Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A brief update

For those of you who have been following along on my pain journey, I wanted to provide a brief update.

So far I've had 4 appointments with the new chiro. Each appointment consists of:
  1. 15 minutes doing mild exercise (arm bike) while inhaling 90% oxygen.
  2. A 10 minute deep tissue massage
  3. A chiropractic adjustment
There have also been some other experimental things, like a little electronic pulse that is applied to your ear, at common accupuncture points, to try and stimulate my brain. Through repeated brain stimulation tests, we've pretty much figured out that the right side of me is **cked - reflexes, response time and other things like my ability to touch two fingers together over my head. Things I can do (easily) with my left side just don't happen right now with my right (which is where all my injuries and the majority of my pain symptoms are), so we're trying to kick-start my brain again into firing on all cylinders.

The oxygen therapy or E.W.O.T. (Exercising with Oxygen Therapy) is interesting. I have an open mind about it and, while exercising, read this brief book about the theory behind it. However, I'm not sensing any changes from it, as yet. Initially I was a setting of "3" for 10 minutes (I can't remember off-hand what the number represents but I'll look it up) and today I moved up to a setting of "4" for 15 minutes. I admit to feeling a little more "awake" with the additional oxygen, kinda like when you suck a really strong mint and it floods your sinuses and air cavities with that cool sensation. But the feeling goes away as soon as the oxygen does.

The regular massage is FABULOUS and provides immediate, although transitory, relief in my upper back, neck and shoulders. Thirty minutes back in the "real world", however, and I feel my shoulders creep up and my pain begin to return. 

The adjustments are... mind-bending. For someone like me, who cracks and pops constantly without assistance, and where those cracks and pops represent injury, weakness, and often pain, it's hard to accept that rapid-fire popping in various parts of my body is positive, productive and healing. I have a very physical reaction to adjustments - I literally produce a full-body jolt right after them. Mainly it's been my spine that's been doing most of the cracking but also my neck, arms, and pelvis. So far, no major issues as a result, except of course for some soreness. 

Also, however, no major improvement. I have experienced periods of reduced pain in my upper back and my neck does feel slightly less stiff/stuck but mostly it's status quo. Since I've avoided massage or therapy on my S.I. for some time, after a previous P.T. told me it was "irritating" it, my S.I., sacrum, and lumbar areas are sore from the massage and adjustments but it's not anything I wouldn't expect. Mostly, I feel exhausted and a little loopy at the end of a session.

Unfortunately, as I said in my previous post, my right knee pain has come back with a vengeance - I'm talking can't walk up the stairs on it, can't stand up from a chair on both feet kind of pain. The good thing about the knee pain is that it's only present with certain activity, as opposed to the back and neck pain which is present all the time. The bad thing about the knee pain is that it is aggravated by and in some cases prevents me from doing the exercises that have proven effective in staving off back pain. 

I have no idea if the knee pain came on because of what we've been doing elsewhere in my body or if it's an unfortunate coincidence but I'm leaning toward it being a result of the other adjustments since I've come to believe just about everything is connected to everything else right now. The chiropractor seems non-committal either way, which makes sense because he's only just beginning to get to know me and my body. He has begun massaging the tendons of that knee, which are RIDICULOUSLY sore, tight and "tweaky". In fact he managed to find some pretty major "knots" that I just would not have thought possible to be hiding in an area that small.

For now I'm just trying to be patient and let things unfold while simultaneously icing my knee and heating my back.

And then there is this...

Yes, that is exactly what you think it is. I poop in it, seal it up, freeze it for at least 24 hours, and then send it by UPS to a lab for analysis. We'll be testing for lots of metabolic and auto-immune-type stuff that could be messing with my body (because, you know, what we've already diagnosed is not enough) one of which will be gluten sensitivity.

So, yeah, there will be poop in my freezer this weekend.

Meanwhile, I am continuing to explore other ways to stay exercising and strong, while the therapy part unfolds - the last thing I need is to go backwards in what little strength and fitness I have been able to maintain through all of this. I'm setting up clinical/reformer Pilates training sessions with the lady at my local gym who is a pilates instructor as well as someone who works with physical therapists. She was in a car accident a decade or so ago and had some major spinal issues with resulting pain which sent her in a downward spiral and threatened to take over her life but, through Pilates, has been able to restore fitness, strength, flexibility, and reduce her pain. Clearly, I'd like to do the same and she seems uniquely-positioned to help.

Which leaves 5 days a week consumed with therapy at this point. While there are still other things that have been recommended that I could explore (Rolfing, Bowen Therapy, and Body Talk to name just a few) there are only so many hours in a day, days in a week, and dollars in my pay check. I'm going at this stuff with all I got right now, so let's hope I start to see some improvement soon.

In other news, work = stress. This is not helping. 

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