Should I Use Marijuana for Pain Relief Before Surgery?

Today’s question comes from SS who is preparing for CRS and HIPEC:

“I am scheduled for CRS and HIPEC in ten days. I am experiencing a lot of pain, but my physician has only prescribed Tylenol and no other pain killers. My son has suggested that I use marijuana for pain relief. Are there any accounts of PMP patients using marijuana to relieve pain?”

GG responds:

“When you experience pain, you must bring your symptoms to the attention of your attending physician. S/he may be able to refer you to a pain management specialist.

Since you are scheduled for surgery in ten days, you must be especially careful to discuss any medications, even vitamins and “natural” herbs, whether prescribed or OTC, with your anesthesiologist and your surgical oncologist, as these medications may have an effect on your preparation and recovery from surgery.

Articles posted in “PMP Pals” and on are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for licensed professional legal or medical care. Each patient is unique and should seek the counsel of a licensed professional for their own specific case. Copyright © 2012 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network/All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at

Setting Limits for Hospital Visitors

As much as we appreciate cards, calls and visits from friends and family, during or following medical care, some appendix cancer patients and their families feel overwhelmed when hospital and home visits are “overextended.”

This week I received an inquiry from a caregiving “Pal” who expressed the following concerns:

“My husband is recuperating from CRS and HIPEC, and returned home, from the hospital, last week. A visiting nurse comes by to change his bandage each morning.

My husband needs to take a long nap every afternoon. Several neighbors, relatives and co-workers have stopped by to visit unannounced. I feel uncomfortable asking them to call first or to limit their visits. My husband almost feels obligated to answer all calls and accept “drop in” visitors. He is clearly fatigued yet feels we must “entertain” friends and family.

I am running short on patience and wonder how other spouses manage balancing caregiving while setting limits for visitors.”

In response, I share the following suggestions for enjoying visits from friends and family while setting boundaries to respect your personal “space.”

Hospital and home visits:

Set limits for your own, or for your spouse’s visiting hours in the hospital and at home. Limit the number of visitors you, or your spouse will receive and during which days and hours. Tell friends and family “John is awake for visitors on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 2 PM. He requires the remainder of the day for rest and medical care.”

Advise the nurses at the call desk of your preference for visiting hours. Visitors don’t always check in at the call desk, therefore, you will also need to post a handwritten sign on the door to your room, advising everyone of your personal visiting hours.

Don’t assume that “other cancer patients” who may visit you, will be perceptive of your energy limitations; they will not be.

Many well meaning and caring friends and relatives have NO concept of how tired post op CRS and HIPEC patients are, what they have experienced in the hospital, the amount of uninterrupted time that patients need to bathe, change dressings, attend to “bathroom needs” (which are generally more frequent during the weeks immediately following surgery) the time required to eat and consume nutritious foods, or to administer TPN and change bandages without having the

Gifts for patients:

Likewise, visitors may be unaware of appropriate gifts for recuperating appendix cancer patients.

Many gastrointestinal cancer patients experience nausea, especially following HIPEC or other chemotherapy treatment(s.) Therefore, when selecting floral arrangements, visitors should select non fragrant flowers, i.e. tulips or cyclamens, or non flowering plants.

Thoughtful gifts include music selections, light hearted films and DVDs, crossword puzzles, magazines and books.

Whether patients are recuperating in the hospital, or have returned home, they, and their family caregiver, will appreciate gifts of an hour or two of housekeeping services, laundry/dry cleaning, grocery shopping, transportation to medical appointments, extended childcare, gift cards, prepared meals, comfy lounging apparel, care and shelter of pets, etc.

Visitors should limit wearing, or giving, gifts of fragrances, scented lotions, and perfumes. Patients may easily become nauseated from aromatic food or beverages, including coffee, therefore, visitors should limit their own refreshments to the hospital cafeteria or coffee shop.

