Description of Pain
Pam sits in an office chair in an exam room. The shot shows a counter with cabinets underneath it behind her, with a box of latex exam gloves behind her. She describes her pain in the following way:
Pam describes managing her pain by way of the following:
Pain and Sleep
Pam describes how her pain affects her sleep.
Feelings of Hopelessness
Pam says, “There are times I feel hopeless, and there are a lot of times I feel that’s where family comes in. I feel like I want to give up, but they keep fighting for me. You just don’t know what you want to do next. You’d rather it just be done and over with. When I say, ‘done and over with,’ you think, ‘Will there ever be an end to this?’ You know, eight months past surgery, a year past being diagnosed, you feel like you would have some light at the end of the tunnel. Not seeing that now makes it difficult to figure out what to do next and where to go next.”
Other Health Conditions
Pam talks about her other health conditions.
Pain Change Over Time
Pam says, “The pain that I had right after surgery, I felt like was more of an expected ‘normal’ pain. You know, you feel like you’re going to be sore and have some discomfort. But I think as time has gone on, the pain has changed in the sense I wasn’t expecting to have the burning sensations or the pain down my arms or on my shoulders. I expected more pain to be in the chest area. But I didn’t expect it to be this severe or for this prolonged amount of time.”
Pain and Mood
Pam says, “I have been told there have been some changes in my mood. There has been some changes in my mood in that some of my colleagues have noticed that I’m a little bit more irritable. I tend to snap a little bit more easily than I used to under stress."
"It’s some feelings of you just don’t feel like yourself, which may bring on some feelings of depression. I don’t know if I would truly say that I’m depressed, but you just feel like where do I go, what do I do next?"
"Some items that help with feeling better about myself include finding ways to relax, whether that’s the hot bath or even just getting away from everything and sitting outside and just try to enjoy and remember what we have in life.”
Rating Her Pain
Pam says rating her pain, “Depends on the activity and how the day’s going. Mornings are worse, so that could be anywhere from 8-10 and if it’s a really busy day where I’m constantly moving and going that pain level can stay at that 8 range, but if I take it easy, and watch what I’m doing, I can get down to a 4 or a 3."
"Rating my pain right now, I am probably a 3. I’m not too bad, but throughout the day, it depends on my activities. It can go up to a 10, to a point where I feel like I can catch myself leaning forward. Because when I lean up, it feels like it’s stretching and causes some pain.”
Pam is asked whether she has a support system.
Level of Exercise
Pam says, “I’ve started lately to get back into exercising, so I’m trying to go at least two times in the morning. That seems to be helping, but it can be difficult to start. I have to watch what I’m doing because there’s still some pain when I’m moving certain ways. So, I’m trying to get back into more activities with the family, too. So, I’m just taking baby steps. I’m starting to walk a little bit more."
"So, instead of doing activities with my children, like playing basketball or playing catch or taking the dog for a walk, I’m just walking myself while they’re doing the activities."
"For example, if we’re going to take the dog for a walk, they’re going to have to walk the dog and I’m just walking with them because I cannot hold the dog because the pain that comes from holding the leash and the dog pulling is too much. So, I’m just taking small steps.”
Pam is asked what her expectations are relating to her pain. She says, “I am surprised what I’m feeling with the pain and the recovery. Meeting with the doctors at the beginning, when I was diagnosed with cancer, of course I was shocked and surprised then. The outcomes and options were kind of explained then, but they didn’t explain the pain and how long the recovery process would be.”
Alcohol and Illicit Substances
Pam is asked whether she drinks alcohol or takes any illicit substances. She replies, “Since our last visit, my alcohol use hasn’t really changed. It’s still social. Every once and a while, I may have a glass of wine at night to see if it would help me relax and maybe just kind of handle the pain a little bit better if I had a rough day that day.”
Pain and Intimacy
Pam describes how her pain has affected intimacy in her relationship.
She says, “That probably isn’t there as much as it used to be. Just not feeling myself, not feeling worth it anymore. You kind of get depressed with how you look and feel after dealing with the pain.”
Pam talks about her experience with physical therapy.
How has Pain Affected Your Daily Activities?
Pam discusses how pain has affected her daily activities.
“Because of the surgery, there are a lot of challenges at home that I wasn’t expecting to come across. For example, not being able to vacuum. Not being able to clean the bathroom because a lot of the arm movements of just constantly going in circles or getting over to scrub certain things. I’m having to ask for help or get stools so I can reach items that are on a higher shelf, because that stretching up to reach something is also very painful.”
How has Your Pain Affected Your Relationships?
Pam describes how pain has affected her relationships.
“I think at the beginning, it didn’t affect it. But now it’s starting to where they’re not understanding the pain I have and why I’m having it for so long after the surgery. Because we’re about eight months past the surgery and still having a lot of pain and not being able to do the normal, everyday things that I’m expected to do as a mother and a wife."
"This is affecting my family in a way that I cannot be as active with them and participate just as a whole person, whether it’s having conversations with them or doing activities. Because if I’ve had a bad day and have a lot of pain, I don’t want to sit and do things with them, which makes it very hard as a family to stay together. I think they’re getting a little frustrated because they don’t know what to do and how to help me emotionally with handling the pain."
"My relationship with my husband, before being diagnosed with breast cancer was very strong, very close best friends. But now, going through the process, it seems like we’re kind of furthering ourselves. I don’t think it’s done on purpose, I think it’s just having a lot of the pain and going through the stress and the anxiety and lack of sleep, and just dealing with all of that and still trying to keep my job up within the household and my job outside of the house, it’s hard for him to understand. And so, he becomes easily frustrated and angry. And not knowing what to do and not being able to help me take away the pain causes some stress.”