Sunday, November 06, 2005

Tangerine Trees and Marmalade Skies

My increased pain meds are doing me a lot of good, much more than I expected. I am however experiencing things that aren’t really happening. This is something I have always had with the opioids, but there is a marked difference between codeine and trammadol.

Codeine is a thoroughly unpleasant drug. I can't imagine why people take it, morphine or heroine (which all create the same chemical reaction in your brain, only to different degrees) for fun. It really clouds your mind and then when you have weird experiences, they become very confusing and distressing. I have to say the weird things I experienced on codeine seemed to be especially evocative. Like coming into a room and smelling tobacco and saw-dust. This is the smell of my Granddad’s shed where he did his carpentry and the smell I associate with my Granddad. However, suddenly smelling this out of the blue whilst having a skull full of cotton wool was apt to bring on tears.

With the trammadol the experiences are perhaps more vivid, but not in the least bit distressing. Trammadol doesn't knock me out at all - at least not so I'd know it. And I think perhaps the fact I am more awake when things happen mean I am better at reasoning with them. For example, when I was calling a taxi on Monday to go to the doctors, I became concerned about the curious smell in the corner of my living room. It was kind of sweet but very chemical. And then it occurred to me that it was the smell of the air-freshener in the taxi, which I had apparently summoned up in association with the taxi driver’s voice. Even when it occurred to me that this was the case, it only seemed to fade when I put the phone down.

Since the increased dose, such experiences are becoming more frequent. On Thursday evening a bat flew over my head from behind me before vanishing at the other side of the room. I imagine it was a random bit of electrical activity in my brain which I would otherwise not have noticed. And I wasn’t in the least bit frightened, only startled and I realised as soon as it vanished that it had never been there. The only way in which this sort of thing causes difficulty is in the evening if I try to watch a film. Little bits of light from passing cars, even in a fully lit room, become significant objects like a white mouse scuttling across the floor and even though it only takes me an instant to realise I have imagined it, it has already distracted me from the screen.

No voices though and never the tremendous sense of menace which is perhaps worse than a hallucination. When I have had mental ill health, I have had experiences whereby words pop out of a page - or indeed text in any form. I was really struck when watching A Beautiful Mind which contained sequences where John Nash experiences this exact same thing, which I had imagined (as you arrogantly do) was entirely unique to me. The very first time this happened and indeed the very first time I ever hurt myself on purpose was actually on Prozac. I had been fine before, GP acknowledged my mental good health but suggested fluoxitine might 'stimulate my nervous system'. Went quite insane within the week. Completely better as soon as it was all out of my system a week later, but it did scar me in two senses. Horrible stuff. GP insisted it had nothing to do with the pills, but this was before anyone suggested that SSRIs had such negative potential, especially for fifteen year-olds. Ho hum.

However, what I get with trammadol is just fine, it is otherwise a dream drug really.

In other news, this evening I have been sitting with the lights off and the blinds up watching five simultaneous fireworks displays on the other side of town. I also learnt that my brother-in-law Adrian has got a new post as the organist for St. Mary’s Church in Southampton (big church in Southampton). So congratulations to him!

Something bad happened today, in that my electric wheelchair, confined to the shed downstairs which is extremely damp (it is embedded in the hillside) is going mouldy. My electric wheelchair is very precious to me. The fact that it has sat idle for a couple of months is rather demoralising. I have either got to get better and start using it again very quickly, or we’re going to have to carry it upstairs and keep it indoors for a while. A little thing I guess, but a decision I didn’t want to face.

We have been invited to Whitby Pete’s birthday party next April. Since it is next April, I shall assume that I will be loads better by then and able to go. Pete is going to attend as his alter-ego the Grand Duchess Gladys of Belconnia. He has a beard these days so I’m not sure quite how he is going to pull it off…


pete said...

Hi Goldfish,
I get lots of Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic states which is the nearest to your experiences. Which can be enjoyable if they are of me flying and can control the state.

I used to live on a hillside in Wales with water constantly running under our house. It came from old coal workings. Everthing got damp in the house and fungus grew on the lower levels. Our broom cupboard under the stairs was awash with mushrooms. For things of value we put them in large plastic sacks with lots of silica bags. You can buy an anti-fungal agent for wipeable areas and grease the metal bits if you want to store it in your shed.

'He has a beard these days so I’m not sure quite how he is going to pull it off…' unless he is a Sadhu of the Jain faith, I think a razor less painfull.

Anonymous said...

I have no damp course at all in my cottage, which is built of cob. I make sure that anything that is vulnerable to damp is stored either upstairs or in the kitchen where the CH boiler is.

HG do a very powerful anti-mould spray to treat it. Keep tyres up off the ground on blocks.

The Goldfish said...

Pete, I have lucid dreams where I know I'm dreaming, can control what happens and everything is highly sensational. Never really understood the difference between this and hypnathingy.

Flying in dreams is very very cool. I was really shocked when I learnt that most people don't ever experience that.

Charles - thanks for the link to Confessions.

And thanks both of you for your damp-proofing advice.

Marit Cooper said...

I've very rarely had occasion to try drugs, but I know I hate it when they affect my mind (I'm spaced out enough already!). Once, when I was in hospital, they made the error of giving me a sleeping pill. When I started to feel the effect I panicked and a nurse had to come and roll my bed out (I was disturbing the other patients) and hold my hand until I stopped fighting the thing and fell asleep @-)! Btw, I've been thinking (Oh Dear!), have you ever tried any Qi Gong exercises (Qi Gung?... never mind, you know what I mean)? It might help you boost your energy levels a little bit.

marmiteboy said...

Hi Goldfish,

I'm really glad your new meds are starting to have a positive effect.

I've been lucky so far with codeine as it has not given me any hallucinations as yet, this maybe be counteracted by the anti-anxiety/depressents I'n taking though. I'm with you on the tiredness and woolly headedness though. I'm constantly tired. Although of late (because I was on a weeks leave) I have got 10 hours in I still find myself having to have an afternoon kip (for at least 2 hours) I could quite easily lie down and have a few hours right now.

I'm glad you're off it I'm hoping I can reduce mine soon with the aid of my newly acquired TENS machine.

Take care.

Marit Cooper said...

I have very little confidence in doctors as a species. One of the most interesting episodes that happened was when I developed a tumour in my throat. The first two doctors I went to said it wasn't anything dangerous (but gave two different explanations) the third one asked me why I hadn't come before and scheduled surgery within a month. After the operation I met with another doctor who asked me how I had discovered that I had the tumour in the first place and I replied "Because it hurt, sometimes so much i couldn't sleep at night." and the idiot replied that "That kind of tumour doesn't hurt." :-O!!!!

As someone once told me; the chances of finding the right doctor who makes the right diagnose AND gives you the right treatment is like winning the lottery! I wouldn't mind so much if they didn't pretend they are always right and know everything better than their patients. I mean, whose body is it anyway!