Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fibro Updates & More Physical Therapy

We've had some sunny days lately I've been SO thankful to see! 

Let's jump right into some fibro updates, including my new physical therapy regimen.


The headaches have been the most problematic lately I'd say. I still have pain when I wake up in the morning, and I can feel it throughout the day, but I think a combo of me being used to it, the meds, and distracting myself by keeping busy at work, helps me work through the pain. But the headaches. They're harder to operate through. They can really take me down, and they do. Some seem more migraine like (which for me is light sensitive, and all together sensitive to sounds, movement, etc), and I just can't do much until they let up. I take excedrin migraine for them at this point, and may have to add a medication at some point if we can't figure them out. I'm really not interested in making my med list longer - it's long enough! I'm trying to find other natural remedies, dietary adjustments, etc. to help them. Do any of you have this problem and any natural solutions? 

"Regular" doctor checkup:

I had an "annual" checkup with a new doc (I chose a new one since my old one didn't seem like she could help with fibro) and I really liked her! I hadn't been to the regular doctor since last spring as I've been seeing the fibro specialists regularly to help address all of my symptoms. I was so relieved my blood pressure was good! 108/80 to be specific. Some meds make my blood pressure high and I had the scare about a year ago seeing a new doc at that point and my blood pressure was 146/119. This was the appointment she was very concerned to see my BP that high and even brought in an ECG technician, hooked me up to be sure my heart was working properly under that much pressure. I was sure it was the med we added 6 months prior to that, she took me off, and it was fine again, thank the Lord. Different meds can do this, and I was hoping the newest med we added in December wasn't messing with my blood pressure again. Thankfully, it was great! Whew! 

She recommended I add fish oil to my supplements, she recommends this for everyone over age 18. She asked if I exercise. No lying here, my answer is no. She wants me to try for 3x a week to get in that cardio that my body and organs need to keep up their good work. We also did the "annual exam" portion which I found out only needs to be done every other year at my age. Nice! I always thought these women exams were yearly! Good to know. They did blood work too, and I'll get the results within the next week or so. I always get slightly nervous to be honest that at some point, they'll see something in my blood. Fibro is such an "invisible illness" as far as the blood looks great, xrays, etc. all checks up fine. So in the back of my mind, I'm usually curious to see if anything ever shows up. I trust the Lord with that part so can't get worked up about it. 

I've also interestingly gained and then lost about 20 pounds in the last year and a half or so. I gained weight taking Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella (I took those one at a time for about a year) - they're all in the same classification of meds where weight gain is a common side effect. I just thought at my age, it was just me growing into my woman body (as I posted here getting rid of ALL of my "small" clothes, that ironically would fit me just fine now - ugh!). You can see it in pics, not that I was big by any means, I had just always been used to the size I was. I'm not sure if it's like water weight or what, but I feel like myself again after a brief time away while taking those meds.

Since I keep photos of everything, I thought it's interesting to SEE the difference in my face taking the meds. Here's March 2011 (after starting Lyrica), I can see a definite increase in the roundness of my face- it doesn't help that I couldn't wear eye makeup without getting red spots at my lash line (until I started using paraben free makeup).

October 2011 (taking Savella)

 December 2011 (taking Savella)

Here are ones after I stopped taking those meds (in Feb 2012). I did also stop eating dairy and eventually gluten over the last year and I'd say I have a healthier diet, but generally, I eat the same lunches each day as I have since we've been married (lol). I'm sure the narrowed down diet helped me get back to normal, but stopping those meds made a huge difference in allowing my body to get there. 

 September 2012: Here's when my chin/cheeks are getting back to my "normal"

 January 2013 I think looking at my chin, you can see the difference from the photos above:

January 2013

I'm definitely glad to be off those meds and back to the body I had before I started taking any of those. In my doctor's file, it shows I lost 10 pounds since I was there my first time a year ago, but I was up 10 pounds from that while living in TX and taking those meds. Anyway, just to say those meds really do cause weight gain (which doesn't help fibro either...). Side effects of some of these meds make things worse than they might have been before (Lyrica was absolutely terrible for me, even just for the few weeks I took it). Now, my current meds have fun side effects like dry mouth (great when I talk on the phone all day at work!), constipation, dizziness at times (although very infrequent), fatigue (something I'm already dealing with for fibro), and more. But we're thinking the good from these is outweighing the bad for now anyway. That's why I keep checking in with the specialists, to tweak anything as needed. Their role is to get me as functional and comfortable as possible. 

