Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,but for the heart to conquer it.” ~ Shantideva
Acupuncture: Visit Four April 26, 2009
Last Wednesday was my most recent acupuncture appointment. I’ve been mostly offline since then, so hopefully my memory won’t be too bad since it’s been several days. This most recent appointment was by far the best of the four I’ve had over the past month. I don’t know how to really describe it but to say that it was the most relaxed I have felt in eons. My massages don’t even come close to how great this was.
I’d had a crazy morning before my appointment, having gone to the dentist and PT first, the bank, the ReStore, and fitting breakfast and some work in there too, all before 11 am. I was a bit stressed, but otherwise felt pretty good that morning. This vist we had me lay on my stomach and we worked on back points. It was a bit more uncomfortable when the inital “pokes” came. Part of that is I think because I just wasn’t used to it since they were all new points. The other was I think there are a few points that were near more sensitive points, but I don’t really know that for sure.
The discomfort didn’t last long at all. I was waiting for the sort of vibration/tingling feeling to start up again, like what I’d experienced last time. Instead, I had the sort of moving pulsation at the various points, much like I noticed the first visit. It was quite relaxing, and I was doing some deep breathing, just trying to get myself to relax. Then, after maybe 15 or 20 minutes, my whole body just basically went limp, totally relaxed. It was almost like it was involuntary, I wasn’t consciously trying to do that, and it was really just awesome. I must have dozed off, because next thing I new I was waking up from a little nap! I laid there for the next few minutes sort of laughing at myself for falling asleep (finding it funny that with all these pins sticking out of me I could do that) and then just enjoying the absolute relaxation and how awesome I felt.
I had only maybe 5 minutes after I woke up before my time was up. I got dressed and headed out to work, drinking a bunch of water afterward. One thing I’ve noticed that happens about 5-10 minutes into each appointment is that I start to feel really dehydrated. I notice in my lips more than anything, as they start to dry out. After my appt Wednesday though, I really did feel good all day. It was a bit crazed at work, getting ready to leave for several days, running home, getting final packing done and then a three hour drive and some work, but even with all that, Wednesday was a much better day than I expected it to be in terms of how I felt. Even Thursday I felt pretty good, at least up until I sat in the airport for 5 hours working and then dealt with planes and connections and late-night drives (let alone the whole lost luggage issue).
I’m doing my next appointment in two weeks. At that point we’ll either continue to do every two weeks or maybe every month. Especially after this last appointment, I do think that the acupuncture is helping. I think that it, in conjunction with the other changes I’ve been making, will make a difference in the long run with long term health management. It’s probably not something that is for everyone. I was sort of leery about the whole idea of voluntary having needles stuck in me at first! But I do think that it’s something, if you find the right acupuncturist, that is definitely a form of treatment that can help people with chronic health issues find some relief. The other thing to remember though is that you have to give it some time. I’d say at least a month of regular appointments is needed before a real decision can be made on the benefits and whether it’s an option for you. As for me, it is something I plan to continue, especially if we do end up doing monthly appointments because as busy as the next few months will be, that will be fairly manageable.
Another week April 21, 2009
I realized today that I just didn’t feel like I had anything worthwhile to write about this week so far. But, I still felt like writing (I get that way sometimes, I just like to write) so I thought I’d just take advantage of the fact this is my blog and sort of just prattle on for a bit. I’m tired, and stressed with work and the craziness of the week hasn’t even really started. It’s going to be a couple long months, where I”m just not sure that I’ll manage to meet all the demands and deadlines and stretch all the different directions I’m being pulled. That, and I totally feel like I’m failing at home now, not spending enough time doing what needs to be done around the house or just good quality time with my husband. Times like this where I’m crazy busy, traveling, and what else make me appreciate his World of Warcraft addiction (as compared to the times I want his attention, ha!).
On the positive side, the ribs are improving with PT, I don’t have the “take away your breath” pain any more, just more discomfort and a few twinges. And so far I’ve been, I think, pretty good about the gluten-free diet, with the exception of Saturday. Taking that day off though wasn’t all bad as it did hit home that there are some definite differences in how I feel when I eat wheat. These next few days will be my first real test with it while traveling, so it should be interesting.
Tomorrow I hit the dentist, PT, and the acupuncturist, work, and then drive 3 hours so I can attend a conference for work Thursday 1/2 a day. After that, it’s more work, and then a late flight to MI for a family funeral service on Friday. While not the best of circumstances for a family gathering, I’m so looking forward to seeing my parents and my brother and the rest of the family. I haven’t seen my brother since last summer, or my parents since Thanksgiving, it’s past time. And I know my mom’s been so worried about me these past few months, I think just getting a chance to see me herself and fuss for a bit is going to make us both feel better. Short trip though, as it’s a flight and drive back on Saturday to make it to a law school dinner. To sum: a busy few days. I’m hoping that it doesn’t wipe me out too much. I’m already feeling low on spoons, I’m hoping that this doesn’t put me in the whole.
