How do you cope with your pain?
I am stage 3 cervical cancer and learning how to cope with my pain.
I have read a few books about cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is an interesting disease, it is hard to detect the symptoms. In my case I had no idea I had cancer. I considered myself quite healthy person. Until 3 months ago I had a sharp pain on my left side of tummy among with bloating. I tried eat less, made diet, avoid caffeine and certain food, no changes. Then I went to a clinic. The nurse gave me anti-gas medicine, made a blood test. Test result came out fine. But the pain was still there. About a month later I had exam by an MD. She requested Ctscan and ultrasound. She suspected a cancer and send me to a gynecologist/oncologist. After his exam, I have learned I was stage 3 cervical cancer. A pure bad luck. Just like other 12.000 women in US. They have the same problem I do.
I will start my radio therapy and chemo therapy next week. However, I still have pain meanwhile. I need to ease my pain to continue my life better.
I need to keep up my spirit high. Just because I have a cancer, that does not mean, I am dead yet. I will fight back!
First thing first though:
1. Stay calm, be positive.
It really does not matter, why I have cancer. I am focusing on what can I do about it.
Priorities are important. It changes a person to a person. One thing should not be change though; the health is most important thing in the life. Instead of feeling sad, depress about being cancer, focus on how can you improve your life style? Within the reasons whatever makes you happy, choose those activities. Here is the hint: Smoking and drinking are not in the list.
2. Control your pain.
If I have a lot of pain, I can not think straight, I can not focus on anything, eventually the misery feeling will capture me. I do not want to go that path. So I try to manage my pain as much as possible.
3. Get good nutrition in your body.
Eating right food and healthy diet will help you to win this battle.
This article is about pain management so I will not write about what food helps for the healing process.
However, you might read my list of anti-cervical cancer food article here.
How to manage the pain?
First you have to understand the pain. There are a physical effects of the pain as well as functional effects. Never under estimate psychosocial factors. If you are under constant pain, you will feel sooner or later insomnia, fear, anger, sadness and perhaps will fall into depression. If you can manage your pain, all those psychosocial ups and downs will have less effect on you.
How much you can tolerate your pain?
Depends on intensity/severity of your pains you can do many things.
Now I will write it down how I cope, I am not suggestion what you should do about your pain. To cope with your pain, you should talk to your doctor, and listen to your body. This is just my experience, and sharing with my readers. If you have cervical cancer and this article gives you some comforts, I am happy for you. I am not a doctor. I am not saying what medicines you should take, what exercise you should do; you are the master of your mind,. Listen your body, follow instincts. Pay attention of your pain pattern; location, when, how, then try to eliminate the pain.
This is cervical cancer pain Numerical Scale 1-10.
1. Not much pain, keep going whatever you are doing. Occupying your mind ( anything but cancer thoughts ) will help you to deal with psychosocial aspects of your state.
2-3. If it hurts just a little bit, you can handle it. I drink a lot of green tea, it helps me to work on my projects, ease of my pain. Since I am a serious tea drinker, I noticed if I do not drink black tea or green tea, I get a headache. I have to admit green tea is a new concept for me. I did not like the taste of it. But I found my own solution ; I add lemon juice in it, with 2-3 drops od stevia, than it tastes good.
4-5. It hurst more. Then I am aware of my constant pain. Not a good felling. Difficult to concentrate on work. Then I walk. I go up and down on stairs. Moving is helping to deal with the pain. Untill this stage I do not take any pain killer. I drink lots of tea, make sure I have some food in my tummy. If I am hungry , it triggers the pain more. So I eat fruits, or drink some apple juice or ayran. I also use a heating pad, sometimes I lie down on an air bed, focus on my breathing a few minutes. I use exercise on my ball to ease the pain. When I am working I use inflatable ring cushion. Otherwise sitting long time on a chair hurt my bones. If the pain area is hot, I make a cold compress, if the pain area is cold, then I use a heating pad. I also do gentle massage in the area.
6-7. This is the stage, you should not wait any longer to take a pain killer.
If you wait longer the intensity of the pain gets higher quite quickly.I have been there many many times. I tell myself, I can handle it, I can tolerate it, but the truth is suffering with pain, not a good option. I tried walking, going up and down stairs, lie down and breathe slowly, putting a heating pad, or hot water bottle on the painful area. As well as taking a painkiller.
The doctor gave me 2 prescription drugs. Both of them has too many side effects, so I stopped taking them. I choose over the counter for my pain management.
Over the counters medicines:
Acetaminophen 500mg Extra-Strength
It stops the pain about 45 minutes later. It works well about 5-6 hours. Then wears off. I did not had any side effect to this pill. I can not take it at might because the pill contains caffeine. For day use, my favorite.
Advil Iboprofen tablet 200mg.
It stops the pain about 30 minutes later. It works well about 4 hours. Then wears off. The only side effect is that makes me sweaty. That is manageable, I can always change my clothes. I can use it at night as well.
Acetaminophen 500mg extra strength caplets (NSAID)
It stops the pain about an hour later. It reduces the pain, does not completely stops. It last about 3-4 hours, then wears off. No side effect on me.
Aleve 220 mg (NSAID)
It stops the pain about 20-30 minutes later.It lasts more than 8 hours. So far this one is my favorite. I can take day or night. It makes me sweaty but better than feeling pain.
Tramadol 50MG tablet and Hydrocodone/acetaminophen 5-500TB.
After I tried these pills, quickly I have learned that I do not tolerate medicines easily. They gave me so many side effect more than being useful.
Especially Tramadol was horrible. I will never try that again at all. I had all those side effects immediately I took one: agitation, fever, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, seizure (convulsions), shallow breathing, weak pulse. I turned to ash color, could not breath normally, I could not control my teeth shattering and more. That was worse than the pain that I was experiencing.
8-9. It hurts quite powerfully. Take a painkiller immediately. Sharp pain is not easy to handle. Walking and exercise did not have any effect. Taking a warm shower helps a bit.
10. That is pretty bad situation. You can not imagine destructive stabbing style sharp pain. You may cry, scream, sob, moan, grunts, and more. In my case, I am rolling on the floor, cursing, cussing, and sometimes I am in tears. I will take anything to stop it. This is the time, I am out of control. I tried to take medicine and filling the bathtub with warm water, soak myself in it at least 45 minutes. I used Epson salt, try to breath normally.
It is not easy, I wish no one to experience that type of pain. I also discovered that number 10 pain comes when I am period. Other times, I am OK, I can manage the pain.
Here is the summary:
To have a better life without the pain when you have cervical cancer:
Think positive, feeling hopeful always a big plus. Whatever makes you demoralize, stay out of those thoughts.
Try to sleep well. Sleepness makes you tired, your body gets weaker much easier. If you can not sleep, you might take some sleeping aid supplements. I used some, and it helped me to sleep longer time. I felt rested.
Eat well. It is difficult digest big meals. It may also cause constipation, bloating, a lot of gas in your tummy. better to eat instead 2-3 times a day, small amounts 5-7 times a day. Consuming fresh fruits, drinking plenty liquids help. If you have constipation problem, eating dried prunes and apricot works great, you may also take some fiber supplement to ease your bowel movements.
Control you pain. Do daily exercise, take short naps during the day, watch some comedy. Remember laughing is your good for you.
I wish you best luck in this journey.
Managing Cancer Pain: A Practical Guide for Oncology Nurses