Posted on Mar 6, 2011 in Blog |
A month ago, I at my regular appt with my LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor), my symptom checklist on the Status Update form included:
Back pain – Pain has actually worsened in past month, waking me again at night. Not complaining about the pain, just telling you.
Fatigue – tired of writing this word down as a presence in my life. Fatigue is incrementally improved from last month, but still a controlling force.
On the Improvement side, I had a reduction of inflammation throughout my body; a possible explanation for the pain as I was starting to ‘do’ more. That’s why I wasn’t ‘complaining’ per se. My physical therapist was ecstatic. She was seeing less calcification in my muscles. She was actually able to pull my muscles from the fascia on my body, something she hadn’t seen in 18 months of treatment. I knew we were making progress.
As a result of the reduced inflammation, Dr. M implemented some more changes, focusing on these two symptoms. I’m just going to tell you about two of them here:
Exer-Rest Bed – This is a new machine, aimed at helping patients who are unable (or unwilling) to exercise yet, like me. I haven’t been able to walk any distance, never mind thinking about my daily 3 miles from a few years ago. Anything with impact was out of the question. Three sessions a week, for 45 minutes a session, it sort of like jumping on a trampoline sideways, with no risk of injury or negative joint impact. The concept is to get the body moving like it’s exercising, without the risks; just the benefits.
It works! Instead of coming home at 3 pm each day and going to bed, resting, I drive to his office for a 45-minute session. I get up from the bed and not only do I feel more energized, but I feel like the scarecrow at the end of the Wizard of Oz: I have a brain! The motion somehow increases bloodflow to the brain, improving my cognitive assimilation and processing capabilities.
The first time I got up from bed, I felt exhilarated, exuberant, and elated. I couldn’t believe that 45 minutes of shaking my body could produce such a profound difference in my body and brain.
I have done ten sessions and am asking this week for ten more. It’s mildly addicting. . . .
Injections – No, not steroidal injections. He has been able to give me muscle trigger point injections of Marcaine (initially numbing the area that lasts about 24 hours) and Toradol (reduces inflammation for a few weeks). First, I see my physical therapist who finds the top three points in my body that have the most significant trigger points. Then, I come into Dr. M and he injects them with the drugs (mind you, I HATE needles, but this man is totally gifted in the shot giving department). The next morning, I return to the physical therapist who then does more trigger point therapy and dry needling (which, for the record, DOES hurt, but it also DOES work) to release the spasms. With the medication in the muscle, she is much more able to get INTO the muscle and work the spasm loose. The Marcaine makes it less painful for me, and the Toradol helps keep the inflammation down so the trigger point is less likely to reoccur.
One ‘side effect’ of the injections that I have to tell you about . . . .
I had NO idea what to expect with the injections. I asked him how many I would get each time, and he said, ‘as many as the patient can tolerate.’ I was thinking cortisone shots . . PAINFUL.
He inserted the needle, which I barely felt and started injecting, which I also barely felt.
He explained, ‘You may feel a little stinging here’ and I felt nothing. Within each injection, he makes three ‘passes’ to make sure he is getting all areas around the trigger point, sort of three injections in one. I felt almost nothing, and not even close to even what I feel when getting my blood drawn.
Then, within ten minutes, the miracle happened.
While sitting in the chair, I lifted my leg without pain.
I stood up from the chair in a straight, forward, symmetrical motion, without pain.
I walked down the hall, without pain.
I looked like the cat that ate the canary I was smiling so big . . .
I had no idea my pain would be taken away . . . Dr. M sat and watched me as the realization grew, his grin not as large, but with a chuckle like a proud parent when their child takes their first steps.
The chuckle let loose when I exclaimed, ‘This is mondo bizarro . . . ‘
I bent over and touched the floor with my fingertips, without pain.
I walked out of the office and got into my car, without pain.
I drove home and got out of my car, without pain.
I went to bed without any pillows as props.
I slept through the night.
I woke up smiling and rose from the bed, without pain.
I shaved my legs in the shower with no hesitation of raising my leg on the wall.
I think you are probably getting the idea of how the day progressed for me.
After the second trigger point therapy session the following day, the pain is back, but my mobility is still improved.
Side note here: to be pain free for 24 hours – – I can’t begin to explain the euphoria surrounding this after suffering from constant pain on a daily basis for years. I literally could not stop smiling every waking moment. It is just a morale booster if nothing else, giving me a glimpse of what my near future is molding itself to be.
The staff chuckles with me when I come in and they ask me how I am . . I tell them that in ten minutes I am going to be stupendous. After the injections, I do my ‘Show and Tell,’ getting out of the chair straight, bending and touching my toes . . . .
I’ve had three sets of injections; each of which seems to be building on the previous.
This last time, Dr. M didn’t get me completely pain free with the three injections, but I quickly added, ‘I’m still very grateful and elated with these results!’
Another miracle: I got back on my erg last week, the first time in two years, rowing for 25 minutes daily.
I still had a setback this week, and had even more mental / emotional breakthroughs (steps forward) than I can yet write about (I’m sure it will come soon enough).
This disease is three steps forward, two steps back. This week, for me, it was five steps forward, one step back. I am grateful for every step . . . especially the ones without pain.