Telephone calls:

Post an outgoing message on your cell or home voicemail advising friends of your “telephone hours.” Tell friends and family that you welcome their incoming calls during specific hours of the day and for brief durations of time. Here is a suggestion for your voicemail message:

“Thank you for calling. Please call back between 2 and 4 PM. During my recuperation I am limiting calls to ten minutes per caller.”

Create a “visiting policy” that works for you:

Patients and their family caregivers can sit down together and discuss their own needs for setting limits for visitors. Friends and family will never know your personal preferences unless you tell them your wishes!

For more articles on this topic, visit

Articles posted in PMP Pals and on are written from the perspective of patients and their family caregivers and are not intended as substitutes for licensed, professional legal or medical advice. Each case is unique; therefore, patients should seek their own professional medical counsel. Copyright © 2012 by Gabriella Graham/PMP Pals’ Network. All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at We have HOPE for YOU!

_ Five Quick Steps for New Cancer Patients

1. Obtain your medical records

Obtain and organize your medical records. You are entitled to all written (transcribed) copies of your medical reports including your lab tests, pathology, operative and radiology reports, as well as copies of your CT or MRI scans on CDs. You may obtain copies of all these reports from your hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office(s.)

Having one’s own medical records within arm’s reach (stored in file folders, a binder, a USB “thumb drive” etc.) is not only comforting to many patients, but practical, especially in emergency situations or while traveling.

2. Understand your diagnosis

Most patients are not healthcare professionals, therefore many patients feel overwhelmed when reading their own medical reports. Terminology may be confusing. It’s easy for the nonprofessional to become distressed by nomenclature (refer to our Appendix Cancer Glossary) when reading one’s own medical reports.

Now that you have obtained your medical records, including your pathology report, develop and refine your list(s) of questions to discuss with your physician specialist.

The PMP Pals’ Network Handbook: Questions to Ask Your Surgeons provides sample lists of questions.

Although you share a  diagnosis with other patients, each case is truly unique and each patient is an individual, therefore, your case deserves personal consideration by whichever specialist(s) you consult with.

3.  Assemble your healthcare team

Your team may include a variety of healthcare professionals including an oncologist, surgical oncologist (the true specialist in the treatment of appendix cancer, Pseudomyxoma peritonei and other Peritoneal Surface Malignancies.)

Following surgery and during chemotherapy, your healthcare team may include a gastroenterologist, endocrinologist and a licensed dietician. Ask your team of healthcare professionals to communicate among one other regarding their participation in your treatment plan. Don’t forget to include your dentist on your health care team!

4. Examine your health insurance

Examine your health insurance policy carefully. Are the most qualified, most experienced physicians specializing in the treatment of your diagnosis covered by your plan?

Review your insurance plans policies for co pays, deductions, home nursing assistance, lifetime maximums, etc.

Pay close attention to pre authorization and certification requirements before scheduling any medical procedures and treatments including tests, scans, surgery and chemotherapy.

Review your medical bills carefully, checking for diagnostic code or other billing errors.

While some health insurance providers staff case managers to “assist” you in managing your treatment plan, ask yourself, “is this case manager advocating for me or for my insurance company?” Our advice is to serve as your own advocate, or to appoint a close trusted family member or friend to co advocate with you. You need to put your needs first!

5. Protect your privacy

When you are newly diagnosed or in the midst of treatment, it may be tempting to open your heart or vent your feelings online, but be aware that anything you post via social networking can be viewed by others and can be easily intercepted. The angst and details about your medical condition you post today can be read by current and future employers, creditors and nosy neighbors tomorrow.

Do not post information about your minor children, the location of your home, the duration you will be away from home for medical care, etc., online, especially via social networking on “care” page forums, as this information can be intercepted and seriously abused.


Articles posted in PMP Pals and on are written from the perspective of patients and family caregivers and are not intended to substitute for professional, licensed legal and/or healthcare advice. Patients should seek the counsel of their licensed professional consultants regarding their specific needs. Copyright © 2012 by PMP Pals’ Network/Gabriella Graham/All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at