HomeHealth & MedicineTHE PROBLEM WITH PAIN



  1. John, while I agree with you on the desirability of avoiding pain and with your feelings that pain alleviation/avoidance should be high up on the charts of any treatment for things, I also have to agree with the doc that pain is a pretty important signal for us about things.

    I have a pretty screwed up spine: it's shaped sort of like a corkscrew, bending and twisting in all sorts of odd ways.  Fortunately the twists 'n turns are in all different directions so for outward appearances I tend to appear fairly normal.  It does however, at different points and times coming and going, visit me with some pain fairies who like to jab their little magic wands into various vertibral valleys 'n hills.  


    When the pains are mild and related to things I am doing, I see them as good reminders that I have to behave myself to avoid aggravating them in the long term.  That's a good thing, and I see no need to be gulping pills to cover the reminders over.  If the pains get worse then that's a good signal to do a deeper examination of what I might be doing to cause them… not a signal to gulp pills… and maybe, occasionally, a signal that I should visit the fella in the white coat.


    But yes, once the pain has served its purpose, then the doc should recognize that and get rid of it: it's no longer doing anything useful and it should be gotten rid of.


    – MJM


    • Fair point Michael!

      Maybe what I’m saying is that the doctor cannot prevent the pain when it first strikes but he sure as hell can get rid of it when you stagger in his door in agony. For me that should be the first priority and then proceed to discovering what caused it to stop it happening again.

      Incidentally, sorry to hear about your back though I notice it does not dampen your ability or enthusiasm.

  2. Doctors are always loath to give anyone morphine, as they, like everyone else, have been indoctrinated with a fear of all narcotics, and tend only to use it as a last resort. In fact here in Greece, I believe the use of opoids is forbidden because past governments were convinced that they were inherently evil (thanks to the American narrative, no doubt). This has resulted in a situation where people with terminal cancer spend their last days in excrutiating agony because the doctors will only give them paracetamol, which of course is completely ineffective in that sort of situation.

    The reluctance to administer morphine is rooted in the belief that opoids are instantly addictive, an unfortunate consequence of the 'drug war' propaganda drive. Well, yes, morphine is addictive, but you have to take it for a long time before you will suffer withdrawal symptoms. And in terminal cases, that's hardly an issue, is it? Interestingly, there have been a couple of studies on the whole process of addiction which have found that people who have been administered opoid pain killers medically over a long period of time almost never express a desire for them when they have been discontinued. One of the most interesting experiments has been rendered into comic book form (I have the link to the actual research somewhere, but I can't find it right now), and it puts a whole new slant on our perceptions of addiction.


    • You are correct about ineffective dosages being offered instead of something that really works. In Ireland now if you go to the Pharmacy for pain killing tablets you are interrogated, (by law), by the dispensing white coat unless you have a prescription. I am talkinh about Neurofen+ here not a pint bottle of morphine. Years ago the was a female columnist for “The Observer,” who penned witty and insightful stuff for Sunday mornings. Thn he article one week announced to all of us that she had terminal cancer and everything after that read like a diary of her dying days. It was brilliant if disturbing but she told us every week that if she could not get her marijuana, she couldn’t write much less anything else. I’ve never tried any drugs myself apart from the hospital morphine that one night but having read that woman, I would never judge anyone for doing so themselves. I my own brief experience with pain and doctors, it always occurrs to me that he does not feel the pain himself at that moment and can only conjure up an image from his university days of what he was told. But even then, the default mode seems to be, give something mild first and review it a fortnight later. That could be one long agonising wait if/when he’s wrong.

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