Friday, November 29, 2013

Pre-Op Checklist--aka: Sh*t That Needs To Get Done Before I Get Surgerized

Grammar Nazi's--settle down.  Surgerized is a word my son made up.  He's ten.  And super cute and funny.  So now I use it in my vocabulary.

Below is a list of all the things to get done before I go into surgery again.  Some of these things I won't have to do again (like buy a wheelchair), but I listed them anyway, so anyone getting ready for this surgery will have a good place to start.  *All the things that are starred are items I already own from my last surgery. 
 Things to do:
  • Get pre-op physical from regular, family doctor
  • Do pre-op interview with hospital
  • Schedule babysitting for kids
  • Contact kids school about absences
  • Clean the house
  • Pay bills
  • Pack bag for hospital
  • Get haircut
  • Stop Celebrex
  • Make some extra food to freeze for extra meals
  • Clean out refrigerator
  • Make room in freezer for ice.  We didn't know this for ankle #1...after that surgery they sent me home with a Polar Care Cube Cold Therapy Unit (which is genius and one of those things I wish I invented).  Click here for my post on the awesomeness of the polar cube.

Items to purchase:

Did I miss anything?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cast Care T-Shirt Tip

So I decided to share a little cast care tip that I got from the guy who put my original cast on ankle #1.  This should work with any cast (anywhere).  All you need is a cast protector bag that you buy from the drugstore, and a t-shirt.

   Anybody have any other cast care tips to share?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pre-Op Medicine Protocol

After yesterday's post, I had a friend comment, “Happy Graduation!”...this was in reference to me having my last physical therapy session.  I just wanted to clear something wasn't my last day of PT because I'm done rehabbing that ankle.  Hardly.  It's because I have to stop taking one of my everyday pain medicines.

Today is Tuesday, and is the last day I can take my Celebrex, which I take to control my arthritis pain.  Before you have surgery, you have to stop taking certain medicines, usually a week or two before surgery.  Sometimes your doc puts you on extra medicines as well...thankfully, this wasn't the case with my ankle surgeries (I had to do Lovenox injections before I had my knees done).  Every surgeon is different with their pre-op protocol.  My current surgeon has instructed me to stop all NSAIDS...Celebrex is in this family of drugs.  Also included is: ibuprofin, Alleve, and aspirin.  All these meds thin the blood...which is not good when someone is about to slice into you.  The last thing you want is to have to have a blood transfusion.  Been there, done that.  Don't want to do it again.

I am nervous about stopping my Celebrex again, as last time it not only caused me to be in a lot of pain, but also caused a smashing headache for about 3 days straight.  I've been taking Celebrex for 2 years now.  My prescription says that I can take one pill, 2x/day...but I only take one pill at night, unless I'm having an ultra bad day...then I'll take one in the morning as well.  I hate having to take medicine, so I try to take as little as possible.

Anyone else have a similar experience with coming off Celebrex or any other kind of everyday pain med?  Do you have any tips that have worked to ease the withdrawal symptoms?

Here's hoping that this time around the withdrawal symptoms are better...Geronimo!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Last Day of PT...for now

Well, today was my last day at physical therapy before I have ankle #2 done.  I was going to make another appointment this week, but the only day that is available is Wednesday, and I have acupuncture that day...and doing both in the same day isn't an option.

I had my therapist, Jenn, take measurements of both ankles.  I thought I'd be all scientific-like with the comparisons since my right ankle measurements are really my baseline for my left.  Here are my numbers...all are active range of motion:

Plantarflexion                L=40 R=40
Dorsiflexion                   L=7 R=10
Inversion                       L=30 R=30
Eversion                        L=5 R=10
Standing Calf Stretch    L=15 R=30

Remember: my Left is my new ankle, or ankle #1.  The Right is still my old ankle, or ankle #2.

The inversion on ankle #1 is still weak, but I can get it to what my other one is.  Jenn says my numbers are reasonable, but would like to see me keep stretching my calf.  She wants me to do it every hour!  Oy...

Psoas Muscle.  From Wikipedia.

I can do 9 minutes on the treadmill, at 1.8 mph. It doesn't seem like a lot, and it's probably not, but I can't overdue ankle #2.  After about the 7 minute mark, my left hip starts to hurt a bit.  Jenn says that it's probably caused by my gait and did some hands-on stretching of the psoas muscle...which was feels like she's pushing on your gut/groin.  Good times.

