Tag Archives: pain

A Random Post About Random Events

writing, life, poetry, pain, poems, Rannu

Poised to begin. I’m always thinking about writing. Creative Commons: gnuckx, Flickr

I’ve had an incredibly expensive and busy week, with no time to write or rant on the blog (besides the Fluevog review). So I’m just going to ramble about what’s going on with me, a rarity when it gets to general day-to-day stuff. About a month ago I put my back out. This is unfortunately a semi regular event for me. In the realm of symptoms for chronic myofascial pain syndrome is tight muscles that have forgotten how to relax, therefore causing trigger point nodules of pain. I also have loose ligaments, so common movements can cause the muscles to pull my ribs out and the ligaments won’t hold them in place.  Yes, it is painful and makes it difficult to sleep, breathe or move at times.

That took a couple of weeks to settle down and I stopped working out for that time. Then I was lazy and busy and I missed another two weeks. Now I’m back to working out, realizing I miss bellydancing (haven’t taught in about four months) and have to get more dancing in. It is the easiest and most fun type of exercise for me.

I’m dealing with ribs still doing their own thing, a couple of rush editing projects and attempts to write a story before the end of the month for the Rannu competition. Of course, at this point, it’s all in my head and not down on paper. I have three weeks to kickstart myself. The reprint collection is ready to be checked over by a friend and then I’ll try formatting it for Smashwords first.

pain, myofascial pain, muscles, trigger points, back issues, dislocated ribs, health

These spots are just some of the areas where myofascial pain can set in, sometimes all at once. Creative commons: from docakilah.com

Besides the dumb rib issue, I’ve had to get a crown on a cracked tooth, which is becoming more complicated, and that’s not a cheap venture. And…it looks like one of my not very old, yet still sucky, tires may have to be replaced from a flat a few weeks back. The tire was okay but doesn’t seem completely right. I’ve started a new series of poems, which I began in March, where I wrote two new stories, rewrote two others and started the poems. The series will have thirteen in all, and be about witches, but with a Canadian twist. Two are done, two more being worked on. No idea how long it will take to finish this series but I’ll start sending out some of the individual poems. And I’ll get something done for the Rannu competition. I work better to deadlines so it’s always good to grab one.

Energy is always an issue. With spring finally seeming to have hit Vancouver–we actually had a warm enough weekend to go without jackets–I’m waking up a bit earlier and easier. I’m battling back anemia  and sometimes the myofascial pain adds its on dimension of fatigue. And sometimes I don’t manage my time well. But I have lots to do, including repainting and reorganizing my den and writing writing writing. Spring cleaning is sometimes an ongoing thing, and writing is a constant even if it happens in fits and starts.

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Workers Compensation: A Fallacy

There are probably many people reading this who know someone or have themselves experienced a workplace injury and WCB’s attitude toward compensating the worker. In fact, the Workers Compensation Board changed their name to WorkSafe BC, to reflect the greater scope of their reach and because they’re known for not compensating workers, or cutting compensation off arbitrarily.

This could all be hearsay but I do have direct experience. I have had to file twice in my life. The first time was for a repetitive stress injury to the soft tissue of my hand (my fingers and hand swelled) due to writing so much in quintuplicate for the movie industry (with one period that consisted of about 30 hours straight). In this first case, WCB did cover treatments but only until they thought I should be better. A known fact about the human body is that people heal at different rates and many other factors come into play. So I had to somehow manage to get better, without affording the therapy while still working.

The second time was perhaps harder to pinpoint but indicates the arbitrary decision making of case workers. I was working inside underneath three air conditioner vents. I have a couple of conditions, the major one being chronic myofascial pain syndrome (MFS). It is similar to fibromyalgia but more treatable. I can be fine for a long time and then experience a relapse brought on by certain conditions. Then I will proceed into a chronic pain cycle, which can take years to get hrough. I can function but am often in pain all the time.

Myofascial pain can be triggered by various events, some of which are: stress, cold, injury. This means, at the onset a person can try to work through the pain with exercise, which can backfire, causing more trigger point cascades. A trigger point is an area on the body that when pressed refers pain to other areas. People with myofascial pain and fibromyalgia have specific spots on their bodies which will be major trigger points. Each person may not demonstrate pain in all of them but may in most of them. A trigger point is often a hard knot. I’m not a medical expert but from what I’ve read it involves muscle tissue and fascia (the thin membrane that covers muscles [like you see on chicken]). A trigger point cascade can occur where one trigger point starts a progression of spasms and knotting that create other trigger points.

