All posts tagged: inflammation

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 …

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 …

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 …

Inflammatory Foods and Chronic Pain, Part II

Sorry for my lengthy absence; it’s been another one of those flares. Back to business as usual! I have discussed before how food can have a direct effect on what happens in the body. Use any cliched vehicle for this idea that you like — our bodies are temples, our bodies have engines that need pure fuel, our bodies don’t like toxins that gunk up the system. Basically, we are what we eat. Those suffering from chronic pain and illness already got the short stick, but 99 times out of 100, we are also told by doctors that we should follow some form of an “anti-inflammatory diet.” Now, I was tested for inflammation by a rheumatologist, and while it was higher than normal, it wasn’t stratospheric. That was how he ruled out arthritis (well, duh). So while my joints aren’t inflamed in a rheumatoid arthritis sort of way, I can definitely tell the days when my body as a whole is just… blegh. Like this morning, for instance! I spent last night pigging out. I’d had …

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, …