Sunday, 2 June 2013

WoW this Phantom Pain SUCKS!!!

     Ok so after working a long shift on Friday ( I owed some hours, due to taking time off going back and forth to the limb centre) I came home,did the usual had something to eat answered a few mails and messed around on my pc. I was quite looking forward to the weekend as it was supposed to be going to be quite warm and I had plans to head off early'ish in the morning to take some photo's, get some video footage and of course ride my new bike a little more.

Most Friday evenings I like to head off to visit my good friends Adrian and Amanda and their 3 lads. We generally chat about what's gone on during the week, have a whinge and a moan now and again as well as a good old laugh and basically try to set the world to rights. Amanda always looks after me providing me with endless cups of tea and biscuits and I enjoy their company for a good few hours.

Well Friday evening everything was fine, that was until around 10:30. I started getting the early warning signs that I was going to start having phantom pain. First thing is generally the "cattle prod" sensation. I know it may sound funny, however believe me it's not. After I had been "zapped" roughly 5 times in 10 minutes I knew I was going to be in for a long night. I said my goodbyes to Ade and Amanda and the lads and got in the car and drove home.

As soon as I got in the house I took my meds. I'm on a low dose of Pregablin I hate taking tablets, they kind of scare me as it's so easy to get hooked. I've had quite a few bad experiences with prescription drugs hence my apprehension. Believe it or not I blame Gabapentin for sending me slightly nuts and causing me severe depression when I tried and eventually came off it. Wow had a bad few months, just couldn't figure out what was wrong. I guess when you look at meds like Gaba and Pregablin they are made to have an effect on your brain, so really it's no wonder they can screw you up.

Anyhoo I was feeling quite tired so in between electric shocks I headed off to get washed, brush my teeth and get ready for bed. By now I was getting the usual phantom pain I have had before. I can only describe it as if my foot, (Yes the one that isn't there) has been left in a bucket of ice, like a numb, prickly sensation. If you think back to when you were a kid and you used to play out in the snow until you were soooo cold. Then when you came in and started to warm up it hurt like hell. Well that's something like the pain. That and of course my foot also feeling like it was being crushed. The pain was now up to my ankle. I could feel the shape of my foot and the ankle joint.

 I was now in bed and just thinking "go to sleep, go to sleep". The pain was increasing now, what the hell. It was very weird I could practically count when I was going to get a wave of pain and when I say wave that's the best way I can describe it. It started off as an uncomfortable pain in the bottom of my stump, however increased like a gathering wave, gaining momentum, before coming crashing down and then fading. When these waves struck it made me go ridged and tense up my stump and it was so bad I was growling out as well as using a few choice words like "oh dear", "Gosh that hurt" and oh yeah "AGGGGHHHH you Fecking Basket".

I was up and down all night and when I did manage to fall asleep for an hour or so I was awoken by the same sickly wave of pain and sat bolt upright in bed, Jeez it fairly gives you a fright. One minute your a sleep the next it looks like you have an enormous stiffy on as your stump is at 90 degrees pointing up to the ceiling under the duvet.

"This is driving me insane" I thought so I got up yet again and headed downstairs for a drink and more meds. A few more waves and "aww crap" I had woken my poor dad up I was making so much noise. He came down all worried as he thought I'd hurt myself, like falling over or something. There was nowt he could do so I just told him to go back to bed.

I tried again to get to sleep, but every time I was just drifting off  Bang!!! a sickly wave of pain. In the end I just gave up and lay in bed holding my poor ickle stump and tried not to break a hip each time I got the wave of pain.

Eventually I just decided to get up, get ready and head off on my bike. Maybe that would help, but hey that's a whole other story....

Phantom pain is a condition which affects some amputees. When an episode of phantom pain is experienced, the amputee has the sensation of pain in the missing limb, usually at the furthest point in the limb, such as the fingers of an amputated arm. The sensation of pain can be tingling, stabbing, crushing, or searing, and it can be a very intense experience. There are a number of ways to cope with phantom pain, and the problem is common enough that it is often discussed with amputees during the early stages of their recovery.
The cause of phantom pain appears to be a rewiring of the brain. When a limb is amputated, the brain is forced to remap itself to compensate for the missing limb, and sometimes this creates a situation in which signals in the brain may misfire. While the pain feels very real, it is in fact entirely in the patient's mind, although the perception of pain is the same as it is when the pain is real. A closely related phenomenon is phantom limb sensation, in which an amputee or someone born without a limb has the sensation that the limb is actually present.
Several things appear to increase the risk of phantom pain. If an amputee experienced considerable pain prior to amputation, phantom pain may be more common. Likewise in amputees with stump pain, or patients with prosthetics which do not fit correctly.
A variety of medications can be used to treat phantom pain, ranging from antidepressants to change the brain chemistry, to painkillers to address the sensation of pain. This condition can also be treated with spinal cord stimulation, nerve blocks, acupuncture, or the use of a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit. Neurosurgery may also be used to target the malfunctioning area of the brain, and some patients also experience relief by “exercising” the phantom limb to work out the pain.
Pain in an amputated limb is a very real problem, even if it is really due to misfiring neurons. Phantom pain can be debilitating and extremely frustrating, especially when combined with the psychological issues often associated with amputation. Feelings of stress and loss related to the amputation may be amplified by phantom pain, making the amputee feel even more distressed. Historically, amputees have also had trouble communicating about phantom pain, because their complaints have been dismissed under the logic that since the limb isn't there anymore, it can't possibly be painful.

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