I’m having one of those bad pain moments, probably due to feeling the slight breeze of the fan blowing on me. The muscles on the right side of my body have felt stiff since the stroke; not quite paralyzed but not as flexible as their left-side counterparts. It’s a numb kind of feeling and one that’s a royal pain to work around because I can feel their sluggish response… or that’s what it feels like to me. On top of this is the pain, the ever-present pain.
The doctor put me on Lyrica which somehow is supposed to be effective against this kind of pain. I’ve found that most of the time, the 150mg/day I take does take the edge off of the usual rip-roaring pain I had to deal with before. I tried Fentanyl, a drug that makes heroin look like candy and, for a while, it was effective. I’d be so stoned that I couldn’t remember that I was in pain. But, because it was a time-released patch, I’d have what I called “Fentanyl moments” where one moment I’d be lucid and two seconds later, I’d either find I nodded off to sleep, was flying higher than the proverbial kite, or so stoned I couldn’t see straight, let alone do anything else.
I’d probably still be on the patch were it not for the fact that, at the time – and probably still the case – insurance wasn’t going to pay for it and I had to bear the nearly $300/script cost.
So then I switched to a combination of tramadol – aka Ultram – and oxycotin. Well, it would get me stoned alright… but not as much as the Fentanyl did but there was another side effect I found more troublesome: It gave me insomnia on top of the insomnia I was already dealing with. There are times when, undrugged, the pain just will not let me sleep but, eventually, I’d burn out and then sleep for almost a couple of days at a time.
What that combo did was (1) barely dull the pain and (2) keep me awake no matter how tired I was. Oh, and there were the moments where it didn’t dull the pain and still kept me awake for days at a time before I’d eventually pass out from sheer exhaustion, both from the physical toll of not being able to sleep and the emotional pressure dealing with my infirmaties and the pain.
What bothers me is that now that the weather’s getting hot again, the Lyrica’s not helping a whole lot – but being cold doesn’t make me feel better either. That’s worse is that a lot of times, I can’t tell whether I’m hot or cold! My left side tells me the temperature’s comfortable; at the same time, my right side tells me I’m either cold or hot – it’s not sure which it is. That sounds like a bad thing – and it is; at one point, I couldn’t tell whether water was hot or cold with my right side, which led to the danger of getting scalded – so I learned to check water temp with my left hand, something it wasn’t used to doing.
Now I can tell the difference enough not to burn myself… but most of the time, I don’t know what my right side’s actually feeling, although I suspect my nervous system is overloaded on that side, making the determination difficult. Think of it as trying to hear a song through a whole lot of static; it’s hard to do and you can barely hear the song – but there’s so much static that all you know is that you hear something.
Right now, my small muscles – the muscles in my face, arm, and hand – are screaming something crazy and all because there’s a slight breeze blowing against me. The larger muscles of my side and legs are feeling it as well – just not as much as the small muscles.
The funny thing is that as far as my nervous system’s concerned, the left hand really doesn’t know what the right hand’s feeling and I find that oddly hilarious most of the time. I feel hot when I’m actually cold, cold when I’m hot – and the left side just ain’t buying any of it; as far as it’s concerned, it’s business as usual regardless of the weather indoors or out.
Matter of fact, since this happened to me, I can only remember one tiny window when the pain wasn’t something I was paying attention to: Three days I spent in Antigua. It was hot there and something about the kind of heat – more humid, less humid – made my pain kinda go away… until I walked into the room and found that housekeeping had turn the A/C down to 62 degrees – then the pain came back with near crippling force.
It’s like fighting a losing battle. The hypersensitivity affects my entire right side; even my eyesight is affected although a recent trip to the eye doctor confirms that my vision hasn’t actually changed any over the years – I still wear the same prescription contacts I’ve been wearing for years. You can’t tell my right eye that, though. I know it’s sensory input – how my muscles and nerves are amplifying what they’re really feeling and I feel the input as pain or, at the least, something my brain is interpreting as pain.
What I do know is that it doesn’t feel good. It makes me itchy and uncomfortable and I usually wind up with a headache with the effort it takes for me not to start running around like a maniac.
To make matters worse, I wanna get laid but I know the pain’s not gonna let me enjoy that simple pleasure. No, it’s not so bad that I can’t get horny or get an erection, although I’ve been there before. It’s just when I have to focus against the pain, my mind’s not in the gutter where I need it to be and it wears me out to the point where I don’t even want to try to do it because instead of pleasure, all I’m going to feel is more pain.
The Japanese call having an orgasm “the little death” and, boy, have I been killed a lot in my life! However intense I thought any pre-stroke orgasms were – and I’ve had some doozies – the post-stroke ones are anything but fun. Normally – for me, I guess – you feel the orgasm and your body’s response to it and it can border on being painful, especially if something decides to cramp up at that moment. It usually left me with that “Oh, wow” feeling.
Now? It’s always an, “Oh, my God!” moment. Not only do I feel it… but I REALLY feel it. You’ve heard of people saying that having an orgasm makes you feel like you’ve been electrocuted? Well, yeah, for me, it’s really like that because the pain and pleasure centers of the brain are one and the same. My nervous system gets overstimulated at orgasm/release and I can really feel that it is and the physical effects are embarrassing, at best, although there’s nothing I can do to control them since I lack that fine motor control my left side still enjoys. I look and feel as if someone really did stick a cattle prod up my ass.
It’s like taking a leak. Normally, you just go to the bathroom, whip it out, piss, shake, flush, washing hands, and go on about your business. For me – and this sound a lot funnier – I can feel myself pissing and my body reacts as if I’m having an orgasm. It is painful, too; just before the urine starts to flow, it feels like someone’s jammed something into my urethra the wrong way, like from the outside? The closest thing I can relate it to was the time I had an urinary tract infection; those kinda burn/hurt until it clears up and when I first felt this pain, I thought I had an infection, only to find out that I didn’t.
And this happens every time I pee and, after I get over the pain of it, it’s kinda funny because my right leg will get to shaking and trembling as if I just shot my load. It can get so bad I actually have to hold onto the wall to make sure I don’t fall down.
And speaking of peeing, I don’t have full control of the muscles that keep me from pissing myself. Oh, it’s there but I can’t hold it as long as I used to do pre-stroke. Anymore, if I’m not within a few steps of a toilet, it’ll get embarrassing in a hurry. Imagine what it’s like when I’m out of the house and there’s no toilet nearby! But I ain’t proud; I’ll whip it out and piss wherever I have to; easier to pay the fine than to deal with the humiliation of pissing yourself.