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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Brain Release & Heartache

I have never been one to back down from a fight. I am brutally honest at times and could even be called blunt. On the other hand, I also know the value of respect and when to let something go for the greater good. Knowing when to walk away is priceless. Assessing the situation is important. If there is someone in your life that you have a difficult time dealing with, dislike or even hate, interacting with them can prove difficult. If there are children involved then that brings it to another level. For example, imagine having to see an ex-inlaw whom is the mother or father of your niece or nephew. This is a person you have little respect for and would prefer to never see again. In this case you have to remember the children. This is their parent. They are too young to understand adult problems or reasons of animosity. All they will know is "Uncle Jack" is being mean to my Daddy or "Aunt Diane" is talking about my Mommy behind her back. In this instance, I tell myself to treat these jerks as if their kids are watching me. I do it out of respect for the children, not the jerks. When the kids are no where to be found all bets are off.

When trying to repair a relationship that is important to you, I believe in being direct and trying to salvage it. If you are met with resistance or completely shot down then you can walk away knowing you tried to be the bigger person. In most cases, I have found after talking both parties leave the conversation feeling heard and relieved. I believe that my marriage has benefited greatly from this because we talk about everything. We are open and honest with one another and that makes us feel content with our friendship and our marriage. Sometimes I have to push. If you are dealing with a stubborn or proud person you may have to break down the wall they create. My husband can be this way. I know when I push it can make him mad, but I refuse to let something come between us over pride. There are times you need to walk away, but agree to talk about it later with cooler heads. This has caused us to be closer and deepen our trust and love. Dealing with people in this manner has helped me solve many problems and maintain relationships that were important to me.

There are some relationships that cannot be saved. Ones that are toxic and hurtful. Relationships that lead you to say, "Enough is enough" and you just need to let go. This is not always an easy task. Some people you can walk away from easily and not have to interact with them ever again. Others are involved in your life on a regular basis and it can be more challenging. People in your family or at your workplace or some other mainstay, can prove difficult to avoid without hurting yourself or others. However, when you realize that the stress and the drama that someone causes you is effecting your health, your sanity and your spirit, then something has to change. I am at this crossroads.

I am the peacemaker. I am the confidant. I am the strong one that helps my loved ones cope. I am the friend that is always there to lean on. I am the one that will swallow my pride and be the bigger person for the greater good of everyone involved. I take the hits that others can't handle. These are the roles I have taken on in my life with pride, compassion love and respect. I happily will take on the fight to protect the ones I love & care about in this world. I will bite my tongue so my loved one won't have to know how I was hurt or who hurt me. I will smile and endure the stress and abuse to protect my loved one from having to choose sides. If they are in the dark, then they can pretend it isn't happening. I will make every attempt at peace even when I don't care to repair the relationship. I have done this out of respect & love for years. I have only brought minimal attention to the problem and most of it I have kept to myself and never revealed. I want to protect my loved one, but I am not strong enough anymore.

I have endured much at the hands of someone I am supposed to care about and who is supposed to care about me. I have allowed them to disrespect me privately & publicly. I have been lied about and attacked. I have been ignored and hurt. I have been baited to start a fight & I have walked away. I go to my phone and an angry text arrives. I open my email & I am attacked. I call my loved one and hear I am the instigator. All the while wondering, "What happened?" "Why?" & "I did nothing to deserve this."

I have taken on the stress for too long. I have allowed my health to not only be effected, but to be driven to flare ups of my MS that are incapacitating. I have cried for hours while I have debated in my head. I have been unable to care for my kids because I have to stay in bed. All because I allowed hate, lies and desperation to come into my heart. I allowed this because I thought ending that relationship would spiral and cause me to lose the one I had protected for so long. I ache at the thought of losing them. I wish I had the strength to swallow my pride one more time, but I don't. I have to walk away.

I have to walk away for my health, my children, my sanity. I will be polite. I will be respectful in front of my children & the loved one I care about, but my role in this toxic abuse is done. I have to put myself first. I have to make my children a priority even when others cannot. I need to value my own sanity and my own heart and forget the greater good in this lost cause.

I am sorry for the hurt it may cause others. I am sorry for the relationships that may become causalities with this choice. I pray they can survive. That is what breaks my heart the most. For so many years, I fought for peace and harmony because of them. Now that I realize they aren't willing to do the same for me, I have to let go and allow my brain to release the stress and the heartache. I know my own heart, my mind and my body and unfortunately my loved ones forgot my character and fell prey to the lies. If they ever really knew me at all. I love them all & my heart breaks as I have to say it is over and walk away.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Flexing My Brain

So the culmination of all my orders from my neuro are beginning to come together. I have now started PT, officially, because ♫ ♪ ♫ dun, dun, dun ♫ ♪ ♫ Insurance strikes again. They are such a pain in my ASS--toundingly grateful heart that I actually HAVE health insurance. But, really, must they be so difficult? Must they dictate where I go? Who I see? What I can put in my body? I mean really? I haven't had anyone try & control me this much since I moved out of my parents house. And they didn't always succeed. I was kinda stubborn, but I digress. So the insurance wouldn't cover me taking physical therapy at my neuros office. So, I called them and asked who they would approve. Why play the cat & mouse game? I go to the cat & grab a whisker & say "What the Hell do you want from me???" So they gave me a place. TheraMatrix in Eastpointe. So I was evaluated last Thursday and I started therapy this week.