Also included in my PT routine: the thigh machine – 45 lbs, the knee machine – 15 lbs (just started this 2 weeks ago), the pilates reformer, the total gym (level 5), and table exercises (leg lifts, table top marching, etc).

At home exercises: gray theraband, core work (table top, pelvic tilts), stretching, leg lifts (straight up and side).  Also, I'll sit with my knees at 90 degrees, and put as much weight on my left knee as I can...and then do calf lifts with my left foot.  This is a cheat, because I can't do standing calf lifts yet...mostly because if I try to do them one legged (on the new ankle), I can't do it.  And I can't do it with both feet because my old ankle #2 is still shitty and will crumble to bits.  I know this because the last time I did calf lifts I couldn't walk on that ankle for a good six weeks.  Ankle #2--it's time for you to hit the road Jack!

I know everyone is different, but I always wonder where other people are at this point in their recovery. Is everyone else running marathons at this point? Or are you struggling like me?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pre-Op Testing

Well, I went to my regular GP this week to get my pre-op physical and blood testing done.  I should have written down what blood tests were ordered, but my brain was elsewhere.  I had a regular physical...he listened to my breathing, took my blood pressure, my weight, looked in my ears and throat...nothing invasive at all.  After all that, I had my blood drawn by the blood lady.  That's one of those nice perks about my doctor's office...they have their own Quest Labs person there so you can have a little one stop shopping.

The blood draw is the only invasive test before my procedure.  I made sure to drink a lot of water the day before and the day of, to insure that the blood draw would go quicker.  I'm one of those people who has non-cooperating veins, so anything I can do to help the lab people out, I do.  I was lucky and she got me in one stick.

On a related note...when I had to have my IV put in right before my last ankle surgery, the hospital lab lady got some warm blankets and placed them on both of my arms...then checked my veins several minutes later.  This helped my veins come to the surface more (or something like that) and she was able to get my IV line done in one stick...this is the first time I've EVER had an IV done in one stick.   I think I was stuck five times before one of my knee surgeries...that was 5 times and 3 different people doing the sticking.  My rule is that each person gets two tries--then they're done.

Back to pre-op testing....

This is the same testing as last time.  The only other thing I had done before my last surgery was have a bunch of x-rays taken of both ankles.  I had this done at my first visit with my orthopedist.   I didn't have repeat x-rays this time, probably because the others are only 6 months old and I had already discussed, and agreed, with my doc about having replacements on both ankles.  It was a matter of which one did I want to do first...and honestly, I randomly picked...they were both shit.

Has anyone else had similar experiences before surgery? 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Acupuncture: How Does This Voodoo Actually Work?

When people hear that I have acupuncture treatments weekly, they often ask, “Does that actually work?”  I'm so tempted to say “No. I just like wasting 2 hours of my time and pissing away my husband's hard earned money for fun”...but I fight the urge and tell them how it really is.  Acupuncture has made a huge difference in my life and I'm so grateful that it was recommended to me.

If you haven't been to acupuncture, let me give you the skinny on the basics.  Acupuncture was started like a million years ago in China and is still practiced today. It's an all natural way to control pain and keep you in good health. The basic treatment is done with very small needles.  Sometimes they can enhance this with electro stim therapy (similar to the way physical therapists use it).   Cupping, bloodletting, and herbs can also be incorporated into your treatments.  I'm sure there is way more involved, but these are the things that I've experienced.

What Happens First?

My acupuncturist escorts me to a private office and we have our “chat”.  I sit down and I'm asked how I've been feeling since my last visit.  After I tell them all my ailments, they feel my pulse on both wrists (to doubly make sure I'm alive) and then I stick out my tongue.  I don't know exactly what all this does, but it's part of the Chinese magic that gets recorded in my chart.  Next, I'm off to the treatment room.

The Treatment Room

I first start out by stripping down to my underwear (settle down!).  This makes it easier for your acupuncturist to have access to all the places that may need treatment.  When I had my cast on my ankle and it was a pain in the ass to get my pants on and off, I just left on my shorts (it was summer at the time).  As long as your knees are available and you have a waistband with a little give that allows for your lower back to be treated, you should be fine.  Occasionally, I'll need a needle or two in my hips and they'll need to lower my underwear to about my butt're welcome for the visual ;)

I'm given a paper sheet to cover myself and after I get situated I ring the little bell to let them know I'm ready.  The treatment starts out face down with the paper sheet covering my buttocks and upper thighs.  I usually get about 20 needles on both sides (so ~40 total).  I don't know if that is the usual for everyone or if it's just me (I think it's just me).  They unhook my bra to get full access to my back, and after all the needles are placed, and the warming lamps are put over me, they leave me to lay there anywhere from 15-25 minutes, depending on how busy they are and how long I have to “cook”.

