Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pain Factor

I have written here before about my seemingly abnormal pain tolerance. My willingness to not be fearful of pain and to test my body instead of listening to "scare tactics" is getting to a point where I believe I am on to something profound!

Pain is the message from the brain to the "injury". We all have neurotransmitters that send signals to every part of our body. The message of pain is also I believe related to fear. I have a theory that looks into the pain of childbirth for instance. Anyone that has had a child knows it's not all 100% pain free. I have noticed however that the women that go into labor expecting to go natural and do it natural end up with a beautiful story of serenity and peace. Then you have the women who perhaps have walked into childbirth full on planning to use every source of pain management that is offered and when for some reason it works out where they are using their own methods to manage pain it's an absolute horrendous "thought I was going to die" experience. The brain is responsible for many things. The brain is also powered by "thought". If for instance you "know" a car accident is impending..the natural thing to do it so tense up. Have you ever wondered why drunk drivers often times walk away from a deadly accident...I believe it's because they have no reflex time; they don't see it coming, therefore they are completely relaxed. What happens to your body when you tense up verses staying relaxed, I am not a scientist or a doctor but I do believe relaxation is a huge part of managing pain. I have been testing this theory with my own experiences. I have dealt with anxiety my whole life, so managing that has made me an expert in learning to stay calm even if my body is sending messages otherwise. I believe that because of this "stay calm" attitude, I also have a high pain tolerance. I have taken it one step further and decided to do what I can to keep my body free of any medication. I take things when NEEDED, not in anticipation of pain.

Yesterday I went in to the hospital to have surgery on my foot. When I had my consultation with the podiatrist, he immediately recommended I be put under for this procedure. Knowing how involved being put under is (hospital, drugs, no eat/drink, rules, regulations, no driving, post anesthesia recovery, etc.) I asked the simple question, could we do it with a local instead? He said yes, but I don't think that was an answer he *wanted* to give. Let's be honest, it's easier on a surgeon to have the assurance of their patient not knowing what's going on. They can fully focus on the surgery not worrying if the patient is comfortable because they are sleeping. I get it. Most people opt for that route, so to hear me ask NOT to take that route, I believe put him off a bit. He went on to tell me how painful for local anesthetic injection is and then told me the main concern is that I don't move. Ok got it. So I walked into the hospital yesterday and was immediately taken over by "hospital procedure". I was put in a gown (standard precaution because I was going into the "sterile" OR) and I noticed there was an IV bag waiting for me. Seriously? I reminded the nurses that I am just having a local, so the need for fluids wasn't necessary. She informed me that it was an antibiotic that the doc had ordered. Oh fine :) Stick me with the needle then! LOL! I am not a hard patient, I am very easy I abide by what's told to me, and I keep a smile on my face through the process. The nurses love that and I am sure I will appreciate the "good patients" too when I am nurse :) I feel it's my duty to be as little trouble as possible. So all gowned up etc, ready to walk into the OR. I get in there. Yes I am calm on the outside, but the machines don't lie, my BP was elevated and my HR sounded like a chorus of jackhammer knocking! Yes, I can come off as calm and collected, but when you are hooked up to monitors, there is no fooling the doc. I made a light joke that I was going to concentrate on slowing the beeping. There my deep breathing started :) I was told surgery would last from 2:30-3:50. Perfect for me I was able to get a peak at the clock. That's about all I could see. I had a sterile cloth over my body that was "tented" about a foot above my head. I am not clausterphobic so that didn't bother me at all, but I could see why people want to be sleeping in the OR, it's very intimidating! All the "medical talk" and sounds of machines and hustle and bustle of the many people in there to make for a smooth surgery. There was a nurse in there with me, she kept me company and we conversed about many things. I was so thankful for her, but I am looking at half a face covered by mask and hair net, I did notice she had blue mascara on and complimented how it matched so well :) She said it was a "girly thing" :) For me to be in the OR was fun, when I did my CNA course we were begging for a tour of the OR, but due to sterile regulations, we could only peak through a window. So to be a patient that is awake during surgery, it was a riot for me. Moving back to my "numbing injection" that I was told would be the worst part. It was a tad uncomfortable, more of just a "weird" feeling. They stuck the top of my foot with the needle and I immediately felt a tingly, warm feeling wash over my entire foot. Suddenly any touch was barely detected and we moved on with surgery. I wasn't sure exactly what was going on, I didn't mind that so much, but I was left wondering if it had started, or if I was just feeling the beginnings. Then I asked to see the "specimen" that was removed. (The surgery I had was to remove fibromas that were growing under the skin and into my foot. A fibroma is described as scar tissue. I believe a few years ago I must have dropped something on my foot causing a trauma that healed internally, and my body was producing far too much scar tissue. If it wasn't taken care of it would have just kept growing; hence why I decided to have it removed) the fibroma was cut out, and they showed it to me before it went off for a standard biopsy. It was bigger than I expected, but not surprisingly so. I believe quite a bit of it was "IN" my foot only a small part a hard bump under the skin was what I could see before surgery. I also had another one that was larger but softer on the side of my foot. We decided try to inject that one in hopes it would shrink. Sparing another scar that would have been larger. My hope is that the injection worked so I don't have to get that one removed too. Surgery completed quickly, I was out of the OR by about 3:15. Foot bandaged with a medical shoe. That medical shoe was a joke, it has a plastic bottom so it made a "click, clop" sound like a wooden pair of clogs would and my foot kept slipping forward. With two crazy wild kids to chase after and 2 weeks to wear this shoe, I opted to stop at Walgreens for a better "boot" they had one left and it was my size, and since they were eager to get rid of it (it had been discontinued) they had it marked down 50%. It was still way more than I would spend on even a nice pair of shoes, BUT I truly feel it's worth it to have comfort while my foot heals. I was discharged with strict instructions to use my vicadin prescription atleast through the night, Dr. equated pain to a "caged monster" want to keep the monster maintained. I understood and respected what he was saying, but I was unsettled about the fact that I would need pain meds and really unsettled with the idea of taking them before the pain sets in. Felt a little "unnecessary" I am not afraid of pain and I have the pills on hand for *if* the pain does creep in, but last night I waited to feel a glimmer of pain, time kept passing on; no pain. I started to do some research on how long a local is supposed to last, but was sure that after 5, 6, 7, even 8 hours it should have been worn off. Bedtime came, no pain, not even a little bit, so I apprehensively went to bed, fully expecting to wake up with throbbing pain. I slept through the night, woke up this morning; still no pain! I made a comment to Al that I wonder if my brain is missing the "pain sensing" transmitter. It's just odd to me that I am told to expect pain for certain things and then I have none! My husband lended me a compliment that I am  "awesome" .  I told him how much I appreciated his comment but went on to explain, I am not awesome, I am just not afraid of pain. I choose not to be haunted by "what if's" instead I move forward, trusting that my body knows what it's doing. That's my version of pain management and I will admit, it's working quite well!

sporting my boot in which I added a little "glitz"
that's my way of combating boredom! Ha

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