Are the shutters closing?

Posted April 22nd, 2009 by Jane

Right now that elusive ‘window of opportunity’ feels more like shutters closing.

I’m in a pain/constipation/tired loop and I’m struggling to keep the window open. In Normandy over the Bank Holiday weekend I discovered a lot about French approaches to dealing with constipation. Glycerin suppositeries are the way forward and a lot more successful than the coy British approach to ‘bloating’ supposedly resolved by eating activia yogurts.

Constipation has been brought on by an increase in my morphine dose to deal with an alarming increase in pain. I’m OK when sitting down but move at all, or a gentle stroll and the pains races to 6 or7 on my personal pain guage…not quite agony but its getting there. ‘Nerve pain’ says my hospice nurse, ‘can be difficult to get on top of. Well what do you know? All those promises about the excellence of hospiceworld at pain relief…and at the first personal hurdle a huge chasm appears between the rhetoric and the reality.

Taking more morphine and more amytryptiline makes me sleepy…not the exhaustion of chemoland but a perpetual inability to keep awake…mid conversation I can shut my eyes and drift off.

Pain makes me grumpy. (I hear the CB therapists telling me to own my feelings…OK: “I feel grumpy when I am in pain.”) I find myself remembering Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did from childhood reading. Brave cousin Helen was the gracious sick woman who introduced Katy to the School of Pain where she had lessons in patience, cheerfulness, hopefulness, making the best of things,…and strangely…in neatness too. Cousin Helen’s wise counsel helped Katy to smile through her pain, tidy up her bedroom and become a model patient, a better person.

It strikes me how much this representation of the ideal type person in pain is still a moral requirement of sick people today. And oh dear, how badly I fail to meet it.