Friday, September 28, 2007

That's All I Can Stands, Cause I Can't Stands No More!!

What happens when both the mouse in the house and Mr. Popeye both seek some much needed rest and can't get it? Take a look and see who ends up winning this Spinach-fueled duel. Warning: Popeye and the Mouse are works of fiction and any resemblance between the characters and persons living or in pain is purely coincidental.

While I am at it, I thought I'd add an interesting blurb from a Harvard patient handbook on Cancer pain I came across:

Myths and facts about pain medication

Many patients, family members, and friends have fears or believe myths about pain medications, especially opioids (narcotics). Learning the facts can reduce these fears.

Myth: I will become addicted to pain medications by using them.
Fact: Simply using an opioid pain medication will not result in addiction. About 3–18 percent of patients using opioids for pain management will develop a problem with drug addiction. These patients often have had previous addiction problems. So, not surprisingly, this is the same percentage of people in the general population that have drug-addiction problems.

Myth: If I use pain medication now, it won’t work later if I have more pain.
Fact: When you use a pain medication over a long period of time, you may eventually need a higher dose or a different pain medication to get the same relief. This response is called tolerance and has nothing to do with addiction.

Myth: Over time, I will become dependent on the medications.
Fact: Dependence means that you will experience “withdrawal symptoms” if you stop taking medications suddenly. This happens because your body has gotten used to the medications. Withdrawal symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, sweating, anxiety, and irritability. If you need to stop a medication, you can avoid these symptoms by cutting down on the medication slowly. It’s important to remember that withdrawal has nothing to do with addiction.

Myth: Using pain medication will cover up new problems.
Fact: If new pain occurs, or a pain you already have gets worse, you will know it even if you are taking pain medication.

Eight tips for getting the most from your pain medication
1. Take your pain medications as directed by your doctor or nurse. Ask for a written schedule, if necessary.
2. Take sustained release or long-acting opioids, NSAIDs, and nerve pain medications on a regular schedule.
3. Keep a journal. Write down what works, what doesn’t, and why. Tell your doctor or nurse so that changes can be made, if needed.
4. Write down how much short-acting medication you take, and how often.
5. Take short-acting medication before your pain becomes really uncomfortable. Your pain will be easier to control.
6. If some activities cause pain, take short-acting medication 30–45 minutes before the activity.
7. Keep your pain medications in labeled containers so that you do not confuse them with other medications.
8. Keep your medications in a safe place that is out of the reach of children.

Do not stop taking pain medications without talking to your doctor or nurse. If you stop taking them suddenly, you could have side effects such as anxiety, sweating, runny nose, tears in your eyes, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Managing Pain is a Pain...

Thought I'd add a little tidbit of info of complementary/alternative ways of dealing with pain. I imagine pain is not just a mind over matter situation but some techniques could help Moshura get needed rest! Some things might seem a little cheesy but I think the music and massage techniques (ahem, wife!) may work to reduce anxiety. I found a music for accelerated learning CD from Steve Halpern very relaxing and tension-releasing instead of essay-writing producing. I'll send a copy in the mail so you can listen before you go to bed. It may put everyone in zen mode!

Here are some thoughts from the National Cancer Institute on alternative and complementary ways to deal w/cancer pain:

Thinking and Behavioral Interventions

Thinking and behavior interventions are also important in treating pain. These interventions help give patients a sense of control and help them develop coping skills to deal with the disease and its symptoms. Beginning these interventions early in the course of the disease is useful so that patients can learn and practice the skills while they have enough strength and energy. Several methods should be tried, and one or more should be used regularly.

* Relaxation and imagery: Simple relaxation techniques may be used for episodes of brief pain (for example, during cancer treatment procedures). Brief, simple techniques are suitable for periods when the patient's ability to concentrate is limited by severe pain, high anxiety, or fatigue. (See Relaxation exercises below.)

* Hypnosis: Hypnotic techniques may be used to encourage relaxation and may be combined with other thinking/behavior methods. Hypnosis is effective in relieving pain in people who are able to concentrate and use imagery and who are willing to practice the technique.

* Redirecting thinking: Focusing attention on triggers other than pain or negative emotions that come with pain may involve distractions that are internal (for example, counting, praying, or saying things like "I can cope") or external (for example, music, television, talking, listening to someone read, or looking at something specific). Patients can also learn to monitor and evaluate negative thoughts and replace them with more positive thoughts and images.