Acupuncture: Round Three April 17, 2009
This week was acupuncture treatment number three. By far the best of the three I’ve had so far in overall experience. It was a morning appointment and I ate breakfast on the way (managing to stay roughly within the gluten free diet I think thanks to losing the biscuit in a sausage/biscuit sandwich). I also took down most of a bottle of water on the way, and one excedrin due to a bit of a headache.
Because of the rib issues, we did another session with me on my back (we had planned to switch this time to me face down, but there was some concern about the ribs and pain). Not that I’ve counted, but I think there were more points this time (aka more needles). It’s sort of amazing to me, the points that hurt last time when the needles were inserted, not so much this time. A few other spots though, woah! It lasts only a second, maybe up to 5 most where you get this sort of uncomfortableness, but then it’s just gone and you don’t even really notice that there’s a pin sticking out of you in that spot even.
That being said, I generally have to keep my eyes closed during a session, because if I open my eyes and look up at the ceiling, I can see the pin (needle?) that is between my eyebrows, and I just find that weird. So I either keep the eyes closed and relax, or focus on NOT looking up.
Within a few minutes this time, I started to get this feeling in my legs. The best I can describe it is how it feels if you’ve had that electrotherapy, and you get that almost wave of energy through where the sensors are when it’s on a low pulse. It was really just a wave of sensation through the lower half of my body, almost like you get a shiver, but on the inside, and you’re not cold (which I knew I wasn’t since I have a number of heat lamps directed on me). I had this sort of wave on and off through most of the session on the lower half, maybe 5-8 minutes before my time was up, I started to get it on the upper half as well.
It was sort of really cool to feel. It felt great, and I used the phrase “wave of energy” earlier, because that’s really how it felt. And I felt good when I left there. Had a cup of Acai Mango Zinger tea on my way to work, no headache, and feeling pretty good. Overall this week, if you take away the rib thing, I’ve really felt pretty good, better in many ways than I have in a while. I’m still pretty much wiped when I get home from work, but the pain’s slowly subsiding more into really bad aches, not the overall pain. Aches and stiffness I deal with better than PAIN.
I don’t know how much of this is due to acupuncture, how much is due to fact I’ve been almost totally gluten free this week, and with low, low dairy. I tend to think it’s a combination of all of them. That, and we’ve had great weather this week too, that has to help. I have one more appointment scheduled with the acupuncturist next week. After that one we’ll talk long term treatment plan. She mentioned Thursday that she was thinking maybe once a month. I think that is do-able, and I’m good with that idea. So we’ll see what happens next week. We’ll be working on my back this time, so there will be a different type of experience next week.
If it’s not one thing…it’s another April 14, 2009
I’ve decided that I’m looking forward to my 31st birthday in June, because it’s the start of a new year. I’m ready for 30 to be done. Seriously, turned 30, body decided to fall apart. First it was the flareups this winter and associated issues which I’m finally starting to at least get under control, it nothing else. Then it was the flu bug, not quite two weeks ago. Now, this.
There’s not really a polite way to say this, so let’s just say that I am not pretty when I have the stomach flu, I am a violent heaver. I’ve been known to break the blood vessels around my eyes and end up with what looks like black eyes afterward. This time, apparently I did more internal damage than external. Since shortly after the night I spent time getting to know my toilet bowl, I had sort of a twinge in my right side rib area. I figured it was sort of a fluke and would go away. Of course I was wrong. Instead, it has seemed to get worse.
It’s the rib just under my right breast that is unbelievably tender, and then it sort of spreads to the chest wall and under arm. The awesome shooting pains are right in that rib though. Saturday night was the worst night I’ve had so far, could not sleep it hurt so bad. Could not get comfortable. Sunday I cheated and took Tylenol PM. Finally, after 1/2 a day of being uncomfortable at work, I called the doctor yesterday. She checked it all out, about shot me off the table hitting the most tender spots, and said that it looked like at minimum the cartilage was inflamed and the area was bruised. A Lidocaine pain patch was applied, a topical cream provided, and physical therapy to start tomorrow (ultrasound and heat mostly I think).
Then, just to be safe, we did an Xray to be sure I didn’t manage to crack a rib, and did some bloodwork to ensure that the gallbladder isn’t adding to the mix of fun. I’ve since begun to worry about the gallbladder issue (since Sat night was my bad night and I ate pizza that night, which I guess is a bad thing for the old GB), but I’m too tired right now to stress too much. I should have both those sets of results tomorrow I’m guessing.
The naturopath appointment was today too, and in talking with her, she gave me a homeopathic remedy to try too, a form of comfrey (knitbone). I hope it helps. Even with the Lidocaine patch, it’s flipping HURT today, I can’t imagine how it would be without the patch. Tonight I’m going to load up on the topical cream, maybe take one Tylenol PM, a couple L-Theanine and some comfrey and hope for a good night’s sleep.
The good part of all this is it just makes me laugh. I mean, what else are you going to do? It really does feel like it’s just one thing after another, like just when i start to get myself built back up a bit, wham, now deal with this. But, I’m just glad that I have good health insurance, some caring friends and coworkers I can share with, and that things aren’t worse than they are. And I’ve totally taken the phrase…”(BIG SIGH) What Next” out of my vocabulary, because I don’t want to know!
