This picture is theoretically what my bones look like now–the tumors have been killed off or are dying, but what is left are literally holes in what should be solid. I’m hopeful that the medication I take daily has helped, but breast cancer eats bone. It eats it.
Before I found out that I have metastasis from my breast cancer in my bones, I thought I knew what pain was. After all, I went through fertility treatments, extremely painful periods/cycles, I’ve had two c-sections and I labored for about 26 hours (including more than 4 hours of back labor) with my second son. There have been no stitches or broken bones in my youth, but I did think that I understood pain.
I had no idea what pain really was until I had surgery to pin my femurs; this means that I have titanium rods inside each femur, each secured by 4 titanium screws. I have never known pain until I woke up with my legs throbbing and a Dilauded drip to take the edge off. It didn’t do much and I was incredibly nauseous.
Then, my crazy body decided to start forming bone inside my thigh muscles–a/k/a heteotopic ossifications (HO). HO is most often seen in teenage boys who have experienced trauma to their muscles as a result of playing football or some other contact sport. I have an infusion once per month to keep my bones strong (Zometa), so it is difficult to understand how my bones have resisted efforts to fill in the holes left by dead and dying cancer cells, but form bone inside my muscles. SMH.
I had no idea what pain was until every movement meant excruciating lightening like pain in my hips. I had no idea what pain was until I couldn’t move quickly to protect my children from, for example, running into the street. I had no idea what pain was until I woke up in pain after accidentally rolling on my side. I had no idea was pain was until I was diagnosed with cancer.
Pain is overwhelming, it is awful, it is mind-numbing, it feels like drowning. I can’t think of a perfect metaphor and I wish I didn’t have to. Pain brings you to a point where you might just do anything to make it stop. Anything. No one outside your body could possibly know what pain does to a person. How you don’t feel like a person any longer, but you just feel pain. With childbirth, the pain ebbed and flowed and there was an end point; there is no ebb, just flow, and there is no end point with pain from cancer.
So, what to do about this pain? I’ve found some tricks and I do manage my pain better with nearly two years of experience under my belt. How? You’ll have to tune in on Thursday and next week for that information.