Friday, November 14, 2014

Phantom broken rib pain

Am I married to a midget? Steve in front of Santa Maria della Salute in Venice. I originally had him stand in front
of the door but couldn't see him in the view finder

Island of Giudecca..if we had more time, would have gone there

lamp inside of Salute. I see now that it is upside down
At our cooking class the other day, a woman 18 months out from her original diagnosis of breast cancer complained that it felt like she had a broken rib and she was worried sick that it could be bone mets. She will go through a bunch of scans to rule it out. Does it hurt all the time? No, it comes and goes. Is it getting worse? No. Then it is probably radiation damage to the nerve. Several women piped in to say they have that same pain too and some went for scans and found nothing. Another woman said her pain is unbearable and nearly constant. The only relief she gets is weekly acupuncture at $160/ week unremimbursed by insurance.

There are two types of pain; nociceptive and neuropathic. Nociceptive, 'good' pain is when everything is functioning as it should. You put your hand in the flame, it hurts and you withdraw. Broken bones cause nociceptive pain and there are drugs for that. Neuropathic pain is tricky. It is damage to the nerve itself causing it to send false signals to the brain such as phantom  limb syndrome. Fibromyalgia is typified by having all ones muscles ache for no reason at once. Taxol causes neuropathic pain which usually goes away once treatment is stopped. I found it more distressing than the nausea caused by the Red Devil. In some cases, peripheral neuropathy persists years after (numbness of fingers and toes). It is not clear if the nerve damage that causes me to be almost paralyzed by the pain was caused by surgery, Taxol or radiation. People get it without the taxol. I will go months without an attack but then, while just lying there, it starts. It doesn't last long. Of course bone mets came to my mind when the attacks started but movement does not make the pain worse as it would if I really had broken ribs.

The Red Devil is not kind afterwards either. Another woman badly needed a knee replacement when cancer struck. She is finished with treatment but the knee problem didn't go away. Now they are saying that the Red Devil damaged her heart too much for surgery to be safe. Well that kinda sucks.

There is a very thin coating of snow on the ground. The high today will be 35. Can I stomach a bicycle ride? At least it isn't windy. Are people in warmer climates happier? There was ice on our windshield after we finished dinner last night with Allie and Josh. She is just so cute and smart.

1 comment:

Elephant's Child said...

Neuropathic pain can be evil. I live with it and have got used to it, which means that some days I don't realise that the pain I am feeling is nocioceptive - and that I need to act on it. Sigh.
And no, hot weather doesn't make me happy. Quite the opposite. When I have taken off all that I reasonably can and I am still hot I am not a happy camper.


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