to get out of this house, and this fixes it!

 
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