I haven’t posted for a couple weeks about my progress in the SCI realm so I thought I’d drop an update. Overall, I’m doing so much better – yay!! I have not needed my tube for feedings for a month and am maintaining weight and hydration. It’s nice to eat again!! Using a food tracker and a “drink water” reminder on my phone has helped enormously. I’ve contacted my tube feeding nurse practitioner to talk about removing the PEG/J tube totally.
My chronic pain is a different story. As referenced in my earlier post at the beginning of this month, it was to the point where I was having pain at a level of eight to ten every day. Specific areas (shoulders, back, neck) along with overall body pain kept me from functioning at an acceptable level. I have always been able to distract myself until the pain rose above seven. Tramadol used to work well but I’ve burned through it and it no longer controls my pain at the doses prescribed.
Getting out of bed became a struggle. I discussed the predicament with my VA SCI doctor and we decided it would wise to put me on the Fentanyl patch, starting at a baby dose so that I could actually make appointments and attend therapies for some alternative medicine, in an effort to keep my pain at a tolerable level without narcotics. I scheduled multiple appointments for Myofascial Release, Acupuncture, and am receiving TENS unit soon.
Narcotics are not my forte and I abhor taking them. I refuse, at this point, to enter that endless cycle of developing tolerance to a drug and then having to switch. Although the fentanyl patch doesn’t affect me mentally (no fog or sleepiness), I know that if I rely solely on it, I would inevitably develop a tolerance. Pursuing alternative ways for pain relief has always interested me. The desire has become a necessity.
Myofascial Release Therapy
Today, I had my first myofascial release therapy appointment. I had no idea what to expect – I’ve been too busy to research it (so very uncharacteristic of me 😂 ) My very skilled therapist at the VA focused on my right shoulder today since a lot of pain resides there. My range of motion is significantly reduced, partially from spinal cord damage and partially from shoulder damage.
She explained that she would start by applying about 60 seconds of firm pushing on “trigger points.” Usually there are a few “mother-load” trigger points they focus on, however, my shoulders are almost completely filled with trigger points so it didn’t take much effort to find them. I felt sharp, but bearable, pain when she initially pressed on one but within 60 seconds, I could feel that pain disappear or at a minimum, diminish significantly. She, noted as well, with her experience in this field, she could feel the tightness dissipate after pressure.
My husband got some training so he worked on my left shoulder as she worked on my right one. After the treatment (about 35-40 min, including instruction and explanation), I could feel the shoulder was significantly relaxed. My therapist explained that it should improve even more as we work through the massive volume of tight points that are blocking the main ones. Eventually they will be able to access the main trigger points.
So did it work? Well, I didn’t roll out proclaiming, “Hallelujah, my pain is gone”, I clearly I felt a welcomed reduction of pain and a relaxation. I am truly optimistic. I have 3 more sessions with the therapist at which time, she’ll decide how frequently I should see her and how much we should do at home.
My therapist also gave me a small device called the “CranioCradle” with instructions to use it once or twice a day. The device design relieves pressure and tightness anywhere along the back. The VA provided mine for free but a quick search on Amazon, revealed they are readily available OTC. I’ll post later on any benefits that I receive from it.
Next up.. Acupuncture
Tomorrow, I have my first acupuncture appointment. Again, I am very excited since I have never tried it. I alway greet each new therapy I try with a positive anticipation that it will add to my tools of pain relief and, ultimately avoid the requirement of more drugs.
The VA PT team is issuing a tens unit to use as needed for specific areas that flare up. I’ve used TENS units before on my back with some success so I’ll be adding that tool back into my “pain toolkit.”
Glory Goes to God!
It’s no surprise to anyone that God is the center of my life – it’s broadcast in my URL and hugely in my posts. ♥️ I thank and praise Him whether things are going great or if I’m in the midst of the darkest storm because He is the reason for the joy in my heart in all circumstance. I am so grateful to my big God for opening these doors to me. I know I can always rest easy, knowing that He is in control! Here’s a song that I relate to very well!
Music and lyrics by Micah Tyler
Video by Charlotte ChristianSongs on YouTube