Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Graduated

Yes, I graduated. From the pain management class that is! It was the 4 week course I talked about here that was two times per week for the past 4 weeks. Each session was: 
  • 1 hour relaxation/biofeedback therapy (I talked about that here
  • 1 hour physical therapy 
  • 1 hour group pain management education: mine had two other chronic pain veterans

    Overall, my impressions of the class was very positive. I learned so much about managing my pain and feel like I have many more tools in my pain fighting toolbelt. I was reminded that this may not go away (fibromyalgia symptoms may improve, but it usually doesn't go away), but that I can learn and find a balance to control the pain so it affects less of my daily life. 

    The day we talked about acceptance was a difficult day for me. We're encouraged to accept that some of our goals/dreams for ourselves may have to change because of our diagnosis. Initially when I heard this, it sounded like giving up on our dreams to me, and that I refused to hear. Since I just received the "diagnosis" in the Spring, I realized I haven't really accepted it yet. On the "scale of acceptance", I was way off the chart on the non-acceptance side. I'm still thinking I'll have good posture for a few months, try a new vitamin, drink more water or something and this will go away. Accepting this pain is the last thing I wanted/want to do. The therapist was really saying that in order to move forward, accepting our new reality and being realistic with our goals is necessary. I'm not sure I explained that very well, but accepting is still something I'm working on (I'm still a bit stubborn about it, I assume time may help).

    I wish I could document everything I learned in the class because it really could help some of you! One thing that is definitely good to know is about body mechanics. We had a group class about this and I found it very helpful. It involved proper ways to move your body, here are some I like:

    Bend down rather than squat
    Also, when sleeping on your back, it's recommended to have pillows under your knees.

    The physical therapist also confirmed I have forward head posture - I had been told this by another chiropractor too. I think it's pretty common really with the number of people who work at desks all day:
    The red dots on the photo to the left are pressure points that hurt after prolonged forward head posture (those spots hurt on me!). I've got to keep my posture in mind all day. My pre-test and post-test showed my posture and forward head has improved!

    I also improved (yay!) on pretty much every scale they looked at from the pre-test to the post-test except for one. The amount of weight I can support has increased, my "active" pulse was better, my flexibility has improved, my hip flexors and mid-back are stronger, and I can do all of the exercises faster than I could 4 weeks ago. My weeks of stretching and strength training are working! My headaches are still constant, and haven't really been affected by anything I did at the class. The class really helped with muscle tension, stress and anxiety reduction, and pain, but I've been told that my headaches aren't part of fibromyalgia. That's next on my list to see if my doctor can help me manage.

    I was a bit sad when the class ended because I feel like I had such a strong, skilled support team, that in comparison, I feel like I'm left alone to fight this now. But I know that is FAR from the truth. Nick is the best support person - seriously - husband of the year award? It goes to him! I'm not joking either. I'm not fun to be around when I hurt and complain and think my muscle is falling apart as I run (which I did 3 nights this week - YES!), but he knows just what to say, when to let me fight through it on my own, and when to step in and refresh my perspective. 

    This class taught me valuable things I can use now (including an electronic stimulator "E-Stim" device), tools I'll probably purchase to loosen my always tight trap muscles, as well as the importance of focused  4-7-8 breathing to lessen anxiety and help with sleep (try it if you haven't, it's wonderful!), self hypnosis, stretching, and I know I'm forgetting more. As I think of other things, I'll share it. I need to remember this stuff myself and I'm glad to share something I feel may help one of you or a loved one you may know. 

    I'm obviously no doctor, but I enjoy sharing things I'm learning on my journey to manage my pain in the hopes that it may help others. Or if not, it at least helps me to write it out and share it with you :) Thank you for your prayers, love and support. I've really been feeling lifted up lately. 

    Random facts:
    • 1 year ago this weekend, we were just moving into our lovely apartment after being in temporary housing for two weeks (hello short hair! Aw it kind of makes me miss it...)

    • Two years ago this weekend, we were married!!! That's right, two whole years of wedded bliss. I can't believe how much we've squeezed into these two years, but they have been years of learning, love, and laughter. I love you sweet babe!!

     Sigh... I loved my dress...

    • To carry it back one more year, three years ago this weekend, my lovely husband sent me these beautiful flowers for my adoption day (the same date as our wedding day!). He was living in Texas on his own at the time, so he sent me these flowers for my day :) (See? I told you he's really great...)

    This weekend is always a great one as you can see. 

    This year's exciting news is that my parents are moving here this weekend! We're looking forward to have them here and show them around :) Welcome to Texas, Mom and Dad!!
    I hope your weekend is great too!


    Denise said...

    I have really enjoyed following your journey through the class as you return to work and share some of your information. You're such a chipper and sweet person for someone who suffers so much discomfort.

    I hope you have an awesome weekend. I can't wait to hear what your parents think of their new home, and what you and Nick do to celebrate your milestones.

    You're an awesome person to know! See you later!

    Amber said...

    This has been quite the eventful weekend the past few years! I'm glad you graduated Pain Management School! I'm glad you've learned some things to help manage the pain. :) <3 ya!

    John said...

    Marissa, I am so glad you are done with your class and hopefully you will live a little more comfortable after it. Love you guys and hope all in your life will just keep getting better for you

    Marissa said...

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments! We really appreciate your love and support.

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