My own personal cupping set

If I have cupping done, they'll do that before the needle acupuncture.  After cupping, they apply this ointment that has a cooling effect on the skin.  I don't mind the smell, but my hubby hates it.   The funniest part is that it's called "Po Sum On" a redneck version of "pour some on!" 

After my back is done, they come in and remove all the needles, then leave the room so I can flip over and lay face up.  This is when they'll do spots on my hands, feet, legs, face, and sometimes (rarely) my stomach.  I lay there again and cook...rinse, repeat.

But Needles Are Too Scary!

Most people are kinda freaked out by the whole needle thing.  Please understand that these needles are NOT the same as the needles you get at the doctors...those are injections...they are bigger because they are administering medicine or drawing blood.  Acupuncture needles are smaller than silk pins you use in sewing.

That's the scary needle in the to a .7 lead pencil.  The part of the needle you get "poked" with is the I-can-barely-see-it part on top.  Only the tiniest bit goes in your skin...they are put in very superficially.

Most of the time the needles don't hurt.  Sometimes they burn after they're put in, but then calm down after several seconds.  The ones in my sinuses usually hurt the whole time they're in...a hurt like you are poking at a black and blue.   And the ones on your ear hurt the whole time too.  Only one time did a needle hurt so badly that I cried.  My acupuncturist removed it immediately.  It was in my right shoulder and it felt like someone stabbed me.   Even after he took the needle out, I could still feel pain.  Again, that happened ONCE.  If I get, on average, 40 needles per week, that's over 2000 needles per year.  And I've been going for about 4 years.  Even if you count the first year that I went twice a month...that's still over 7000 needles.

All their needles are individually packaged and before each needle is placed, they apply a swab of alcohol to the area.  They don't wear rubber gloves...I asked about this a few weeks ago and was told that contact with blood is rare and even when bloodletting is done, the amount of blood is so little that it's inconsequential. *side note out of left field--did you know that not all urologists use gloves? :0 True story*

How Long Does The Treatment Take To Work And How Long Will It Last?

A treatment usually lasts me a week or two, depending on what's hurting, the weather, my activity level, etc.  Initially, it took 4 treatments for me to start feeling the positive, healing effects.  Everyone's body is different, so it can take people shorter or longer for it to work and the lasting effects will also vary.  Usually, I feel better the next day, but sometimes the acupuncture “kicks in” pretty immediately.  It's all very mysterious and magical to me.

Who Performs This Magic?

I realize I'm using the term “they” a lot...that's because I get treated by two different people.  Depending on the schedule, I'll see either just one of them for both back and front, -or- one for my back and the other for my front.  It doesn't matter much to me...both are licensed acupuncturists and are great at what they do.

If anyone is interested in finding an acupuncturist, I would recommend you ask around and see if you can get a recommendation from someone you trust.  You can even ask some of your western medicine doctors, as more and more doctors (especially pain management doctors) are getting educated about the healing effects of Chinese medicine.  And remember: do not ask Aunt Betty to poke you with sewing's not the same thing.

Costs And More Praise Of Acupuncture

That's the basic on how it's done.  I've been having acupuncture treatments for a few years now, and it has really helped with my chronic pain and has also kept me in better health.  I don't get sick as often and when I do, it doesn't seem to last as long.  I've taken various herb concoctions for pain, illness, anxiety...some have helped and some haven't.  All the herbs are out of pocket and cost anywhere from $15 -$30, and are about a week's supply.  Each acupuncture session is $85 and my insurance covers part of it.  I used to have to pay out of pocket for everything...when I did, they only charged me $60 per visit.

I love acupuncture and recommend it to everyone who will listen.

