All posts filed under: doctors

Pain News Network: Media Hysteria and the Opioid Crisis

Hello, my darlings! Check out my latest column for the Pain News Network! _________________________________________________________________ I recently received this email from a family member: Hi Jen, I was listening to a thing on pain medication and why prescription meds are so dangerous. They turn the receptors off in the brain and the person forgets to breathe.  That part is a totally separate thing from the pain. Dr. Sanjay Gupta was on talking about it. I think that is a very valid argument about overuse of pain meds. For example, Prince had very valid issues to use the meds and also lived a very clean life style. If he overused, it goes to follow that someone who doesn’t lead a clean lifestyle is in more danger. It’s not the meds as much as the brain receptors. The breathing part is scary. So I’m not such an advocate anymore…..unless you can tell me this isn’t true and why he would say that. I love you and don’t want anything to happen to you. Xoxoxox I got mad after …

The Pill Suite is Pretty Sweet

If you’re like me (delightful, fierce, and bothered by various physical ailments), then you have a ton of pills. Let’s take a look at what I consume on a daily basis: Tramadol (50 mg every 4-6 hours as needed) Cymbalta (80 mg, 20 mg in the morning, 60 mg at night) Valium (5 mg, as needed) Zyrtec (every night for my Eosinophilic Esophagitis) Prilosec (40 mg per day) Carafate (two teaspoons 4 times a day) Calcium (RX-strength) Vitamin D3 (RX-strength) Vitamin K2 (RX-strength) …I’m honestly losing track. Here’s the nonsense I deal with each morning (and these are only the morning, I didn’t get a picture of the nightly regimen): I can organize the hoard pretty easily using one of these sweet babies: Those pill cases can be difficult when going somewhere overnight or for a few days. At this point I’m an expert at telling pills apart (and if I’m only 99 percent sure, I’ll Google it to be responsible), but it’s hard to say, “Okay, this group is for the morning, this group is for the …

Pain News Network: Recovering from Spinal Surgery

Check out my latest column for the Pain News Network! For those of you playing the home game (i.e. following my blog), I’ve been recuperating from a cervical discectomy and fusion of C4-C5. That was February 19. I’ve been recovering in an amazing fashion, much faster than my first fusion of C5-C6. Just north of a month later, I also had thoracic injections at T-11 through L-1. I was far more scared of this procedure than the fusion — and I’ve had injections before, so it was nothing new. I knew exactly what was going to happen, but I didn’t know how my body would react. Why? Read on. My Abbreviated Back Story (No Pun Intended) My injuries have followed a strange road. When my mom’s car was stopped in traffic in 2004, we were rear-ended at 65 miles per hour. I was seventeen. I broke my spine in four places: T-11 through L-1, but also a facet joint that wasn’t found until a year later when it had calcified over a cluster of nerves. …

Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion… and Phlegmy, Phlegmy Mucus

That’s an ominous title, isn’t it? BUCKLE UP, BUCKAROOS! FIRST OFF: I HAD SPINAL SURGERY, AND IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT. My first surgery wasn’t quite the success for which I’d hoped. I tried not to hope for this one, because I didn’t want to get my feelings hurt. Well, boys and girls, this one worked. It’s like the first time they dug around in my neck, they only pulled out half a rotting tooth before stitching me back up. The second surgery removed the rest of that festering, pulsating monstrosity and cleaned it out entirely. So, was it worth it? Heck yes.  HEY HEY, I HAD SURGERY I am now a bit more than one week post-anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. I had the same procedure as I did two years ago (ACDF, levels C4-C5 as opposed to the earlier C5-C6). It was the same hospital, even the same surgeon, and yet so many things were different. Round I was March 27, 2014. I remember four things vividly: the feeling of funny juice speeding through my body right …

Guest Post: Bio-Integrative Therapy: Modern Medicine Has a Health Problem

Full disclosure, readers: This guest post was written by my father, Dr. Jay Kain. He’s starting a new business venture that combines motion capture technology with his proprietary work, Bio-Integrative Therapy, and I am hellishly proud of him. The therapy (speaking from experience here) is very gentle, hands-on manual therapy that works to promote structural harmony within the body. The motion capture work quantifies the immediate results the therapy provides (e.g., you have a terrible golf swing, you get some treatment, and then the mo-cap immediately shows results in increased range of motion. How’s that for fast healing?). He’s finally getting on board with technology, so here’s his foray into the blogging world! He is also on Twitter as @bio_integrative. Modern medicine has a health problem. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Western medicine is more advanced than ever before. More importantly, it now defers to Eastern medicine when necessary, like pain management doctors recommending yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and the like. Physical therapists use cupping techniques that were created in China centuries ago. Cardiologists team up with …

