Pain without the relief
At the age of 11, I was not accustomed to taking painkillers and I wasn’t one for trying new things. This meant that from the ages of 11 through to 24, despite being in a considerable amount of pain, I didn’t take any pain relief medication. My thought process was that if it’s only going to alleviate the symptoms and not solve the underlying problem, what’s the point? To me it just wasn’t worth adding even more drugs to my system.
The tradition of using natural methods of healing and reverting to conventional medicine only as a last resort is an Indian thing by the way, firmly embedded into the mind of this young 2nd generation immigrant. Ironically my Mum, who I think saw my abstinence from pain relief as some kind of false sense of martyrdom, would encourage me to accept pain relief. Her heart, like the heart of any mother’s, was breaking under the pain of seeing her child in pain.
Finally delving into the world of painkillers
When in my mid-twenties my gradually worsening symptoms of Crohn’s left my body in a severe state of disease, my mind could no longer cope with the effects of experiencing intense pain on a daily basis. I was now experiencing an indescribable pain that left my clothes drenched in sweat, my body shivering and demanding the attention of all my senses. It made me wish I wasn’t alive. So inevitably, I broke. Mentally, emotionally, whatever you want to call it, I was completely broken. This is when I finally made the decision to delve into the world of painkillers.
Of course paracetamol didn’t do the trick. Tramadol became my solace. Tramadol, for those of you who aren’t aware, is a potentially addictive opiate with a myriad of side effects - one of which I will detail in a moment. In my naivety, I took my first ever dose in the form of a small, unsuspecting yellow and green capsule in the early hours of a particularly pain ridden night. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it made me feel so spaced out that I couldn’t walk in a straight line or see my computer screen clearly, but I still somehow managed to get through the next day at work in the office.
Resisting addiction when taking Tramadol
In another instance, after a break from the drug for a few months, my surgeon, mother and I decided that it was time for me to go back on Tramadol. For them it was a case of breaking through my reignited stubbornness and getting me to accept relief from the pain I was needlessly tolerating. For me the side effects of Tramadol provided a calm yet fuzzy sense of mind which would provide me with respite from my feelings of hopelessness and depression. I was fully aware of how addicted I could become and if I was to become addicted it would have been then. Fortunately (for me) I had already seen the effects of addiction to prescription drugs up close and this image, held at the forefront of my mind, acted as a strong deterrent.
Once I had reached a state of health where pain played no major role, I was curious to know whether through my experience I had developed super strong pain endurance mental abilities, so I volunteered to take part in a study about pain and concentration. I was subjected to a moderate level of pain whilst being asked to perform a number of concentration tasks, which it turned out I did pretty well on. If you’re wondering whether I’m off my rocker for wanting to be subjected to more pain the answer is yes, but I had to know that even if I could not conquer pain, I can at least conquer the fear of it.