Here's a photo (to break up the text for you:)) of one of the snow storms from last week. We've had lots of little snow storms lately - an inch or two here and there. 
Physical therapy:

I started a new physical therapy regimen this week. When the fibro specialist I see mentioned PT again, I was apprehensive. I've done three different physical therapy regimens with three different physical therapists and we typically reach a point where I stop improving, and fibro is as fibro does - keeps on keepin' on and keeps me from eliminating the pain. 

Physical Therapy Session 1:

I did one in Texas two years ago that was the trial to see if my pain issues would improve while I did PT for about three months. When they didn't keep improving and hit a plateau is when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. 

Physical Therapy Session 2:

A few months later, my primary doctor at that point (while we were living in TX) had me go through a chronic pain class, written about here which also involved physical therapy and similar stretches. I did the stretches and my muscles were still tight - she was dumbfounded that my body wasn't responding as well as it should to the therapy. She also got me a TENS/E-Stim machine, which I honestly don't use often. I've heard it helps some fibro patients and not others. It basically sends electric pulses into your muscles (through electrodes you attach to the skin), and while I used it, it started giving me a pinching/burning feeling that was not pleasant, so I haven't used it in probably close to a year and a half now. 

Physical Therapy Session 3:

This fall, I saw the physical therapist specializing in TMJ and teeth grinding issues (wrote about in this post). It seemed to work for a while, but hasn't lasted. I still grind my teeth while I sleep and it still gives me a lot of pain through my temples and I think creates or contributes to my headaches. Two of the meds I take are supposed to be helping relax those muscles at night, trying to stop my grinding. It's so bad, really. Even when I nap to ease fatigue, I wake up with a worse headache due to grinding my teeth so badly. I'm not done with this yet, I have work to do to figure the teeth grinding/temple pain out.

So, as you might imagine, I wasn't too convinced about seeing yet another Physical Therapist (this makes 4 in two years and isn't cheap when it all adds up). My fibro specialist said she's had patients with chronic headaches/migraines really improve seeing these particular ladies. I thought about and decided if there's potential of it helping, I want to try what I can. 

I had my first appointment this week and was pretty impressed with her approach! I kind of thought they'd put me on an elliptical, or give me the same stretches every previous one has assigned as homework and that I'd see the same results again. The nurse took lots of notes of my symptoms, when they started, medications I take, etc. so the PT could get an idea what we're starting with. When the PT came in, she said the thing on the page that jumped out at her is the IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) which surprised me. She explained that if I've been dealing with these digestive issues for a while (which I have), it could be really warping my body from the inside out basically from my tight digestive organs. She observed my posture, pushed and prodded around, had me do things while she observed and she believes my kidneys/intestines may be causing my poor posture, since I'm more comfortable squishing my mid section, even standing, she pointed out that I was kind of shrinking down my mid section, which she said is vey common for long time IBS patients. 

She worked on my nerves which sounds weird, and was so different than I've had before. She had observed that my body is just overall very tight. She tried pushing on my ribs from the side and there was no give (which apparently there should be), and many other areas were structurally very tight as she tested them. The body is all wired by the nerves and she thinks some of them are pinched/strained from digestive issues, which could be contributing to this, so it was very fascinating to hear her perspective. 

She would also have me get in a certain position, apply pressure and asked if there was pain. In many cases, there was pain. She would then reposition my body so the nerves were in better places, apply pressure again, and... no pain. Literally. It was weird and interesting and I hope she's onto something! She'll keep doing different things going forward to be sure this is the issue - she also would like me to take a blood test looking at all food sensitivities to be sure I'm omitting those foods too, which I've heard about and am interested in taking this test as well. 

It was a very fascinating appointment and I'm looking forward to going through her treatments and see if we can make some progress here. They also added another pillow for me to sleep with - my side of the bed (and probably a bit of Nick's side!) is quite maxed out by pillows at this point:) Pretty funny looking. I have pillows in 5 different spots now to keep my body aligned and whatnot. 

If you're still reading after all of that, thank you:) It helps me process through things, but I know is a lot of detail to read. 

My next blog post will have these cute Valentines Brownie Cups and some other random updates. 
Today's Pinspiration:
Found shared on this inspirational Facebook page

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