Have you ever had acupuncture?  If so, how did it work for you?  If you have yet to try it, what is the reason?  Anything that I didn't cover or other related questions for me?  Ask away!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Total Ankle Replacement #1 -- 5 Month Update

It's been a little over 5 months since my ankle #1 (left) total ankle replacement and I'm gearing up for going under the knife with ankle #2 (right) in a little over three weeks.  What does this tell you?  That having it done was worth it.  Worth it enough that I can't wait to get #2 done and rehabbed so I can have a bit of normalcy back in my life.  And by normalcy, I mean I can go grocery shopping without having to cancel all the rest of my plans for the week.

Range of Motion

My range of motion (ROM) isn't what I'd hoped it would be (I was hoping I would get to at least what I had).  I don't know what the numbers were before the surgery, but here are my newest measurements...

Ankle AROM Dorsiflexion: 5, P=20
Ankle AROM Plantarflexion: 35, P=55
Ankle AROM Eversion: 10, P=15
Ankle AROM Inversion 20 P=30

AROM means Active Range of much I can move my foot on my own.  The “P” means much my therapist can torture it to :)  My therapist says that I'm still within the “normal” range for walking, but that I won't be a ballerina any time soon.  My Nutcracker dreams dashed!

"The Dancing Class" ~Degas


I started the treadmill at physical therapy just a couple weeks ago, and I think that has helped me experience less pain when I walk.  I wish I could workout more on the treadmill, but ankle #2 limits me as it is very susceptible to overuse.

Using my new ankle is getting easier...I can walk on it and stand on it longer with less recovery time.  I went to the grocery store just a few days ago and spent about 15-20 minutes in the store .  This was the second “real” outing I've had… the first was when I went to the craft store about 3 weeks ago.  The difference between the two outings is that I felt less sore this time than last, so that's progress.  I'm only using my aircast when I go out of the house...otherwise, I'm wearing my Birki's around the house for support.

Over the past month I've started doing a little more housework, including:

  • laundry
  • vacuuming for very short periods of time (my left hip will start hurting--probably due to my gait)
  • hand washing dishes (our dishwasher broke about 6 weeks ago--great timing Murphy!)
  • Cooking.  Well okay, I only cooked once...but I'm counting it as progress!

If you add all this to my two outings, I'm on my way to “normal”...well, my normal.

Overall, I feel like I'm much stronger than 3 months ago when I started PT, but I know I have a bit more to go.  I can now balance on #1 for several seconds.  This will be VERY important when I have #2 done, since I'll have to be non-weight bearing anywhere from 2-6 weeks, depending on if my bone fractures again during the surgery.  Being able to balance will be my biggest struggle for those first few weeks.

Anyone else have total ankle replacement?  Or other ankle surgery?  How long did it take for you to feel “normal”?  Would you do it again?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Adam Levine Is Magic

What do Adam Levine and puppies have to do with a blog about having a shitty bone disease and living with chronic pain?  Not much...on the surface.   But lets look a little deeper.

Adam Levine is hot.  And talented.  And seemingly funny.  And this all makes me happy.  And studies have proven that happiness makes you experience less pain.   And less pain is good for someone who has shitty bones.

So if a + b = c
and c = d
then Adam Levine with a puppy is an analgesic.

Imagine if I could see Adam Levine with his puppy in person...I might be magically cured from overwhelming happiness.  Like a friggen miracle!

Plus, this is a great excuse to post a pic of Adam Levine and a cute puppy.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Update-Facet Joint Injections Day 3

Just a quick update... (for some background click here)

I can no longer start a bonfire with my face...happy day!


When I woke up, my face was no longer hot to the touch and I slept better insomnia! I did notice that my knees hurt...this also happened the last time I had a steroid shot. Last time the knee pain lasted approximately 2 days, so I made a *note to self* to have my acupuncturist address this later on.

Mid-Morning Acupuncture

My acupuncturist did normal needle acupuncture and some bloodletting on each cheek, on my left jaw, and on my third eye area, in hopes of relieving the neck pain and face pain caused by laying on my stomach during treatment. I felt immediate relief after the bloodletting in my jaw. After my treatment, my knees felt better and my cheeks were flushed again and warm to the touch. This went away after a few hours.


My left cheek still felt warm to me...but not to the touch. My neck was still tender from where the injections were, and I felt like I had more energy this afternoon...but that could be from the acupuncture.

The best part of the whole day was the random act of kindness that was gifted upon can read about it here.

A Random Act of Kindness


This is what makes the world a better place.  And no, I'm not talking about the chocolate cupcake...although chocolate cupcakes DO make the world a better place.  I'm talking about...


