Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cancer diagnosis & pain medication

The news from Dr B was not good.  The lung cancer I have is not curable or operable (since it is diffuse rather than a tumour) or treatable with tablets or radiotherapy, but chemotherapy should slow down the progression.  The average life expectancy (which I dragged out of the consultant) is 10 months although he expected that I would have longer - in view of my general good health etc. He recommended an operation to 'glue' together the two layers of the pleural membrane (pleurodesis) so that more fluid wouldn’t build up, since this is the cause of most of the pain and the breathlessness I've experienced over the last 3 months’ followed by 4 - 6 courses of chemotherapy at Christie's . 
On Monday 6th December I saw the surgeon (Mr O) who will be doing the operation – keyhole surgery under general anaesthetic at MRI – on Tuesday 14th December.   

Only just begun to understand about the pain killers (although I'd still like to know what it is exactly that causes the pain).  I'd been taking Co-codomol 8/500 and the prescription stated to take 2 every 4 - 5 hours as required, but no more than 8 in 24 hours (ie every 6 hours).  I needed to take them every 4 hours to kill the pain, which meant 12 in 24 hours, but then the GP explained that the 8/500 meant 8 grams of codeine and 500 of paracetamol, and its the paracetamol dose that mustn't be exceeded.  So I've now got increased codeine ones (30/500) which do last for 6 hours.  If I'd had this explained at the start I'd have been saved unecessary pain.  The downside of increased codeine though is constipation (you really didn't want to know that did you?) and so its back to the movicol.

Co-codomol is supposed to be addictive, but not for me.  I'm so not addicted that I even sometimes forget to take them - until the pain reminds me. I also seem to be immune to morphine (at least in the low doses I had in hospital).  Not only did I not experience the euphoric high that others describe, but it didn't seem to have much effect on the pain either.  What a strange physiology I have.

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