Sunday, March 27, 2016

Project 52 - Pain - Week12


The ol' body has been out of sorts since the end of January when I did something to my rotator cuff (I think). I've had issues with my left arm and shoulder before, like when it was numb for a couple months a few years back. Boy, that was fun... or not. Since then, this pain creeps in a lot (along with my lower back pain on the right side - it's like they're friends who like to hang out together), but I usually have enough tools in my belt to pull it back into a safe spot.

But there I was in January, feeling all healthy and motivated to work a little more activity into my life. Sure, I get to the gym, but it's only 2 - 3 days a week and the rest of the time I sit in front of a computer all day. So I pulled out the light weights at home and that's about the time I got the treadmill as well. Problem was, I did some exercises that I sort have been avoiding since the last shoulder flare up... and then I moved the heavy treadmill on my own. But what sent me over the top was pulling the car door closed... and that's when I felt a big ol snap. 

From there I had a lot of shots of pain if I tried to raise my left arm. Washing my hair was a challenge as was other everyday activities like getting a glass from the cupboard or putting on a coat. Since I've been through a somewhat similar experience with this arm, I didn't run to the doctor. The last time I had shoulder issues I ended up seeing my favorite physical therapist and she helped me get back into a comfortable spot. She had armed me with tools... that I was mostly working into every week so I thought I'd be able to tackle this one by myself.

My pain mugshot

The pain did get better, but it felt, after almost a couple months, that I should probably have it looked at. I probably should have gone back to my PT, but I would have had to get a referral to see the pain neuro at that office who would then refer her to me. Plus, her office and hours aren't the most convenient. My migraine neuro suggested I see ortho, and I planned to, but I haven't had the best experience with doctors and my chronic myofascial pain so I was hesitant. Finally, I received a suggestion from an online friend with myofascial issues who goes to a PT place by my house so I decided to check it out.

I've had a lot of PT and it's always been one on one so this place really threw me off. I'm not sure if I like it yet - there are some things I really like and other things not so much. Basically, you go from station to station which are manned by different people (and these people may change from visit to visit so you interact with a lot of different people). The first stop is doing a series of small 10 second stretches in front of a laser that apparently has been proven to help your body heal as much as 30% faster. Usually, the next stop is with a PT doing a series of exercises. There are usually 2 - 4 PT's working with about 2 - 4 patients at a time so it's rare when you have a full exercise session all by yourself. They get you started on exercises and never start with a check in or a visual check of how I'm holding my body.

Next up is, um I have no idea what it's called or what it does. Basically, I lie on a table and a PT uses this tappy/vibraty thing to go up and down my spine. It's the one thing I haven't really gotten clarity on yet, but I find it really comforting. Additionally, she take a massage thingy and tries to work out my myofascial in my left shoulder. The woman who usually mans this is considered my primary PT. Then I'm sent over to what I think of as the 'wrapping up' table where they attach electrodes to my upper shoulder/back area, and I lay down on some ice packs on a table that has a roller massage. Plus, the place has some essential oils floating through the air along with some yoga type music to create a soothing experience.

So it's a zen atmosphere compared to previous PT places I've gone and I feel like I've gotten a little of a spa experience when I leave there. However, I don't get the super one on one attention that I felt with my last PT. This place, you go right into the exercises. My last PT would look at me, ask me questions and then determine the next step. I felt like she almost knew my body better than me. These folks? I kinda feel like the apply the same exercises to everyone with some slight adjustments. 

I'm going 3 times a week and will give them at least a month... partly because after one session, where I wasn't feeling good (I knew I was pushing things too hard), they really listened to my concerns and changed things up the next time I went in. I also think they realized that this isn't my first time in this spot, and I really need to know why were are doing what we're doing and I have a good base of knowledge on how some of this stuff works with my body. 

So this is where I'm at... feeling a little trapped by my body, trying to remember that this doesn't own me, that I'm still healthy overall. It impacts my mood at times, but I think my solitary nature helps keep this in check as I don't have to be 'on' too much. I debated about even writing about this, but it's what my life is like right now. I wanted to capture a picture of what this invisible to others, but screaming at me pain feels like. This picture only captures a bit of it - feeling a prisoner to something I never wanted - and yet having a somewhat normal life. I can live with pain, but also have a joyful  and grateful life. For example, I sit here far too aware of my discomfort, but I spent a wonderful day with family where I felt incredibly loved (hugs from in-laws, cuddling on the couch with Jesse and Riley, etc) and that makes me tolerate this uninvited visitor. 

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting! I have never heard of this type of PT clinic, but it sounds really appropriate for SOME patients. But I agree, you cannot beat the 1:1 and personal attention that most PT clinics can provide to you. That's what we are supposed to do---to adjust and form a treatment plan for each individual patient! I hope you notice some really nice relief, especially going three times each week.


Love to see your comments.