09 January 2006

The medical profession is not renowned for its empathy with pain.

For example, "This won't hurt a bit" directly translates to "This will probably hurt quite a bit". Similarly, "You might feel a slight pinch" will translate to "I'll have to peel you off the ceiling after this".

But there are two circumstances where any decent medical practitioner will take one look at you and give you a prescription for the good stuff.

Burns are pretty much acknowledged as the worst pain you can experience. Sorry ladies, you can take your childbirth and jam it right back up where it came from. A serious burn equates to some serious pain.

I was barely into double figures when a bout of unanticipated fire walking left me with second-degree burns to the sole of my left foot. The second last toe actually split like an over-cooked sausage. I had some hard-core painkillers pushed into me that night, along with tetanus shots and the rest. But not once did anyone even question how bad the pain was, they took one look at the medium rare meat at the end of my leg, assumed it was hellish and drugged me into next week.

Absolutely magnificent.

I discovered the second circumstance last Thursday.

I have a filling that has been a bit grumbly for the last few years. It would get sensitive to temperature or pressure every now and again and just give me an odd twinge every so often. I pretty much ignored it.

Last Wednesday, it was starting to twinge pretty regularly and by 3am Thursday morning, I was insisting that Ghost do his redneck spousal duty and smack me in the mouth a few times to see if he could knock the damned thing out of my head.

Ice packs didn't help, but hot packs to the right hand side of my face helped me not want to kill myself quite so much. The sage advice of one of the methadone patients at my local chemist the night before that ibuprofen was the most effective drug I could buy over the counter had proved to be complete rubbish (and here's me thinking that an ex-junkie would know her product).

I staggered off to my local GP who promptly handed me a prescription for the strongest dose of codeine you can legally get.


I had an appointment with my dentist that afternoon and after 30 seconds of drilling and me physically assaulting him in the process, he decided that the tooth was "unapproachable until the infection settles down". Which directly translated to "SHE is unapproachable until the pain is managed".

I dragged my throbbing, swollen head home with a lame prescription for antibiotics and lay on the nice cool tiles in the bathroom where I could conveniently vomit in the bath when things got really bad.

Ghost established that there was no one around who would put me under and deal with the tooth and that our local medical clinic could not prescribe anything stronger than the codeine.


There was only one thing for it. We dragged my pale, cold-sweat covered, vomiting self to the emergency ward. And while I had to wait for a couple of rude buggers who pushed in line spurting blood and claiming to be actively dying or something, I finally saw a doctor who understood.

I didn't even have to finish the sentence. "Infected tooth. They gave me Panadeine Forte..."

"And it's not doing anything, right?"

And with that, she ushered me into the magnificent world of prescription morphine. One tablet and I could yank every tooth out of my own head with rusty pliers and still feel chipper.


No pesky questions about how bad the pain was, although she did check for allergies. Just straight to the good stuff. Mind you, asking me to vote for Howard at the next election or sending my own mother to Abu Graib in exchange for pain relief was not beyond the realm of possibility at that point.

It probably helped that I did look pretty rough. The right side of my face was swollen, I was soaked in cold sweat and I don't know about you, but I'm never at my most attractive when I'm dry heaving.

But it did the job. Not only did I get the morphine (in convenient, easy to swallow capsules!) but she threw in some valium, just in case.

Fuck steak knives, this was a great deal!

Anyway, four days later and things are much better. No, I'm not irretrievably hooked on morphine, although popping a couple before my root canal tomorrow morning as back up is appealing.

But I have learned, that when the going gets tough, the tough go to the emergency ward. That's where they keep the good stuff.

ladymisstree • 07:32 PM

I've had a nasty 3rd degree burn before (oddly, caused BY surgery) - and you're right. Almost no pain in the world is that much beyond suck. It's going to make childbirth slightly easier to bear, I'm sure.

Glad to see your tooth situation is greatly improved. Have fun with your drugs (like you would be able to NOT have fun on morphine), but don't go overboard. Besides, taking it only when you feel like you need it means more to keep in the medicine cabinet for future instances of "fuck! I think I just broke my toe!" :p

squeaks told me at 05:33 AM on 11|01|06

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