Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hurts so good...or does it?

You know, when I weighed 350 pounds, I didn't have a lot of health problems or pain (I mean, my feet would hurt sometimes but that's to be expected...they were hauling a heavy load).  Mostly I lucked out because I was in my mid-20's and they hadn't shown up yet.  So now I've taken all these steps to lose weight and be healthier and I spend more time at the doctor's office than ever before!  Did I abuse my body and now its punishing me?  Is it just because I'm older?  What IS the deal?!  I am way too young to feel this old!

Let me explain.  Recently, I was told I most likely have bursitis in my left hip.  The pain varies from day to day.  Most days, I am at a "3 or 4" (on a scale of 10).  Noticeable but not terrible and definitely manageable.  Other days, I'm at a 7.  Those days, I notice I have a lot less patience with stupidity and cry about lame things (after the surgeries I've had, I KNOW what a 10 feels like and, I guess I should be grateful that my current body aches don't take me there).  I can't always predict what will cause me to have a bad day.  I've had "bad hips" for years.  Whether I walked around Lafayette Reservoir (under three miles) or hiked Half Dome in Yosemite (roundtrip, around 18-20 miles, depending on the route), my hips would hurt the same.  Within the last four months or so, the left started hurting worse than the right.  Maybe from years of horseback riding since that's the leg I would use to mount.  I also have lower back pain.  That was left over from being fat.  I also carry some mid-back pain.  That started after I lost weight and had all of that skin hanging off the front of me.  I am a desk worker so I also get to enjoy upper-back/shoulder/neck pain.  So, the addition of the hip to all the other pain I've been carrying around pushed me over the edge. 

It got me thinking about pain management.  Of course, there are the obvious pain medications.  Who doesn't love to get a little boo-boo so they can call their doctor up and order an economy-sized bottle of Vicodin?  Shoot, I still have a bottle of Percocet left over from my plastic surgeries -- maybe I should break into it!  But I try to be a responsible little patient and avoid abusing my good relationship with my doctor (not that she'd write me a prescription if she didn't believe I needed one, but I'm sure its not difficult to cry a little and get whatever I "needed"). 

There are all kinds of ways to manage pain without medication.  

Exercise:  I know if I am exercising regularly (good, old-fashioned cardio and weight lifting), I have less pain in general.  Throw a couple of yoga classes in each week, and I'm usually good to go.  

Massage:  This is probably my favorite way to relieve pain.  But still, the emphasis is about relieving it instead of preventing it.  I would like to prevent pain!

Acupuncture/acupressure:  I have never tried this, but I am game!  I'd love to hear your experience with it!

Chiropractor:  I have gone to a chiropractor for the last five years or so.  After gastric bypass, the back pain got pretty bad.  But it was never a permanent fix and I have to go every month or so just to keep the pain from getting too bad.  

Meditation:  I have heard good things about meditating.  This is also one where I would love to hear about your experiences.  

Physical therapy:  I'm sure, depending on the injury, physical therapy could be helpful.  But I imagine they are going to give you exercises and stretches to do...all things I can do on my own without taking time off work to drive out of my way for another appointment!

Good posture/ergonomic desk set-up:  This is probably key to avoiding pain in my upper-back, neck and shoulders.  I recently reconfigured my desk to sit properly and that actually brought on a whole new bunch of pain.  Mostly because my body had clearly gotten used to the bad set-up.  I'm powering through, though, and hope that the pain will go away once my body gets used to the NEW (and correct) set-up.  

Heat and ice:  I have been using ice on my hip and heat on my back.  However, I was recently housesitting and sat in their hot tub.  That REALLY helped my hip (I had two full days of practically no pain at all).  I also determined that a bathtub does not provide the same relief.  Apparently the circulation of the water is important. 

Reiki:  I went to a Reiki session once.  I liked it but I also felt slightly unfulfilled.  The session costs about as much as a massage so I think I'd rather be rubbed down.  I would love to hear about your personal experiences with Reiki though.  

Epsom salt:  I have started using this to keep down swelling in my body.  Sometimes I'll wake up with 8 pounds of water weight and that hurts!  

BioFreeze (or Icy Hot):  This is something I can use on my back when its really having a bad day.  I prefer BioFreeze.  But I caution against using it and then lying on a heated pad.  That's no bueno.  I got a chemical burn from that once.  Whoops.  Guess I should have read the insert. 

I have been on Facebook making daily complaints about my pain.  My friend, Melissa, asked me to go see her friend.  He's a bodywork specialist.  What the hell is that?!  At first I said no.  I'm poor...I can't spend money on that.  But she convinced me.  And I am so glad she did (I have a kidney for sale if anyone is interested...visits to Keith will be my crack habit).  ;-) 

His name is Keith Ortiz.  His company is Tri-Valley Bodyworks, located in Dublin, California.  

