Writing this at 6:45am. It’s dark and (sort of) quiet on the ward. I’ve slept well for hospital, which means bursts of a snoring, drugged sleep between getting vitals checked and having Neville noisily messed about with.
Early (heh) this morning my ketamine was changed down to 18: the start of the end. Over today it will be gradually eased back down to nothing and tomorrow morning I’m home to rest it all off.
It took a while and a lot of suffering but yesterday afternoon I finally achieved that magical state: (mostly) pain-free.
By which I mean, the majority of the time I was not feeling those of my pains that are chronic, or pain for pain’s sake.
The ketamine affected those parts of my brain that throw me pain signals because they’re just used to it: whether it be because I’ve been still or sitting too long, or I’m tired, or emotional, or anxious, or sick, or the weather is wrong or the alignment of the planets is inauspicious or it’s Tuesday.
So the infernal back pain that has been plaguing me most of my life finally quieted (mostly, it’s hovering mainly between 2 and 4 with occasional unbelievable moments of 0), and my jumping twitching fluttering nerves have stilled altogether.
What the ketamine can’t do is block acute pain, so I am still getting headaches and lower back pain from my disc injury when I move certain ways or stiffen up, and arthritis pain, and pain when I whack my elbow on tables and that sort of thing.
That’s called Life, and Getting Older and Having A Body, and comes under the category of Pain It’s Okay To Get.
When I first realised what was happening I didn’t quite trust it. I sat peacefully for a good half an hour and read without needing to get up and move around to relieve burning pain, and it would have been amazing except that I kept getting anxious in case the pain started up.
After a while I felt a slight emotional shift: I was happy to be where I was and didn’t have ten thoughts vying for attention all trying to get me to do different things. I felt weirdly serene. It was cool. I had time to be patient and let things happen.
I hadn’t realised how impatient pain makes me. Every time I get stuck into anything my mind has already moved onto the next thing, because I know the pain will flare up and interfere with my current activities any second now so no point getting too attached to the current moment.
When the current moment doesn’t hurt and isn’t likely to, your mind can sit peacefully in that moment, just being. You can keep thinking in the present. Acting in the present. Oh my god. How immensely powerful. How ridiculously liberating.
No wonder non-spoonies can get so much done!
Yesterday afternoon I felt perhaps I could fly. But I settled on some more yoga and reading and wandering around marvelling at existing in my body in the present time.
And this all through the ketamine haze: I wonder what it’s like normally!
So it was a pretty good afternoon. Yeah I got headaches and lower back spasms and whacked my elbow on that infernal bedside table, but all in all it was just really really nice.
As my ketamine comes off I have to remember that I’m not immortal or miraculously cured. If I push it at all the pain will come back: you can’t rewrite thirty years of synapses overnight, even if you do fry them with chemical interference.
In fact the pain will come back one way or another, because chronic pain is not curable and ketamine infusions only last a certain amount of time.
I need to keep respecting my body’s need for movement and rest and emotional stability: I won’t be sitting through sessions at the cinema right away and I will still get stressed and anxious and cross * and sore.
But maybe Pain Brain’s little holiday in the Great Barrier Reef will let me sit just a little longer, sleep just a little better, claw back an hour or two of energy and let me experience the present moment, for a few months or even years.
Time will tell!
* Every time someone drinks juiced lumpy rubbish from a mason jar.