All posts filed under: spine

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 …

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. …

3 Weeks ACDF Post-Surgery Update

I had my first follow-up on Friday with my surgeon. Up until that point I’d been in my pajamas with a hard neck collar, buzzed hair, thick black-rimmed glasses, and obviously no makeup. There wasn’t anything close to “hot” in “hot mess” here. But hey, buzzed hair = barely shampooing = don’t knock it ’til you try it, because trying to shampoo your hair after neck surgery is a wench. My latest foray into the outside world before seeing my surgeon for the all-clear? Chasing my damn cat, Fattie, who decided that the cold muddy day of the week was the perfect time to sneak past me out the front door while I talked to a woman across the street. She made to leap from the front steps straight onto the muddy ground and then — after shrieking at me for grabbing her tail — gave me a furious look like the mud was somehow my fault. “Excuse me a moment,” I said before scrambling after the cat, socks in the mud while my poor neighbor just stared at me (thanks for the …

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 …

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 …

Accepting Limitations Caused by Chronic Pain & Illness

Yesterday, after much deliberation (far too much deliberation), I finally accepted the fact that I can no longer work a full-time job because of my chronic pain. My bosses did everything they could to work with me on a solution, but I cannot fundamentally perform the tasks required by my job. Driving to the office, sitting in a chair every day, and traveling to meetings was chipping away at me, little by little, breaking down any resilience I had left… which sounds absurd, doesn’t it? A sedentary job being too much for me? But it was, and it is. Even mitigating devices put in place (like a kneeling chair at my desk or taking breaks in a recliner in my office) wasn’t enough. Husband has been begging me for ages to put my health first, finances be damned, but I kept dwelling on the decision and driving him out of his mind with my constant “What if?”s (again, I am sorry, Husband). The reason for my very extended delay in making this transition was that it …

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 …