As most of you are aware, I ask a lot of questions in order to set my expectations whenever I start a new treatment or have a procedure and I highly recommend doing this. Whatever the answer, I set my expectations and prepare for whatever I’m told. That might mean how I schedule the days following the treatment or procedure or what meds to have plenty of on hand.
What is really hard is when the expectations don’t match reality.
One of the worst experiences was when the orthopedic surgeon told me that I’d walk out of the hospital after the surgery where he was placing titanium rods inside both femurs at once. I woke up in so much pain and I was really mad at him because he didn’t set my expectations correctly. He admitted later it was because he didn’t want to scare me. I was a few days from learning I was metastatic so nothing else was scary at that point.
The point is, I didn’t need sunshine, I needed the cold hard truth.
Recently, I experienced my first liver biopsy. It’s the third kind of biopsy I’ve had in this breast cancer experience. The first was the breast biopsy in March of 2017, which happened without much time to prepare. My doc explained it well and everything went according to expectation except for the milk coming out of the holes she made to get the biopsy. My boys were still nursing then and thought it was really funny. Me, not so much.
The second biopsy was the failed bone biopsy in December of 2019. I fell asleep pretty much as soon as they injected me with the versed and fentanyl mixture and kept on sleeping for hours in the recovery area. Pretty much everyone else who started their biopsies around the time I went in had long left before they called my husband to join me. I was achy and sleepy for days after that one, exactly as they’d prepped me to expect.
And now the liver biopsy. As I type this post, it is Sunday evening, and I’m more than 48 hours since that experience. I was told many many times that I wouldn’t feel pain, that they would ensure my comfort. Over and over, I was told to ask for meds when I needed them.
Well, that was a big fat lie.
Apparently I maxed out the fentanyl dose they were willing to give me about half way through and wouldn’t give me anything else by IV or mouth during the procedure even though I asked several times. Afterwards, they treated me like I was drug seeking when I kept telling them how much my abdomen hurt and asking for something. I kept saying, I have a really high pain threshold and I avoid pain meds almost at all costs, so when I’m saying it hurts, it really does. I finally got a little relief but it was doled out in very small doses. Wishing I’d premedicated with some of my medical cannibis.
The last two days have been better each day as the soreness and pain deep inside my abdomen has dissipated. I’ve avoided activities and lifting anything and been careful as instructed.
But I won’t be running back in for another liver biopsy anytime soon and I’ll definitely be asking more questions about pain relief if I need to. There’s no reason I had to experience that much pain or anyone undergoing a procedure like that. I was told over and over that the liver biopsy would be better than the bone biopsy in terms of pain, well that just wasn’t the case at all.
I’ll probably write more about this drug seeking treatment after I’ve ruminated a bit on that. My only experiences with pain medication has been during giving birth with my boys and now cancer treatment, both very valid times pain medication is needed. And I’ve some stories to tell. 😉
Bottom line for me — the medical professionals need to be honest and up front about pain and then provide enough medication to treat it. I’ve had lots of different experiences and pain meds now and I know I didn’t need to be in that much pain.