I like the place, the people are nice and they seem to not only teach you the exercises to develop balance & strength, but help manipulate the muscles too. I have had some mild heat therapy. They are very cautious on this as heat is a trigger to MS. I told them that heat effects me when it is muggy or humid or seems to overtake my whole body. I tend to be fine with a dry heat. Electric blanket, a heating pad put in the right spot, so I said I would try. Now the heat they are using is a moist heat. I immediately recognized that I would be treading a fine line. I had to try though. I knew if the heat could relax the muscles in my neck & back then it could help with releasing the tension and spasticity that may be causing my headaches that leads to the rest of the pain I have been having since January. I tried. It was okay. It effected me, but it wasn't long lasting. I assume it helps that the temperatures outside are not hot. I am able to cool off a little easier because of this.

Today, my PT Therapist added manipulation called Myofascial Release. It felt like a stretching & manipulation of my head & neck. Wikipedia explains it this way: "Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue that provides support and protection for most structures within the human body, including muscle. This soft tissue can become restricted due to psychogenic disease, overuse, trauma, infectious agents, or inactivity, often resulting in pain, muscle tension, and corresponding diminished blood flow. Although fascia and its corresponding muscle are the main targets of myofascial release, other tissue may be affected as well, including other connective tissue."

This part of their explanation seems to explain how it felt to me, better than the technical stuff above: The indirect myofascial release technique, according to John Barnes, is as follows:

" *Lightly contact the fascia with relaxed hands.
*Slowly stretch the fascia until reaching a barrier/restriction.
*Maintain a light pressure to stretch the barrier for approximately 3-5 mins
*Prior to release, the therapist will feel a therapeutic pulse (e.g. heat).
*As the barrier releases, the hand will feel the motion and softening of the tissue.
*The key is sustained pressure over time."

Whatever it was, I could tell it was going to be helpful. When she finished she explained to me how she can tell if someone is holding a lot of tension in their head or neck. She told me she looks at her fingers. If it won't be beneficial to someone her fingers maintain their natural color. If they can benefit they will have a pink tone. She said "my fingers look like I dipped them in red paint." and showed them to me. She said I have a lot of tension there. I guess so! I have been told this for years by many masseurs who say I hole a lot of tension in my neck & shoulders. This was the first time I changed someone's hand color. If it can help then I'm in!

Today, I also saw the Pain Management Specialist for the first time. I really liked him. He was easy to talk to and was very knowledgeable. I like how his nurse asked me a lot of questions about myself before he came in and he actually read my answers before he met me. He came in and sat down & listened as I described different types of pain & where I experienced it. He offered his own opinion and possible solutions. Nothing I shared with him did he dismiss or make me feel like I was wasting his time. It was nice to be heard and feel cared about. Not all doctors treat their patients this way.

After he evaluated me, we decided on the following approaches. He asked the PT Therapist to add manipulation of neck & shoulders, which you read she did above. (Side note: PT Therapist was very pleased to read this. She said she planned to add it anyway, but was very happy "we are all on the same page") He gave me 6 injections into the muscles in my neck & shoulders. I said before he did it, "I know this is a stupid question, but will it hurt?" He said "The medicine burns a little for a minute." So this is how it went. A poke, ow. Then the burn, oh. Then, wait for it, he rotates the needle in a wide circular motion while still-in-the-muscle. Owwwww! Yep. You read that right. He asked me how I was after the 6th shot. Now I have learned to relax myself and try to let go of my anxieties in this kind of situation because I know to react will only hurt myself. I learned much of this from "Hypno-birthing". Now I didn't hypnotize myself, but I tried to relax myself further so as not to tense up or jerk away. So that probably helped. I told him it did burn. He explained that he knew the manipulation of the needle under the skin feels weird, but it is a type of acupuncture technique that helps to break up the tension. I hope so. He told me it will be a little tender with possible bruising. He said the steroids will start to work in a few days. With these injections and the manipulation from PT, he said we can get a better assessment of how it can help when he sees me in July.

He is also increasing my Baclofen, gradually to help with the spasticity. He said with MS and Fibromyalgia and Pain there is a roller coaster cause and effect. The MS causes over activity in the muscles, which leads to spasticity, which causes the stiffness that leads to pain and then the nerves, also overactive in MS, which reacts to the pain and cause the muscles to tense up and the whole Damn things starts again. His goal is to relax the spasticity to help stop the roller coaster. I was only taking 5mg at bedtime which I always felt was a joke since that is nothing. He wants me to add 5mg 3 times a day for one week. Then each week after that increase one dose to 10mg starting with bedtime, then morning & finally afternoon til it is at 30mg. I am to monitor how I feel as it can lower blood pressure and that is something he wants to hear about like increased dizziness or fainting. If that happens I am to return to the dose before it began & call.

Over the last week, I have had severe moments of being lightheaded to where I felt I would pass out. I mean I thought I was going down for sure. I still am waiting because I have come so close. It gets to the point when you feel like everything is going black & you can hear everything amplified and you sway. I ask myself each time if I've eaten? Drank enough water? yes to both. No explanation. I offered it up in case it was related to the headaches I was getting. These headaches would start as tension in my shoulders and neck, then shoot pain up my neck, spread through my skull, back down my spine & throughout my body. It is how this flare started. I have been getting them 1-2 times a week. Not always leading to the severe pain, but pain that is bad. He asked if I started new meds that week. Nope. So that's why he wanted me to monitor the Baclofen because it can lower blood pressure & what I was describing could be a drop in blood pressure. He is sending me for a "tilt test" for balance. He felt my neuro would order it anyway so he would save me a step. He said it would either provide answers or push us in another direction. I go next week.

To conclude, my neck is tender now. My daughter says the spots are purple, although I have to take her word for it. They are behind my head. The manipulation and Myofascial felt good. I am happy to see if Baclofen can help on a higher dose. Seems like a productive start. I am flexing my brain muscles all over the place!! Who's the meathead now??? Wait. I take that back. I'll try for brainiac or something. I'll work on it. Until we meet again, be well, my friends. Much love to you!