I have been quite lucky in my life in that I have not needed pain killers in general. The main reason I have ever had to take such is if I had a headache. There are many possible reasons for a headache (including the occasional hangover) and paracetamol has always been an effective way to tackle a headache, and/or reduce my temperature if I have some infection.
Of course there have been occasions where I have injured myself by way of a cut or a bruise but the pain is not usually a big issue, and I don't really recall having ever taken pain killers for such cases in general.
However, over the last few weeks, things have been somewhat different. I have never had a broken bone before. However, with this cough/cold "virus from hell" that has lasted a couple of months (and is finally diminishing) I did manage to cough hard enough to "do in" my ribs, somehow. I cannot really tell if I just "pulled a muscle" or actually cracked a rib, and I don't have much of a reference to know. All I do know is I was in absolute agony when it happened, could not move, had problems breathing or talking, and (as it was at the office) staff called an ambulance. This was about a month ago.
They put me on gas and air, and said I would feel somewhat "high" or "drunk". Well, it worked to diminish the pain. They gave me ibuprofen as well and that helped. I was prescribed co-codamol (codeine and paracetamol), and so was on pain killers for a while. I also had Valium as a muscle relaxant. A couple of weeks later I managed to do the same on the other side of my chest (no ambulance this time).
So I have been on pain killers for a few weeks now, and had the chance to experiment a bit on how they work. For a start, the codeine does bugger all. I was told I'll be "high as a kite", but to be honest it is no different to just taking the paracetamol, which is what I am now doing, with ibuprofen, every 6 hours.
The pain killers do work - they make the pain in my ribs bearable, now. When this started they helped, but I still could not lie down and so ended up sleeping on the sofa partly sitting up. If I don't take them, then it starts to get very unbearable, so they clearly do work. Overall it is gradually getting less painful, thankfully. Interestingly, the ibuprofen seems to suppress my cough - just taking paracetamol does not. Yes, the scientist in me means I have tried taking one or the other only and even not taking either for a while, just to see how it goes. I am not really that happy being on pain killers, and will be glad when I am back to normal (which is happening slowly).
What struck me today was that this is quite unusual for me - pain killers for such "conventional" pain, as opposed to something like a headache. It seems wrong somehow - the pain is telling me something - not to lie in that particular way, for example. If I don't feel the pain as much, I may be doing myself more harm than necessary and not realising it. This seems wrong. However, I cannot do a lot to avoid a cough, and avoiding the pain from a cough is a good thing! It just seems wrong to avoid pain from "doing something wrong" in terms of my position or movement if that means I "do something wrong", if you see what I mean. Pain is there to tell you that you are "doing something wrong", after all.
There are those that spend much of their lives on pain killers for something, and they have my sympathy. This is a strange state to be in, and one, for me, that is very much temporary.
However, having wondered if things were better enough to stop taking pain killers, and now realised that is definitely not the case, writing this blog has given me time for the pain killers to "kick in" again and I can perhaps get back to sleep.