Wednesday, December 9, 2009

what's illness and what's not

well, here's a real shocker: the shoulder pain i have been attributing to fibro for 17 years is in fact caused by something else: hanging my right arm over a guitar for hours at a time on a regular basis. I'm short (5'2") and your typical guitar is made with someone much taller in mind, so it knocks my frame way out of any remotely ergonomic position and leaves it there for hours at a time nearly every day. Pain is a great motivator, and so for the last couple of weeks I've been quite motivated- to do something about the pain. So i went back to get some acupuncture, something I've gone without for several months. That's when I found out the pain was not from fibro, or lupus, but from bad guitar-playing habits.

Sometimes it's not just the illness, and now I find I neither have to put up with the pain, nor do i have to keep throwing all sorts of pain remedies at it. Nor do i have to go get some cortisone pumped into it. I just need to turn the guitar facedown on my lap when I'm just holding it and yapping, and not actually playing it; and, I need to use a smaller guitar. Meanwhile, the acupuncture appointment broke the cycle of pain, tension, and inflammation.

3 weeks ago I started taking LDN (low dose naltrexone). It has been extremely effective in a couple of clinical trials for lupus patients. In order to go on LDN I had to give up all my narcotic painkillers (I've only had a doctor who would give me narcotics for the last 2 years). I was pretty uncomfortable for a couple weeks, with the shoulder pain- until I got the acupuncture. But meanwhile I had noticed my brain fog had lifted. Now for a while I've been attributing my brain fog to fibro and lupus. Sometimes over the course of 17 years that really has been the cause. Now that it is lifting, I'm not sure if ti's because the LDN is calming down the lupus activity, or just that i have a completely narcotic-free brain for the first time in a while.

About a month ago my insomnia was running wild, so I got a relaxation tape. It seemed to break the cycle of tension and anxiety, and I am now pretty much able to fall asleep without much trouble. In fact I've cut my sleep aid in half in the last few weeks. Which may also have something to do with improved brain function. Was I able to cut it in half because of the LDN or because I broke the anxiety cycle with the tapes? I may never know.

So, the point of this rambling is this: whatever it takes to break the cycle. Just as disease can bring you into a downward spiral where you can't tell whether the pain is because you're depressed or you're depressed because you're in pain (who cares? let's just get things turned around!)- so, too can healing be an upward spiral: I'm in less pain so i sleep better so i need less sleep medication so my brain is clearer. And, I'm more well-rested, therefore I feel better, therefore I am happier, therefore I feel better. And so on.
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