No one would know I live with pain every day. I need my job and don’t want to give anyone a reason to take it from me.
My pain is the result of treatment for cancer. My primary breast cancer diagnosis came in 2006 and I sailed through it pain-free. The secondary diagnosis, in 2010, was not so easy.
I had to have all the lymph nodes removed under my left arm, which left me with painful fluid build up and also an extremely painful breast area.
The chemotherapy created sensations in my nerve endings in my extremities, and the medication (aromatase inhibitors) caused extreme joint pain.
The combination of these different forms of pain was so unbearable I sometimes would scream in my sleep. It was also difficult to sleep at all, which compounded everything.
I was given a high dose of Lyrica, a nerve pain medication, which helped me with sleep. However, it had a lot of side effects and it was very expensive (now it is on the PBS and is much cheaper).
Feeling uncomfortable with these things, and also with the thought of taking medication long-term, I decided to stop taking it on Christmas Eve in 2012. I went cold turkey, but I wouldn’t recommend it; I had a heavy withdrawal.
After that I tried a range of therapies, including acupuncture, yoga and kinesiology, and what I’ve found is that movement is my best friend.
Every morning I’m like a 90 year-old getting out of bed until I get moving. When I’m at work and I’m moving I keep on top of things. The pain comes back when I stand and when I sit.
I take pain relief (Panadeine Forte) morning and night, which takes the edge off the pain, and I wear a compression sleeve around my affected arm. But the pain is always there so then I just grin and bear it.