Lain's Log

Pain - and tuned to a lower frequency

May 9/11

I've been trying hard to avoid concentrating on the subject of pain for a day or two, because I'm quite sure anyone who checks this blog is sick to death of hearing about it. Not to harp on it, - but what the hell...pain is a BIG issue for me, and sadly, cancer treatment involves pain, - so I will!

I don't enjoy scaring women who may be about to undergo these same procedures, and please realize, I am ONLY reporting my OWN personal experience! Many other women have had these procedures and gotten through them, apparently, relatively pain-free. I salute them, and am HAPPY for them. - (but am not ONE of them!)

My own GP, (as I've written before), has been my doctor for 40 years. She's kind, caring and has watched over the health of my family
all of these years. That's why I've stayed with her - because she is sympathetic and knows EVERYTHING about our history. Yet, when I came to see her a few weeks before my breast cancer surgery, expressing intense fear about surgical pain in regards to the upcoming lumpectomy and removal of Sentinel nodes for biopsy/testing, she looked at me quizzically and asked, calmly, (and, in MY mind, - insanely), "What would the pain be COMING from?? - Are you friggin' kidding me Doc?" This MUST be a candid camera hoax!

She ended up repeating the exact same question a SECOND time, later in our conversation! Not having ever undergone surgery in my entire life, I said, (shrugging my shoulders and guessing), - "Um, from the INCISION???"

She responded, "It's just like having a cyst removed." - (well, how the HELL would I know what it's like to have a cyst removed??)

I finally realized this chat was futile and gave up on trying to get her to write me a prescription for Percocet, (or something stronger than usual,) in advance of the surgery.

Later, on surgery morning, I was lying on a gurney, awaiting the surgeon, Dr. McCready. He introduced me to the anaesthetist, to go over things before I was put under. Again, I brought up the subject of pain relief and was told I would get Tylenol 3 when I leave the hospital, - until I requested Percocet. He agreed to allow this, but not before stating emphatically that this surgery is not generally associated with much pain! (have you HAD this surgery Doc??)

Having lived with the effects of the surgery for 12 days now, I can authoritatively say, it DOES involve pain. (at least, for me). Now, the incision on the breast, (for the lumpectomy), appears to be excellent. Healing extremely well. No sharp, shooting jolts - only HUGE bruising, insane swelling and lots of throbbing.

The breast itself looks better than I ever thought possible. I'm so happy. I still have my breast! The bruising is massive, the swelling, still Raquel Welch huge - (which isn't bad folks!), but I know it won't last forever. (and with THIS kind of pain, no thanks on size alteration in the future - won't be asking for implants in my lifetime!)

But the ongoing worst problem is dealing with the pain under the arm, where the Sentinel lymph nodes were removed. Still extremely intense pain, - even though I'd read in the Dr. Susan Love Breast Book - and online, that women who only have Sentinel nodes removed - (and NOT axillary lymph node surgery), don't often encounter the kind of pain and swelling I've undergone.

The Breast Book talks about lymph node operations and surgery, saying there are, "18 sensations after breast cancer surgery." They include these descriptive words:

Tender, sore, pull, ache, painful, twinge, tight, stiff, prick, throb, shoot, tingle, numb, burn, hard, sharp, nag and penetrate.

Yep. That pretty well sums it up. I have had ALL of the above - especially burning and numbness.

The book continues to say, "Some sensations are still present five years after Sentinel node biopsy. Tenderness remained in about 33 percent of women after five years." Great to hear.

The wild amount of numbness, running all down the back of my right arm, from shoulder to elbow, (coupled with heavy pain in the same area), makes it very difficult to do much of anything - especially driving (in a car with a gear shift!), and most daily chores - (hauling garbage, lugging grocery bags, washing my hair in the shower, and the ever-delightful changing-piles-of-cat litter). Each day since surgery, the numb sensations have increased, reaching an all-time high today.

I have NO idea what to expect on Friday the 13th, when I go back to the surgeon for pathology results. Praying for good news. Sam will be with me in case I faint.

While in No Frills today, I was astonished to find myself wandering the aisles, feeling very weak and spacey, (no drugs - just tired and drained from all the pain). My daughter, Kate, calls this feeling, "Being tuned to a lower frequency"

I kept picking out more and more fruit. It was as though someone was actually willing me to buy more fruit for some unknown reason - even mangos! Seconds later, I felt something really strange come over me, which freaked me out. Have never believed in the concept of getting messages from the other side, but it suddenly felt as though Mum was telling me that everything was going to be OK. I didn't see or hear her in any way, but the full extent of the words I FELT I may have been receiving from her, was only that - Everything is going to be OK. If this IS what you were saying to me Mum, I thank you and will choose to believe that is the truth.

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