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Patient Voice

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'Pain is a different experience for everyone'

I was recently admitted to hospital with severe cholecystitis. After three days without improvement, I had an emergency gall bladder removal.

For the most part I found the staff, both nurses and doctors, kind and polite and willing to explain and answer questions.

The one part I found hard to deal with was the lack of adequate pain relief, both before and after surgery.

I am disabled, with a combination of systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögrens syndrome and fibromyalgia, with resulting pain in both joints and muscles. I self-medicate at home so I can live as reasonably normal a life as possible.

My usual dose is four to six co-codamol per day, depending on what I need to do that day, and whether my three-year-old is at home or at nursery.

While in hospital I was in constant pain and had to wait anything up to two hours for pain relief to be administered, even when crying or rocking on the bed in agony.

I was told on one occasion: ‘You can’t be in that much pain with what we have given you.’

I can tell you that at times it was positively agonising and at one point I put a tooth through my lip without realising, it was so bad.

Because I take pain medication on a regular basis, it would seem logical that I would need even more to cope with any additional severe pain – something the nurses obviously did not take into account even when I tried, unsuccessfully, to explain.

Please take note of this experience and educate other healthcare staff that pain is very much an individual thing, and that what may work for one patient will not necessarily work for another. I do not take medication lightly.

Mish, Peterborough

This is an edited version of a story posted on Patient Opinion. The writer’s name has been changed. See www.patientopinion.org.uk

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