Maybe it’s because the idea of pain management came up directly after a flare-up, or maybe it’s because the drugs were actually working, but about six weeks into my trial with the low-dose anti-depressant amitriptyline, in an attempt to reduce my pain, I began to feel like this pain management route wasn’t for me. I sat on it for a couple of weeks and it wasn’t a decision I took lightly — I was well aware that maybe I was feeling like I didn’t need the drugs because the drugs were working. Except that wasn’t true at all, I was still in pain.
The only noticeable difference was that my bizarre dreams, which I’ve always had a lot of, all became nightmares. I’ve heard that anti-depressants can mess with your dreams or stop them completely, the latter is a pretty scary idea for me. As a writer, I need my imagination to be relatively unhinged and out of control. The nightmares I can handle, but the idea that upping the dosage might mean I stop dreaming at all did not sit well with me.
I knew if I went to my GP and said, “no I haven’t noticed any difference in my pain,” then her response would be to up the dose, as is standard procedure. But the very notion of how anti-depressants work as a means of pain management has bothered me ever since my GP first mentioned the idea. She said she was prescribing them, “essentially, to stop you feeling pain.”
As nice of an idea that is, I don’t consider it to be a practical long-term solution, especially when I feel like there are still stones that have been left unturned (i.e. urology). Plus I don’t want to stop feeling anything, I just want to be in less pain, if that makes sense?
I’ve now started with a psychosexual counsellor who is trying to make it dawn on me that my chronic pain may well be just that — chronic. I’m not too hot on accepting this “truth” just yet, but because of it, pain management is definitely something I shouldn’t shy away from. I need it for the sake of my mood, my work and my relationships (of all natures), but I think I’d rather open my world up to alternative pain management options before I put all my eggs in the amitriptyline basket.
I discussed this with my GP and she agreed that it sounded like prescription pain management wasn’t the right course for me yet after all, and has instead finally granted my wish and referred me to a urologist. This means a lot to me — I’ve had issues with UTIs, my bladder and kidneys since I was two and while none of my current doctors are wildly convinced it’s got anything to do with my pain, for me, it feels like a really obvious path to explore. Here’s to owning your own health journey within the NHS!