Masectomy and getting off pain medication

Ifis
Ifis Member Posts: 5
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
Hi,
I had a bilateral masectomy on 7/8/09 and just had my last surgical drain removed on 8/12/09. I am still on vicodin and am now wondering about the best method for getting off of it. I have had a lot of pain after surgery. From reading other peoples entries, I think I may be a bit unusual in the amount of pain I am having. I have to ice at least 5 times a day, still. But, I am starting to cut down on the vicodin, since I hate the sleeplessness vicodin seems to cause me. Do other people just stop taking the pain medication all of a sudden or have some people tapered off? (I have called the surgical nurses at my health provider and they seem to think it is no big deal, but since I still have quite a bit of pain, I have been wondering about how to do this.) I am going to meet with my surgeon next week and will of course talk to him about it. I haven't yet been declared all healed up and am pretty swollen. I would love to hear about other people's experiences.
Thanks!

Comments

  • mlmjt1
    mlmjt1 Member Posts: 537
    HI lfis
    First off welcome to the board. You really will find alot of support from everyone here. Truly this is the best support I have found for myself so post often cuz somebody here will be able to give an opinion.

    As far as pain goes, everyones tolerance to pain is different. Vicodin will affect your appetite and make you constipated if you havent already noticed. You could try ex st tylenol but be sure to keep track of the number of mg of tylenol you are getting in 24 hours. If you notice on the vicodin, the label may read hydrocodone/apap 5/500 or 7.5/500. The 500 refers to the number of mg in 1 tablet. The literature states that you should not exceed greater than 4000mg in 24 hours. It is hard on the liver in doses that exceed 4000mg. So theoretically you could use ex st tylenol in between doses of vicodin so that you will get some pain relief while tapering off. Ex st tylenol is 500mg per tablet. So maybe you could take 1 vicodin at 8am try ex st tylenol 2 tabs 4 to 6 hours later then tylenol again at supper, but the vicodin at night so you can sleep.

    I work in home health as an RN and if youve had that much pain, if it were me I would taper off. But watch the total tylenol used in 24 hours.

    The other thing I am curious about...how many lymphnodes were removed? I had 21 out on the right side and had tissue expanders placed. I had alot of swelling as well. My plastic surgeon had me in a binder for at least 4 weeks to help control the swelling. It also could be lymphedema which is common esp if nodes were removed. If so, please ask your surgeon for an occupational or physical therapy consult. They will do lymphedema massage and will teach you how to do it yourself. My right side with the lymphnodes removed and I might add 1 expander out due to complications is still really firm. The massage and the compression has really helped me.

    Let us know how you are doing
    Hugs
    Linda t
  • meena1
    meena1 Member Posts: 1,003
    I had a masectomy on
    I had a masectomy on November 10,2008 and i was in a lot of pain also, You had your drain in for a really long time, was there a problem? that may be why you are in so much pain. At first, they gave me tylenol 3, but i was still in pain, so my oncologist gave me percocests. As long as i was in pain, i would take them. Then the pain gradually lessened and i did not need them as much. I had 11 lymph nodes removed, and i was told thats why it was so painful plus i had reconstruction done. I think I was in pain for about 6-8 weeks. I was told this was normal. I will admit that i did not do the exercises too much because of the pan, so i am still a little stiff.
  • lanie940
    lanie940 Member Posts: 490
    I was given Percoset after
    I was given Percoset after my lumpectomy/sentinel node removal. That was July 30th. I didn't take the Percoset until last thursday night, I think my muscles were pulled, or I had a pinched nerve from the CT scan I had earlier that day. At least it calmed things down and I was able to sleep. I had that pain again last night, but only on the right side in the area mostly of where the lymph node was removed. I took one Tylenol PM. That helped me sleep!I didn't even hear my husband snoring,LOL. I know it's difficult to get off pain relievers when you are in pain. I think I may have a higher tolorance only because I have delt with some form of discomfort since my neurosurgery in 2000. My upper back is stiff(scar tissue) and my left hand is always numb to a certain extent. I don't know what your pain is like, so it's hard to say what I would do. Only you can deside that. If you use the pain scale from 1-10 with 10 being the worst, I's say if it's tolorable, but making it hard for you to relax, try an extra strength Tylenol. If it's worse, then I guess I'd use the Vicadan, but only if it's like 8-10. Maybe you can get Percoset insted of Vicodan. I remember when the gave my husband Tylox for his shoulder(dislocatd it)and he was in lala land from it. LOL It is a good idea to wean yourself down.
  • m_azingrace
    m_azingrace Member Posts: 399
    lanie940 said:

    I was given Percoset after
    I was given Percoset after my lumpectomy/sentinel node removal. That was July 30th. I didn't take the Percoset until last thursday night, I think my muscles were pulled, or I had a pinched nerve from the CT scan I had earlier that day. At least it calmed things down and I was able to sleep. I had that pain again last night, but only on the right side in the area mostly of where the lymph node was removed. I took one Tylenol PM. That helped me sleep!I didn't even hear my husband snoring,LOL. I know it's difficult to get off pain relievers when you are in pain. I think I may have a higher tolorance only because I have delt with some form of discomfort since my neurosurgery in 2000. My upper back is stiff(scar tissue) and my left hand is always numb to a certain extent. I don't know what your pain is like, so it's hard to say what I would do. Only you can deside that. If you use the pain scale from 1-10 with 10 being the worst, I's say if it's tolorable, but making it hard for you to relax, try an extra strength Tylenol. If it's worse, then I guess I'd use the Vicadan, but only if it's like 8-10. Maybe you can get Percoset insted of Vicodan. I remember when the gave my husband Tylox for his shoulder(dislocatd it)and he was in lala land from it. LOL It is a good idea to wean yourself down.

