All posts filed under: lifestyle

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 …

Pain News Network: Dressing for Comfort and Success

Check out my latest column for the Pain News Network! Comedian Patton Oswalt once apologized for all the times he made fun of sweatpants. “I thought the pinnacle of mankind would be Mars colony or teleportation. Nope! Sweatpants! That was it. Sweatpants!” he said. “We started with fire and the wheel and writing, agriculture, penicillin, sweatpants. Everything else, we’re just on the downward slope. We did it. We’re all done.” Oswalt went on to say how one never puts sweatpants on after showering; they’re always worn over “un-deodorized flesh,” with which I disagree. Why? Because I just took a shower and then put my sweatpants back on. (That’s not the point of this post.) If you are one of the approximately 60 million people in the world with chronic pain, you know that regular clothes can just hurt. It becomes a burden to wear something as regular as jeans. We operate by feel alone. What is comfortable? What doesn’t compound our pain? What feels good against our tortured skin? Sweatpants! This obviously was a problem …

The Quell Pain Relief Device: 8 Months Later

Hi, everyone. It’s been quite some time since I’ve shouted into the electronic void. I had such grand plans, too. At the end of 2015 I left my full-time job as an associate attorney. My bosses did so much for me, but the way our office was set up, having me work part-time just wasn’t possible. The month of December was my slow transition to working from home. I still have my freelance editing work, but primarily I am home. In my sweatpants. With my cat. I figured I would use this time to write a ton of blog posts, start my new website (to be formally announced at a later date), do yoga four times a day, walk an hour every day, finally go to the gym, hang out with my cat, wake up at 5 a.m. during the work week, do some personal writing for the first time in years, etc. I had grand, unrealistic plans. At the very least I still plan to discuss transitioning to working from home, but that’s not the point …

Pain News Network: The ActiPatch

Here’s my latest column for the Pain News Network! Loyal readers, I have returned. It’s been a tumultuous month of bad days and flares, so while I was absent from my writing duties, I was trying out a hodgepodge of products designed to offer pain relief. Naturally, none of them worked. Let’s discuss. A while ago it was suggested that I try the ActiPatch. I was originally introduced to this new form of pain product by Lil’ Bub, the celebrity cat. I should probably explain that. Lil’ Bub, full name Lillian Bubbles, is a perma-kitten, meaning that she will retain her kitten-like characteristics for her entire lifespan. She also has an extreme case of dwarfism and a rare bone condition called osteopetrosis (the only cat in recorded history to have it), which causes her bones to become incredibly dense as she grows older. This causes pain and difficulty when she tries to go from Point A to Point B. Her person, called the Dude (like Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski”), discovered the Assisi Loop, which …

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 …

Mindful Anger Management, Buddhism, and the Neck TENS Unit

More and more often, I am trying to figure out what this blog is to me. Is it just the tagline, “Using word therapy to work through chronic pain”? Is it an effort to reach out to people like myself and form a network? Is it a chronicle of my wayward pill-reducing efforts, or is it an examination of my transformation from a bitter young thing into a self-aware individual who can control her own anger? I can’t control anything. That’s the first bit of wisdom I would like to impart upon you, my dear reader(s). I’m sitting here at my desk with a neck TENS unit on (it’s pretty rad, and with it looking like a choker, I’m feeling very early ’90s). I can work the buttons on the device, but it only temporarily blocks the pain. It does not fix it. We manage. That’s why pain clinics are called “pain management.” They do not cure your pain; it is only managed. As I said in a previous entry, this current state might be the best it gets …

Names Have Power: a Discussion About Labels and Chronic Pain Patients

I have long believed in labels. If there is a name for what I am experiencing, I am better equipped to fight it. If I know what I am, I can deal with the world appropriately. Names have power. That’s what Neil Gaiman’s version of John Constantine said. He said it for different reasons and toward a different end, but the fact remains: Names have power. I have collected labels and names over the course of my life: allergic to food/has eosinophilic esophagitis/is a good student/played tennis/played the violin/writes novels/is a lawyer/is disabled/is a chronic pain patient. I define myself by what I do and what I experience. The names are like a shield. A medical ID bracelet naming my allergies makes me feel special and fragile like a unique little glass-winged butterfly, and more than that, it’s a story. I love to tell stories. A scar on my throat is a symbol that others recognize. I have been broken apart and welded back together. I have been remade. So now I face a dilemma because the …

Let’s Talk About The TENS Unit

I’m a huge advocate of clothing camouflage. Loose shirts and cardigans are great to hide a flabby stomach or that back-fat area around a tight bra strap; however, I’m wearing them to hide both a back brace and a TENS unit. (And the bra fat. Let’s be real.) Here’s me in my extremely stylish office bathroom: I usually only wear the TENS on occasions when my back pain is truly escalating and refuses to level off. This week has been particularly bad. The TENS is keeping me at a functioning level, considering I am backing off the Lyrica. The electrodes irritate my skin after more than one use, which is unfortunate, but the only cost-efficient way to use the device is to reuse the pads until the gel wears down and the pads electrocute you. Tiny shocks to be sure, but electrocutions nonetheless. Side note on the electrodes: Don’t go through the supplier from which you acquired the actual unit. My insurance company holds the very ridiculous philosophy that while they will cover the device, they will not cover the electrodes. Tufts, you silly company, …

I Make Pain Look Good.

Take a look at this person. Take a real good look. Then ask yourself: Is this person in pain? She looks fine, you think. She doesn’t have a handicap placard on her car. She doesn’t walk with a cane. She isn’t wearing a brace.  You furrow your eyebrows, and then you think: She looks totally normal.  The thing is that when this picture was taken, she was in a world of pain. She had three sort-of healed spinal fractures and a calcified nerve cluster. Even though she was smiling under the artful disguise of Microsoft Paint, she was hurting. She was wearing a back brace under that dress. She changed into flats as soon as that picture was taken. She found a place to sit down and close her eyes, trying to match her inhales and exhales to the thud-thud-thudding of her spasming muscles. She had her special dichroic glass pill case in her handbag filled with Tramadol, Nabumetone, and Vicodin. She had already calculated how long she could stand being upright and the time it would take to get back to …

Word War Won: “Victim” vs. “Survivor” vs. “Thriver”

I was going to talk about different words during this edition, but Alexis got me thinking. We had a very uncomfortable session the other day during which she asked me how things are going now that I’ve cut out sugar and alcohol. It started last week when we had a Skype session and she saw my face. She said I needed to do a detox. Immediately. I felt slow and inflamed, my brain was foggy, and even my face looked puffy. I’d gone to a small law school reunion/memorial for my friend Andy and saw surprise on my classmates’ faces; the last time they saw me was thirty pounds ago. (Granted, some of that weight gain was necessary at the time since I was an anthropomorphic coat hanger, but do you know how hard it was just now to type “thirty pounds ago”?) My pain was worsening. I’d been gaining weight despite exercising every day, thanks to my medication increasing my appetite to that of a starving boat wreck survivor. I’d binge in the evenings after work, thinking I deserve this as I snatched …