I mentioned earlier that there is a quite effective treatment for rigors--demerol. Demerol is an opioid like morphine or oxycodone, but has some properties that make it less desirable than the other opioids. It has a tendency to build up half processed medicine that then makes people likely to have seizures. It has to be used carefully so people don't get too much built up. Very early on, I had suggested demerol, but the suggestion was brushed aside, perhaps because I was rigorring constantly and enough demerol to stop the rigors may have been too much or perhaps because a full understanding of the consequences of rigors was not in place. However, around here was the magic day that someone said, "Let's get a demerol order" and it happened. Now, when I started to have a fever and began shaking, I could press my call button and ask for demerol and it would mercifully stop. At this point, I was pretty much of a mess. My jaw hurt more or less constantly and I could not walk without a walker because my legs were so sore. Even a little rigorring hurt my jaw more and my leg muscles which were already complaining about the marathon they'd run the previous four (five?) days, every time they tightened up and began shaking, they also began screaming because they were already so sore. It's interesting that this effect did not happen right away; it was like there were several days to collect the damage then I almost think there may have been a pause like six or ten hours without fever and then when the rigors restarted, they began to hurt.
/* trigger warning for mention of violence */
Rigors are funny because often if you concentrate, you can make them stop, but I can't make the muscle relax; I can just make it stop shaking. This is not all that helpful, but is a start. Anyway, I had had about two doses of demerol over the day and it was so helpful; then I started with yet another fever. Rigor, push the button, demerol, better but not completely better. I was lying there half awake shivering from time to time and Agnes began talking with me. "So, why do you have TMJ?"
"Because I've been beat up on in the past."
"And, you'd have to ask the people who beat up on you for help, right?"
"What would happen if you asked for help?"
"They'd tell me it didn't hurt; that I had never really felt pain; that I was a very wimpy person to think that was pain; that I didn't need help; that I was stupid for asking."
"Did these people here hurt your jaw?"
"Are these nice people?"
"Yes. So you think I should ask them for help?"
So, I did. They, very matter of factly, gave me a second dose, I felt better and went to sleep.
In the interest of truth-telling, I have been beat up plenty by "care givers" but actually have TMJ from jaw clenching and tooth grinding (some in response to treatment by "care givers") so what I told Agnes Day was not, strictly speaking, accurate, but is what I told her.
I wonder if I would have been able to get myself to ask for a second dose without Agnes' help. I am not sure. What is known is that being ill, being febrile and one dose of demerol can erase thirty years, three degrees and countless hours of therapy, but one very decrepit, hyper-Catholic, sixteen year old Basset can restore the balance.
Thank you, Agnes. I wish you a long life, for my own benefit as well as yours. For everyone else, may you have people who can nudge you in the direction in your life always.