I found this chocolatey treasure at my front door when I got home from acupuncture.  I haven't been feeling well the past couple of days, and may have possibly, kinda sorta mentioned it via social media.  When I saw the gift of love, I figured it was one of my awesome peeps who wanted to put a smile on my face.  And I was right.  And it did.

A friend of mine, who has been keeping up with my blog, decided to leave me this deliciousness to cheer me up.  Just because.  Not wanting anything in return.  Just to bring a little cheer to another human being.  She took the time out of her busy life to leave work, go to the store, purchase the yumminess, drive to my house, and leave it at my front door when I wasn't home.  Heaven points galore.  Many blessings to this wonderful woman!

How about that Karma?  I'll be driving my friend to the train station next hour away, early in the morning, in rush hour traffic.  I agreed to do this on Monday...and Wednesday I get awesomeness at my doorstep.  Coincidence?   I think not.

After Gorging Revelations

Funny thing is that I totally ate it before I even knew who left it.   I figured someone left me a message via facebook or email (which they did) and that I'd eat the little piece of heaven first and check later.  Priorities people!  What I realized later on was that someone could very easily poison me with a chocolate cupcake...seriously...I'd be dead before I could even lick my fingers clean!  Snow White is to apples as Katie is to chocolate cupcakes.

Yessss...I even managed to work in a Disney reference...booya!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Update--Facet Joint Injections Day 2

Yesterday was the day after I had the facet joint injections on the left side of my neck at the C1, C2, and C3 levels.  Read about the injections here.  My neck was pretty sore, as well as the left side of my face a bit. On a pain scale, it was probably a 4-5 by the end of the day.

At least my body is predictable, as I suffer the same side effects whenever I get any type of steroid injection.  This is the third type I've had...the others being: occipital nerve blocks, an epidural steroid injection, and now the facet joint injections.  The three worst side effects I suffered yesterday are:

  • Insomnia
  • Neck soreness
  • Flushed cheeks

I stayed in bed all day yesterday because the night of the injections I suffered from insomnia, probably due to a combination of the neck pain and the steroid.  I was hoping to nap during the day, but my body wasn't too keen on that idea.  Oh, and I felt guilty that I kept my hubby up all night long...and not in a good way.

The neck pain was the worst in the morning and by the evening it turned into more of a if you sleep on your neck all wrong and it gets kinked up...except a little worse.  I could move my head right, but when I tried to move it left it hurt.  The site of the injections were tender but not black and blue.

My cheeks were flushed when I woke up and my left cheek got really hot by the afternoon (approximately 24 hours after the shot).  I tried putting a cold washcloth on it, but it didn't help much. It was on fire I tell ya!  I thought my face was going to spontaneously combust it was so hot.  I took my temperature because I wanted to check and make sure I didn't have a fever.  Weirdly, my temperature was 97.4...even though my cheek temperature was probably a million.

Overall, I took it easy but was pretty uncomfortable all day.  The best part of yesterday was that I didn't wear a bra and stayed in my pj's all day.  So that was my "bright side" :)  Hoping today will be better.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm not a jerk, I'm sick!

A friend of mine posted this the other day on facebook.  It speaks volumes for those of us who suffer from chronic pain and other invisible illnesses.  The only change I would make to this picture would be to replace the word "shady" with "jerk".

Check it...

I think some people think I'm a total jerk because I cancel plans at the last minute or I'm reluctant to make permanent plans just to avoid having to cancel plans at the last minute.  I'm not a jerk!  I'm sick!

There are times that friends or family will bring up these great, exciting plans... and I sit there with NO reaction at all.  This is because I'm totally conflicted!  On the one hand, I want to jump up and down and tell them what a great idea they have and how excited I am about it.  Then reality sets in, and I think to myself...

  • What if I'm not feeling well that day? 
  • If I do too much the day before, will it leave me with no energy or put me in pain?
  • How far will I have to walk?  
  • Will there be places to sit?  (Don't even get me started on the lack of benches in this world).  
  • How long will I have to be on my feet?  
  • How long before my back (or legs, or some other shitty body part) starts to cramp or ache?  
  • Do I have to get dressed up? ...because currently I'm in sneakers...have been for a couple of years now (I've had arizona braces for both ankles)... and will be for another 6-12 months at least (assuming I can start wearing regular shoes again after my ankles are healed up).  No girl wants to be dressed up and wear sneakers.
  • Do I have a ride home in case I need to leave early because I'm in more pain than I anticipated?
  • How far do i have to travel?
  • Do I have something important the next day?  If so, then I'll have to cancel one of them.

