Re: PCA machine......for Kate Murphy

From: Kate Murphy (
Thu Feb 1 07:21:58 2001

On 31 Jan 2001, at 14:17, Helen Dynda wrote:

> Kate, I find your messages filled with so much medical information; and
> I have learned alot from the messages, which you have posted. Do you
> have a medical background?
> I would like to know what a PCA machine is and how it is used?


Although I worked in a community health center, I have no formal medical training. I just had to figure out medical issues so that I could do my work of developing new facilities and programs for the health center. I did a lot of writing and planning and was around medical issues all the time.

However, most of my medical information comes from my own experience and participation for several years now on the colon cancer and ovarian cancer lists. I read a lot about medical issues, hoping to find solutions or at least understand my problems.

I am a founding member of the Colon Cancer Alliance and have learned oodles of things through CCA and participation in various medical conferences as a patient advocate.

I am an eighteen year survivor of colon cancer and had a recurrence 8 years ago. I also have had ovarian cancer and breast cancer. I've had abdominal surgery 3 times for cancer and 4 times for adhesions. I've had scans and x-rays of all types to diagnosis the cancer or to find out if it was back. This summer I had a full blown bowel obstruction that taught me stuff I never wanted to know about inserting NG tubes, infections, and major pain!

I am retired from the Health Center on disability, but am working on a book about cancer recovery.

The PCA machine is a intravenous pump that is programmed to deliver a very small dose of painkiller (usually morphine or demerol) when the patient pushes a button. PCA stands for Patient Controlled Analgesia. The amount of drug and frequency is controlled so you cannot overdose.

Much, much better than nurse administered shots of pain relief -- you can have steady pain drugs rather than a big dose every 4 hours that disappears before the pain returns.

Some of my friends have also had an epidural to control pain after their surgery. The drug is inserted through a catheter into the back.

Pain can be managed after surgery -- and it should be.


Kate Murphy

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