Maladaptive Memories (Or, How Your Body Just Won’t Let Go)

Is your memory just too good? I’m not talking about recalling what you ate for breakfast six Sundays ago or always knowing where you dropped your car keys. I’m referring to the body’s ability to remember everything that happened to it — for your entire life. We hear terms like “muscle memory,” but most of us have no reason to contemplate what that means. Well, let me enlighten you. Muscles remember a strength training routine far easier the second time around; say you start training, have a few weeks of vacation, and then start again because your clothes don’t fit after the annual Holiday Food Gauntlet. It is far easier to get back on the saddle the second time, and it takes less time to reach the same goals. This idea of the body remembering things has always stuck with me. Let’s say I took a tire iron to your knees on Thanksgiving, Nancy Kerrigan-style (stay with me). Once you get over the initial shock, pain, casts, surgery, rehab, soft casts, physical therapy, aqua therapy, and more — let’s say that …

Welcome to the Chronic Pain Club

It might have been a car accident. Maybe you overextended yourself during a gym class. It could have been a sneeze gone wrong. Perhaps it was caused by trying to put on a pair of pants. In the end, though, you might just be getting older. You wait for the pain to get better, but it doesn’t. Weeks turn into months, months turn into years. Doctors’ faces blur together. They try this, that, and the other thing — and it might help for a little bit, or not at all. Whatever the reason, you are now one of the 1.5 billion people worldwide who has joined the Chronic Pain Club. It is kind of a club. And at this point, in a strange way, I am thankful for my membership. I’m not being facetious. Obviously I would prefer not to be in pain, but hey, here we are! A couple years ago, I would have smacked myself for saying that I’m thankful for what this experience has taught me — I would have groaned to this bizarrely optimistic person that the pain is so bad, it’s …

Piss Off, Pain Management Clinics

“You have exhausted all of your options.” That is what I was told yesterday when I was denied as a new patient at Massachusetts General Hospital. Western medicine has officially given me the heave-ho. Because I have a “long-standing relationship with another pain management clinic,” unless I am being referred for a specific procedure that my current doctors do not have, I am not allowed to become a patient elsewhere. It’s so strange to reach the end of the road. It’s one thing to be told that the doctors are running out of ideas; it’s another thing entirely to have someone tell you that there is literally no other procedure in existence. All the treatments they are willing to try have been attempted. Science and research have not caught up yet. This is as good as it’s going to get. What they’re willing to try. That’s the operative phrase here. Despite my decade of experience in the medical system, despite never exhibiting pill-seeking behavior, my pain management doctors refused to prescribe any kind of opioid safety net. If …

IV Lidocaine: Injecting Pain Medication Directly into Your Bloodstream

It’s been a heck of a week, friends. Friday was a trip to the pain management clinic, which — per usual — was wholeheartedly depressing. I find that I feel even worse whenever I come out of those appointments because I realize how useless they are. Pain management clinics, that is. Massachusetts as a whole is now attempting to curb prescription drug addiction. That’s great. That’s dandy. But now my clinic’s stance is that they will not prescribe opioid pain medication to anyone except for cancer patients. We’re talking even something like Tylenol 3, which my pediatrician used to prescribe to me after the First Accident. Patients who’ve (responsibly) used Percocet or Vicodin for years are now finding themselves wanting and in withdrawal. Actual pain patients are being treated as addicts. So I get my nerve medication and antidepressants, but then the big gaping black hole they don’t cover is alive and writhing and screaming in my head all day, every day. When I asked how to handle that hole, the nurse practitioner, oblivious to the fact …

Building a Shield for my Body and Mind

I am trying to better protect my body, which means trying new things in order to build a stronger shield on all fronts. My father found a powder supplement called “Arthroben,” which is generally used for those suffering from arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. For some reason the company decided that their original flavor should be green apple, so it tastes like I’m eating a Jolly Rancher (yes!) that I dropped in the sand (no!). I have also increased my Cymbalta by 20 milligrams, which I’m not thrilled about, but hey, what can you do.  Judging by my Pain Tracker instead of my shoddy memory, it’s been a fairly good week. Once I stabilize on the new dosage of Cymbalta, I will attempt to transition off the 2oo milligrams of Lyrica that I take each day. I am also strengthening my body to the best of my ability. After a week of no exercise because of being symptomatic, I am easing back into my morning swimming routine where I doggy-paddle (or I do Aqua Aerobics with the old ladies and …