Recently, I had a friend of mine express concern over how much Tylenol I have been taking to be able to keep my daily level of pain under control.  I agreed that this is serious, and I outlined what I have been doing to keep my pain manageable.  Thanks be to God that we may have found another answer which we hope will help me.

Back in 2008 when the symptoms of this muscle disease became severe, I was taking around 3000 mg of Tylenol per day, but that was way above the toxic level.  So in 2009, I tried to keep it to 2600 mg by using T3 sometimes (lower Tylenol, but added codeine/caffeine) instead of always using extra strength Tylenol. This year I have tried to keep it to 2400 mg or lower if possible, and just live with more pain.  So none of these choices were still very good.

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But this changed about two weeks ago.  Two months ago, I finally was able to enter into the Chronic Pain Clinic program offered here in Calgary.  I had been waiting for over a year and a half to get into this program.  One of my visits was with a doctor who quickly saw how much pain I was in and he had an idea he wanted to try with me.

Instead of taking oral pain killers, he was recommending to me that I try a medicinal patch which I would wear for a week before changing it for another one.  This patch would have a timed-release narcotic drug which would allow 5 micrograms per hour to be absorbed into my body.  Over a week, it would add up to be 5 grams of a drug called Buprenorphine, which is actually stronger than morphine.

When I went back to see the doctor two weeks ago, I told him that the patch did not do much to change my pain.  He actually was not surprised, and he told me that he was mainly wanting to see if I would have a reaction to the drug.  So I went up to 10 micrograms per hour two weeks ago, doubling the dosage of the drug.

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The real test for this was the trip I just took to California, since most trips wear me down so much and as the fatigue increases, so does the pain.  I am happy to report that last week went very well, I was able to teach all my class sessions at the mission training class, and my pain was quite minimal, the best I can remember for a week of low pain since this all started almost 3 years ago.

Now for the first time, with this narcotic patch, I feel there is hope to significantly reduce the Tylenol, and at the same time reduce my daily pain.  So far, I have not really seen any side effect of the narcotic.  I do know that if I use it long-term, there is the possibility that I will become addicted to the drug.

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But here are the choices I see in front of me at this time:  1) Ingest high levels of Tylenol which will give me lower pain, more life activity, but there is a high chance of liver damage over time;  2) Ingest low levels of Tylenol which will result in higher pain, restricted life activities, but save the liver (hopefully); or 3) Use the narcotic patch which will reduce or maybe even eliminate my need for Tylenol, and which will give me minimal pain, more freedom for life activities, but possibly result in an addiction to the drug.

Given those three choices, I will choose number 3.  I believe God still has much for me to do, and it is hard to serve Him when I am battling daily pain that will severely restrict my activities in life.  Now there is still option number 4.  Namely, that God will heal me of this disease.  And of course I want that most of all.

So I do still pray for God to heal me, and I invite you to be praying daily for me for this too.  But until that day comes, I will not let this disease stop me from doing His work.  And the work that He continues to give me is to do Bible translation consultant checking.

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That is what I will be doing for two months (Jan. 27 – March 28) leaving in 2 1/2 weeks to go to Papua New Guinea.  Please pray that I will be prepared with my consultant notes by then.  Pray I will have the strength and stamina for such a long trip.  Pray that my pain will continue to be lower, and that the narcotics will not dull my mind as I need to be sharp in what I hear, what questions I ask, and what suggestions I give so they can have the best possible translation.

I want to thank my friend for asking about my health and showing concern over the drug regiment I was on for so long.  I felt that I needed to share all this with my larger audience of those who follow “The Listening Post” and I do ask that you keep me in your prayers.

In all things, I give myself and my service to God, in order that He would       receive the glory, and the Kingdom of God would advance here on earth.  May His will be done.