Saturday, May 1, 2010

Not a Rain Delay ... A Pain Delay

I would have blogged yesterday except that for the past 24 hours I have been in unanticipated severe pain! Pain in the left side of my jaw and my teeth. It's been awful. The worst pain I think I've ever known. I now understand why someone would want to get the pliers and yank out their own teeth! If, by chance, you have any insider knowledge on how to deal with this kind of pain, PLEASE SHARE!!

I can't even guess why it started. I had experienced some jaw pain in November or December and I saw my dentist about it. But since then ... until now ... I haven't had any jaw pain at all. I got a mouth guard in March but because I hadn't been having any jaw pain since a few months before that, I haven't even used it. Why fix what's not broken, right?

Anyway ...

I got through the conference experience okay. Some ups and downs but then home okay. We got home late Thursday night. I had a good, long, sleep in my own bed, sleeping until almost noon. Then, still tired, I decided to stay home for the rest of the day. I stayed in my pj's until mid afternoon and then I had a soak in epsom salts. I hadn't soaked in salts for three days and I was due. I was quite achy. I planned on just hunkering down for the night but then an opportunity arose to see my nephew Josh and his girlfriend, Noelene. Kevin and I met them and Darrel and Russel at Nutana Cafe for dinner and then we came back here to visit. At about 10:00 there was an unexpected knock at the door and there was Mom! Qu'elle surprise! She was just as surprised to be here. She and Gary had been in Rosetown and then he had a little episode that kept him in the hospital in Saskatoon overnight, so Mom stayed here.

I went to bed at 11:30 and almost immediately ... right after I laid my head on the pillow ... my jaw started to hurt and it got bad very quickly. I took some tylenol and sat up waiting for it to work but it didn't really work. I took more tylenol and ended up awake on the couch until 6:00 a.m. I tried hot compresses ... massage ... as much jaw relaxing as I could ... I soaked in the tub with my jaw submerged. Nothing helped. Finally, through exhaustion and while the pain was in "simmer mode", I did fall asleep on the couch until 9:30 and then I went up to bed and was able to sleep for another couple of hours. When I got up, the pain was at a very low simmer but after breakfast it got much worse again. I called my dentist's office and got in before noon to see a dentist ... not my dentist ... who feels that the pain isn't being caused by a problem with my teeth and because the pain isn't happening while I'm asleep, she doesn't think it's because of clenching or grinding and my teeth don't look like they've been "ground". She thinks it's either nerves or the medication. She told me that chemo drugs, including Arimidex and/or Tamoxifen, frequently cause problems with jaws. She sent me home with some muscle relaxants, keeping in mind that I'm allergic to Advil (Ibuprofen), which would have otherwise been the first line of defence.

I'm disappointed that the muscle relaxant hasn't really helped significantly. Sometimes the pain flare up and is severe and the rest of the time it's at various levels of "simmer". It hasn't gone away at all. I was able to sleep for another couple of hours this afternoon, though, which I needed. Still terrified of impending pain, Kevin scored me some morphine. I would not normally even want to try morphine but this pain ... I can't tell you how awful it is ... the WORST. The VERY WORST! I eagerly swallowed a "fast acting" morphine pill almost 2 hours ago but, sadly (and to my horror), I can't feel any improvement. The pain is still moving back and forth between "simmer" and "near boil". I'm so nervous about the night ... but am trying to keep my jaw relaxed.

You know the pain must have been awful when I opted to sleep through the first half of Luke's last lacrosse game! I caught the 3rd period and missed the 4th while I was at the dentist. I did, however, get to hear the sportscaster announce Luke's goal in the 3rd period! YEAH! The game went into overtime and Bellarmine came out the winner! AWESOME! A great way to finish their season. Luke phoned later and he was pretty pumped about the win. He said it was the most exciting college game he's ever played in. I think the atmosphere had something to do with it, too. They played in the Ohio State University football stadium which holds over 100,000 people. Luke said it was AMAZING! Ohio State University is only 3 hours from Louisville so the team was able to get back home this evening where I'm sure much partying ensued, it also being Derby Day in Louisville. The whole city goes crazy during derby! And then he flies home on Monday.

About the conference ... it was frustrating to have such trouble sleeping the first night there. I hardly slept at all. And for no particular reason. I'm not normally "a princess" about such things (sorry for that revelation, Meghan) and the bed wasn't uncomfortable. I had a bit of frustration with the pillow. I often flip my pillow in the night to get the cool side but the hotel pillows didn't have any "cool side". What's that about? I use a feather pillow at home and these were synthetic pillows. It seemed like they held the heat from my head right through. That caused me some aggravation. Despite my lack of sleep, I managed to get through most of the following day but then went to my room mid-afternoon and stayed there for the night. I napped, relaxed, had dinner in my room (I passed on the conference dinner because it would have meant a bus ride and no opportunity to come back to my room if I felt I needed to). I slept quite well that night except for, in the middle of the night, waking up with a horrible pain on the inside of my right knee. It hurt so badly. It woke me up a couple of times in the night and the next day it made it very painful to go from sitting to standing or doing stairs. I can think of no reason for my knee to suddenly start hurting like that ... especially to start in the middle of the night. It's still bothering me a bit but has benefited, I think, from my giving it a rest for the past couple of days.

Still ... isn't it odd ... the knee ... the jaw ... the pain ... no evident reason for either? I really do wonder if it isn't the drugs, though I can't be sure of course. If this had to happen, I'm glad it's now, before I see the Oncologist on Monday. I suspect the Oncologist won't be able to provide any real satisfaction on these matters, but I will hope. It makes me all the more determined to go off the Tamoxifen. There is some recent research published indicating that a drug commonly taken for osteoporosis reduces the risk of breast cancer. I don't know if the their referring to initial breast cancer or recurring breast cancer or both. In the study, it was compared to Tamoxifen and while Tamoxifen proved to be better at preventing breast cancer, the osteoporosis drug was preventative to a slightly lesser degree but with the benefit of no real side effects. The study concluded that despite the side effects, Tamoxifen is the better drug for the purpose but the researchers also suggested that women be given the information so that they could make the decision for themselves. Given my experience, think I might be a good candidate for the osteoporosis drug. I want to talk to my Oncologist about that and I really hope he's supportive of it.

The photo, by the way, is one Noelene took. Both Noelene and Josh are pilots in the great, white north. They made a trip to Alert, the northernmost inhabited settlement, and this is a photo of the northernmost Steinway! I find that hilarious and love the photo. Click on it to see a larger image and then you can read the text better. Noelene showed me lots of great photos from their northern life. She made some really great video and photo montages, too. She made them initially to give her family some idea of what she does and here she lives. Her family is in South Africa and she has a sister in Japan so Northern Canada is about as far from them as one could get! I've never been so far north but I'm certainly more interested after seeing all Noelene's and Josh's photos!

Happy Birthday, Cheryl!

Wish me a good night's pain-free sleep, everyone!


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