At my worst, I was trying to work out and increased the problem unknowingly. I had trigger point cascades down my arms and back, to the point where I could barely hold a fork or chew. That was an extreme episode that I don’t wish to visit again. Overall, my muscles will spasm and knot up and will forget how to release. I had ten years of chronic pain before the combination of the right muscle relaxant (many painkillers and analgesics don’t always work on this type of pain), a massage therapist who understood how to work with trigger points, and about four months of very warm weather which took me out of the chronic stage.

As I’ve mentioned, stress, injury or cold can trigger myofascial pain. Other conditions can be associated with it, such as Reynaud’s syndrome. Reynaud’s is also called red, white and blue because it will be brought on by cold and the vessels in the extremities (fingers and toes) will constrict, causing the limbs to go from red to white to blue as the blood flow is suppressed. People with this condition will experience sharp, knifelike pain and numbness. I have found, when I experience Reynauds, that the only way to bring circulation back to the extremities is to bring up my core temperature.

I have given these two examples here to wind back to workers compensation. The three air conditioner vents that I was sitting under blew a lot of cold air onto my back. I’m more susceptible to cold, but was the only person in my area who was under three vents (no one was under more than one). Because the muscles tightened up, when I moved suddenly, sitting at my desk, I threw out my back. I was a contract worker so I couldn’t really take time off but I filed a claim. I went to the chiropractor a couple of times but couldn’t afford more than that.

Recognizing that this could be another chronic pain onset, I wanted WCB to cover therapy for a couple of weeks. In all, if I had had treatment right away I could have put off the chronic pain. It would have taken probably a month at most, consisting of chiropractic to adjust my back, and massage to keep the muscles from tightening up and pulling my back out again (believe me, I live with this often, muscles pulling my ribs out while I sleep).

My case worker was on holidays so I talked to someone else first. When the case worker came back, he didn’t even talk to me but denied the claim straight out. I wrote back citing the specialist that had originally diagnosed me. I was willing to be examined, get letters from the specialists about the condition and other documentation if needed. I said that the cold of the air conditioning was the problem and the case worker wrote back and said that cold never hurt anyone. Never. Cold.

I wonder what those people feel who suffer frostbite and hypothermia and die of exposure? One of the best ways to get through myofascial pain is to apply heat, along with therapy. This case worker didn’t consult any medical expert but made his own uninformed arbitrary decision. I would have had to go to a new level to fight this, to get the therapy that was now some time from the onset of the injury. And what else causes myofascial pain? Stress. Having already taken ICBC (our provincial car insurance company) to small claims court for not covering the therapy costs of the injury that originally began my relationship with myofascial pain, I knew how stressful that process was (I won, BTW). I didn’t do it and have spent several years getting out of another bout of chronic pain. And of course all the subsequent visits to my doctor for muscle relaxants (trying to find some that work), the few visits to the therapists, and days I take off work when the pain is too much, or for doctor appointments puts more strain on our health care and system. In the long run, it costs way more than what the initial treatments would have been.

This is just one example of how workers compensation is a fallacy. I have heard far worse stories. And I have only touched the tip of the iceberg on what myofascial pain is all about. It is a more accepted condition these days, very hard to diagnose and many doctors pooh pooh it still.  Wikipedia has a very short entry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myofascial_pain_syndrome  And should you have a workplace injury that brings on this condition, you can expect workers compensation to not compensate, to not help you get better, and like many other injured workers, leave you out in the cold.

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Morbid Curiosity: Ghouls R Us

I have never understood the ghoul mentality, where a person must stop to watch the results of an accident. The worst I ever remember was as a kid when we had gone to Banff (or someplace close by) and seeing the detritus of a fatal accident strewn down the side of a hill. A semi had jackknifed into a family camper, killing the family. There was clothing and other items all over the side of the hill and the ghouls were down there rifling through, picking souvenirs. It would be nice to think they were cleaning up the hillside, but that was not so.

Every time I’m on the highway and there is an accident, all the traffic slows down. It makes sense if the accident is in the way and you have to cautiously go around so as not to hit emergency workers and other bystanders. But when the accident is on the other side, or in no way impinging on traffic flow, then why slow down to gawk? Is this an innate curiosity like the proverbial cat’s? If so, then it might just as likely kill you, if you end up affecting traffic flow by staring at an accident instead of watching where you’re driving.

This morbid curiosity extends into the fascination for some people with murderers and serial murderers. On the news this week was a piece about memorabilia of serial murderer Clifford Olson being put up for auction. How his items have gone from his prison cell to the online market is supposedly under investigation. But it’s obvious that someone is greedy enough to make a buck and doesn’t care if airing such items related to a perpetrator of horrific crimes further scars the victims’ families.

I’ve recently written several pieces of horror fiction. Something I have to ask myself from time to time is why have I written a particular piece. In it, is part of this curiosity that perhaps all humans exhibit: what would cause a person to become a murderer, to go mad? What reasoning would justify murdering to them? Perhaps part of our curiosity comes from not being able to fathom a murderous mind. I’ve written stories that disturb me. Sometimes they’re cautionary tales. At their worst, they’re just for thrill seekers, for those who enjoy being scared with slasher/horror films. True crime books are very popular, and often have redemption in them: the author has written about the murderer after he/she was put away.

I never did see Cronenberg’s movie Crash but it had a lot to do with this morbid curiosity taken to the next level and eroticsed. Some curiosity on the workings of a killer mind may be natural, but I really have to wonder at someone so wrapped up in the misfortunes of others and in taking serial murderers to star status. It disturbs me a great deal and I just wonder, in the right, or wrong situation, would such a person’s fascination go that one step farther. I always have to ask myself if I can justify what I wrote. Is there a message or is it just a thrill, whether wanted or unwanted? My answers are not always clear cut.

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The Mutant Tooth

Addendum on the traumatic dental surgery. It’s Friday. Yesterday I went in because my tooth and gums were hurting more than the other days. I had taken a Tylenol with codeine and by the time I went in the swelling was partially down and the tooth wasn’t hurting. They said that it looked okay but to call if I was having problems today.

I went home and then by evening my tooth was hurting again. I took another Tylenol and another and another, every two hours. I kept waking through the night with throbbing pain, in time to my pulse. I kept taking Tylenol. This morning when I finally woke up from brief spates of sleep I was so swollen that my right eye is closing. My top lip is sticking out and my nose is being pushed to the side. The inner lip is swollen.

It feels as if someone is poking my lip while slowly shoving a not sharp knife up my nose. My head hurts and I feel nauseous. Needless to say that in about an hour I’ll be going back to the specialist, again.

Problem is, I can’t take sulfa or “cillin” antibiotics. And for some reason, having not had antibiotics in ten years, this will be the third time this year. I just hope to god that they only have to give me antibiotics because I’m completely freaked about them going into my tooth again. This is as close to torture as I want to get.

I also have to officiate at a wedding tomorrow and now worried that I’m going to scare the wedding guests. Update later.

Which was that they had to lance the infection and stick in a “drain” and give me antibiotics. I also had somehow popped the sutures so they sewed me up again.  I took a Tylenol 3 and then slept. Finally, there is no pain and the swelling is going down but not yet gone.

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Why I Need to Marry a Dentist/Orthodontist

I have this tooth. Actually, I have many teeth but this particular one caused me huge grief. It’s a mutant tooth and like most mutations, it’s not particularly useful. Okay, so I’m a mutant, with four kidneys, an extra rib and an extra ankle bone in each foot. None of these bothered me much, except for the rib when I’ve been driving for more than three hours.

Then my tooth started to hurt. It’s crooked, like a few other teeth. I tried to ignore the twinges until they began to linger. Dentistry is expensive and I’ve been trying to save for a crown I needed on another broken tooth. So off I went to my dentist, who took an x-ray and said, “How odd, it looks as if your tooth has two roots.” But she gave it a try.

I should mention that along the way I’ve become overly sensitive to epinephrine. I’ll get a racing heart, tunnel vision, breathing constriction (or it feels like it) and numbing arms. Epinephrine is what makes freezing last when dentists drill into your teeth. No epinephrine means using other types of freezing that don’t last more than an hour. My dentist froze me and started drilling and I started writhing. She couldn’t freeze deep enough so she packed it in and sent me to the specialist.

When I saw the specialist she said, “How unusual. It’s going to cost between $800-1200 for the root canal…” Make that canals. Two three-hour visits later, with a lot of pain…the only way they know when the freezing is coming out is when I start to writhe and whimper… and she said, “Hmmm, I can’t get that second root. We’re going to have to do surgery.”

At that point I had hit the $1200 mark. I said, “I can’t. I have no more money.” They were quoting another $500 for surgery. But they said since my tooth was so unusual they wouldn’t charge me for the surgery. You’d think I’d leap at such a chance to have drills and needles and cutting in my mouth. Needless to say, it was like walking the gangplank with a musket at your back. There really isn’t much choice when your tooth is still hurting.

Now, dental work is never fun and I almost always will feel pain because the freezing seems to come out of the nerves first but will stay in the soft tissue of the lips and nose for several hours. It makes me a bit paranoid. I wouldn’t last very long under torture.

Which brought us to yesterday. I went in at 9:15 and they froze me up with about six shots. I thought, good, I don’t want to feel a thing and having these horrid, not exactly pleasant needles will be all I’ll feel. Should I mention that originally they said the surgery would be quick, less than a half an hour?

Thank god at least the soft tissue was frozen. They cut into the gum on both the distal and lingual sides. I felt like there couldn’t have been any tooth left with all the drilling, digging, pulling, prodding, sawing. I also get TMJ (trans mandibular joint syndrome) so holding my jaw open was its own type of excruciating. It was getting so sore that my jaw was starting to shake.

The types of pain I experienced ranged the whole spectrum; piercing, pinching, deep aching, sharp and deep, throbbing, visceral in ways I can’t describe. I am not exaggerating at all when I say they were having to top up the freezing every five minutes. I lost count at over thirty needles and those were only the ones I felt going into my palette or gum every time. And it barely helped. It seems I metabolize the freezing super quickly.  Hooray for mutant super powers.

Digging out the root, twisted and infected, was its own form of torture. And then she touched the exposed bone. Who knew bone could hurt so much. A deep lingering, shuddering pain that had me crying. I couldn’t help it. After that I was wired so tense with layers of pain that I was shaking head to toe. They gave me a rest and one of the assistants had to guide me to the bathroom because I think I was in shock. I was shaky for about another fifteen minutes, before going back for more dental fun.

They dug, they drilled, they sawed and they tugged. I say they because there were three people with their hands in my mouth. They had to refreeze me to stitch me. As I sat there, (they wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to keel over), the assistant said, “We’re only going to charge you for materials. The surgery would have been $1500 but you need to pay $185.” I should also mention that while I was in Kansas I broke my front tooth…again. It usually last two years but it’s been less than a year.

When I was told I needed to pay another $185, I’m afraid it was the last straw in a traumatic morning. I’d been there for three hours. I couldn’t stop crying, but I tried to hide it, then told the specialist that I wouldn’t be able to pay for a while because I had another broken tooth that had to be fixed. She ended up not charging me, which I thank her for. They said it was the most unusual tooth they’ve ever seen and they look at special cases every single day. Oh joy, to be so abnormal.

Right now, my mouth aches, my gums are swollen and throbbing, and I can only eat mushy stuff. I look like a demented chipmunk, with one cheek so swollen it’s encroaching on my vision because my eyelid is pushed up. I spent yesterday afternoon sleeping, where I kept dreaming that I was sucking on keys and coins against my gum and that it kept hurting my stitches. That’s because even in my sleep I was hurting. I just hope to any gods in existence that the rest of my teeth have nice, healthy normal roots. Now I just have to find money to get the front tooth fixed…again, a crown on my molar, and I would imagine that eventually I need one on the mutant tooth. Should I ever need this type of dental surgery again, I’m gonna have them knock me out.

I won’t even get into the costs for braces in a mouth with several problems. That’s at least $10,000. Know of any single dentist/orthodontists, or better yet, one who wants to do a work of charity?

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