Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Human Pain Magnet

I began my training as a human pain magnet early in life.  It seems that I have always been a "learn by fail" kind of guy.  When I was about 3 my dad was changing oil in the lawn mower and had just shut it off to drain the oil when I walked up.  He warned me not  to touch the muffler ... so began my life long journey with pain.  Between being a rowdy boy as a youngster, playing football, baseball and racing motorcycles, I have experienced my share of pain.  Broke my front tooth off playing football, stuck a knife in the side of my hand and the tip came out in the palm of my hand, have endured 3 concussions, 14 broken bones along with a ton of stitches.  I admit I have done my share (and probably 3 or 4 others) of stupid stuff while gaining my vast expertise in the world of pain, but none of us asked to live with RA, diabetes, fibro or any other chronic condition.

While this seems like it would have prepared me somewhat for living with a chronic disease later in life, it pales in comparison.  These did inflict great pain temporarily, but living with  a chronic condition is a full on 24/7 event.  While my pain level is certainly lower than most broken bones, I get little to no relief ... EVER.  There are times now that I feel the same as when my shoulder was separated, or suddenly I get that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when you move with a healing broken bone and you can feel it separating apart a little bit.  It is like comparing living through a tornado (broken bone) to a hurricane (chronic disease).  We live on the edge of tornado alley and are used to them coming and going quickly.  We were in a cat 1 hurricane while on vacation in Florida in 2000.   We thought living with tornadoes, a hurricane wouldn't be that big of a deal, but the winds and rain are constant for hours and hours, it eventually starts wearing you down.  After so long you just want it to stop ... sound familiar?

I was going through my closet this spring, throwing stuff out, and ran across a folder with xrays of some of my broken bones.  Why I still had them I don't know, but I immediately thought of the movie Road House.  lol


deb aka murphthesurf said...

As much as I was chuckling about your youthful escapades, the overall point of the post drove home even more that rheumatologists are not addressing the chronic and consistent intolerable levels of ra pain. I get very angry (as I am sure you know :-) about this and for the life of me can not understand why this can't be resolved for chronic pain patients. With careful monitoring and followup, we should be able to receive pain free days. This is all getting very tiring on my part and it seems on your part as well. Wish I had a quick fix for all of us but alas...I don't. Not yet anyway :-)

tharr said...

Deb, one thing I learned early in life was to laugh at myself. If you can't do that, you're in for a long hard life. I am planning a fun post from a few years ago about a camping trip with one of my old racing buddies. Tune in for that one for some laughs.

I am not sure how I feel about taking pain meds yet. I know that last year before a long ride, I took some Tylenol Arthritis and made it through most of the ride without any pain then ... BAM. I was hurting so badly all at once, I could barely finish the ride. I have never taken TA again before a ride. I don't know if this makes sense to you but I like to be able to feel when I am starting to hurt so I can adjust the length of my ride if necessary. I take it once in the middle of a ride if I am hurting to finish up occasionally though. I do the same at work also.

If you find a quick fix, please let me know ... I am waiting. : )

Wren said...

The knife through your hand struck a chord, Terry: I did the same thing with a fork once. I got the bright idea that if I pushed the tines of a fork deep into a potato and left it there while baking, the potato would bake faster (since the fork, as it got hot, would transfer heat to the inside of the potato, don't you know). Well, the fork didn't want to go all the way into the potato, so I bore down on it... and it broke the potato and stuck deep into the meat of my thumb.
Needless to say, I didn't eat a baked potato that night.
Fortunately, I've not experienced any broken bones, etc., but then, I was a cautious child (if a bit dumb during the teenage years, as the above story illustrates). But I know, anyway, what you're getting at regarding pain. It's amazing, really, how much of it we can endure, given that most of us are in pain every single day. I also dream that one day medical science will come up with a better, longer-lasting pain medication, but like you I know I'm usually better off not masking it. When I do, I tend to try to do too much, which I pay for big-time later.
Sending a big (((hug))) your way.

tharr said...

Ouch!! At least a knife is sharp ... couldn't imagine pushing a fork through your thumb. DId you ever want a baked potato again after that incident? I was adventurous, at least I never had an accident repelling!!
It is amazing what we can endure when forced to. I know, for the most part, what I need to do to get along, but I would like to see future RAer's have it better.

Anonymous said...

I have a similar muffler story when I was young. If dad hadn't told me not to touch it, I never would have. lol I have had a couple of broken bones but not that many. I feel for you and other RA patients. Keep on riding!


mary said...

Right there with you. Broken elbow, ankle, foot, and shoulder all at different times. Boy what a klutz. At least the pain from broken bones goes away in time. This RA pain is a whole different animal to be sure.

Anonymous said...

In no way do I mean to disagree with you, but for me it was different. After life as a brittle kid with many broken bones it was a car accident that left me a quad for a few minutes in 1980 that changed my life. The doc's found nothing and I healed. Several years later after a ski mishap they found out that my neck had been broken and a few years after that the disks went bad and pinched nerves to my legs and hands. With several fusions and a few years in pain control things were bearable. but chronic pain is chronic pain and the worst that RA has done to me has never been as bad as that, granted it was more than just a broken bone. I didn't mean to go off topic, but for me RA is a rotten and nagging stiffness that won't go away, but the nerve crap was much worse. Someone asked me how I dealt with the pain and I thought "give me a choice". I think about all my relatives who had bad RA before all this modern medicine and I am glad to be alive today. Maybe someday they can just fix it for future generations. The problem for me with pain meds is that they do nothing for the stiffness and are only really effective if I am not moving. Now if prednisone had no side effects I would eat it like candy. Hope I didn't ramble too bad, just couldn't sleep so I dropped by your blog.
Hope you continue to heal and are able to enjoy the KTM.
Phil - Syr

tharr said...

Jim, same here! If dad wouldn't have said anything my curiosity wouldn't have been aroused. I have a couple of big rides coming up this fall, check back for photos.

Mary, sorry but ... DAMN ... a broken elbow?? Man that just hurts me thinking about that one. Yeah, the RA pain is a duller constant pain that wears us down. By the way, my last broken bone was a right ankle (second time) when I was around 41 or 42. Bones do NOT mend well at that age like they do when in your teens and twenties.

tharr said...

Phil, we're all different and I'm glad to hear from you on this. You have definitely had it rough. I understand that RA could not touch what you have experienced in life. I agree about hopefully future RAer's will have it better. Look at how much better we have it than just 20 years ago. I have a cool ride planned for the end of September, first of October. Not a solid date set yet, depends on weather right now. We are still currently experiencing temps over 100.

Lana said...

I have always been sensitive to pain. RA and fibro have definitely toughened me up. However, I was a tomboy when I was a kid so I had my share of injuries but RA and fibro are a lot worse compared to broken bones and bruises. You are absolutely right – it is a 24 hour thing. There are days where I wish I could just stay in bed. I also am tired of being a human weather barometer. It has been raining for three days and I have been in pain for four because even before the storms hit, I knew they were coming. :-)

tharr said...

Lana, I have never been worried about pain, because it would always go away. Then RA entered my life. I would love to spend a day or two in bed resting, but even if I had that luxury, I would not let myself "waste" a day on laying around in bed. I know all to well about the human barometer also ... I would love to have some rain and cooler temps to set my barometric tolerances into action. Still hot and dry here.