Pills, Thrills and Cake

When I was nine years old the nurses put a strip of leather between my teeth to stop me screaming  from the pain of a spinal haemorrhage. That was the sixties solution to pain relief for children.

Since then I’ve tried many prescription painkillers doled out by doctors. Tramadol, Solpadol, Paracetamol, Co-proxamol, Codeine, Morphine, Gabopentin,…the list goes on.  Most of them did nothing for my pain levels but added to my health problems.  I would have more respect for doctors if they had the guts to be truthful about the side-effects of medication they prescribe.  But the majority of the medical profession exist in a state of self-glorification and denial of the reality of their patients’ experience.  Severe abdominal pain, nausea, dizziness, diarrhoea, slurring of speech, hallucinations, lack of coordination, mental confusion, tremors, blood clots, haemorrhaging, insomnia and various other delights await those who naively listen to doctors and swallow their little pills.

The only helpful painkiller I’ve ever had was Co-proxamol.  It enabled me to live an almost normal life.  There were no side-effects. I took it safely and without abusing the dose for twenty five years.  It was a miracle drug that helped thousands of pain sufferers in the UK, those with muscular skeletal problems in particular.

In June, 2016 the British Pain Society’s research revealed that chronic pain affects more than two fifths of the UK population, meaning that around 28 million adults are living with pain that lasts for three months or longer.  So it’s a scandal that the National Health Service, or more precisely the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) withdrew Co-proxamol from the market in 2005 even though it had been in common use for nearly one hundred years.  At first those who were unable to tolerate any other pain killer, like myself, were told they would be exempt from the ban.  They were placed on a Named Patient List which was supposed to ensure they would never be left without an essential drug.  In the following years all that has changed.  This list, if it ever existed in the first place, has been forgotten.  Since 2016 Co-proxamol has been taken away from everyone unless you have a doctor brave enough to risk his/her license by prescribing it.  (If something went wrong such a doctor could be sued).

The official reason for this ban is that Co-proxamol is linked to a high number of suicides.  But so are many other drugs that are still available.  And the irony is that doctors are now prescribing much more powerful and addictive alternatives such as morphine.  So rather than protecting patients with the ban they are leaving them to suffer without any pain relief or putting them at risk from dangerous drugs.  The overdose figures for Tramadol and anti-depressants have escalated since 2005.  The NHS saved over nine million pounds with the Co-proxamol ban.  It’s a cruel and heartless decision that should never happen in a civilized country.

I’ve found this post very difficult to write but I feel it’s important to publicize this issue.  The internet pain forums are full of heart-breaking stories by people who have had their lives ruined by the Co-proxamol ban.  They should not be forgotten.

My way of coping with pain levels is by concentrating on the positives in my life.  Art, poetry, Mindfulness Meditation, music, animals, spending time outside also help.  Some days are better than others.  This afternoon I felt so depressed due to writing this article I went back to bed.  The storm raging outside was also raging in my head.  I felt angry with the Establishment, the doctors, the Government, the ones who control how we live or whether we live at all.

In the film, ‘Cake’ Jennifer Aniston puts in a worthy performance as a woman dealing with chronic pain and grief.  It’s a tough film to watch.  At the turning point her attitude changes after the baking of a cake. And its true that little things really matter.  This afternoon when I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself I made blueberry pancakes.   I feel much better now!

Please sign a petition to the British Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt asking him to reverse the Co-Proxamol ban and restore hope to sufferers of chronic pain by clicking below:-


Thank you!



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