First Keith had me describe all of my pain (and when it rains, it pours). He had me stand and he evaluated different areas of my spine and hips.  I had to touch my toes.  Do minor back bends.  It only took a few adjustments before touching my toes didn't hurt AT ALL.  I laid on the table for various adjustments. He adjusted my hips, back, shoulders, neck.  He then did some deep tissue work on my lower back, mid-back, neck and shoulders.  Last night, I looked straight down again.  No pain or pull!!  I couldn't even tell you the last time I could do that with no pain!

This was nothing like the chiropractor (way more advanced) and a lot more intense than a massage.  It was amazing how he could poke and around and he'd just KNOW where my "spot" was.  I asked him how he could tell.  He said that damaged muscle feels differently than healthy muscle.  He said some women think they have cellulite on their legs and its actually damaged muscle (oh dear, sweet baby Jesus, please let THAT be the reason my legs look the way they do, because that's fixable!!).  

Keith gave me a full 90 minutes of evaluation AND demonstration of his abilities. He also does scar release work, which I absolutely need.  My inner thigh scars are especially bad (in that range of motion has been affected, not that they look bad...as far as scars go, they look good, but they are tight.  I couldn't do the splits to save my life, even with practice).  My arm scars are also limiting my range of motion slightly.  My lower body lift scar is hard at the "upside down T."  When I was in Hawaii, I  met with a massage therapist who insisted that scar tissue could be turned back into regular tissue with the proper work.  I felt one of Keith's scars.  It looked like a scar but was soft like regular skin!

So, even though body work like this will not fix everything overnight, I did get some immediate relief (who doesn't love instant gratification?!):

I could touch my toes without the pull in my lower back.

When I left, there was no pain in my hip. My muscles were sore but it just felt like I had finished a good workout.

When I got home, I did a cross-legged forward bend and there was no "catch" in my hips.  My hips felt more open.  

Also, usually when I look down, my neck and upper back are so tight,  it is extremely painful. I was able to look down with absolutely no pain.  

Last night, I sat still for two hours at dinner (which is usually the kiss of death for me) and was very sore when I first stood up.  But I was able to walk it off pretty quickly. Not that I'm pain-free completely, but it has diminished enough to make me a believer in Keith's abilities.  After soaking in an epsom salt bath last night, I also iced the hip and used heat on the mid-back.

This morning I woke up feeling better than I have in a very long time.  My hip didn't hurt and my neck was still pretty good.  I think I need to check my pillow because it was irritating me last night.  The upper back, shoulder and neck pain did kick in again when I sat down at the computer to work but I hope that with continued proper body alignment and future visits to Keith, this pain will continue to diminish.  

I have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on Thursday.  I am not sure if they are going to suggest a shot or surgery.  But I hope that with Keith's help, I can avoid future surgery on my hip and begin living as pain free as possible.

P.S. Because I believe in Keith's skills, and I want everyone to feel the relief that I feel, I want to point out that he offers a special if you buy his time in blocks.  You can share it with friends and family!  CLICK HERE.


  1. I am crossing my fingers for you. (And I will keep in mind about the kidney.) I really hear your "voice" in these posts. You are a talented lady Lori Myers

  2. Girl you are such a talented writer...I look forward to reading your posts...
    I would highly recommend acupunture! Eastern medicine has been around for centuries...they gotta know something we don't know...I do have a women I use in Hayward...she's very good...I had severe carpal tunnel and was scheduled for surgery..decided to try acupunture...never had to go under the knife...and its lasted for some time...
    I want you to remember something...you may be doing alot more now that you have dropped the weight..your body is also adjusting to alot of new demands...stretching is a must in any type of activities you do...yoga, pilates, etc. unfortunately its one of the things we pass up too often...I think you're on the right track...also...research alternative medicine...also, I do know another guy..Toby Hansen...hes amazing...does acupressure...I can't tell you how many clients I have sent to him....keep writing girl...I'm sure it helps with everything...oh...and I'm sure Rita is going to hold you to that kidney!!!

  3. Thank you both. :-) I have two kidneys! Why not share?! I love Rita!

  4. Thanks for the info on Keith Ortiz. I will have to think about trying him out. I too have pain issues, and I no longer take any pills for it. Sometimes I will take Aleve at night or in the morning to help loosen me up. I have osteoarthritis in my lower lumbar. i was told one good fall or accident and I may never walk again. So I've become super cautious.

    I pray for you and your pain management, i know its hard.

  5. Thanks, Lisa! This is actually an old post that I just reposted today. My pain levels are much more manageable...and all due to Keith's help. I also take Aleve when I need it. My issues are far less severe than yours. But if there's anyone who can help you, Keith would be the person!