Posted September 19th, 2008 by Jane

I always liked my drugs. Aspirin for a headache, rennies for the indigestion, valium and mogadon in my rather wild early 20s…..then it felt a bit wrong in the days of consciousness raising groups and close reading of Our Bodies Ourselves but somehow I never quite got the hang of Bach flower remedies.

When my shoulder pain started…a nerve pain which creeps and burns along the top of arm and then viciously through my left shoulder…worse when I stand up..or walk…I tried nurofen. No joy. Nor codeine and parecetemol. Trip to the GP, talk with oncologist and hospice nurses and a nasty nauseous experience with tramadol and a couple of days later I was on a low dose oromorph and its working…oh joy.

I didn’t realise the impact the M word would have on people. a line in an e-mail, the tone in a phone call and I can see some friends thinking versions of: ‘NO….you’ll get addicted’ ‘blimey she must be close to death’ or ‘you’ll just need more and more and will never got off it.’

Prejudice abounds and confusion about palliative symptom control, not to mention the muddle in many minds about the distinction between psychological addiction (unlikely) and physical dependence (yes but this just means taking care with dose reduction). Its not just my friends who have these fears…they are common among some cancer patients and some (non palliative care) professionals.

Morphine is a strong analgesic…and comes in small, medium and mighty doses…. it is safe and it often works and there’s no reason to avoid morphine use early in illness…so there I’m not dead yet….and no I don’t want to try a TENS machine.