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Interview CP27

Age at interview: 54
Brief Outline: Back pain since 1994. Treatments: Physiotherapy. Epidural steroid injections. Pain management: One-to-one counselling with psychologist. Current medication: Uses medication for flare up. Buprenorphine (Temgesic), co-proxamol, paracetamol, meloxicam, diclofenac.
Background: Senior manager/ civil engineer (not working); married; 3 children.

More about me...

 

Relaxes by flooding his mind with a colour and distracts his mind from the pain by solving...

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Relaxes by flooding his mind with a colour and distracts his mind from the pain by solving...

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Now if you've got any other mental stimulus like your job, like your family, like your wife, you've either, you've got to somehow dump that problem on somebody else or get rid of it. Realise it is not a primary problem because you are so busy trying to deal with the pain in your head you have not got the mental ability to deal with anything else. 

And the only real ways I've ever found of dealing with that is some sort of relaxation and meditation and I deal with it by trying to flood my mind with a single colour and breathing and I end up really calm and drift off and you think 10 seconds has gone past and actually half an hour's gone past where you've just been nice and blank and calm and it does work. 

I also set myself solving mathematical problems as well which distracts me, so I start wondering you know, how somebody thought about differential calculus and how they went about it and I start trying to do that myself and I find that also helps me, but it could be anything. I mean it could be thinking about whatever you're practiced in. Not as a big problem but just an interesting thing to solve because in my case I've always found if I can get to sleep its better.

 

Had an epidural, which helped him get back on his feet, but was put off having more when he asked...

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Had an epidural, which helped him get back on his feet, but was put off having more when he asked...

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Yeah, I was desperate to relieve myself of the pain, the pain and the only thing that could be offered to me for that, because even, I don't know how many Morphine injections I had, it wasn't a lot, but they didn't last very long. 

It would last for a few, a maximum of about four or five hours and then it would come back again and they said to me if I had this epidural it should last, give me a bit of a respite from the problem and so I said 'Yes I'll have this epidural', and they said 'Well, we'll give you the epidural and we'll also pump in some steroids' and something else which I can't remember, an antibiotic I think. 

To 1) try and relieve the inflammation and 2) as I say give me a respite from the pain so I went into the hospital for the day to have that and I had it and yes that did work, but only unfortunately for about a week and a bit, and then it seemed to creep its way through but then, and I then found that it did enable me though to take a bit more notice of what the physio was trying to make me do and get on with that. 

I was able to do a little bit more and get myself slightly more fit, even though it was only a week or two, and that little jump forward gave me enough to start getting the muscles in my legs and my stomach and my back to a level where there was some stability in the bottom of my back, because the major problem that I was having was because I'd been laying around for so long and lost a lot of muscle strength, I'd had no stability so any slight movement would trigger off major spasms and major pain and my muscles would then contract with everything probably really misaligned and the problem would get worse. 

I kept on with my normal orally taken drugs and resting and physio and the next time I came round to thinking about it was in a different hospital and I felt uneasy about it, for some reason, I don't really know why, I just felt that I'd had enough intrusion and enough drugs that I just didn't feel the benefits were great enough for me to warrant it. 

It may have been that I'd gone into accepting the pain a bit more and wasn't prepared to lose it, I'm not sure, so it sounds weird but something like that occurred and so this time I asked a few more questions and when I heard about all the possible side effects and all the possible damages that it could have done to me, I don't think I'd have an MR ' I don't think I'd have had an epidural in the first place if I'd have known about it.

What sort of side effects?

Well the fact that, you know, you were obviously introducing quite a long needle into a very small space and you might well push it into the wrong place, the fact that you might have a reaction against the chemicals that they're putting in there, you might well have another bacteria put into your spinal canal. Those were the major ones that I remember, but the chap spoke for at least 35 minutes telling me about it so there was probably a lot more that I don't even remember. 

Now one of the consequences, not of that in particular, but one the biggest, very difficult symptoms that I've got now that I can't get rid of is these incredible headaches. They're not, they're not like migraine, they are, they're like a typical Frankenstein type, somebody doing up the nuts and bolts on either side of your head, type headache and they go on for days and days. 

Now because one of the symptoms you can get from having an epidural is these headaches I often, I often wonder whether the two are linked, but they didn't come about immediately and so those are
 

Became completely reclusive and lay in a darkened room but then started to think about who he...

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Became completely reclusive and lay in a darkened room but then started to think about who he...

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And I really fell into, fell on the floor at home and became a total recluse for at least six months. Now during that period of time any external stimulation, moving lights, sounds, questions, external forces such as telephones, the mail, visitors, I just could not cope with at all. 

It would lead me into what I would say is like a mental stimulus overdrive, where the only recourse you have would be like when you felt your life was in threat and you'd either run from it, which I couldn't, but you would shut down all your inter-reactions so that you could pretend that they just didn't happen or they just didn't exist and found that with a combination of different anti-inflammatories and painkillers I was able to at least find a comfortable position on the floor, which I stayed in. 

And I suppose I lost all my body muscles, not all my body muscles, but my body tone. I became quite, not totally incontinent, but nearly incontinent most of the time and I used to be in a darkened room most, partly asleep, holding myself in a very difficult position in order to minimise the pain in my back and I think I was deteriorating pretty fast really and I don't know what would have eventually happened to me, other than this little thought suddenly came in my mind one day about I could remember what I used to be like. 

How I would go to meetings of the institute and talk to 2,000 people, how I would go and have television interviews, how I'd face 100 people who were very upset about the river being polluted or roads being blocked without feeling any fear whatsoever, and although I could remember what I was like, I couldn't deal with that at the time, but it somehow gave me a goal to aim for. 

It just gave me something to fight against the pain in my back, and fight is really the wrong word, because the worst thing you ever want to do if you've got a bad back is fight against it, but I mean fight in the sense that I would try to find some way of living.

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