Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pain Management

A little bit of Doctor on the phone
A little bit of napping while I'm prone
A little bit of morphine gets me through
A little bit of aspirin - need that, too
A little bit of pudding through the day
A little bit of heat makes things okay
A little bit of research for the soul
Good riddance to the pain is still my goal

Today has been a day dedicated to pain management.

Last night my pain subsided to a low simmer at about 2:00 a.m. so I headed up to bed. I no sooner got to the top of the stairs when the pain picked up again. Back downstairs to apply heat to my jaw until there was another window of sleep opportunity at 4:00. It helps to be exhausted. I then slept until 11:00 this morning. When I woke up I was afraid to move a muscle because the pain wasn't the excruciating, radiating type - it was more specific to my left upper and lower teeth and then only when touched. But, of course, I had to get up to pee. Damn! Within 15 minutes of being up, the pain started again in my jaw.

Kevin suggested I call our doctor. After a chat and question and answer episode on the phone with him, he felt it was a dental issue and that without having had dental x-rays done (yesterday they only looked at my January x-rays, tapped my teeth and did some feeling around). He wonders if it might be an abscess or something like that. He also thinks that the Tamoxifen and/or Arimidex could be the cause or an exacerbating factor. He upped my morphine for pain and recommended high doses of aspirin to get the anti-inflammatory benefits since I can't take Advil. I have an appointment to see him tomorrow morning.

Chewing at all is painful so I've had some pudding today and some mushy cooked vegetables and some cheese... all at room temperature. I have some mushy fruits for tomorrow.

Being able to at least better manage the pain today makes a huge difference. The pain is nothing short of excruciating - the worst pain I recall ever having - and worse for lasting so relentlessly. The morphine makes me a little woozy ... faint, in fact ... but only for a little while and then I sleep a bit. I've been a little short on sleep so that's a very good thing. I read that deep breathing can help because a shortage of oxygen can acerbate the problem. I think it's common when experiencing intense pain to hold one's breath and breath shallowly. I think the slow, deep breathing is helpful. I also make a point of thinking about the muscles in my face and neck and trying to make them as loose and relaxed as possible. Kevin picked up a really good heating pad ... one that heats in the microwave ... and it has been quite soothing. At first I thought maybe it was good just because it made me feel like I was doing something but I really do think the heat against my jaw, ear and throat really does bring some relief. I've avoided much talking. Moving my jaw is best kept to a minimum. Talking to Hannah on the phone tonight, though, was wonderful!

So ... tomorrow ...
1. Family doctor at 9:30. Talk about teeth and jaw pain and also get his thoughts on going off the Tamoxifen. I must remember to print out research on Tamoxifen vs Raloxifene (an Osteoporosis drug) from here, here, here, here, or here. I just read, though, that while Raloxifene might have fewer possible horrible side effects, it might cause more bone and joint pain than Tamoxifen. Hmmm ... damned one way or another it looks like. Here's the link to the primary research source, "The Use of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene for the Prevention of Breast Cancer", Cancer Prevention II, 2009. One of the more "layperson friendly news articles about these drugs is here. Sorry for so many links - you don't need to look at them all - but this helps me in case I need to go back and see where I got my information from.

2. Massage Therapist at 11:30. Talk to her about jaw pain. It was one of the questions on the form I completed at my first visit. Maybe she has some thoughts on how to jaw relieve pain through self-massage. Maybe she can tell me if the nerves in my neck are a contributing factor.

3. Bloodwork at 1:15. I hope they check my estrogen levels.

4. Oncologist at 2:00. I have a lot of questions for him as discussed in an earlier post and now I have questions about my jaw and teeth and the possibility of the drugs causing the problem. Remember to take some print copies of the Tamoxifen and Raloxifene studies.

5. Dentist - if I can get an appointment later in the afternoon.
A full day of medical appointments. PLEASE let there be answers and relief!!
I don't want to be like this, especially when Luke gets home tomorrow night.



  1. It's always good to hear from you, Berny. I tried to keep talking to a minimum today. Moving my jaw can, perhaps, trigger an increase in the pain. It's not as bad today as yesterday, probably because of all the drugs. I just hope it goes away as quickly as it came on. Cross your fingers for me.

  2. This is crazy. Praying for some relief for you.

  3. Heather, I just read an article about meditation. Apparently it can reduce pain by half. Think about it while your soaking in the salts. Put on some nice calm music, breath slowly, focus on something wonderful and try not to fall asleep.

    Norma B.

  4. Hi Norma! I miss you at work. It was so nice having you back for a even a little while.

    The pain I endured during my tooth episode required more of a "hammer to the head" approach, I think. Meditation, schmediation at some point! JUST GIVE ME MORPHINE!!! I'm so glad that's over with!


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