Yesterday I shared the side effects from my first three-week chemo cycle. Overall I can’t complain because I feel my experience has been pretty good. One symptom I really haven’t talked much about is pain. In fact looking back at all the posts I’ve done so far it appears as though I have had no pain at all. This is far from the truth. In this post I will briefly review the pain I am experiencing.
Today I went through my second round of chemo. It went well. I slept through most of it; I think the immediate sleep I get during chemo is due to the Benadryl the nurse shoots me up with. While speaking to the nurse about any side-effects I basically just told her everything I had blogged about yesterday. Then my wife chimed in about the pain I’ve been having. My reaction was “Oh yeah”. I’ve been living with this pain for long I don’t even think about it anymore.
I’ve had various back pains for a number of years now. These aches and pains come from a mix of being overweight, out of shape, a smoker, and doing too much on my own when renovating apartments and garages. About a year ago though the pain in my shoulders and some of my ribs remained constant. I went to the chiropractor for this a couple of times. But he was only able to make them feel better for a couple of days. And even then the chiro was really only able to alleviate the pain in my lower back. I now realize it is because a lymph node was actually causing my skeletal issues in that area. It is likely that after adjusting me that the lymph node just pushed me back out of alignment. Now that the lymph nodes have been pushed back by chemo the lower back pain is mostly gone (although yes, it is still there).
Whenever possible I have tried to hide this constant pain from other people. I’m not really sure why. My wife of course has known this whole time. When sleeping I apparently swear anytime I roll over and encounter a shot of pain in my back and shoulders. Looking back I haven’t really even talked to doctors about the pain much, because I’m usually going in for something unrelated to the pain. Or at least I was assuming it was unrelated to the pain. I’ve already seen from the PET scan results that I had lymph nodes pushing into my spine and that I have cancer in my bone marrow. The current pain I feel in my shoulders and ribs is likely a direct result of the cancer in those bones.
Back to today’s appointment. When speaking to one of the nurses I said my pain was only at about a seven or eight. She thought it weird I would say only. Well, it quite often spikes to a ten if I sit or lay down wrong. Anytime I am not at a ten I consider tolerable. Sometimes I will take ibuprofen if I’m going to be sitting somewhere uncomfortable for a long time. This summer I did that a lot going to the baseball games my boys were in. That really only seems to last a few hours. If it is long day I will rotate between ibuprofen and Tylenol. Going back and forth between the two helps some. But I try not to use either pain reliever too often. Sometimes I will also take ibuprofen when going to bed; but again I try not to do so very often. It has always been my theory that I should save pain relievers for when I really need them.
The best pain reliever has been from the hot tub, which I am no longer using due to being on chemo. Sometimes a hot pack or ice pack will work a little bit. But not for very long. I’ve also tried a large variety of lotions and oils. None of them seem to quite do the trick. It actually makes sense the oils didn’t work now that I think about it. The pain is likely coming from inside my bones, lotions and rubs won’t reach there.
Now back once again to speaking with the nurse. I did let her know where my current pain is at and how strong the pain is. She let me know today would be the first shot I would get to boost my bones. I was given a shot of XGEVA. In about a month I should have another shot. Hopefully XGEVA will protect my bones enough that they can start to heal. If nothing else the XGEVA may help me from breaking any more bones (post for another day).
Going forward I am definitely going to have to let nurses and doctors know about all pains. I don’t think I was really hiding the pain from them. I just didn’t see it as relevant at the time. And when dealing with other people I think I tried to hide the pain because I don’t like to bother other people with my problems. Hopefully in the future the pain will be gone and I won’t have to worry about it anymore.
PS. I do have some “clouding” going on as I write this. Hopefully this post made sense.