Drugs that are Safe for Liver Pain
This blog about liver pain is written in an entirely different place than my first blog or youtube on liver pain. A lot has changed since they found the tumor on my liver and I had the Tace chemo procedure. Like most of you, I try to handle pain bravely. If I am going to moan and groan, I do it in privacy. Having chronic pain during Hepatitis C treatment for 43 weeks taught me a lot about pain management. I was the image of longsuffering endurance most of the time. But recently there has been a huge shift in my ideas about pain. I’ve had to look at drugs that are safe for liver pain. Do you wanna go down this road with me? Whether you’ve had pain or love someone who does, I think we have a lot to share. Let’s take a look at types of pain, medication, pros and cons, and the mental stress of living with pain.
I divide pain into 2 catagories.
The first one is chronic pain. You know the dull constant throb in the background of your life. It can be anything from joint pain and stiffness, or a stress headache that lasts for hours all the way to a 24/7 feeling of general discomfort. The achiness that makes you feel like even your toenails hurt. I always get the idea that if I change positions it might help. On the other hand, I don’t want to move because then the pain might relocate to a different spot. So I usually sit or lie very still and burrow up to my chin in covers and try to sleep. Covers always help.
Then there is the acute pain. The sudden sharp stabbing like a nerve has been hit. The sort of pain that makes you kind of twitch. Like recently I was sitting in the chair after dinner. Some family members were here and the area where the liver tumor is got a sharp stab. It was like an icepick was driven into my chest. I got twitchy. I fidgeted around trying to get comfortable. I arched my back. I rubbed my tummy. My legs got curled up under me and then they went back to the footstool. I hurt so bad.
Your pain may be from nerve damage, such as neuropathy. It may be joint pain from autoimmune illness or Hepatitis C Treatment. It may be liver pain, or back pain. Whether it is a chronic pain or occasional sharp jabs, you need some relief!
Let’s talk about drugs that are safe for liver pain. NSAIDS or aspirin products are NOT used due to bleeding, kidney, and other problems for those with severe cirrhosis. Some that are prescribed are Hydromorphone, Tylenol, and Oxycodone. Also Percocet, Vicodin, and Vicoprofen, which have ibuprofen and acetaminophen in them.
Most of the time the opiates are not used with advanced liver disease. I have used them after procedures when pain was severe. For example, I had several varices banded at once. Several hours later, I took my first lick of a popsicle and was headed toward the couch when I got shooting pain all up and down my esophagus. I felt like I had been body slammed in a WWF ring. Within seconds I was on the floor in the dining room in a yoga child’s pose expecting a bleed out. By this time the whole family was surrounding me and when I looked up my eyes bulged out like that girl in the exorcist. I was groaning with every breath. Sarah loaded me up and headed toward ER. I kept doing the groaning yoga poses. The doctor sedated me and sent me home with a diagnosis of esophageal spasms and some pain killers. I needed hard core opiates that night.
Oh yes, drugs definitely help. But they have their downsides. Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly side of pain meds.
The Good –
Sweet relief! When I feel pain, I want to sleep. Or at least I want to lie very still and almost sleep. Drugs like morphine can help with this. It’s like a moving in and out of awareness thing I do.
When the pain is less, you are able to move around. If pain keeps you in bed, your muscles get weak and you stiffen up!
You can talk without barking. I swear, when the pain level is high, my face scrunches up and I use short stabbing sentences that mimic the pain. Sometimes when you are in pain, your shoulders hunch up like a defense against the whole world.
The Bad –
You can end up gripey and hateful. Pain meds may kind of take away any social awareness. A person can feel mean and say things that are regretted later, even to people they love.
Brain dead. Honestly, it is hard to have a smart conversation when you’re out of it. You don’t make a lot of sense and may not even remember what was said. Worse, you won’t remember what YOU said.
You get constipated. Pain meds not only slow down your mind, it slows down your bodily functions. Walking and drinking water can help. Taking a stool softener may loosen things up, but getting off the pain meds is the only real relief.
The Ugly –
You can become addicted. Some people became addicted even after a short time on pain meds, such as with a surgery or a car wreck. The doctor can help to wean you off strong medications and get you to a lower class of drugs. Eventually, you should be able to tolerate an over the counter medication. Tylenol in low doses can be safe when your doctor recommends.
They are hard on your liver. Sometimes that can keep us trying to live with unnecessary pain. My doctor gave me some meds to keep me comfortable after TACE. I refused to take them the first few days and was in constant pain. A call to the doctor reassured me that it was okay to take some meds for a short time and in small doses.
How to Manage Pain
To tell you the truth, I’ve had to work hard to manage my liver pain lately. I rely on deep breathing, prayer, meditation, and gentle exercise. For more about this, check out this blog. There are times when it has worked, and other times? Not so good. For a person who lives with long term pain, I would suggest a pain management doctor. I learned quickly that while some relief is possible, it can be a strain on my mind.
Which leads to the last topic, how to mentally deal with pain. For a few weeks after my TACE procedure, my pain was constant. I’m certain that the doctor blew that tumor to smitherines. (If you don’t know where smitherines is, don’t ask. My mom always said that and I never thought to ask her. It’s way the heck far away) It hurt like hell, but the pain in the tumor area is gone now.
Back to the topic – constant pain can make you want to just give up on life. Sometimes you can’t remember when you were pain free. You can begin to think you will always feel this way. For me, self- pity was close by and brought discouragement with it. The pain intensified. That caused me to stress out and kept me from relaxing. That in turn increased my pain. It can be a vicious cycle.
If you are living with pain, please do not give up mentally. Cling to the hope that there are meds to help you. There are also tools to help you manage pain. Join me, and fight your way out of the bed or chair if at all possible. Talk to your doctor about which drugs are safe for liver pain. Ask for help. Never feel like you are alone in pain.
Let me say that the above suggestions are just that. Suggestions. I do not feel confident enough to offer advice and always suggest that you speak with your doctor. I pray for us all as we deal with pain. As always, I encourage you to take care of your body. Give yourself some love. Rub that painful place and allow your mind to picture healing and health. Use medication as your doctor prescribes it. Give thanks that you are still alive and breathing. Feel the love that all of the Best Friend’s share as we go through this together.
Love you with all my heart, Karen:)
You’re gonna wanna read more on What’s Next with liver disease. Click-it Here!
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