I read in the most recent AARP magazine about natural opiates the body produces when we have severe trauma. Katherine Greider writes:
"Why don't some of the most traumatic injuries hurt at first? Possibly because a marijuana-like compound made by the body kicks in and dulls the pain, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Georgia found.
The discovery could lead to new drugs that boost the effect of the pot-like chemicals, called cannabinoids, without the side effects of existing pain medications, says a report in the June 23 issue of Nature."
NEWS FLASH: I have been well aware of this since 1974! If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to read further. That summer, our lawn mower was on the fritz so I borrowed one from my dad and mom, who were living in Raleigh at the time. The mower was very old, one of the first gas mowers on the market, and it had an unprotected exhaust at the rear. I was trying to mow a hilly area in our yard, which sloped down into a drainage ditch beside the road. The grass was still wet from dew and stupid me had on old-fashioned Keds, with little to no traction on the soles. My foot slipped under the back of the mower and it cut my toes. At that moment I had no idea how much damage had occurred. I screamed over the noise of the mower for my husband; who ran to turn off the mower and help me up. Blood immediately spread all over the white shoes, but there was no pain. No pain at all. I was afraid to take off my shoe, so I left it on and wrapped my foot in a thick towel.
We called a neighbor to stay with my children so Hub could take me to the emergency room. I was immediately put in bed and they took off my shoe and placed my foot into a bath of warm water with disinfectant. Even though I have a fairly strong stomach, I didn't look at it. It still was not hurting. After the doctor examined me, he called an orthopedic surgeon, who put 22 stitches into my big toe. Of course they shot anesthetic into the toe before they did the stitches, but I felt no pain even then. I learned later on how thankful I ought to be for those cannabis-like compounds my body had produced, because when the pain did kick in, it was excruciating and unrelenting. The doctor had given me a prescription for a painkiller I had not had before - Percodan. I took it according to instructions and lay with my feet elevated above my head, but I hurt so badly I could hardly speak. That went on all day Saturday, all of Sunday and into Monday morning, and by that time I was biting into the corners of a feather pillow in order not to scream with the pain. I called the doc's office and heard the nurse say " Well, you are one of those 1 in 20". I asked what she meant and she told me that 1 in 20 people cannot take Percodan and get any relief; that it is a man-made compound and some people are not affected by it. Now they tell me! After that, they phoned in another prescription for pain and thankfully, that took care of most of it. One lesson I learned through this is that if you are taking a pain medication and it is ineffectual, or you think it might be, do not wait 3 days to call the doc about it! (They will not think you are a wuss!) If your pain was caused by trauma, thank your lucky stars for the compound your own body produces to alleviate it!