* Patient education: Health care providers can give patients and their families information and instructions about pain and pain management and assure them that most pain can be controlled effectively. Health care providers should also discuss the major barriers that interfere with effective pain management.

* Psychological support: Short-term psychological therapy helps some patients. Patients who develop clinical depression or adjustment disorder may see a psychiatrist for diagnosis.

* Support groups and religious counseling: Support groups help many patients. Religious counseling may also help by providing spiritual care and social support.

The following relaxation exercises may be helpful in relieving pain.

Exercise 1. Slow rhythmic breathing for relaxation *

1. Breathe in slowly and deeply, keeping your stomach and shoulders relaxed.
2. As you breathe out slowly, feel yourself beginning to relax; feel the tension leaving your body.
3. Breathe in and out slowly and regularly at a comfortable rate. Let the breath come all the way down to your stomach, as it completely relaxes.
4. To help you focus on your breathing and to breathe slowly and rhythmically: Breathe in as you say silently to yourself, "in, two, three." OR Each time you breathe out, say silently to yourself a word such as "peace" or "relax."
5. Do steps 1 through 4 only once or repeat steps 3 and 4 for up to 20 minutes.
6. End with a slow deep breath. As you breathe out say to yourself, "I feel alert and relaxed."

Exercise 2. Simple touch, massage, or warmth for relaxation *

* Touch and massage are traditional methods of helping others relax. Some examples are:
o Brief touch or massage, such as hand holding or briefly touching or rubbing a person's shoulders.
o Soaking feet in a basin of warm water or wrapping the feet in a warm, wet towel.
o Massage (3 to 10 minutes) of the whole body or just the back, feet, or hands. If the patient is modest or cannot move or turn easily in bed, consider massage of the hands and feet.
o Use a warm lubricant. A small bowl of hand lotion may be warmed in the microwave oven or a bottle of lotion may be warmed in a sink of hot water for about 10 minutes.
o Massage for relaxation is usually done with smooth, long, slow strokes. Try several degrees of pressure along with different types of massage, such as kneading and stroking, to determine which is preferred.

Especially for the elderly person, a back rub that effectively produces relaxation may consist of no more than 3 minutes of slow, rhythmic stroking (about 60 strokes per minute) on both sides of the spine, from the crown of the head to the lower back. Continuous hand contact is maintained by starting one hand down the back as the other hand stops at the lower back and is raised. Set aside a regular time for the massage. This gives the patient something pleasant to anticipate.

Exercise 3. Peaceful past experiences *

* Something may have happened to you a while ago that brought you peace or comfort. You may be able to draw on that experience to bring you peace or comfort now. Think about these questions:
o Can you remember any situation, even when you were a child, when you felt calm, peaceful, secure, hopeful, or comfortable?
o Have you ever daydreamed about something peaceful? What were you thinking?
o Do you get a dreamy feeling when you listen to music? Do you have any favorite music?
o Do you have any favorite poetry that you find uplifting or reassuring?
o Have you ever been active religiously? Do you have favorite readings, hymns, or prayers? Even if you haven't heard or thought of them for many years, childhood religious experiences may still be very soothing.

Additional points: Some of the things that may comfort you, such as your favorite music or a prayer, can probably be recorded for you. Then you can listen to the tape whenever you wish. Or, if your memory is strong, you may simply close your eyes and recall the events or words.

Exercise 4. Active listening to recorded music *

1. Obtain the following:
* A cassette player or tape recorder. (Small, battery-operated ones are more convenient.)
* Earphones or a headset. (Helps focus the attention better than a speaker a few feet away, and avoids disturbing others.)
* A cassette of music you like. (Most people prefer fast, lively music, but some select relaxing music. Other options are comedy routines, sporting events, old radio shows, or stories.)
2. Mark time to the music; for example, tap out the rhythm with your finger or nod your head. This helps you concentrate on the music rather than on your discomfort.
3. Keep your eyes open and focus on a fixed spot or object. If you wish to close your eyes, picture something about the music.
4. Listen to the music at a comfortable volume. If the discomfort increases, try increasing the volume; decrease the volume when the discomfort decreases.
5. If this is not effective enough, try adding or changing one or more of the following: massage your body in rhythm to the music; try other music; or mark time to the music in more than one manner, such as tapping your foot and finger at the same time.

