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lucid or pain? does it have to be a choice?

Guest ssgg

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My partner is in hospital to try to get pain under control. He was in pain constantly for weeks and for every pain that was sorted, another arose. He has been there almost a week.

It seems to be a case of either being in pain and lucid, or being out of pain and out of it. He was on fentanyl patches but he is sweating a lot and the medication is not getting through to him via the patches so he now has a pump attached to him with a combination of medications in it. On top of this they are giving him morphine injections for breakthrough pain. He is constantly drowsy (his old self is still there when he is like this, although subdued) but when he has the morpohine he is totally out of it and having hallucinations about things that happened years ago and imagined things. I am heartbroken for him and for me and for our life together...this so so distressing.

He says it is a relief to be out of pain but I am so frightened that this is going to be the new 'normal'. Does it have to be a choice between being in pain but being lucid, or being out of pain and being out of it? Should there be a balance or does the pain get so bad that a balance is no longer possible?

Thanks to you all, in anticipation


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It does not have to be a choice, but sometimes it takes experimentation with dosage levels and different meds to get what is right for the particular person. We did this with my wife and she is now on a morphine dosage for her spine that covers the pain but does not make her so drowsy. Sometimes, also, the body has to get use to the med, so it takes time. Pain management sounds like a good suggestion to me. Good luck. Don

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I had this same problem when my husband was fighting his cancer. The pain was intolerable but the high levels of pain medication left him nothing more than a zombie most of the time. When he was so out of it, he was unable to eat thus his weight declined very rapidly. I talked to the doctor about the pain meds and what they were doing to him. The doctor then said to me...."I know you don't want him to be in pain." Then, I felt like a two headed monster for even asking the question about lowering the pain meds. Finally, the doctor referred us to a pain management clinic but Dennis never made it. I have heard wonderful things about these clinics. I also have a friend whose husband sees an accupuncturist for chronic pain. It is remarkable how improved and almost pain free he is. I'm saying prayers for the pain to lessen!

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hi -

I agree with Don - it doesn't have to be a choice, but it IS a process to find the right level and the right drugs. For example my mom was very lucid with morphine, but not as clear with fetanyl -- we experimented quite a bit with steroids which helped her a lot with no side effects. I believe that pain is what most cancer patients are most fearful of -- and it can be managed. I think lucidity is something that we as caregivers crave more so than patients...

Praying you find the right mix.


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