Gotta keep on keepin' on.......

Cancer again...that's 3 times in 2 years. This time it’s not breast cancer, but a new one called squamous cell carcinoma. New cancer, same old fighting spirit! My blog is still named for one of many songs that kept me going the first time around. Driving home from an upsetting appointment, I turned on the radio just as this line from Steve Miller Band's Jet Airliner was playing: "I've got to keep on keepin' on"....so I did just that. And I'll do it again.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Let me tell you about my pain medicine!

I am feeling pretty OK today, still a little sore but not bad. I am trying to use my arm as instructed by the nurses, to get dressed, eat, brush my hair (I do have some now but not enough to lose the wigs). Every now and then, I'll overdo it and feel a little twinge in my armpit. But as far as pain goes, I've "graduated" to plain old Extra-Strength Tylenol as of yesterday. The pain medicine I was using before then, though....that stuff was incredible! It was Demerol laced with an anti-nausea drug (in case I was sick from the anesthesia). But for now, Tylenol does the trick.

The anesthesiologist must have given me some really good pain meds before I came out of surgery, because I felt really good almost immediately. Well, other than having a big stinging wound on my right side where the port had been removed, and feeling like there was a wad of gauze stuck under my left armpit (which I think there was). Other than that, I felt great.

I also had an oxygen tube stuck up my nostrils, and it stayed on even after they wheeled me into my room. It felt really strange, like I had glasses on and they had fallen down. I kept trying to push them up. Eventually, the nurse removed it. I think I must have been complaining about it awhile, or she grew tired of watching me tug on them, I don't know.

But back to my meds.....While I was in the hospital, every now and then a nurse would pop in and ask if I was feeling any pain. I usually was, so she'd give me some morphine. Yikes! Kind of strong, I thought, but I didn't argue. If it was keeping me from hurting, that was fine with me. Being pain-free let me focus on more important things, like when was I going to get my dinner, and why it is only clear broth and jello? (I tried to get John to sneak me some baked ziti, which I knew was on the menu at home....no luck. He did feel sorry for me and bring me a cupcake, though. I took two bites and enjoyed it immensely)

I started refusing the morphine the next day, really wanted to move on to something that sounded less addictive. Before I left for home on Wednesday, the surgeon gave me a prescription for the Demerol/anti-nausea stuff I mentioned earlier. I figured I'd fill the prescription just in case I needed it, but planned on getting by with Tylenol. However, by Wednesday evening, I was not feeling quite so courageous. I knew I had to get used to sleeping on my back, no easy feat for this tummy sleeper! And everything hurt, even things that hadn't been operated on. So I tried one of the pills, laid back on my pillow, and did my arm exercises (to ward off lymphedema, a possible side effect of the lymph node removal....it's also called "elephant arm", if that helps you picture what it can do!). I wasn't falling asleep right away, so I sat up a little and worked on the crossword puzzle.

I have to say, doing a crossword puzzle while your pain medicine kicks in is really quite entertaining! Especially the next morning, when you take a look at the terrible job you did filling in the letters in the little boxes! But that medicine really helped me sleep. I was totally out, and nothing hurt. I can see how people can get addicted to these things. I think it was better than the morphine.

I took those wonderful pills two nights straight, and once in the afternoon when I was in a lot of pain. But no more. Honestly, I enjoyed it too much! And I tried it yesterday with just Tylenol, and felt OK. I am sore, I won't lie about it or try to be brave, but it's livable with the Tylenol.

Crossword puzzles aren't as fun these days, but what can you do!

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