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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sticking to the Point

Today, I am scheduled to have my fourth acupuncture appointment. So far, it has been effective in decreasing the intensity and frequency of my pain. After the second visit, when I do need to take pain medicine (ibuprofen, acetomenophen), I have been able to reduce my dosage by 25%. With the pain reduction, I have an increased range of motion in my neck as well.

And, somehow, I am still not the biggest fan. I never felt good about the idea of sticking needles into me like a pin cushion, no matter how skinny they are. To begin, I got past the initial stage of just being weirded out by the acupuncture treatments, but this is no love affair. Then, as with most things good for you, I've got to work hard to get my insurance company to partially cover it. (Please, pray with me that they cover the acupuncture.)

After my first acupuncture appointment, I was so tired that I went home around 2 pm and slept most of the rest of that day. I also slept about 18-20 hours during each of the following two days. I thought it hadn't done me much good, but along came hormonal/monthly improvements that had been a problem for me the week prior to this visit. Besides, I realize that, if my body takes that kind of a sleep break, some internal healing is probably going on.

Second visit: I felt so good when my acupuncture visit was over at noon, I ran errands until 5:00 pm. I'd had a whole afternoon with no noticeable pain for the first time in a months. By 5:00 pm, I was done. Fatigue and neck pain came and hit me like a brick. My pain free/med free day was over. It was ibuprofen, muscle relaxer and a nap for me. I didn't get up until I woke the family for suhoor (pre-dawn breakfast) at 4:00 am the next morning.

Third visit: I told the doctor about my pain free day that ended in a crash. He said, "I should have warned you about that. It happens to so many people. You should't increase your activity so drastically, even if you feel good." Why is it that I have to be told these things? Where is my own common sense? Suss!... Anyway, after the third acupuncture visit, it rained for four days straight. Now, you may recall that stormy weather has been excruciatingly painful for me since my surgery. But, these days, I have only needed 1-2 doses per day of pain medicine as opposed to the every 4-6 hours I would take during previous barometric pressure changes.

So, while I'm still not too excited about acupuncture, I go for my fourth visit today. Ah, if only there were some relaxing spa treatment that yielded the same results. Until I find out about that miracle massage/pedicure/whirlpool, I guess I'm sticking to the point.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Two months out and all clear

It's been almost two months since my decompression surgery, and, this week,  Dr. W has given me the green light to exercise and increase my activity at will. I shouldn't have to worry about a leak this far from surgery, so the really scary part is over. My scar and range of motion got his thumbs up too!

As for pain, it has diminished greatly in the last two months. That is not to say I'm pain free, but what I feel now doesn't even compare to those first weeks. Mostly, I am like a human barometer. I get pain in my head and/or back before the rain and on really hot days (almost every other day in July!). The doctor assured me that would diminish over the next three months, hopefully to nothing.

Aside from that, it's a question of stamina. I am increasing my activities, kind of testing the waters and pushing myself to get back to a "normal" level of activity. I've been stretching and walking daily since the second day after surgery. Now, I'm picking up the pace and lengthening my stride and distance. I'm also doing more errands and housework, but I consistently find that I have to take rest for my neck midday.

I'm now off of prescription pain relievers, but I frequently take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain, sometimes enhanced with a low dose of aspirin. This week, I also went back to taking a muscle relaxer called skelaxin before the rain or when the forecast is over 100 degrees. I don't really understand why, but it worked for me before surgery, and I decided to give it a try to avoid taking any more codeine. With it, I'm able to function through the bad days.

In an effort to leave behind all the drugs, prescription or over the counter, I'm seeking some alternative health care treatments:

So far, I've got homeopathic treatments along with monthly cranial-sacral manipulation. Right now, I'm taking homeopathic treatments for headache and nausea. The nausea is much better since surgery, but returns frequently. It turns out, getting rid of the nausea reduces my urge to snack significantly. I sure hope this bodes well for weight loss!

I'm also beginning acupuncture. I got my first treatment a couple of weeks ago, and slept for most of the following two days. I begin bi-weekly treatments on Tuesday, so we'll see how it goes.

I went only to an initial visit with the Reflexologist/Reiki practitioner for Reflexology. I definitely noticed an immediate effect, and this may be effective going forward. However, I may be getting overwhelmed with all the poking and prodding. I think I'll put this one on the back burner until the jury is in on acupuncture.