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Thursday, 27 September 2018

Ronald. A patient getting to the end of the long journey through pain and painkilling drugs, ending up in chronic pain and Tramadol

I wrote in general terms about the "long journey through pain and painkilling drugs" in July 2018. It is, of course, a very personal journey, and in recent days I have come face-to-face with two such journeys. I wrote about Janet's journey a few days ago. Ronald's long journey through pain was somewhat different to hers. Just as pharmaceutical drugs do not have a single side effect, individuals have their own personal side effects, their own personal route to ever more chronic, ever more untreatable pain.

Ronald was always a fit and active man. When he began to suffer some mild rheumatic pain he did what everyone does. He resorted to taking painkilling drugs.

The tragedy (yes the tragedy) was that they worked!
  • The pain went. 
  • The wonders of modern medicine. 
  • The triumph of medical science.
The problem was that the pain came back. But this was really no problem, he could take some more, and whenever the pain returned he took more again. Like with most people suffering with pain it became routine. Pain, pop a pill. It always worked.

Trouble was that Ronald found himself popping a pill more frequently. Monthly, then weekly, then daily. Then more of them each time. One, became two, then the need for more.

No matter, the doctor was there to help. If over-the-counter pain killers did not work, there were strong drugs that he could prescribe. And they seemed to work too. Pain, a pill, and relief from pain. Temporary relief, by relief no less. And he trusted his doctor, he would not give him anything that was harmful. He knew best, and as he said, there was no alternative - until the pain was much worse than it was.

The pain did get worse, his hip became unbearable. It affected him mobility, his life. He had always been an active man, but now he undertook his activities in almost permanent pain. His doctor, though, was not phased. It was wear and tear. His body was wearing out. He needed a hip transplant, and soon he had one.

It worked! It was brilliant, and he soon recovered from him operation.
  • The pain had gone.
  • The wonders of modern medicine.
  • The triumph of medical science.
Unfortunately the pain returned, not to the mechanical hip, but his other hip. More painkillers, more often, more of them, and increasing strength. They worked every time, but so did the pain. Don't worry, said the doctor - when it gets bad you can have another hip transplant.

And so he did. It worked! It was brilliant. He would soon recover from his operation. And he did. What marvellous things surgeons were able to do these days.

Trouble was that the pain soon returned. I was due to see him but his wife phoned. His doctor had given him more painkillers, and he had a terrible reaction to them. My eyes rolled. Being a homeopath is difficult sometimes, especially when good friends have such faith in conventional medicine. What had he taken? Tramadol came the answer.

Tramadol is an opiate painkiller, a narcotic. I checked it out. It has the most dreadful side effects, as the website outlines.

* Abnormal or decreased touch sensation
* blisters under the skin
* bloating
* blood in the urine
* blood pressure increased
* blurred vision
* change in walking and balance
* chest pain or discomfort
* chills
* darkened urine
* difficult urination
* dizziness, or lightheadedness, fainting
* fast heartbeat
* frequent urge to urinate
* gaseous abdominal or stomach pain
* indigestion
* irregular heartbeat
* loss of memory
* numbness and tingling of the face, fingers, or toes
* pain in the arms, legs, or lower back, especially pain in the calves or heels upon exertion
* pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck
* pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
* pale, bluish-colored or cold hands or feet
* recurrent fever
* seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
* seizures
* severe cramping
* severe nausea
* severe redness, swelling, and itching of the skin
* stomach fullness
* sweating
* trembling and shaking of the hands or feet
* trouble performing routine tasks
* weak or absent pulses in the legs
* yellow eyes or skin

When I eventually saw Ronald we went through this dreadful list. He told me he had never felt as bad as he did. He felt 'out of it'. His consciousness had not so changed as disappeared, he was outside looking in, he was unaware of his whereabouts, he was lightheaded, almost unconscious, and was too tired to do anything. The experience had frightened him. His body was swollen up too, and he came out with a massive rash, around his neck and shoulders.

His doctor had been brilliant. He immediately told him to stop taking the Tramadol, he had only taken a couple, and surmised that the drug just did not suit him. Instead the doctor put him a steroid drug, and he was now much better. No criticism - that he had given him such a drug with such dreadful side effects!

So I ask the same question as I did in Janet's case. What will happen to Ronald? And lots of people like Ronald? The pharmaceutical cupboard is desperately bare. It has never been very full of helpful drugs for treating pain. Perhaps his doctor will put it down to wear and tear, to his age. After all, this is the main explanation doctors give for all the epidemics of chronic disease we are suffering. Or maybe he will be subjected to limb transplantation - usually the final admission of conventional medical failure - an inabiity to keep our body healthy and functional.
Certainly, conventional medicine is unlikely to admit that these epidemics have all been caused, to one degree or another, by the pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines they have been prescribing to us for decades.

And my message is the same message as I gave in Janet's case. I urge everyone not to start on this long journey. See through the charm of doctors, the propaganda of drug companies, the idea that medical science is winning the battle against disease, and the silence of the mainstream media. Start looking at natural therapies, and try them, before it is too late.