Acupuncture Round Two April 13, 2009
Saturday was my second acupuncture appointment. Good news: I did not come down with the flu shortly afterwards! Yea! My appointment was late afternoon. Mid afternoon I had a pretty decent headache going, so about an hour before the session I took two excedrin. Poof, headache disappeared in about 45 minutes (I was lucky I took them early after onset).
Luckily I took a book with me, I sat for about 45 minutes in the lobby for my appt. Got in there, had my consultation (which lead to my previous post on the elusiveness of acceptance) and then came the pins. Seemed the same to me as last time. Laid on my back, pins in various spots from forehead to ears, elbows, hand, legs and feet. It was different this time, but hard to describe. I did get emotional, sort of randomly, this time, which she mentioned the first time might happen. I didn’t feel the sort of rotation of the spots “working” but I did get that nice sort of “glow” in the muscles throughout and afterwards.
I got done and felt pretty good for the rest of the day. A bit tired but not bad really. Not quite as achy, but not great either. No headaches afterward though, so that was a VERY good thing. I have my next appt this Thursday already, which I didn’t realize until I looked at the calendar today. I’m mixed on it all. I have two more appointments scheduled and I’m definitely going to both of them. I just need to decide after that what I want to do. I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to feel like, what should be improving…is it the acupuncture? Is it the dietary changes that she and the naturopath are recommending? Something else? Pure luck?
I need to commit to these alternative paths, and it’s going to be a challenge. I wonder if I’m almost not trying too many things at once. The diet is hard enough, let alone the pills and supplements (which I’ve been so bad about since the flu) and then the chiro and the acupuncture…tomorrow is going to be another one of those days where I have to commit, it’s my appointment with the naturopath where we are going to start discussing the elimination diet. Joy. Maybe I’ll just eat meat and dairy for all three meals tomorrow and enjoy it while I can 🙂
Acceptance Is Elusive April 11, 2009
Today was my second acupuncture appointment. I’ll write about that separately. But as I spoke with the acupuncturist about diet and changes and then laid there during the session, I was not a happy person. And I realized that I just was having an extremely hard time accepting all the changes lately. I basically threw myself a little pity-party as I laid there, thinking of all the things I found unfair and that I just don’t want to have to do. Give up wheat, do an elimination diet, quit drinking coffee, eat natural and organic foods, cut back on dairy, cut back on “cold” foods, take painkillers, deal with migraines, take however many supplements and pills, even the yoga and acupuncture fall into that category when they are done to try to manage the pain and frustration. And of course, these are long term benefits, not short term, so while I feel like I’m changing my life in all these ways, the benefits are slow to come.
As hard as it is to wrap my brain around this and accept it all, I keep doing them, and taking the steps that all the various consultants and specialists I go to tell me to do. That’s the part of me that wants to feel better. That is afraid of what happened these past few months and is willing to try about anything to not only feel better, but to keep it from happening again…if that’s even possible. And that part of me, keeps me taking the pills, trying the acupuncture, trying to make dietary changes (which is freaking miserable in many ways).
What I’m afraid of though, is well, several things. One, that I’ve plateaued out and this is as good as it gets. Granted, it’s WAY better than I was two months ago. And I know it could be a lot worse, but really, it wears on me. The other fear is that I’m going to get lazy. That I’ll get to the point where I will improve, back to the point where I’m dealing with stiffness each day rather than pain, where I’m tired when I do too much, not just all the time, that kind of stuff. And that after I hit that point for a while, I’ll start to revert back to not being so careful about what I eat, about taking the supplements, about this and that and whatever. I wonder if that was what I’ve done the past 5 or 6 years, and it came back to bite me now. And that’s the part of me that doesn’t accept any of this. Not the fact that for whatever reason my body seems to hate me. Not the fact that the fact I have a cup of coffee or two in the morning will hurt me that badly, or that I eat a lot of salads in the winter, or that wheat will give me a migraine. And while it’s the part that doesn’t accept, it’s also the side that in some ways has almost given up hope because it’s tired of it all.
But for now, the part that is willing to try is winning. And I’ll take my pills and pins and give up foods I love in the hope I feel better and that it will lead to improvement. But I will say, that when I go to Barnes and Noble, I’m going to get myself a latte and enjoy every last drop. I may be setting new rules for myself, but all rules are made to be broken once in a while, right? And what’s a bowl of broccoli cheese soup at Panera without a bit of french bread 🙂
Really, I know that the changes I’m talking about are minor in the scheme of things. The same as I know that I am fortunate because my health issues could be so much worse, that I’m fortunate in that way. Yet sometimes it’s hard to look at the big picture and I just want to feel sorry for myself, those are times when I have the pity parties like today. Every once in a while I start to resent this all, and that’s when I have those moments of insight that while I go through the motions, I really haven’t accepted it all and what it all means big picture (not just to me, but those in my life too who have to deal with me). Will I ever? Honestly, probably not fully. But I do think that over time, especially if there is progress, that it will get easier, and at this point, that’s enough.