Thursday, April 9, 2015

Electric Worry

     You know how when things have been good for a long time, you're sometimes waiting for the monster at the end of the book? I kind of feel like that right now. I'm having trouble deciding if the foreboding is just me being paranoid, or if it's the result of experience with this scenario and knowing what likely comes next. I'm really hoping it's the former.

     It's been more than a year since my husband had to go the emergency room because of the crippling pain in his spine, and that's a minor miracle that we seldom take for granted. He's currently rocking a 50 microgram fentanyl patch for his pain management needs, with oxycodone as back up for the breakthrough pain, and that's been the magic potion for the past fourteen months or so. In the time I've been with him, which is almost six years, this is the longest he's ever gone without an emergency room visit. Hell, if we had to go tomorrow, I wouldn't remember how to navigate the various parking lots at our nearby hospital. That's a really good feeling, by the way.
 
     It was a solution that his doctor stumbled upon almost by accident, when my husband mentioned in passing one day that he knew of someone who used it; it was a lightbulb moment. Everything's got two sides, though, and one of the problems with being on that heavy a dose of opioids (it's about 80-100 times more potent than morphine, 15-20 more than heroin) is that it can mask what's actually going on underneath it all until the situation is pretty far gone. There is every possibility in the world that I'm getting ahead of myself in my fear, but I'm having the worst feeling that this could be what's going on at the moment.

    His back pain is never gone, not all the way, but the intensity comes and goes, and the majority of the time, it's a low-frequency hum. By that I mean it's kept at a level that his body can adjust to in order to go on about its business, like when you get a tattoo. Technically, you're being pierced with a needle or needles thousands of times per minute, and that should equal OHMYGOD PAINFUL, but in reality, your body typically adjusts the pain level after a little bit and it becomes bearable, sometimes amounting to little more than an annoyance. Most days are like that for him.

     Lately, though, it's started to change, and that's why I'm getting nervous. His back has been at flat-out painful levels for over a week, to the point that he can't comfortably sleep in our bed every night, as it's too soft. Instead, he falls asleep on the firmer couch, which I suppose offers him more support. I don't think I would be as worried under other circumstances, but for the pain to persist for this long, at this level, while he's wearing his patch and using the oxy like he's supposed to? What the hell is going on back there?