    I had lump and lymph node
    I had lump and lymph node removal on my left side, July 21. While I was very uncomfortable, I decided to switch to tylenol extra strength 2 days later to avoid the unpleasant side effects of the oxycodone. As the swelling went down, and the pain subsided, I used the tylenol only as a sleep aid for the next week, and now I use nothing unless I wake up in pain...which happens rarely. I sleep with my arm resting on a soft pillow, and that is very comforting to me. I agree with lanie, it's good to get off the strong meds as soon as you can.
  • susie09
    susie09 Member Posts: 2,930
    I am so sorry. I just want
    I am so sorry. I just want to wish you good luck in getting off of the vicodin. I had a lumpectomy, so, I didn't take any pain medication.
  • Ifis
    Ifis Member Posts: 5
    susie09 said:

    I am so sorry. I just want
    I am so sorry. I just want to wish you good luck in getting off of the vicodin. I had a lumpectomy, so, I didn't take any pain medication.

    Pain subsiding
    Hi and thanks for everyone's support! I do appreciate it. Seems like the pain is subsiding! I took ibuprofen yesterday at supper time and actually managed to sleep after 1 a.m. until 7 a.m. which is the first decent sleep I have had in weeks! Then I took ibuprofen, no vicoden, again, and it seems that I am not in lots of pain. I think I am about a 3 or 4, which is mostly discomfort, so that is real progress. (Yesterday, it felt like I had a fire on my chest.)
    Maybe I am a little unusual in how much pain I have had. It is true that I had a bilateral masectomy but I had only one lymph node removed under my arm, so it is odd how much pain I had. But, I guess there is variation among everyone.
    I will look into the physical therapy and see about getting help with the possible side effects of the lymph node removal. That does sound like it could be part of what is going on, since my right arm is tingly, and has a funny sore section on the outside and inside of it. And I do know that the long time with the surgical drain (5 weeks!) caused much of the pain. Thanks again!
  • Calleen
    Calleen Member Posts: 411
    Ifis said:

    Pain subsiding
    Hi and thanks for everyone's support! I do appreciate it. Seems like the pain is subsiding! I took ibuprofen yesterday at supper time and actually managed to sleep after 1 a.m. until 7 a.m. which is the first decent sleep I have had in weeks! Then I took ibuprofen, no vicoden, again, and it seems that I am not in lots of pain. I think I am about a 3 or 4, which is mostly discomfort, so that is real progress. (Yesterday, it felt like I had a fire on my chest.)
    Maybe I am a little unusual in how much pain I have had. It is true that I had a bilateral masectomy but I had only one lymph node removed under my arm, so it is odd how much pain I had. But, I guess there is variation among everyone.
    I will look into the physical therapy and see about getting help with the possible side effects of the lymph node removal. That does sound like it could be part of what is going on, since my right arm is tingly, and has a funny sore section on the outside and inside of it. And I do know that the long time with the surgical drain (5 weeks!) caused much of the pain. Thanks again!

    I thought I had
    Posted to you!!! Sorry... I had bi-lateral (w/tram reconstruction)7/29/09 refused the morhphine pump the night of my surgery then only had 1 non narcotic pain med before I left the hospitial... I have no idea why I didn't really have much pain!! I had 2 lymph nodes removed 2 weeks prior to surgery which were clear... I came home with 5 drains and had the last one removed on the 13th day after surgery... Those were the worst part. one night I did have pain in the drain just under my right breast. It felt like gas trapped.. I undid the surgical bra nd pretty soon it went away... I HATE pain but hate pain meds even more!!! for some reason all I really felt was soreness...

    I'm very happy your pain is now subsiding!!! maybe the narcotics were adding to the pain instead of helping???... I hope soon you can just go without!!! Where was the drain at??? and why did they have it in soooooooo long????

    HUGZ... Calleen
  • survivorbc09
    survivorbc09 Member Posts: 4,374 Member
    We are all different, so,
    We are all different, so, the way you relate to pain can't be compared to any of us. I had a lumpectomy and got sent home with Vicodin, but, didn't take it. I just took extra strength tylenol. But, my pain was nothing like what I am sure that you have. Just talk to your doctor and see what he says. But, like I said, we are all different, different surgeries, healing time, bodies, everything. Post and let us know how you continue to do.
  • Alexis F
    Alexis F Member Posts: 3,598
    Ifis said:

    Pain subsiding
    Hi and thanks for everyone's support! I do appreciate it. Seems like the pain is subsiding! I took ibuprofen yesterday at supper time and actually managed to sleep after 1 a.m. until 7 a.m. which is the first decent sleep I have had in weeks! Then I took ibuprofen, no vicoden, again, and it seems that I am not in lots of pain. I think I am about a 3 or 4, which is mostly discomfort, so that is real progress. (Yesterday, it felt like I had a fire on my chest.)
    Maybe I am a little unusual in how much pain I have had. It is true that I had a bilateral masectomy but I had only one lymph node removed under my arm, so it is odd how much pain I had. But, I guess there is variation among everyone.
    I will look into the physical therapy and see about getting help with the possible side effects of the lymph node removal. That does sound like it could be part of what is going on, since my right arm is tingly, and has a funny sore section on the outside and inside of it. And I do know that the long time with the surgical drain (5 weeks!) caused much of the pain. Thanks again!

    Hi lfis and welcome. I had
    Hi lfis and welcome. I had a small lumpectomy, so, I can't speak specifically to what you are having going on. I am so sorry about the pain. I doubt you are alone in having that amount of pain, I am sure most do, or, I have been told. So, just take care of yourself and don't try to compare yourself to anyone else.

    Hugs Lex♥