Last post I mentioned that I was going to go back to my old pain clinic's doctor sans-insurance, and I am sure glad I did. I saw her on Wednesday, and between my visit with her and some lifestyle changes I am making, I am already seeing some improvements. It is right in time because unfortunately, I am experiencing some odd flare-ups I have not had at this point in my progression. I am a little tired at the moment and having trouble adjusting to my new medication, (unrelated to the flare-ups,) which I will discuss the pros and cons of in a little bit, so please excuse any lack of cohesion and the rambling that I'm sure I'll do.
What's most important to me is balance. If I'm going to have gross chemicals in my body, I want to also try homeopathic remedies. As these medications are causing unpleasant side effects, I need to combat them with diet, exercise, and being kind to my body. Here's a little of what I have been doing.
Compression Tights from 2XU...
I follow some other push girls (the term for super cool ladies who use wheelchairs as an assistive device, full or part time) on Instagram, and one made me aware of compression tights/leggings by a company called 2XU. Now, I had been aware of boring compression tights, and I have a compression garment that I do not wear from when I went to the Mayo Clinic in 2011. I do not wear it because it's sort of useless to me. My VMs go to my hip area, and the stocking only goes to my thigh, so in some ways it makes my pain worse.
Compression garments are made to provide extra pressure and increase circulation to an affected area. The strength of each garment is usually measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) in the higher medical grade realm. 2XU contains medically graded materials, but it did not list the pressure levels/strengths. There are different varieties of tights the company offers that sound by the descriptions to apply more pressure, but I have yet to experience them. (The above photo is linked to the website.)
After seeing hers, I had to get a pair of my own. Style, comfort, and something that would help my condition? I will take all of those, please. From wearing the tights/leggings I have, I am over the moon. They are on the lower end of pressure, the most basic pair they offer, and I would guess around 10 mmHg, off-hand. My pain definitely decreases when I wear them. I was even able to take a very long drive with several stops and still be functional. I was using my chair for half of the day's errands, but I only took one Norco the entire day. Swelling stayed down a little as long as I kept them on. (As soon as they came off, that's another story...) I consider that a great success! Here's a look at the fit:
Another reason my pain level was a little down was due to my new medication. I expressed concerns to my doctor about Norco/Vicodin being my everyday pain medication. I didn't like what it was doing to my body and how often I had to take it. My short term goal was to have something that was longer lasting in my system. My options for that were either morphine or something I had not heard of, methadone. Morphine is expensive and also very scary. Methadone is cheaper and less scary. We went with methadone.
It is still scary, and I am not sure I am a fan. It makes me really drowsy, agitated, and I think it was giving me weird dreams/hallucinations this morning. My research was bringing up some not great things about it, but none of these medications are great, so I guess this is just how it is. When it comes down to it, It will depend on how tolerable the side effects are and if they outweigh the alternatives. It needs to build up in my system over time to become effective, but the same is true of the side effects. I think I am feeling some relief from it. It's a little unclear.
One side effect can be water retention and decreased metabolism, so I am trying to hold myself more accountable for my diet choices and exercise more with the help of myfitnesspal on my iPhone. It's actually a lot of fun, and I'm realizing things like, "Oh, I could be eating more of this," "I don't really need that right now," "I have [x] amount of time, I could take a roll around the block!" When I stop and enter in every item before I eat it, it makes me reconsider my choices because I am forced to look at individual ingredients, nutrition facts, or at least calories. You can even add your own recipes for home-made food or search for similar things when you are in a rush.
My pain clinic doctor doesn't just prescribe pain medication; she makes makes sure you are well rounded. When were first introduced early this year, she referred me to my clinical psychologist, talked to me about diet choices and exercise, and suggested some supplements for my particular needs, fish oil and magnesium. The fish oil is supposed to help with my joint pain, and the magnesium should have circulatory benefits. (See these articles.) I'm not positive if it is working yet since it has been the weekend, but I think this week will be telling going back to work.
One of my friends on Facebook (who is incredibly helpful, kind, and adorable!) suggested that I try kombucha for inflammation as well. I had never heard of it, but I dove right in, went to Sprouts, and picked up a bottle. I fell in love at first sip because sour things are my favourite. A few minutes later I felt wired and goofy. I thought it was a fluke until I had another try of a different brand---it was no mistake. This stuff is powerful! But what is it?!
Kombucha is a fermented tea created with a mix of a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria. (Wikipedia) There is some debate over its safety and health benefits, but my advice would be to stray away from home-made kombucha unless the maker is very knowledgeable about the process. Because it is fermented, it also has a very small alcohol content, but not enough to be considered an alcoholic beverage. That said, if it is left out the the refrigerator, it can ferment to about beer level, according to WebMD. (I'm usually not a fan of WebMd, but I don't mind it for some things.)
From what I have read, there have not been any long-term studies done on the effects of kombucha, so we do not know its effects except for the few negative reports that surfaced. However, Patti Neighmond, Health Policy Correspondent at NPR touches on what we do know:
"...Nevertheless, most kombucha drinks contain live bacteria. And evidence is mounting that friendly bacteria or probiotics aide digestion and possibly even strengthens the immune system.
These good bugs "actually live inside of us and help digest our food, digesting particles we can't digest on our own," nutritionist Reinagel says. "And they actually produce certain nutrients for us, which is a very nice trick."
It has definitely has only positive effects on my health thus far. This is really interesting to me, so I think I will take extra note of note of how I feel when I drink it and keep you updated. Have any of you ever tried it?
Getting Things Done
Lastly, I did a couple important things I had been meaning to for a while, and I did them alone! 1. I got a placard for my car so I can park in the ADA spots. (Note how I do not say the H word. I will make a whole post for that and how much I dislike the word.) 2. I loaded my chair in and out my car on my own!
Today I had wanted to do a lot more things than I actually was able to do, but as I mentioned, my medication has been messing with me. I was determined to at least write this blog, practice rolling/walking with Marvin, dressing up, and recording a tune that I sang while playing one of my ukuleles. Before I leave you with that video, thank you again for supporting me! If you don't mind sharing, how do you manage your health on a daily basis? What kinds of fitness routines have you found that are kind to your body?
Don't forget to make good with your ability today! <3
Sorel Estrada Volpe