You see the dilemma.

Dealing with chronic pain is one of those invisible illnesses that many people just don't understand.  If you don't look sick, then they assume you are fine.  You should see the looks I get when I go to Disney and rent those mobility scooters.  If I'm in shorts, and you can see both of my 6 inch knee scars, then people seem to be okay.  But when I'm wearing pants, I just look like a healthy jerk who is too lazy to walk around the parks. Luckily, the employees at Disney are awesome and never make me feel jerky...I love you Disney! 

Same thing happens when I use handicapped parking...which I try not to use unless I'm having a bad day.  People see some goddess (okay, that MAY be an exaggeration :D ) coming out of the car and think I swiped my grandmother's handicapped tag because, again, I'm a jerky lazy piece of shit.  Well, I'm not a jerk, I'm sick!!

I was telling a friend the other day that I actually felt more comfortable going out after my surgery when I had my walking boot.  People can see the boot.  They're used to seeing many people who are “normal” people who have injuries wearing the boot.  To them, maybe I just hurt my foot while kicking ass on my roller derby team.  Yup, that's the story I should start peddling LOL.  Now that I'm in an aircast and pants, you just see me walking with a slight limp (which is almost gone...working on it!).  Nobody holds doors for you or gives up their seat for you unless you look injured or crippled.  I speak from experience.

Do my friends and family understand my chronic pain?  Well, my very close friends less than a handful.  As far as my family...sadly, not a lot of them do...but they try.  I really think the only people that really “get it” are fellow sufferers and the people that you live with, who see you suffer day to day.  It gets frustrating at times but maybe by sharing some of this it will help, even in the tiniest bit.

Recently I was introduced to a website that was started by a woman who has lupus, another one of those invisible illnesses.  It's opened my eyes to that fact that it's not just me who's having these experiences.  She has this great “spoon theory”, which is one of the best explanations for invisible illness I've come across.  I encourage everyone to read it in hopes that the more people understand, the more empathetic and less judgmental they'll be.  And that would make a better world. 

Anyone else suffer from an invisible illness?  Do you find people think your being jerky?   How do your family and close friends treat you?  

PS--I really want a shirt that reads, “I'm not a jerk! I'm just sick”.  You hearing me Santa!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Facet Joint Injections and Why I Have Neck Problems

So, I've been having issues with my neck and back for a few years now.  Basically, I have arthritis in my neck joints, and muscle and nerve related problems in my neck due to a cervical fusion I had when I was younger.

Why did I have cervical fusion?  Well, when I was first diagnosed with SED at 15, the doctors took x-rays of my entire body and concentrated on my neck and spine since it's common to have spine related problems caused by my disease.  And I was a winner (go me!) with a little bone chip that was floating in my spinal column high up in the C1-C2 area.  Looking back, there were some signs that we should have recognized.  I remember as a child going on bumper cars and getting bumped a certain way and having my entire body go numb.  Not good.  I also did a gymnastics class once and was doing somersaults and had my body go numb there as well.

The doctors told me that I was very lucky (I would say it's a miracle) that I hadn't been paralyzed (they said I would have been paralyzed to the extent that Christopher Reeve was) and sent me home in a cervical collar and I had surgery scheduled for 3 weeks later.  I had a halo put on about a week before my fusion and was in that for over four months.  I missed half of my sophomore year in high school.

Skip to 20 years later and my fusion has “settled” how a new house will settle after a few years.  Mine has settled and gone crooked.  If you know anything about how bones and muscles work together, than you know that your muscles try to protect your bones...and mine were getting very angry with my neck bones being crooked!  I constantly get knots in my neck and suffer from tension headaches.   It had gotten so bad that about 7 years ago I went to a neuro doc to see what was wrong.  It was him that told me that it was very common to see these fusions settle and get crooked, and the best thing for me to do was try to keep the muscles loose.  He recommended physical therapy and acupuncture (it was only years later that I finally started acupuncture).  I went to physical therapy for a few months and was able to get the muscles to a calm enough level and continued on with therapeutic massage after that about every 6 weeks (would have went longer, except that's a total out of pocket cost). 

