Monday, August 25, 2008

Pain Management

One thing that you learn from cancer is pain, pure and simple. I’m quite sure that my physical pain threshold has increased 2 to 3 times over the past few years. We’re constantly being asked by our medical professionals to rate our pain on a 0 to 10 scale with zero being no pain and 10 being the worst pain imaginable. The pain may be due to the cancer, the treatment, a weakened immune systems, growing older or any combination of these factors. With pain comes the business of pain management.

I had some success with a new medicine this weekend. Last Monday, the Supportive Care group at my hospital prescribed a new medicine to treat severe headaches. These are not “take two to four Advil and go about your business” type headaches. These are “48 – 72 hour stay in a dark room with low light, no noise, and a cold wash cloth on your forehead” type headaches. I’ve tried many different medicines to treat these headaches in the past. Both over the counter and prescription drug opiates. Nothing helped… until yesterday. I took a drug for migraine headaches and 90% of the headache went away. I ended up taking two doses about 6 hours apart. This medicine allowed me to read 200 pages in a great book (Bringing Down the House – the book the recent movie 21 was based on), watch a little TV (the final installment of “Generation Kill” on HBO), play a few games with my daughter, and even have a brief visit with a friend. Compare that to lying in bed with pain and I’d have to call it a success.

I was very hesitant to try this medicine. The possible side effects scare me. Here they are. “CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY if you experience wheezing, tightness in your jaw, neck, or chest; chest pain; heart throbbing; unusual vision changes or loss of vision; severe stomach pain; or bloody diarrhea.”

It’s one thing to sign the consent forms at the hospital before an operation or a new chemo regimen with all the possible side effects including death, but to do it at home with an unknown medicine freaks me out.

The moral of this story is to continue to work with your medical team to make the most of what you have. Maybe you too with be fortunate enough to find a treatment that will make life easier, even if for one day.

Take care everyone.


Anonymous said...

Would you be willing to share the name of the medicine?

HN Cancer said...

To above post... Yes, if you send me your email address. You can get my email address from my blogger profile. I don't feel comfortable just putting a drug out there, but I have no issue sharing it one-on-one. And, as always, check with your physician before taking any drugs. Regards.

Susan said...

i'd rather have almost any pain over a headache. i'm so glad you were able to find some relief...i'll bet your daughter was, too! yeah, i'm always leery of a headache med whose side effect list includes "bloody diarrhea". how in the world does that happen??