28 March 2006

Spring Has Sprung

I'm not sure if the same holds true in human ER's, but I've spent most of my 12 years in practice working in emergency medicine and the onset of warmer weather always brings an increase in caseload. Some things are to be expected just from pets (& wild animals) being out and about more - more vehicular traumas, more dog fights, more dog-porcupine encounters (or dog-venomous snake in the South) - but I have seen a lot of really, really sick animals my last two nights on. It's like someone flipped a switch, and I know it's only going to get worse as the weather gets nicer.

Painfully Slow

Snail hat #2 is progressing slowly. I know it's just a hat and should only take a few hours, but my hands have been acting up a bit and I've not been doing more than a few rounds a night, for the most part. My acupuncturist feels that the wrist problems are an extension of my back problems, so hopefully the needles will help.

I had my third session with the acupuncturist today and things do seem to be getting a bit better. I've certainly been sleeping better the last several days. He has told me not to expect a total recovery, which I've learned not to expect anyway. Although I've never been formally diagnosed, I meet all the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia. It's something that most physicians are reluctant to diagnose, and I'll admit to still being a bit reluctant to call it that.

The problem with fibromyalgia is that it's a syndromal diagnosis, which means that it's a cluster of symptoms without a specific known cause. Those of us trained in traditional allopathic medicine really prefer mechanistic explanations for disease, so diagnosing a syndrome is generally considered a poor substitute, at best, and syndromes with an unknown cause are often referred to as "wastebasket" diagnoses - the bastard children of the medical world.

Fortunately, my pain issues aren't as severe as those of other people, and I've been able to manage them to some extent. The constant nature of the pain tends to wear me down, though, and at times it has been very difficult to deal with emotionally.

The ex, a physician, used to tell me that I hurt because I was fat and needed to lose weight - never mind the fact that I hurt long before I met him, when I was still fairly thin, and never mind that I am still far from obese. My weight was also his excuse for cheating on me for most of our relationship, even though we weighed about the same and I am broader of build. In retrospect, it's clear that his negative emotional energy only made the problem worse, so as difficult as the breakup was for me, I've come to realize that I'm far better off without someone like that in my life.

Of course, aggressive exercise only makes the pain worse, so while I do try to exercise regularly and stretch often, both of which help to loosen up the muscles and lessen the pain, I find it hard to do enough to get my weight to come down significantly. The onset of my wrist problems last year only compounded that, as it keeps me from practicing ashtanga yoga, which I had found incredibly helpful for both weight loss and pain management.

I owe a big thank you to Witt for pointing me towards the Spoon Theory. Fortunately, I have a lot more spoons to work with than a lot of people - I still can be fairly active, even though it's not as much as I'd like to be. But it's an appropriate analogy for me and how much the pain costs me physically and emotionally, and it's a nice reminder to me to be mindful of my body's needs and limitations.

5 comments:

Celtic Knitter said...

I'm sorry to hear about your pain. I can't imagaine having to deal with that. I hope that the acupuncture helps.

Ted said...

And also, shift-work and swings in sleep patterns are particularly brutal for any dis-ease with a stress-exacerbation component.

Emily knitsib said...

Agree about those of us trained in allopathic medicine - also about how helpful the sppon theory was (something I've shared with a CFS/ME pt who found it helpful too). HAving said that, the label fibromyalgia is probably not much help, rather the poking and the happiness much more to the point!

Cyndi in BC said...

Into the pool with you! But start slow. I started at 15 minutes, 2 times a week, 3 years ago and now do 60 minutes, 4 times a week. Not a cure all but certainly helps with general fitness and pain levels. I still can't walk or stand for very long but damn! I can move in the water. I love the Spoon Theory!

JoVE said...

My local pool does an aquafit class especially for fibromyalgia sufferers. Not sure how much it helps but might be worth looking into. I think it is a deep-water aquafit (so no impact). In my experience of the other kind, aquafit is all about the abs...