Pancreatic Cancer Pain. It has become a daily reality.
In the beginning, before the word pancreatic cancer was ever breathed aloud, the pain was really just a nagging discomfort under mom's ribcage. It intensified with deep breaths and stretching in certain ways. She really thought it was a mild gallbladder attack. But, fatty meals didn't make the pain worse (it would have if the gallbladder was the problem), and antacids didn't help either.
As the weeks rolled into each other, the discomfort finally resolved into a pain. Mom had some vicodin from a previous surgery and finally she took some. It relieved the pain and immediately sent up red flags. That was the push she needed to make the appointment with her doctor. Obviously, something wasn't right. And it wasn't. This was the first major side effect of cancer that she experienced, long before the cancer was even a possibility in our minds.
The pain has been like an uncomfortable burr in your shoe. Always there, stuck tight. As soon as she was diagnosed, the oncologist prescribed a morphine med called MS-Contin, to be taken daily. He began with a low dose, 15mg twice a day. He also added in an order for oxycodon for breakthrough cancer pain. Mom found she was using the oxycodon several times a day. And didn't feel like the combo was working well. So after two weeks, he bumped up the MS-Contin to 30mg twice a day and changed the oxycodon to vicodin. That worked well for about the first 8 months. Around her gallbladder surgery, the pain escalated and the MS-contin was bumped up to 60mg and then finally 90mg. Most days the pain is under good control. But it is a balancing act. After recovering from the gallbladder surgery, she tried to reduce the MS-contin back to 60mg, but had to be happy with 60mg in morning and 90mg at night. It is imperative to get the pancreatic cancer pain under control. It can be debilitating, demoralizing and lead to compromising your quality of life.
TIP - Find an oncologist that understands your pain and is willing to work with you until it is under control. There is nothing more exhausting than a never-ending pain. It can break the back of the most strong-willed patient. An oncologist who takes pancreatic cancer pain relief seriously is a prize to find. Pain is one side-effect that you shouldn't have to suffer through.
Now, for the real roller-coaster with pain. Constipation. Yep, you read it right. Just when we were breathing a sigh of relief that the pain was under control, constipation reared it's ugly head. Come to find out, heavy duty pain meds have their own side effects, and the major one is constipation. And I'm not talking mamby-pamby take some prune juice. This is serious constipation.
TIP - If you begin taking heavy narcotics for pain, immediately begin adding more fiber, lots more fiber, in your diet. Be pro-active. Let mom's lesson save you misery. To get her constipation under control, she now takes milk of magnesia, 2 tbls once a day, plus mira-lax, once a day, plus konsyl, a natural forming bulk fiber laxative, also twice a day, plus colace stool softners. It's all about management.
Another lesson she learned - the hard way - was to eat in moderation. She has found that large meals generally lead to hours of discomfort (read pain!). So, small meals through-out the day are usually the best for her. Her cancer nutrition plan includes the advice to eat 5-6 small meals/snacks throughout the day. This has the added benefit of squeezing in more calories, as well as reducing the associated pain of a large meal.
Mom has been able to control her pain largely with narcotics. Several friends have encouraged her to try accupuncture for the pain. While she is not opposed to trying it, she is understandably afraid of stopping the pain meds long enough to see if the accupuncture would work. Kind of like the old adage, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Some pancreatic cancer patients might be concerned about the amount of narcotics needed to gain relief from pancreatic cancer pain. It is possible to seek alternatives, if they seem right to you. As always, consult with your licensed health care professional before stopping or starting any treatment.
Pancreatic Cancer Pain Relief is right up there when it comes to managing your cancer diagnosis. Get a handle on it right away and your outlook will be so much brighter. And make it easier to handle all the other side effects of cancer...
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