9th June 2017

DRUGS & their side effects

DRUGS & their side effects

Whilst in hospital and for three weeks after I was on a crazy concoction of drugs!  In all I had seven different drugs (I think!).  Most were for pain relief and in the height of my pain some had little to no effect. This meant I ended up taking three, sometimes four different drugs at the same time.  This was very hard to keep track of, for me and the nurses!

Starting with what should have been the strongest…

MORPHINE

In hospital morphine comes in two forms – via IV drip and via syringe.  I saw a couple of people on a morphine drip and they were as high as a kite.  Completely spaced out and loving it.  They were getting constantly fed and it was going straight in to their bloodstream and you could tell it was working.  I had the seemingly softer oramorph liquid via a syringe…

It tasted really nice – sweet sugary goodness.  On first taking morphine I was strangely quite excited, my pain was quite bad and I’d never had a class A drug before!  I squirted it in expecting some sort of instant hit but instead it just slowly numbed the pain for an hour, maybe two.

Morphine side effects

Constipation!  For me going to the toilet has never been a problem, I certainly never go more than a day… I was on morphine for three days whilst in hospital and never needed the toilet.  This was a blessing whilst in hospital because it meant that I never had to go through the dreaded bed pan routine.

Addiction!  Once on morphine it is very hard to wean yourself off it.  I was having it every 4-6 hours for two days and even though it wasn’t doing much for the pain in my case I just kept begging for more!

Two guys that went home before me tried to re-admit themselves, supposedly because they could not manage without morphine at home!  So I took precautions… and worked hard to wean myself off morphine before leaving hospital.

On my second night in hospital (possibly the peak of my swelling and pain) the ward was running very low on oramorph supplies.  The poor night nurse was trying to ration it as best she could.  But as soon as patients started hearing that it was being rationed they wanted it even more, just in case their pain got worse after it ran out.  I listened to all sorts of pain stories that night… I had to get in on the action!  There was no way I was missing out when my pain was actually a 9 or 10 for a change!  I begged and pleaded and I got the second to last dose of oramorph at about 2am… thank goodness!

TRAMADOL

The Norwich City sweets!  These came in the form of a yellow and green capsule.  I was two days in before touching tramadol and during a tough night of swelling I asked what else I could get.  Two of the other patients in my ward both shouted out – get yourself some of these yellow and green ones!

So then my love/hate relationship with tramadol began…

Tramadol was the only thing that really seemed to work for me.  It was an instant and long hit of pain relief like no other.  But it did come with some interesting side effects…

Tramadol side effects

When given tramadol by the nurses I wasn’t given any brief on side effects, I quickly found these out for myself!

Hallucinations!  I have never experimented with recreational drugs and certainly never hallucinated before.  Within minutes of taking two tramadol I was seeing stars… shooting stars flying straight at my face!

Brain overdrive!  Some people would probably say I suffer from this anyway but tramadol made me so alert my brain seemed to be working at 100mph.  To start with this was weird but after a few days I was loving it!  I started telling people I could see the matrix… they thought I was crazy… I probably was!

The Superman effect!  I’m fairly sure tramadol turned me in to a crazy vigilante… I was seeing things so clearly that I thought I could take on the world and make it a better place!  More on this in a later blog…

Insomnia!  This was a weird one for me.  I had never suffered from insomnia and actually tramadol seemed to make me drowsy but I think the brain overdrive meant I couldn’t fall asleep.  Some nights whilst on tramadol I would sleep for as little as 20-30 minutes and then wake up fully alert and ready to take on another day.

Addiction!  I was hooked on the NCFC pills!  I loved what they did to me!  I didn’t need sleep!  And the matrix, superman effect was incredible.  As the pain was subsiding I started telling people that I was scared to come off them because I didn’t want to lose the amazing side effects…

I actually stayed on tramadol for over a week in the end and some of these side effects were quite severe.  I will blog later in more detail about this…

CODEINE

Codeine is a decent, strong pain killer but I think you need to have a stomach of steel to take this in large quantities.  My second dose and several subsequent attempts all led to horrendous nausea and in one case actually being sick.  In desperation I did occasionally take it with anti-sickness tablets but it’s fair to say that Codeine didn’t agree with me.

IBUPROFEN

My personal favourite!  Strangely ‘brufen’ (so it’s not a mouthful) has never disagreed with my digestive system in the same way that codeine does.  This is probably helped by the fact that I’m quite a heavy user…

I have been taking brufen for ten years as a numbing drug for back aches caused by long bike rides. I used to supplement brufen pills with a special pain relief gel which also contained ibuprofen.  It’s perhaps a little bad but if I know I’m out on the saddle for more than two hours I take a couple of brufen and it has always done the trick.  I certainly know about it when I haven’t taken any!

I can hear the pure cyclists saying getting your riding position sorted, you shouldn’t get back pain if you ride your bike properly.  I’ve done all that, it’s only got worse, so until I find a cure brufen will have to accompany on the long ride!

PARACETEMOL

A solid, everyday drug, you can’t go far wrong with paracetamol.  Although I have probably taken nearly 300 paracetemol pills in the past six weeks. Is this the only one with no side effects?

ANTIBIOTICS – CO-AMOXICLAV

I was on antibiotics for three weeks! I was given co-amoxiclav which like most antibiotics is an amoxicillin based, penicillin drug.  Initially I took it via IV drip and then massive tablets that were almost impossible to swallow and it tasted disgusting.

I was not a fan!  And like codeine it didn’t really agree with me.  After a week on this drug my stomach had been turned inside out and I was spending a fair bit of time getting to know the toilet…  One particular WC session lasted almost four hours… I will save you from any more detail than that!

Worth saying that my 3 weeks on antibiotics was my longest break from drinking possibly since I was 17… I’m making up for it now though!

BLOOD CLOT PREVENTION – FRAGMIN

I’d heard of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) before but I didn’t know a lot about it.  I thought it was mainly a concern for old people or those with poor circulation.  But apparently leg surgery and lying in bed immobile for weeks leads to a very high risk of blood clots and DVT.  So what did all this mean…

Nasty daily injections!  Despite a lack of side effects this was my least favourite of all the drugs!  My only lifelong phobia is needles. I can’t stand the thought of something being jabbed in to my skin.  But after my surgery and when the bleeding had finally stopped I had to get comfortable very quickly with needles.

On day two, approximately 48 hours after my surgery, having had my blood drain ripped out the previous day, I had to face the first of these jabs.  It was the nice, but slightly mean, nurse that had the pleasure of jabbing me.  She knew I was a southern wimp and laughed at me squirming and sweating as she jabbed it in my tummy.  To say it was only a smallish needle it bloody hurt!

On day three, before being discharged, I somehow managed to jab myself but I must have done it wrong because it was awful!  It really bloody hurt!  I knew I was going to struggle to do that again…

Fortunately my wonderful mother in law, Liz, is a retired blood nurse and has delivered more injections than she cares to remember.  So my wife pleaded with her to make a daily trip to our house to jab her southern wimp of a son in law… she was happy to oblige!


Given I pumped my body full of drugs for the best part of a month they will no doubt appear in later blogs but for now that is enough on drugs…

One thing I will say though is please seek medical advice on side effects when taking anything other than paracetamol.  Some of these drugs do really strange things to you… more on this later!

 

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