I went to see my oncologist last week and she suggested staying off of the Arimidex for 30 days to give my body a rest. She said that this will also help us determine exactly where my pain in coming from. I became very upset over this suggestion and cried. It is so scary to not be taking the medication that they tell you is helping to keep your cancer from coming back. Talk about stress!!! We talked about quality of live vs quantity. She urged me to keep the appointment with the pain management specialist and then we will determine my next step medication wise.
Today my mom and I went to see the pain management doctor and he had already reviewed all of my cancer records including my surgeries. He believes that I have a couple of factors at play. One is called post mastectomy pain syndrome. It is a chronic neuropathic pain caused by damage to nerves during the mastectomy. He said that this type of pain can be considered severe and can also interfere with sleep. I didn’t need anyone to tell me this! I already knew! This is also contributing to my “frozen shoulder” and the pain associated with it. He has recommended intercostal nerve injections. I will be getting 8 numbing injections followed by 8 addition injections into the intercostal spaces of my ribs. I will go three times for this procedure in the month of July.
The pain doctor said that this kind of pain is considered chronic and is something that I will deal with from now on due to the severe nerve damage. I have areas of numbness that go all the way around my side and to my back, as well as my underarms which is also a result of the nerve damage. He also said that the Arimidex doesn’t necessarily CAUSE the pain, but it does amplify the pain that I already have. This is why the pain got so much worse after I started taking the Arimidex in October.
His office worked today to get a pre-certification through our insurance company for the injections. They called me this afternoon to let me know that the insurance company approved them. I will have to go to the surgical center for them and cannot get in there until July 9th. I am disappointed in that, but happy that I am scheduled and will hopefully have some relief soon. I was also told that the goal right now is to at least cut my pain level in half. If I get results greater than 50% he will be very happy (umm….me too!!) After the three series of injections (A total of 24 numbing, and 24 steroid injections) in July, he said that I can expect to have relief anywhere from 6 months to a year. Fingers crossed!!!
I will now have to talk to my oncologist again to see if I can restart the Arimidex.
On a brighter note…our daughter, Beckie, graduated from high school!!!