duriyah: (Me and Rob)
For the past two or three weeks, Rob has been complaining of back pain in the mornings. Sometimes it wakes him up in the middle of the night. I have not dealt well with this role reversal, especially when he wakes me up in the middle of the night trying to get comfortable. I'm the one with insomnia and back pain, dammit!

He only gets the pain in the night and morning; later on in the day it dissipates. That points to the bed as the problem. Earlier this week we took off the memory foam topper, which is about 5 years old and not all that supportive anymore. Or as Rob now calls it, "senile foam". Get it? That made an instant difference to me. The neck stiffness, which has been bothering me quite a bit of late, is much less now. I wake up more refreshed than I have in months. I thought it was because I'd quit getting regular acupuncture treatments, but it looks like it was the old memory foam!

He is still having back pain now, though he says it might be a little less. He figures his mattress is about 11 years old. Must be time to get a new mattress!

We stopped at The Original Mattress Factory yesterday, which still makes the same model he bought before, the Orthopedic Pillow Top mattress. He pointed out to me some time ago, while flipping through a Consumer Reports magazine, that mattress being one of CU's top rated mattresses.

We ordered a new one, exactly the same as the old. Plus new box springs, which are also recommended to be replaced when you replace the mattress. Actually, there is one difference in the new mattress. They now offer the option of making the mattress with a hinge in the middle, so it is easier to get around narrow staircases, as well as easier to flip. No extra charge, and they say there is no disadvantage to the hinged mattress. Sounds almost too good to be true.

The new mattress will be delivered on Wednesday. We plat to give the old one away to charity.
duriyah: (Default)
I actually ended up going to BOTH the Concrete Blonde concert AND the YSO Street Fair! Go me! We got to the Newport during the opening act, so there weren't many seating options by then. But I did manage to find a step that worked both as a place to see above the crowd and a place to sit when my back got tired. Concrete Blonde started off their show with Bloodletting, I started dancing, got lost in the music, and mostly forgot about my back problems.

They played a really great show. The people watching was fun, too. Most everyone there was about my age or a little younger, many with tattoos. Almost all looked like interesting people who know how to think for themselves instead of following the crowd. My kind of people.

I figured after all that standing (I stood for almost the entire concert) I wasn't going to be up for a street fair the next day, but ice and some good sleep did wonders, I guess, so off we went. I had a really good time in spite of the heat. I bought some handmade soap and pain reducing salve, and stocked up on healing herbal teas from the herb shop in town. I didn't seem to be in the mood to buy clothes, which was a shame, because there were some amazing dresses for sale!

The only other think I purchased was a 15 minute shiatsu massage. I don't think I've ever had shiatsu before. I asked the therapist to concentrate on my low back and hips. She had me lie on a thick mat on the ground and used her hands, knees, elbows to press acupressure points. She also did a lot of stretching. She made use of her entire body to do the work. At one point she placed the bottoms of my feet on her abs and leaned in, pressing my knees toward my chest, for a great low back stretch. It was an absolutely fantastic massage. Different from the massages I usually get, and well worth the $20 for 15 minutes.

Just as the vendors were packing up and we were making our way out of the street fair, a man pointed at my shirt and said, "Nice shirt!"

I was wearing a t-shirt with a batiked tree design that I bought at a YSO street fair some 20 years or so ago when I lived there. It turns out he and his business partner were the artists who had made my t-shirt! They don't make that style any more because it's so labor intensive. I thanked them and told them what a great shirt it is. How cool is it that I met the artists!

Sunday morning, after all that activity, I felt sore, but "normal" sore. Like I used to be in years past. It was the best feeling.
duriyah: (Default)
Just over a week ago I bought this ergonomic keyboard. It's split, which the woman who assessed my workstation a few weeks ago recommended. It also has an embedded track pad, similar to one on a laptop, to replace a mouse. The keyboard looks like this:

Theoretically it should help with the carpal tunnel symptoms I get from using a computer mouse. However, learning to use the track pad takes a lot of concentration at this stage. And unfortunately, the second day I really used the keyboard, I did a bunch of data entry and by the end of the day my right shoulder was tight and aching. I suspect that I'm holding tension there because of the intense concentration of learning to use the track pad.

I had my massage therapist work on it Monday night, and it released a whole lot. I hope it gets better as I get more used to using the track pad, and I don't have to concentrate as hard to control the cursor. I've been learning more shortcut key strokes to use instead of the track pad. That has helped a lot. I'm also trying consciously to relax when I'm at the computer, as well, which is also helping. This week has definitely been easier on the shoulder than last week.


May. 19th, 2010 10:03 am
duriyah: (Default)
I had tickets to see the Canadian synth-pop band Metric last night. I had [personal profile] rfunk buy the tickets a month ago when they went on sale, figuring the show might be sold out. The show was at the Newport, a mostly standing-room-only venue with a few scattered chairs. I knew was taking a risk, betting that I would be strong enough to be able to stand without much pain for the length of a pop concert.

Unfortunately for me, I ended up being scheduled to give a workshop at work yesterday, the same day as the concert. Would I be able to make it through an afternoon of teaching followed by an evening out?

I actually did a lot of standing during the training. I actually made it through the first hour and a half without wishing for a chair. After that I switched off between sitting in a chair and standing. I made it through the afternoon, though.

Driving home, I realized the pain in my low back was at about a 2. That's not bad, but is really my limit for continuing whatever activity is causing the pain. In this case, standing.

I ended up not being able to go to the concert, and I'm pretty bummed about that. But the silver lining is that I now know I can stand for up to an hour and a half without increasing pain. That's quite an improvement from the 10 minutes of standing I was able to do six months ago.

Now I have to decide whether to try for the Concrete Blonde concert in three weeks.

Edited to add: My strategy for recovering/getting through the strain of a concert included taking the following day off. This was a hugely good idea and I'm happily enjoying my day off today. :-)
duriyah: (Default)
My back so much better last week that I felt able to do more exercise. I increased my time on the elliptical from 8 minutes once a day to 10 minutes twice a day. My cardiovascular system loved it, but by the end of the week the trigger point in my mid back was inflamed again from the rotational aspect of the elliptical machine.

*sigh* Two steps forward, one step back.

Saturday I rested. I was exhausted, both from the week and from the early morning trip to the vet. We were totally out of drinking water so a trip to the grocery was mandatory, but it was totally naptime after we got home. Dinner was pizza in bed.

Sunday I felt much more like myself, and was able to complete the rest of the weekend chores. After which I did lot of qigong and gentle stretching.

Yesterday I again got a massage before acupuncture. This time my student therapist worked right on the areas of knotted muscle (interspersed with plenty of area-wide friction, gods love him!) to loosen them up. Today my back feels muuuch better: wide and loose. Ahhh...

I hope it still feels good tomorrow. The first couple of times I got massages at the school I was really sore the day after, even though I drank several glasses of water afterward to flush out the toxins stirred up by the massage. That didn't happen this time, meaning that a) I've progressed quite a bit (yay), and b) following massage with acupuncture is a really good idea. I have had much success these last three weeks with that protocol.

This week's exercise theme is "Keep It Loose!" I'll be doing lots of qigong, focusing on moving gently and slowly, trying my best to keep those muscles from tightening up again.
duriyah: (Default)
I have now had an acupuncture treatments once a week for the past three weeks. I'm lucky enough to have a school of alternative medicine in my town (American Institute of Alternative Medicine). I knew they offered student acupuncture treatments, but I have never taken advantage of them before. But a friend at work who has had back problems about as long as I have (only hers are much worse) recently started getting treatments there, and swears by it. So I decided it was time for me to try it out.

Once I sign in and pay my $30, the acupuncture intern takes me back to the treatment room, where she begins the session with an intake interview. In addition to the questions you would expect, relating to my presenting problem and general health, I'm asked questions specific to Chinese medicine, relating to my diet, water intake, and excretions. The acupuncturist then takes my pulse and asks to look at my tongue. I'm not sure what they are reading in the pulse, but they always take their time with it, so it's obviously more than the usual beats per minute.

The intern's instructor, a Chinese woman, then comes in and also takes my pulse and looks at my tongue. The acupuncturist and her instructor then leave the room for a few minutes to make their treatment plan.

My first and third treatments have been basically the same treatment for the pain in my middle and lower back. The intern inserts a pair of needles (one on either side of the spine) at the top of my neck, mid-back, waist, and lower lumbar. I also get needles at the back of my knees, my ankles, the top of my feet, and top of my hands. This last time I also got a needle inserted in the top of my head at the crown point.

Sometimes I feel nothing when the needles are inserted, but at the places where the muscles are tighter there can be an initial sting that dissipates within 30 or 60 seconds. The treatment lasts 30 minutes, during which I lie on the table and try to relax.

The first treatment didn't feel really bad, but not good, either. I felt sensations of heat in the muscle around where some of the needles were, that slowly spread into the surrounding area. The weirdest part was toward the end when the heat spread into my illiopsoas muscle. That's the deep muscle that runs along the anterior pelvis and into the groin, and flexes the hip. It's your tenderloin muscle. It was weird to have the heat sensation so deep, when all I'm doing is lying there.

Later that evening I felt sore through my waist in the back and front. The soreness was gone by morning. The experience was similar to the first few times I got electrical stim: vaguely unpleasant during the treatment, sore and painful directly afterward, but much better the following day.

The third treatment, this past week, was much easier than the first. I didn't feel as much pain when the needles were inserted or as much sensation during the treatment. And the addition of the point at my crown really relaxed me. I nearly fell asleep.

My second treatment went differently from the other two because my needs were different. The day before, my elderly, diabetic cat had to be rushed to the vet to be treated for hypoglycemia, which can be fatal within hours. She pulled through, but she very nearly died. Needless to say, I was still full of anxiety and grief when I arrived for my acupuncture appointment, and the muscles of my upper back burned from the tension I had been carrying there.

The acupuncturist inserted needles at points along my upper back related to the lungs. Apparently the lungs relate to grief, and that is why I had been carrying tension in my upper back. She also inserted needles on my hands, inner wrists, feet, and one at the top of my skull.

I didn't feel much in the way of physical sensation except deep relaxation. I nearly fell asleep, and when the half hour was over I was so relaxed that I had to take my time getting up from the table. It also grounded me and brought my emotions back to a more manageable level, which was a relief. So: acupuncture works not only for pain management, but for emotional balance as well.

Interesting thing: one morning several days after the first treatment, I discovered quite by accident that I can encourage the energy flow simply by thinking about the acupuncture experience. I was lying in bed waiting for sleep, and my mind wandered to the acupuncture. The moment I remembered the sensations of the treatment,I felt the same sensations of heat flow through my back as I experienced during the treatment. That took me by surprise, but what a useful thing! It's just like my meditation teacher says: energy follows thought. Since that first time I have made a point to send thought/energy to these areas at least once a day, especially before I do any qigong, in the hopes of helping speed the healing process.


duriyah: (Default)

August 2013



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