PCA

I had my patient controlled analgesia removed today. Mine came in the form of a constant morphine drip hooked up to the central line in my neck. Imagine a syringe the size of your forearm brimming with painkiller, the thing was a little intimidating. It would provide a constant background dose of morphine to keep my pain controlled while I was asleep and also had a button I could press to deliver more morphine if I needed it.

I lost count but think it’s been around 10 days since they hooked me up, originally because I’d developed a nasty case of Mucositis – a common side effect from chemotherapy. Essentially all of the skin covering any mucus membrane in your body just sloughs off. When it began for me I noticed a bit of a sore throat and within 6 hours I was very conscious of exactly where every mucus membrane in my body was – think sinuses, mouth, throat, stomach, GI tract, etc… I was lucky enough to never develop any mouth sores, most of the irritation was in my sinuses and throat. I say lucky but for several days even with healthy doses of cocktails of painkillers I was unable to even swallow, never mind eat anything. When you’re already fatigued and sapped for energy from not eating due to nausea – physically not being able to eat when you have the will is a serious morale killer.

So I was psyched this morning to finally ask to have the pump removed. I’ve gone two days with barely a button-push over the base level morphine it was providing me and given I have nothing else to fixate on medically at the moment it was the next step in my mental transition away from sick towards healthy. With most of the day to detox now i’m realizing how many little aches and pains the morphine was masking but it’s nice to know that I’m actually feeling whats going in my body now. After 10 days of constant morphine you begin to wonder (and freak out a little bit) about coming off it and what your body is going to feel like again. It was such an incredible relief to get it hooked up in the first place, the pain from the mucositis dominated every second of my life and the pump meant I didn’t have to explain every hour that i’d like some more morphine now please (not that anyone ever said no).

-Austin

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