This kept things at bay until about 2 years ago when my symptoms worsened and I was now also having constant burning down the side of my neck that would radiate to the entire side of my head into my ear and side of my face.  I went to a whole slew of new doctors and was really terrified that they were going to tell me that I needed to have my fusion redone.  Thank God that wasn't the case (seriously--THANK YOU GOD. Thank you, thank you, thank you!).  I was diagnosed with occipital neuralgia and started getting injections into my greater and lesser occipital nerves.  After my ankle surgery 5 months ago, my neck was flaring up again.  The doc who was doing my injections moved away and the new doc who replaced him wanted to try some new things that would hopefully last longer than the occipital injections.  I tried an epidural shot about 3 weeks ago that was supposed to help my neck and my back pain (yeah, I have some back issues too).   Not only did that not help, it was pretty painful for a few days.

And that brings me to today.  I called my doctors office to beg them to see me earlier than the appointment that I had already lined up for the end of November...I didn't want anything to interfere with my ankle surgery coming up.  They said they could see me this afternoon.  Woot!  The procedure I had done is called facet joint injections.  It was a bit painful at times and lasted about 10-15 minutes.  Most of the time the pain was about a 3 out of 10, with the worst of the procedure being about a 6-7.  They said that I should be mostly numb for about 2-3 hours and then I should ice it.  Well, it's been about 1.5 hours and I'm starting to feel sore and I have a very slight eyeball headache.

I was nervous about the procedure, having the epidural shot only weeks before, but I held it together pretty well.  I had a friend drive me (thanks Joan!) and I was glad that she was there in the room with me because after the procedure was over, I felt very anxious and thought I may have a panic attack.  I don't like needles in my neck!!  After a few tears, and a strawberry kiwi juice box (I guess that's what they give their nervous patients), I did my 15 minute wait in the office before I was okay'd to be released into the wild.

Now it's a wait and see if this works.  Fingers crossed...good vibes and prayers welcomed!

Anyone else ever had these procedures done?  Have they worked for you?  If so, how long did you find relief for? 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bloodletting much?

So today's acupuncture treatment was more adventurous than usual.  First, let me give you the skinny on me and acupuncture.

I try to get acupuncture on a weekly basis, although since my ankle surgery, it's been a challenge to get there regularly.  I've been going for...hmmm... 4 years now?  Something like that.  Everyone's body is different, but, initially, it took me 4 treatments to start feeling the healing effects.  Before acupuncture I had started taking Vicodin on a regular basis for pain.  NOT GOOD.  Since I started treatments, it's very rare that I have to take something that strong.  I do have my flare ups with stuff, but overall acupuncture has really helped me. Like A LOT.

See, this guy is even smiling :)

Okay, so my adventures of today.  Well, my neck has been flaring up for the past couple of months...horrible burning pain down the side of my neck, into my shoulder blade, down to my shoulder, into my ear, and even to the side of my face.   Friggen awesome I tell ya.  I've been seeing this new doctor who's trying some different techniques to get it under control.   Problem with that is that it takes me 3 damn weeks every time I need an appointment with him.

I told my acupuncturist about the flare up and she did what I'll call--enhanced acupuncture treatment.  This is normal needle acupuncture with electro-stim action to enhance the effect.  BTW, the electro-stim devices literally looks like mini jumper if you wanted to give a jump to your matchbox cars.

Because I was in so much pain today, to enhance the effects of the already enhanced acupuncture treatment, she also did a little good-old-fashioned bloodletting.  Yes, you heard me right.  BLOODLETTING. And can I tell you that it's effing awesome!  I'll say it again, cause you probably think you're reading this wrong.


How is it done?   She basically takes a small needle and gives you a little pin prick.  Then squeezes where she pricked you...and bam! Bloodletting.  It's just like when they have to prick your finger at your primary care doctor to test your iron levels...except it hurts a whole hell of a lot less.

I had this done before when I had a massive sinus induced headache.   It worked like a friggin charm...headache gone in a few hours. Today's bloodletting was not a letdown.  My neck burning has gone from a 6-7 on the pain scale (don't you just love that stupid pain scale they post in the doc's office?) to a 1-2.  It's not totally gone, but wayyyy better.  Even if the pain subsides just for a day, I'll be happy.  Hopefully I'll get a few days to a week out of it. We shall see.

Anybody else done this? Acupuncture? Mini-jumper cables? Bloodletting?