Whether you are providing palliative care for someone with a painful chronic condition or for someone actively dying, the rewards that come with caregiving are real and varied.
According to a study at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, most caregivers say they developed a better relationship with the person they cared for, gained a heightened appreciation of life, found hidden strengths, and felt a sense of accomplishment.
When Norton, Ohio, residents Mark and Dalia Spisak decided to care...
You deserve to have your pain controlled. Almost
always, pain can be controlled with the right medicines in the right amounts.
The goal of good pain management is to have the least possible pain with the
fewest side effects.
Palliative care providers are specially
trained to treat physical pain. They know about all the medicines to control
various types of pain. Because each person responds differently to pain
medicines, it may take a while to find the best medicines for you.
Sometimes emotional pain can make it harder to cope with physical pain.
Emotional pain can be difficult to treat with medicines, but it may be helped
with other types of therapy, such as
It is important to be open
and honest about your pain. You do not have to pretend you are strong or able
to handle pain. Telling your doctor exactly how you feel is one of the most
important parts of controlling pain. Your doctor may ask you:
Where do you feel pain?
What does it
feel like? Sharp? Dull? Throbbing? Burning? Steady?
How strong is
How long does the pain last?
the pain? What makes it worse?
What medicines do you take, and how
much do they help?
Which pain medicines have worked for you before?
Which have not helped?
How are you coping with your
Your palliative care doctor or nurse may ask you to rate your
pain on a scale of 0 to 10. Zero means no pain. Ten means the pain is as bad as
it can be.
Myths about pain medicines
You may be concerned about becoming addicted to
your pain medicine. It is common to confuse dependence on pain medicines with
addiction to pain medicines. But there is an important difference between
dependence and addiction.
Dependence means your body starts to
expect and rely on certain medicines after you have been taking them for a
while. If you suddenly stop taking these medicines, you may feel bad for a time
(withdrawal). But just because your body is dependent on a medicine does not
mean that you are addicted to it. Addiction means that you crave a medicine
even when your body doesn't need it. People who are addicted to medicine want
the medicine so they can feel "high."
Most people with chronic
pain take enough pain medicine to control their pain but not so much that they
feel "high." Used correctly, pain medicine helps you function better but does
not really change your behavior. You are addicted only if you have lost control
over the medicine, start to take more medicine than you need, or do things to
harm yourself or others.
If you do not have a history of substance
abuse, you are probably not in danger of becoming addicted to pain medicines.
In fact, many people take them for a long time with no problems or bad side
While taking pain medicines, you may worry about feeling
tired or not thinking clearly. But these side effects often do not last. Many
people who take pain medicines for a long time do not have problems thinking
clearly. After you and your doctor find the right amount of medicine for you,
you may be able to drive, work, and do other activities.
are worried about side effects or about getting addicted to pain medicine, talk
to your doctor. He or she can talk to you about your concerns and the best
medicines for you.
care can help with side effects from treatment. Sometimes side effects bother
you more than anything else. Tell your palliative care provider about all of
your side effects. He or she may be able to give you medicines to help
You feel like you cannot breathe
You do not want to eat or you feel like you are going to
You feel tired or weak.
You have problems
You cannot have a bowel movement (constipation) or you
have problems urinating.