Friday, September 16, 2005

No Pain? Thank Your Lucky Stars!

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!


Paul said...

Yowee! Well, did anybody finish the lawn? ;-)

srp said...

The immune system seems to work the same way. If an Rh- person receives 5cc of Rh+ blood they are more likely to develop anti-Rh antibodies than if they were in a severe trauma and received 10 units of Rh+ blood. The body during severe trauma shuts off that immune recognition. Of course only if there were absolutely no Rh- blood available and only if the patient would die without a transfusion would anyone give Rh+ to Rh- person. It is so fascinating how intricate and complex we are made.

Star said...

THat would be the last time I mowed the lawn.!

kenju said...

Oh yes indeed, Star, that was the very last time I ever touched a lawnmower!

Paul, I as doing the last little bit when it happened, so it was essentially finished.

srp: I am amazed daily at how intricate our bodies are.

dena said...

I do have a weak stomach, but I read anyway. I always been a rebel...gotta do what I'm warned about.

Anway, now I'm weak with nausea.

visting from michele's.

Marie said...

oh my oh my!!! Do you still mow the lawn? I don't think I would!

Michele sent me!!

Bonnie said...

I stopped when you said to not read further if you have a weak stomach.

However, I think I have some idea of what you are talking about. When I was a teenager, my brother had an accident that resulted in the loss of three toes and several reconstructive surgeries. He never felt any severe pain. In fact, the only time he cried is when he was coming out of the anesthesia after his third surgery. We thought he was in pain. He said he was not and didn't know why he was crying. The doctor said the tears were an after-effect of the anesthetic.

Me ... I'm in the opposite side of the pain/queaziness wheel. I've passed out just from having to walk into a hospital to visit someone.

Hello, Michele sent me.

fred said...

Off topic: I can't reply to your comments or emails at the addy given. Thots? This has happened a half dozen times in the past month or two. Solution to bounced email? Anyone? Anyone? And I'm waiting for those endogenous opiates to kick in this morning: why doesn't it work for my arthritic thumbs!?

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Medical marijuana, that's what you needed. Did you know that stuff used to grow wild in the Midwest? Government eradicated it. But they let all the peyote buttons grow on accounta it was not Medical Marijuana but Big Medicine. Hoo boy, reverse discrimination.

vicki said...

Oh,oh,oh! I SHOULD have stopped when Bonnie did! But I plowed through the blood and toes and got through it- phew! Glad you did, too! Oh, my.

vicki (again) said...

SRP is so smart...she knows stuff.

TC said...

I have been afraid to mow the lawn since my teacher in elementary school had a lawn mowing accident.

mg said...

*woozes* and you even warned me before I read it.

here via Michele's.


poopie said...

Cannabinoids are our friends ;)

Suburban Turmoil said...

Oh. My. Gosh. OWWWW.

Michele sent me!

Carmi said...

I felt pain just reading it. Even though it was that long ago, I felt it as if it was occurring in the present.

The human body is an amazing thing, isn't it?

You've once again made me think. Michele would be proud.

used*to*be*me* said...

Thank you! I shall print this, hand it off to TheMan as he recently asked exactly why it was that TheWife couldn't mow the lawn. My prayers answered. You are a goddess! said...

Maybe its because you didn't look at it, so your brain didn't know how much pain to be in.

Me, I would have been ripping my shoe off to check it out.

Crazy MomCat said...

What great information! I am sorry you had to go through what you did to pass that along to us though!
Michele sent me.

Kross-Eyed Kitty said...

although I am a nurse, I can not stand anything to do with bleeding fingers or toes. Its just one of those things. Call me weird.
I'm glad that you still have all your toes.
Here via Michele's. I MUST stop by more often.

Kross-Eyed Kitty said...

I really like the qoute under your header. I've read it 4 times's hitting home.

kenju said...

Brenda: I usually would be the type to check it all out - but that time I was really afraid of what I would see.
Kross-eyed kitty: how can you be a nurse and not be able to stand blood? Actually, I have a doctor like that too. It's weird.
Keb and Carmi: happy to be of service!

Sally said...

The doctor should of told you so that your weekend was not spent in miserable pain! Sorry!

Michele sent me! (I sound like a hitman!)

Badaunt said...

I always find it AMAZING how the body blocks off pain like that.

My brother had an accident with a circular saw once, and didn't feel pain when it happened. He saw the blood, though, and the incident is famous in our family because he ran into the house holding one hand in the other but looking sideways so he couldn't actually see the damage, and held out his hand to my mother.

"Are my fingers still there?" he asked.

They were, but he needed stitches to make sure they stayed there.

Laura said...

whoa, what a way to find out that Percodan doesn't work for you! ouchhh.

Weary Hag said...

Excellent and informative post! I knew about the dulling of pain receptors from my own traumatic experiences, but I didn't realize that some people are unreactive to pain meds. I had often wondered, but never researched it.

Ed suffered, years back, from what would later be diagnosed as "cluster headaches." Having endured full blown migraines much of my life, I could only imagine what he was going through. At the emergency room for the umteenth time in one week, they finally gave him morphine. "Thank God" I thought. But no; all it did was to make his hair stand on end and get him to pacing like a hungry lion. He was WIRED on the stuff AND still in agony!

They did say that some people react to it that way, but I hadn't realized the same goes for percodan! Wow. sorry about your accident! I know it was long ago, but - OUCH.

shannon white said...

Hello Kenju, I am a student at the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine and am doing a study on mower accidents. If you would be willing to share some information please contact me at