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!