sábado, junio 10, 2006


EL was given a questionnaire at the breast center:

What does your pain feel like?
Circle response: sharp dull burning aching throbbing tender numb stabbing gnawing shooting exhausting penetrating miserable unbearable continuous occasional

Wong Baker FACES pain rating scale

L* circled sharp burning throbbing numb stabbing shooting occasional

After filling out her questionaire, L* began talking about the pain sensations she’s been feeling.

She is resisting the idea that her pain is "phantom" pain, as described by some literature on mastectomy. The way we learn about this idea of "phantom pain" is usually from television or fiction, where they talk about someone having a leg amputated, and then afterwards, feeling pain in that leg. It’s like the ghost of the leg.

That’s not what how L* describes it. We’re calling it “poltergeist pain,” because instead of there being a ghost in a specific location behaving a specific way, it’s like the poltergeist is in the house, causing random acts of havoc.

So there’ll be a non-specific pain: L* feels it but can’t locate it.

Or, she has had a distinct sensation of an open, festering sore on each side of her back. She asks me, repeatedly, to see if anything is there. But, nothing is there. Her pain is causing some kind of mixed message and it is oddly disconcerting.

More often, she feels something like electrical impulses jumping along one particular thread of a muscle or tendon. Or, something inside her grabbing onto a ligament and squeezing it hard and tight until it begins to burn.

Nurse D tells us that what she is describing is “nerve” pain. I don’t know if this is right, but I imagine it like the body is a whole network (cyberspace), and after the surgery there’s no communication from a former hub, so all the rest of the net is sending out signals to see if they can establish contact.

Another thing during the follow up visit: L* was telling Nurse D. that she has a lot of energy: she wants to get up and be doing things. Nurse D. said this is actually because of the pain: the body is trying to move away from the pain, so it’s telling L* let’s get up and go!

3 comentarios:

brownfemipower dijo...

well, i'm so fucking glad then, that L* has the ability to get up and move around--anything to help her cope.

Bint Alshamsa dijo...

I'm no doctor but I also had that nerve pain after my surgery. It can last a long while but it does eventually tend to get better. I had a huge numb spot on my back for over a year and a half and then over time I regained feeling in that area.

Your description of what causes nerve pain is spot on. When they go inside of you, they have to cut through nerves to get to the little tumor. Those nerves apparently don't like being cut and they send the brain lots of pain messages to let the brain know that something has changed in there and it doesn't appreciate it one bit.

Are they giving El something for her nerve pain? I'm on Neurontin (generic name: Gabapentin). It helps a lot and it also decreases the amount of narcotics I need to take per day. If EL is anything like me and doesn't like that drowsy feeling the narcotics give ya' a medication for nerve pain might help out some.

There are other drugs too and they aren't all equally effective so do your homework chickadees!!

By the way, I named my tumor "Abu Nidal" after an old terrorist group leader. Me and The German say he's hiding out in my chest like Bin Ladin in the caves at Tora Bora. Now, every time I see our moronic government talking about the "war on terrorism" I imagine Rumsfeld and Bush hunting around in my chest ducking and dodging my lungs and my heart looking for "Abu Nidal". I know it's goofy but it certainly made me feel better about it all.


Lorna Dee Cervantes dijo...

I'm so sorry to hear this, glad to hear she is recovering.

When Ricardo Sanchez was on his death bed, he and Jose Antonio Burciaga were discussing their tumors and treatments. Burciaga, who was always bullied and slandered by Sanchez, said, "Yeah, I'm going to have the surgery -- and name it after you, ese."

Hang in there. The Maya glyph for "knowing" is "hand" which is also "doing" and "healing". Ceremonies heal. Writing, like laughter, is ceremony.

Best to you both.