Morphine is made from the sap of the poppy plant and is a very effective pain medicine for severe pain. Morphine belongs to a group of medicines called opioids that work on nerve cells in the spinal cord and in the brain to decreased the sensation of pain.
Morphine is available in two oral forms -- short acting mixture and long acting tablets. The effect of short acting morphine mixture lasts only 4 hours and therefore it must be taken every 4 hours.
Long acting morphine tablets (also called slow release morphine tables or MST) are made so that the effect of the tablet will last up to 12 hours. Therefore long acting tables are usually taken every 12 hours. This means that the effect of the medicine will last throughout the night.
If you are taking long acting tablets and you have an episode of severe pain, you should not take additional long acting tablets. Instead you should take a dose of short acting morphine mixture which will relieve your pain very quickly. However, if you need many doses of short acting morphine mixture each day, your doctor may decide to increase your dose of long acting morphine tablets.
Long acting morphine tablets must not be crushed or chewed but should be swallowed whole.
Morphine can also be given by injection. Sometimes the morphine is given by a portable pump called syringe driver. The syringe driver injects a small dose of morphine continuously via a fine needle which is inserted under the skin and secured with adhesive plastic.
People are sometimes concerned about taking morphine. The fear of addiction is one of the main reasons why people either refuse to take morphine or take less than the amount prescribed. However, morphine is a safe and effective pain medication when used as prescribed by the doctor.
Palliative care, also called hospice care, is offered to people with advanced disease when the focus is on control of symptoms and emotional support. If your disease has progressed and you require additional support, your doctor can refer you to the palliative care physician or to one of the hospice home care programs.
Hospice staff will come to your home to assess your medical, nursing and emotional needs and will work with you and our family to develop a plan of care. They will arrange to visit you regularly. If there is an emergency, there will always be someone from the hospice on-call to assist you and your family.
If the family is no longer able to provide care at home, there are also in-patient hospices that provide short-term admission.
For others who are well enough to enjoy creative activities and outings, there are hospice day care centres that provide a supportive environment for people who attend the centre for the day.
Families who experience hospice care feel that it offers great comfort and support for them when they are caring for someone with advanced cancer.
If cancer recurs, it is sometimes difficult to recover physical and psychological strength. You may face prejudice and discrimination as you attempt to resume an active life.
However, this is an opportunity for you to re-evaluate what life is about, who you are, and what you value most. You may find that, when you have faced the challenge of living with cancer, you have a greater appreciation of life are better able to respond to your own needs and to the needs of others.
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