A personal tale of legal vs. illegal pain relief
By Graham Neilson
Since an early age I have known pain and agony like most people will never experience in their lifetime. In this article I will attempt to give an insight into the causes of this pain, the medication that doctors have prescribed and the effect this medication has had on my life…….and why I decided to prescribe my own.
Having been born with a twisted kidney I started having serious problems in the form of agonising pain from the very young age of 6 years old. At the age of 9 I underwent surgery to remove the tubes leading to the bladder and reinsert them into opposite sides, something which has puzzled many doctors who decided not to read the encyclopaedia that is my medical history before treating me.
From then, thankfully, I was problem free until my early 20’s when I began to regularly build kidney stones due to drainage problems caused by the deformation in the kidney. In the last 13 years since then I have undergone more than 20 procedures to remove stones from the kidney and bladder. This would sometimes be done without intrusive surgery, whereby the consultant would insert a small basket into a place where no man wants anything to be inserted, removing the stone with the least amount of injury allowing me to leave hospital that same day or the day after. On two occasions I have required open surgery on my kidney in an attempt to rectify the drainage problems I had.
The majority of my procedures however were performed by keyhole surgery, where small incisions are made in the lower back around the area of the kidney and the stones are removed with tools inserted into those incisions. Unfortunately, during one of these keyhole procedures to remove 3 stones from my left kidney, the consultant was kind enough to perforate my bowel each time he went in to remove a stone. 36 hours later, and with my abdomen filling with the contents of my digestive system, I was staring death squarely in the face. I therefore had no choice but to agree to further surgery to open up my abdomen and remove the 3 damaged sections of my bowel.
In the 5 years since the bowel operation I have developed what experts call adhesions. These are strips of scar tissue which connect my kidney to my bowel and cause bowel blockages leading to some the most severe pain I have ever known. When these adhesions first began to cause serious pain I found myself in and out of hospital on a more than regular basis, often being re-admitted within 24 hours of being discharged.