“It's like a day when the sun isn't too hot and there is a slight breeze; everything seems beautiful,” said Antonio Mora about the times when he is not in pain. That is something he experienced for the first time two years ago, after 11 years of suffering, when doctors implanted an intrathecal infusion pump which administers morphine and a local anaesthetic all day in a controlled manner.
Antonio, who is 53 and lives in San Pedro Alcántara, in Marbella, says he has lumbago “because I have worked like a donkey since I was nine, when my father took me out of school to unload fruit lorries”. His last job before retirement, as a driver, ended up destroying his back.
He has had several operations and says that living with pain for more than a decade has affected him psychologically. “I've cried a lot and tried to commit suicide twice, because that was no life,” said this father of two teenagers, with tears in his eyes. He has been receiving treatment at the Pain Unit at the Civil hospital for six years. Every 72 days he returns for the morphine pump to be refilled, and says it has reduced his pain by 90 per cent. “I'm fantastic, now I can say I have a life, not like before,” he said, even though it is still rare for him not to be in pain. It appears as soon as he starts to walk, or has to stand up for a time. It only goes away when he is lying down, “but that's no life,” he said.
The device, which was implanted beneath the skin of his abdomen two years ago, doesn't bother him. “It just gets in the way when I pull my trousers up,” he joked. “I'm limited because I can't lift anything or kneel and I can only walk a little, but I couldn't walk at all before,” he said.
Now he only takes one tablet in the morning, but says that at home he has so much medication, ointments, patches and injections “that I could open a pharmacy”.