Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First day at pain management

Today was my first day at the pain management program I'm doing.

The good news is that everyone was nice and friendly and helpful. The bad news is that I'm EXHAUSTED!

So I'm not sure when I'll be able to finish the things I've promised people. :( That includes finishing the images for the latest tutorial, and finishing the clothing-for-novices templates I promised. They will get done, but I'd say check back weekly (rather than, say, daily) for a while.

Anyway: back to the pain clinic stuff.

The Tuesday pattern is a session with occupational therapists, a session of hydrotherapy, lunch, a session of physiotherapy, a relaxation session, then a personal appointment with a psychologist.

The OT session today was on personal care. Hygiene, grooming, dressing, and so forth. Tricks like shoehorns and sitting on the bed to get started putting pants on and petalback bras and shirts.

Hydrotherapy - the pool is HEAVEN. If I win the lotto, I'm installing a heated swimming pool just like that one. I WANTS IT MY PRECIOUS! It was warm. Not just 'not-cold'. Actually warm.
But they wouldn't throw dive toys for and let me free swim. :( Waaah. Instead, I had to do the prescribed exercises. Oh well. I swam underwater whenever I shifted sections of the pool. I love swimming.

At lunch, we patients spent some time getting to know each other. There are five of us in this group, all with pain problems of some sort. I don't yet know what happened to most of them, one started with an injury, mine is illness.

Then physiotherapy. If the pool is Heaven, this is Purgatory. At least it's not Hell. Justin (the physio who was working with Sherri and I) was kind. He made sure we understood the goals of the physio program, and understood what he was doing. Today and Thursday, he's establishing a baseline. Finding out what gives us effort - checking heartrate on cardio exercises, looking for signs of muscle strain in physical exercises, ensuring our stretches actually felt stretchy.

He's wanting us to go just to the point of effort, not any further. Going too far can well cause a pain flare, which makes it emotionally much harder for us to actually sustain doing the exercise - and can sensitise the body's pain signals, apparently.

Anyway, pain flare bad. Sub-flare-causing effort good. Until Justin and Catherine (the other physio) know exactly how much exercise is sub-flare-causing effort, we go very slowly and carefully.

That said, I was sweating and mildly more-sore-than-when-I-started when I finished. Probably another full stage on the pain scale.

Pain scale: 0 is no pain, 10 is enough pain that you can't think of anything but the pain OR your muscles totally refuse to function OR you go into shock. At least that's my pain scale. The normal pain scale is '10 is the worst pain you can imagine'. But I can imagine pain beyond those points - and have experienced all of those.

The final group session today was relaxation - which I'm sure is a deliberate decision. Get us going home with relaxed muscles and relaxed minds, as well as teach us meditation & relaxation techniques.
Tomorrow I'm going to go out and buy a mandala poster - as long as I'm well enough to go out at all.

Then I had a session with my psychologist. We each get an hour each week for a private session with a psych - severe illness typically triggers psych problems, even if only of the 'why me, God?' sort. In my case, it's very hard not to resent my body and loathe looking after it, which really doesn't help keep it functional. As I told him, if my body was a car, I'd either sell it, or find another car of the same make and use the two cars to make one good one.


Anyway, that's my first day at the pain management clinic.

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