Waiting for Savasana

Pain Management


I have been in a decent amount of pain since the surgery.  It is mostly in my right armpit and shoots down my arm.  I had 43 lymph nodes removed.  That’s a lot.  I am at risk for a condition called lymphedema. Basically, there is a lot of fluid in the body that usually is channeled and drained by those lymph nodes and now they have nowhere to go so they fill up the surrounding tissue.  Oh and I can’t ever get any kind of blood drawn from that arm again.  I can’t have my blood pressure taken from my right arm either. Never ever again. It’s a good thing for me that I am left handed.  I had my drains removed on Thursday and the fluid build up seemed greater for the last couple of days.  I am concerned.  Fortunately, there are things that can be done for this condition by way of compression sleeves and massage and physical therapy.  I will figure this out.  Who wants a fat, sore arm?  Not me.

The biggest problem is that I don’t want to take opiate pain killers.  I am afraid of becoming addicted.  I mean, look at Rush Limbaugh, I am sure he had no intention of becoming an addict but he did.  If it can happen to old Rush the Conservative Meanie…well…it could happen to me.

My doctor says it won’t.

I am also having nerve pain in my right back shoulder and the back of my arm.  It feels like my skin is on fire.  My surgeon says this may last three weeks and she gave me a nerve drug to help.  It knocks me out and/or makes me loopy and abnormally chatty.  I went to coffee with a new friend and basically told her my whole life story. Sorry, Lisa.  At least it makes me happy though. Happy, chatty Beth is much nicer than miserable, crying Beth. I got to look at the silver linings.

Yesterday I tried going all day with no pain meds.  Why?  I don’t know.  To see if I could I guess.  Turns out I couldn’t.  I was squirming in my chair in deep pain until I finally broke down and took the good stuff and twenty minutes later, I felt so much better.

Hello, Stupid, take the meds.

Today I did.  I took the nerve meds and tried Tylenol throughout the day.  That lasted until 6 pm when I switched to the heavy stuff again.  I just couldn’t take it anymore.  It did the trick.

I have a fairly high pain tolerance which seems to be a problem in this case because I can live miserably with the pain. I can live so miserably that I forget that I can actually fix it. But I am so much happier and more comfortable with the meds.  Why am I trying to be a hero?  It’s stupid.  Maybe because it is something I can control.  It’s about the only thing I can control.

Another factor is my energy level which is quite high. I feel good.  I want to do stuff.  I wish I could go for a run but I can’t because of my pain and my incisions.  I feel great except for my pain which is weird to say.  I have finally become my own oxymoron.

I went to my support group today and all I can say is what an excellent group of women.  I feel fortunate to be in their company.  All of us are at different stages of treatment but we all give each other great insight.  It helps.

I, for one am scared of getting chemo but it is a comfort to know I am not the only one who is scared but is going to do it anyway.  I am much more frightened of chemo than I was of surgery.  But there it is, waiting for me.

I’m actually going to get a second opinion for my oncology  and how stupid is this, I feel guilty for doing it.  Like I am somehow being disloyal to my current oncologist (whom I really, really like).  My friends tell me not to be silly.  That I am entitled to a second opinion but I still feel like I am cheating.

Radiation is not going to be a picnic either but chemo is my biggest dragon.

Thinking of this, my experience is like some screwed up version of Eat, Pray, Love only without the travel.  Cut, Puke, Burn?  Too crass?  Probably.

I am thankful for my extremely comfy bed and my sliding glass doors to let in lots of fresh air.  I am going to need it.  I am thankful for the master bathroom connected to my bedroom.  I am thankful for pillows and blankets and stuffed animals and clean pajamas.  I am thankful for my meds.  I am thankful for the love of friends old and new.  I am thankful for my family and my silly dog.

Every day, there seem to be new things to fear and yet, I must hold my head up and walk through it.  It really isn’t a choice.  It’s just what I have to do, scared or not.

I feel pretty good right now.  The pain went from a 7 to a 2 fairly quickly.  I will be okay.


4 thoughts on “Pain Management

  1. A second opinion is SMART and I’m happy to hear you are getting one.

    I’m so sorry you are in pain. In years past, you would have been in the hospital for 2 weeks recovering. These days patients get sent home so early after major surgery that we think we must be recovered…not so. So please, believe your surgeon because you have enough on your plate without also being in physical pain. The good drugs relieve our brains of expending energy to control pain when that energy can be directed toward healing. Take care.

  2. Take the drugs Beth. Pain is so much harder to control when you are always playing catch up. Please take the meds, don’t try to be brave and tough it out this time. Second opinions are great, and your dr. Should encourage you to seek one. There are different approaches to treatment, and you need to make sure you are making the right decision for you. Heal well, Beth.

  3. Beth,

    I found you through your comment on Mothers with Cancer. I will spend some time and read through your posts. I also am ER/PR+ HER2-. Take your pain meds so that you can heal and be strong for your chemo. It is ok to take this time to heal. I f you ever want to reach out to any of the Mothers with Cancer please do so… so many who had gone before me helped me tremendously and it means so much to me if I can give a bit of re-assurance ro comfort to someone who is going through it now.

    Mary Beth
    mb at drawntocolor dot com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s