At the first consultation – after the size of the tumour had been established- I was already advised to take 4 times 2 Paracetamol a day. This gave me a shock. At that very moment I was only taking 1 or 2 Paracetamol tablets a day, and this sounded as a warning for whatever was to come. My own attitude at the time was mirrored: I had often had to encourage my dear better half to take his medication at the appropriate times and now I felt the same resistance against taking pills myself.
What became clear to me – and what is well-known to care professionals- is that a basic level of medication is built up befóre the pain starts, so that one’s body is able to cope with it when it comes and levels out the severe peaks. The basic level for people with my diagnosis of cancer is: 4 times a day 2 Paracetamol; the second level is Naproxen which can be increased to a maximum (which is not yet toxic); the third level is Tramadol (which can make you drowsy); and on the fourth level are the opiates which are quite drastic. During the first round I managed to keep just under the third level.
Car drivers know of this principle. If you have a long car drive ahead, it is better to leave in time and drive at a stable and moderate speed. If you choose to leave late, accelerate quickly to high speed levels and then put on the brakes firmly if need be, much more fuel is used. And then are not even taken into consideration the risks on the road ánd the garage bill when the car is next serviced. Not to mention the stress caused in fellow road users. This phenomenon is also recognized by carers, for it is no fun to watch someone you love suffering by inadequate pain treatment.
Last week (the Up week) It felt good to taper off the Naproxen medication. Yesterday morning before the second chemotherapy, I added the Naproxen in advance. In order to level up. It worked: Less problems with the coldcap and less side effects at night. The analyst (in me) had a quiet night. I hope that the levelling up is going to help me through Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, which were so heavy in the first week.
Even my two young cats seemed to feel it is wise to be prepared, and to start at the right level. When I went upstairs to go to sleep, they were both already lying on top of the bed, waiting for me. Purring supportively.