Tag Archives: Pain

Simple Fixes Can Make All The Difference

I’ve got to say, I was damn near having PTSD flashbacks watching this man walk. That’s exactly what shape I was in twenty years ago.  You don’t feel the pain as part of the memory,  but you just hunch your shoulders, tighten your muscles and hold your breath due to a combination muscle memory and fear… you fear that pain.  Once you know it, there’s no joking about it, and the thought of going back there can be absolutely paralyzing.

 

The pain was so excruciating, it felt like lightning strikes from even the slightest move in the wrong direction.  If you put your right hand on your hip, that little dip where your thumb is resting was the point of origin for the pain and it went straight down my leg.

 

My primary care doctor just kept handing me pills… 40 mg Oxycontin three times a day, which I kept telling them that they weren’t working, but that was the new miracle drug on the scene then so in their opinion it was about finding the right dosage, no matter how high the dosage or how often it was taken because it couldn’t NOT work; it was a miracle after all, right?
I was given Percocet for breakthrough pain (which was incredibly necessary since it was ALL breakthrough pain!) but still mixed with the Oxycontin I was taking.  Parkinson’s meds for the restless leg caused by a herniated disc,  Klonopin because the pain caused me to be really anxious (go figure) and a host of more pharmaceutical granola, including the 150 mg of Zoloft I was taking twice a day mainly due to the pain meds and my Depo-Provera shots.  I didn’t find out about Depo causing extreme depression until 7 years later.

 

No one thought to look at my neck even though they all knew what had happened to me in an earlier accident and the damage that was done.  It’s been twenty years and I’m still dealing with the nerve and muscle damage in my neck and left trapezius muscle.  At least now I know if this ever starts up again that the ice pack needs to go on my neck, not on my the back of my hip.

This really reinforces my dislike for allopathic practices, they treat the symptoms, they don’t work towards finding definitive answers regarding causative issues and never work towards curing or helping the body learn to help itself.  Holistic approaches, treating the patient instead of the symptom, homeopathic remedies that take so little to do so much with no side effects, addictions, OD’s, etc.  Considering the opioid problem we’re having in this country you’d think they’d shy away from things that are addictive or that you can OD from.

 

My gallbladder went rogue a couple of years ago and became my enemy.  It took me a week of pain so severe that I was ready to die. The pain was so severe that it grossly exceeded my natural childbirth.  I had a high fever joined with pain meds which caused me to hallucinate or pass out with horrific nightmares – that included feeling the pain from within the events of the nightmare.  If it was a choice of staying in the bed to die or going down the mile long gravel road that rattled your teeth loose that would cause even more pain, I was ready to die in that bed.

I finally had a brief window where the pain had subsided so I asked my roommate at the time to take me to the ER where they admitted me immediately.  Once the antibiotics started doing their job, the pain subsided as it should have (thank God!) and I didn’t need a whole lot of pain meds.  I asked for a couple Tylenol and was instead given a shot of morphine!  Why?  Because it was easier for the staff.  And again, it was over-medicating instead of dealing with the patient (in this case me) to see what’s going on instead of assuming.  I finally told them then to mark my chart to say that I am allergic to morphine to keep them from doing it again.

 

Watching that video, all I could think was how much pain I would have been spared, how much time that Kid wouldn’t have been so neglected as a result, and that still throws shadows on our relationship to this day.  How many people could be treated differently, not only with dignity but in partnership with their doctor to actively work together to solve or treat things to achieve the best outcomes for the patients?  I have fibromyalgia and talk to anyone who has it and they can tell you about the disrespect and mistreatment and/or lack of treatment that they have had because of it.

This country needs to stop being grabbed by the  ______  from the pharmaceutical companies that want us on multiple pills so they make multiple sales, and push for treatment because a cure doesn’t help their bottom line in perpetuity.

We need to be seen as patients, not as symptoms.  We’re not a pile of disconnected body parts, we’re all connected, and it means that we shouldn’t be treated as a series of separate body parts.  Maybe then we can return quality of live and work on being a healthier country overall.

 

We’ll talk again soon, 
Maggie  

 
 

Advertisements

PTSD Awareness

June is PTSD Awareness Month, and it’s more common than you might realize.

PTSD-after-Open-Heart-SurgeryWhat is PTSD?

It’s estimated that approximately 20% of combat vets suffer from PTSD and only half will seek treatment.  But they’re not alone. Originally noted by terms of “shell shock” and “battle fatigue”, we’ve come to realize that it’s not just soldiers who suffer from this. Anyone who has been subject to a severe emotional trauma can experience this as their mind tries to process what has happened.

Abuse victims, rape victims, victims of violent crimes, combat, natural disasters, etc. all take time to emotionally heal from what they’ve experienced. However when the symptoms are severe and they last more than four months, they may very well have PTSD.

PTSD occur

It’s estimated that as many 8% of all Americans (over 24 million) will experience PTSD in their lifetime.  We tend to hear the term thrown around but I wonder how many people really know what it is?

PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is characterized by three types of symptoms:

Reliving the event – Most commonly known as flashbacks or triggers, hearing a car backfire can trigger someone to re-experience sounds of gunfire, seeing a car accident can cause someone to relive their own traumatic event, etc.  Something as subtle as a news broadcast or online video, a sound or even a smell can trigger this things during waking life.  Reliving the event in dreams is common as well.

Avoidance of reminders – This can be avoiding tv or movies with similar subject matter such as war movies or ones with fires, earthquakes or one where a character is raped, or avoiding similar locations.  For example, getting robbed at an atm may cause you to only take cash out when you’re at the store so you don’t have to go near the bank.

Having been in a shoe store when it got robbed caused one of my best friends to not be able to bring herself to go in that chain store again for many years; and not just that location but all of them since they all look-alike.

Feeling numb or keyed up – Staying “numb”, shutting down emotionally as a means of not dealing with feeling… with people, activities or even forgetting parts of the traumatic event or just not be able to talk about them.

Being “keyed up” includes sudden rushes to anger or irritability, trouble sleeping or concentrating, becoming almost paranoid about your safety or startling very easily.

imgC3

I was working in a restaurant years ago as an hourly supervisor when we were robbed at gunpoint.  No one was hurt thankfully and it was over in about a minute.  It was my last day of work before vacation which I thought was a blessing at the time but it turned out to be my downfall.  With not being there, I wasn’t able to deal with it and fear took over.  When I did go back to work, I couldn’t be anywhere near the register without breaking into a sweat from a panic attack.  My boss was very understanding and accommodated me stepping down from my supervisory position for a couple of weeks and kept me in the kitchen. Sadly it just got worse.

After 9 years with the company I wound up putting in my notice and left because I just couldn’t handle even being in the building anymore. I had nightmares regularly for a couple of years after the incident, each time I wound up getting shot, even though no one got hurt in real life.

A year later my family and I went out to dinner (my daughter was 4 at the time) and my sister noticed a sign that it was supposed to be family night complete with a clown and balloons.  As the server came by my sister asked where the clown was and that my daughter would enjoy a balloon only to be told that he had already left for the night since there weren’t many children in the restaurant.  I was tending to my daughter and heard my sister exclaim “we got robbed” – speaking of the clown and the balloons.  I however broke into a cold sweat and started crying and eventually excused myself to go throw up.  The very definition of being “keyed up” and “startling easily”

I’ve dealt with many things in my life, which to me (on paper at least) would seem to be more traumatic that this one minute window of time… but it derailed me for a several years.  I have no idea why one incident would create such a lasting effect while others did not.  I never sought help, in fact I didn’t even know that what I experienced even had a name.  It wasn’t until many years later when I was retelling the story to someone when they told me it was PTSD.  Had I or someone around me known what it was, I could have sought help to deal with it.

The effects of PTSD run deep

PTSD doesn’t just affect your moods and  your dreams. There is a physiological component to PTSD.  Studies have shown that there are physical changes that take place in the brain.  In other words, your brain gets rewired.  That’s why overcoming it is so difficult. Most affected are the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex.

The brain controls everything, so physiological changes can affect all areas of your body and life.  The limbic system, located deep in the cerebrum, is composed of the amygdala, the hippocampus and they hypothalamus.

The amygdala deals with our primal instincts – fear, panic and all that’s associated with it; Heart rate changes,  sweaty palms, tremors, even nausea and diarrhea.

The hippocampus handles memory which is why people with PTSD can lose sections of their memory and even what’s called “anterograde amnesia” which is the inability to form new memories even if the old ones are completely intact.  These changes are thought to be caused by increased exposure to cortisol, also known the “stress” hormone.

The hypothalamus controls hormone production.  It affects sex drive, weight gain, sleep, thirst, body temperature, hunger and the release of hormones from other glands including the pituitary.  The pituitary gland is a critical part of our ability to respond the environment around us, most often without our knowledge.

The prefrontal cortex area controls your cognitive behavior, decision-making and even appropriate social behavior.

That’s just the start of it.  These changes convert into pain sensitivity, auto-immune disorders, fibromyalgia, etc.  Alcohol and drug use and abuse are frequent occurrences as well in the attempt to self-medicate and cope with all that one is dealing with.  As you can see, it’s not just a simple bad memory but your world being turned completely out of control.

 

National-PTSD-Awareness-Day1-226x300

If you’ve had symptoms like these, please find someone to talk to and know that you’re not alone.  If you know someone who is having these issues, please give them the help and empathy they need to deal with it.  Know that they have to heal in their own time.  There is no schedule, no cure, no pill they can take to make it go away, just time, support and understanding.

June is PTSD awareness month, and I’m so glad that it’s getting a bit of a spotlight, but knowing exactly what it is, is crucial to dealing with it.  So please, share the word.

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie