Friday, August 31, 2007

Osteoporosis and Me

We mentioned a while ago that Pam is living with osteoporosis in her back. She tells us this week more about what it has been like, having chronic pain, trying various treatments, and finding recently some alternative techniques that might help her cope at least, and, at best, find relief in more lasting way.

As we mentioned in a prior article, I have been recently diagnosed with osteoporosis. I have lived with chronic back pain for 3 years with no real diagnosis other than “You have a little arthritis.” I was actually thrilled when the MRI revealed osteoporosis, not because I love having that, but because finally, I could deal with a real condition! My first step with my physician, Dr.Nancy Hooyman at Paradigm, was to start taking Boniva, the medication that my favorite actress, Sally Fields, is always touting. Unfortunately, Sally and I differ on the effects.

Boniva is taken only once a month, first thing in the morning. This is supposed to be one of its advantages over other therapies. You are directed to stay upright for 60 minutes with nothing to drink or eat. That means no coffee!! I already had misgivings. The first time I took the medication, I felt fine until about 7 pm Then, quite suddenly, I realized that I felt exactly like I had a major case of the flu! I ached. I had a fever and chills all night. The second night after the medication I again had a mild case of flu like symptoms. I hung in for 3 months with the same symptoms before deciding to try another medication to rebuild my bones.

Next, I will probably try Actonel or another weekly medication. It will take one or two years before I will see any increase in my bone density, so I know I need to do other modalities to strengthen my bones and my body to avoid further damage. The hardest part for me is that I should not lift things over five pounds. But, with five grandchildren who all weigh at least 20 pounds, telling me not to pick up and hug my babies is impossible. Right now, I try to be judicious. I don’t carry them around, but I still pick them up and pay the pain price later.

I’ve still been looking for other resources for me and my pain, now a close “friend.” This week Capabilities took part in the Beyond Pain Symposium hosted by Progressive Healthcare Center, non-profit providing alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, hypnotherapy, massage, neurokenetics and other modalities. Capabilities sponsored and exhibited at the event held at the Denver Athletic Club on Saturday, August 25. I was able to attend several of the sessions on alternative medicine and pain control. The first session on neck and shoulder pain provided a number of excellent exercises, many of which have their roots in yoga. I felt some relief in my neck and shoulder pain. Masami Griesy, a registered yoga teacher, started with breathing and opening the rib cage rather than just jumping into neck exercises. Her examples of how we walk, sit, drive were graphic and illustrative of the stress we all experience daily. I now have a clear idea of how to sit, stand, and breathe to at least begin the healing process. My goal is to try to just do the simple techniques I learned to help ease some of the tension I carry in my neck.

The second session I attended was inspirational! Bob Gaas, author of NeuroKenetics NeuroKenetics for Low Back and Knees, spoke at length about the problems with traditional exercise, stretching, and healing. He then showed us organically what neurokenetics is all about. It is essentially about healing the scarring that we have in our muscles because of the stress and strain we experience. Bob had us lie on the floor on rolled blankets and simply move our hips from one side, dropping them to the floor, while keeping our knees pointed to the ceiling. I say simply, but when one of his assistants held my knees still, I couldn’t move. The theory is that our bodies keep our muscles taut to protect the injured area and what we need to do is be able to totally relax the muscles in order to allow them to heal. After the exercise of trying to allow one hip to drop to the floor, we were told to lie on the floor. Bob then led us through a series of movements, very slightly from one point to another, over and over again, first one then to another point. The whole idea was to trick the body and the muscles in order to relax. We then went onto the blanket rolls again and lo and behold, it was easier to actually drop the hip! I left the hour long session feeling no pain. I actually had about 4 hours of relief before my back began to feel tight and pained again. My goal now is to work with Bob and see how much I can heal myself, concentrating on my back, neck and shoulders, before I look at more invasive procedures for my osteoporosis. I continue to work as hard as ever but living with chronic pain is truly different. I’m hoping that by concentrating more on body work, I’ll at least be able to ease some of the restrictions I now put on myself. The entire day of events aimed at pain control was eye opening for me.

I learned new techniques and new avenues of help for problems I thought were unfixable! I even went to Red Rocks for the Beatles (ok, they are the imitators!) concert and enjoyed, rather than suffered, as I sat in the amphitheater!

No comments: