It’s been twenty-three months since my fall in London and very little has changed in my healthcare. Like everyone else out there, I seek any method to promote healing available to me. I’m no longer willing to explore those answers on someone else’s time frame.
I remember the moment they told me I had to go to Sister Kenny’s Chronic Pain Program in Minneapolis after the car wreck in 1979. The doctor gently told me that I couldn’t get better, but Sister Kenny’s could ‘teach me to learn live like this.’
Were they kidding? ‘This’ was as good as it could ever get? They offered no hope of healing or improving my life. I could only control my left arm and left leg for a few hours each day. My words came out backward. My back made it impossible to lift anything or bend to clean. Although I couldn’t speak correctly, I understood everything. I constantly chastised myself:
Will my husband continue to make fun of the way I talk and my inability to do simple tasks or remember anything for five minutes? Will my children have to do most of the chores around the house? I’m worthless, just like I was when I was little. My thoughts became immediately suicidal and self-defeating.
Remember, no one has the right to steal your Hope for Healing Solutions!
I had twenty-four hours after receiving the mandate to make my decision to be sent off to Sister Kenny’s Chronic Pain program. They expected me to accept the fact that my life was over.
No one has the right to convince you there’s no hope in life beyond the present.
I gave up all hope of recovery until that magical moment in the following days when I found the gift Grandpa Burton gave me when on my seventh Christmas: The Gift of the “I Can.” https://peggyshope4u.com/grandfathers-hope-can/
There is always HOPE; you can find healing alternatives to drugs and negative assumptions regarding your capabilities.
There is nothing courageous in managing and correcting health issues. You simply have to take charge of your life and demand the honest answers you’re willing to accept.
For nearly five years after the back, neck, and brain injuries I took their drugs to reduce the pain enough to be a half-mother to my two young sons.
To say the results were awful is a mild description of my life back then.
The Grieving Process
I had to move through the grieving process and deal with the five stages of grief after my disability:
- and acceptance.
These five levels of normal responses exemplify our ability to learn to live with the lousy after-effects of life-changing events.
The well-meaning docs managed me through denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They believed they had molded me into their willing patient.
Change Depends On You
What they hadn’t considered back then and what they haven’t recognized today is the fact that I needed to get to the level of anger in order to find the courage to take my life back.
This time around, I’ve given them twenty-three long months to make a difference.
During those months, I was given opiate pain medications. I told them I would never take that type of drug again. I’ve attended physical therapy sessions that made the pain increase so much I couldn’t sleep more than 2-3 hours each night.
There’s no way to describe what it’s like to experience pain 24/7 at a level which doesn’t allow you to get any rest.
The docs I’ve seen in Wisconsin tell me I have mild arthritis based on a recent x-ray and “there is no medical reason for you to be experiencing the level of pain you say you’ve been experiencing.” Remarkably, the doctor I saw this winter on the coast wanted to do immediate surgery after seeing the results of an MRI. I couldn’t get clearance from cardiology here in WI.
Follow Your Gut
I did the same thing I did after the car wreck, I got a third opinion last week.
The answer I received this week didn’t matter. I didn’t care if the new doc wanted to do surgery or one or more of the alternative treatments I used after the car wreck listed in the table below.
Two weeks ago a doc here told me I also have arthritis in the facet joints in my low back. With a set jaw, I mentioned that having arthritis in the facet joints was probably the reason Sister Kenny decided to do not one but two facet nerve blocks after doing thermal imaging of my low back so many years ago.
The look of shock was priceless! (I provided my records after the car wreck last December, but I don’t know that anyone has yet read them.)
You need to hear this because I know there are others out there like me. Honest people are dealing with levels of pain which have destroyed their quality of life, and they need solutions too.
I didn’t question anything after the car wreck. The docs told me I’d never be able to work again. I proved them wrong. After months of trial and error and research, I developed a program that worked. ( I retired a few years ago earning a six-figure income, regardless of their dire predictions.)
Here are some of the techniques I chose from to help me get “above the pain,” retrain my brain, and get back to living:
Acupuncture* Clinical Hypnosis Healing Touch* Mindfulness Tui na
Aromatherapy* Craniosacral Therapy Holistic Naturopathy Yoga
Ayurvedic Medicine Creative Therapies* Homeopathy Osteopathic Medicine
Biofeedback* Cupping Imagery* Prayer*
Botanical Medicine* Dermal Friction Intuition in Healthcare Reflexology*
Breathwork* Dietary Therapies Massage Therapy* Reiki
Chinese Herbs Food As Medicine Mind-Body Therapies* Shiatsu*
Chiropractic* Healing Environment* Mindful Movement* Social Support*
I’ve placed an * by those I utilized in the early 80’s.
And best of all: A simple Electronic Simon Says game to retrain my brain around the broken parts!
I found the exercises they wanted me to do at Sister Kenny exacerbated my back pain. I learned to lie on my back on the floor, with my knees raised, and create an adaptation of their exercises. The floor supported my damaged spine and prevented further discomfort.
Learn to adapt techniques. If anything you’re doing increases your pain levels, stop doing it and contact your doctor immediately.
Be Careful and Ask Questions
I was excited five long years after the car wreck to be able to do things that improved my overall strength. In my infinite wisdom, I decided (without asking) that if weight training every other day worked so well, that I could get well twice as fast by doing it daily.
Wrong! I ended up with a rotator cuff injury in my left shoulder. I hadn’t bothered to ask anyone how to do weight lifting, and no one warned me you shouldn’t do it every single day.
So, I want to caution you to ask lots of questions. Don’t run off and decide you can do things yourself without excellent direction.
Biofeedback was a huge help. At first, I had trouble mastering the technique.
The technician explained that hypnosis could be dangerous. She said biofeedback was a better alternative.
The explanation I received was that under hypnosis if the building started to burn, I wouldn’t run. But, if the building caught fire doing biofeedback, I could easily bring myself out of it, and immediately leave the building.
That explanation marked the difference between the physical therapist who didn’t explain the risks to using weights each day and the biofeedback therapist who made sure I understood what I was doing and why.
After several months of training, I was capable of breathing in through one nostril and out through the other. (Bet you just tried it!)
I believe Biofeedback has the capability of changing the pattern of nerve signals of pain to the body.
Get Printed Instructions and Medical Records
I’m the first to admit that my short-term memory has been an issue since the brain injury. I’ve learned to accept it. I forget things.
What has convinced me to have you get copies of everything, is that I’ve found so many mistakes in my medical records. One doc has accused me of self-medicating. I’ve written notes from my appointments, so I don’t forget the instructions. Doctors can tell you one thing and put something entirely different in your patient records.
A recent example: Two weeks ago, the doc I saw instructed me to take ½ of a new pill at bedtime to start. She intended to have me see if it could help me sleep.
It affected me by causing me to sleep for 15 hours straight. Also, it nearly impossible to stay awake for the first three hours after I got up.
So, I cut the pill into ¼ pills. That reduced the amount of sleep to 7-8 hours each night. By reducing the amount by half again, I only woke up one or two times due to stabbing pain when I turned over. I was still groggy for an hour after awakening.
The medical record I downloaded yesterday said nothing of her instruction to cut the pill in half. That will trigger a lecture from my primary care physician when I go in and admit I reduced the pill from a whole pill to a quarter pill.
Everyone Makes Mistakes
Doctors don’t put everything in the patient file. They’re in a hurry and insurance mandates how much time they can spend with you. It can cause you a tremendous amount of trouble down the road.
Communication needs to improve with doctors everywhere. There should never be a disagreement between what a physician says, what they meant, or what they ordered.
You have a right to question why the fact that you mentioned a symptom six months ago was not placed in the record until you brought it up the second time!
It took eight years before I worked my way back to a full-time job after the car wreck.
I’m not willing to wait eight years this time.
You too, can decide today to make whatever changes you need to live a productive life.
Take Charge of Your Healing Journey
Mom taught me never to question what the doctor says. I’m sure many of you had the same experience growing up.
My nine-year-old son convinced me to question everything when our insurance changed, and we had to go to a new doctor. They led us into a room where a nurse practitioner examined him and announced he had an infection and needed a shot of penicillin.
She left the room to prepare the syringe.
My young child looked at me with tears in his eyes. “Mom, I want to go back to my real doctor. She didn’t even ask if I was allergic to penicillin. Grandma’s allergic. How does she know I’m not? She didn’t have us fill out any forms at all.”
The child was right. We got up, left the building, and I paid 100% of the cost to take my child back to the doctor he loved and trusted.
So, there are some simple rules you need to follow to get better:
- Partner with your health care professional and if something doesn’t feel right, ask questions.
- Take someone with you to the appointment, who can help you remember what is said and question whatever doesn’t seem right.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is crucial to your healing process.
- Create a personal healthcare record. List all current medications, including over-the-counter meds you may be taking. Add any new instructions and appointment results. Take it with you to remove or add items to each doctor appointment.
- Get a copy of your medical record from your provider. Compare it to the personal healthcare record you have on file.
- Always keep your insurance cards with you.
- Avoid Stress and Negative Surroundings. Listen to funny movies – turn off the news and turn on the stereo.