Additional points: Many patients have found this technique to be helpful. It tends to be very popular, probably because the equipment is usually readily available and is a part of daily life. Other advantages are that it is easy to learn and not physically or mentally demanding. If you are very tired, you may simply listen to the music and omit marking time or focusing on a spot.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

True V.I.P.s: Moshura and the Wife

Photo: The Wife and Marco and familia enjoying an Angel's game (we won't tell the Dodgers they were dressed in red, and matching, and enjoying a Bud lite!)

Written by The Wife:

Well its been a week since Moshura returned to work. All is well, he says he hasn't missed a beat. Said it feels like he never left. I as well as the whole family have been overjoyed with the exciting news Dr. T had given Moshura on 9/6 saying:

Moshura MAY RETURN TO WORK FULL CAPACITY and NO RESTRICTIONS those words came out in slow motion.

I wish I could have had a camera that day to have taken a picture of Moshura's face. He was very happy to get the A-OK from Dr.T.

Everyone at work was very excited to have Moshura back at CC.

On Monday 9/10 we went to CC to pick up the van. This was a very exciting day.

Moshura woke up as if it were his first day on the job, got all cute (as if he needs help) and like a little kid was anxious to get there. As we arrived to CC he looked so excited to go in and see all of his friends and glad to be back. That was a good feeling seeing him so happy to go back after all he's been through these last couple of months.

I get very sentimental just thinking of all that he has gone through and endured before his diagnosis and after his operation. But the sentimental feeling is of a proud feeling not so much sadness, well, hell I'd be lying... its all in a mix.

You can say there are times when the feeling is very angry but most of all it’s a proud (satisfying) feeling to have my husband as a "CANCER SURVIVOR" and our two kids, all of our family and friends. We have come so far in this path that was put in our life.
I feel proud to have a man who values his life as a husband, father, son, and brother. He faced the most difficult challenge in life and came out with his head held high.

Moshura and I always have conversations about how we see things differently now. We see that fighting or worrying about the little things in life are pointless.

You don't know the real meaning till someone near and dear to your heart is affected by cancer or something so horrible that it brings your whole world to a complete stand still in a blink of an eye. Then you realize what it means that those little things in life are pointless.

We see that when someone in the work place or on the street would talk about one of their loved ones with cancer and we ourselves would say "I'm sorry" but we didn't know what to say at the moment. Now we know what "I'm sorry" means, it means: I feel for what your loved one is going through or went through. Now, we know what it really means.

The one thing we both see is that it doesn't matter what you've done in your past, how good you think your life was going or feel that you will be rewarded for the good you've done. "Bad " things do happen to "Good" people.

We know this is not the end of Moshura's journey with sarcoma cancer. We'll still have the 3rd month check up coming up and the 6th month CT Scan (when that time comes, we will deal with our anxiety) but we will not let it be our constant anxiety in our daily lives. We will take it one day at a time.

Our compadres from Mexico told us this and this should be something we all take to our own lives whether you're sick or not.


No one is promised tomorrow. We all need to take this and use it in our daily lives.

Moshura is living proof that nothing was going to get him down not even "CANCER".

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Short but Sweet!

I am glad you all had a chance to each celebrate this little boy's birthday last week, even in a modest way. By the look on his face I am sure he thought it was the grandest thing. He looks very happy! Hey, two small cakes do equal one big one! Anyway, glad to know you all were able to do a little something when it looked like it was going to be the roughest week ever. Hope the hip is doing better with the new herbal treatments from el indio amazonico :)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Exciting Weekend!

So lots of things happened Saturday. Machito had celebrated the BIG 4 and Weezy arrived in one piece, well, in a few pieces as you can see from the photo above. Would love to see pictures of Machin's hand-made Piñatas and the party!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hip Hip Hurray!!!

There's lots to celebrate today!! Happy Birthday Machito and Happy Exam Day to Moshura!! Glad to know the results from the CT scan came back A-O.K.! By the way, I know times are tough, but are you guys cutting Machito's hair? Tres flores to the rescue!!