Defeating Pain

One Person's Battle Against Chronic Pain

About Me

In 2008 I was struck by an SUV while riding my bicycle, I have had C5-C6 and L4-S1 fused. While the surgery did a lot, I was left with FBS and CRPS. Due to my strong dislike of the side effects from my pills, and after weening myself off of a physical addiction hydrocodone twice, I grew disgusted with the legal drug dealing system that calls itself “Pain Management.” It is a frightening thought that most of the pain doctors I visited after hearing I had been on hydrocodone a while, had surgery, and was still in pain, immediately jumped to the conclusion that I needed to be on methadone. Way to put a band-aid on a severed artery, Western Medicine.

I have luckily found a pain doctor that listens, and will not try to put me on opiates, but I still wanted to take more control of my own life and manage my pain. So I vowed to find a way to deal with pain that didn’t require me being intoxicated 24/7, destroy my liver, or any of the other horrible side effects that come with the opiate painkillers that are handed out without regard for the patient. I do have my good and bad days, and sometimes I do have to use my prescribed medication occasionally, but I generally take them when pain is unbearable and I need the “big guns.” So this is not advocating throwing away all Western medicine, but using all available options.

On top of my herbal experimentation, I practice T’ai Chi Ch’aun, and teach it, and I regularly receive Graston from my Chiropractor. I also use massage as part of my therapy. My loves are history, all things anthropological, cooking and herbalism. All of my methods are tried on myself first, and occasionally friends and family.

I am not a doctor! I am not a medical professional! So please do not take this blog as medical advice, always consult a professional for the final word in what you should or should not take. And always educate yourself no one will do it for you!

16 thoughts on “About Me

  1. i completely agree with you about pain medication. thankfully after 7 years i am finally being cared for by a pain management team that advocate other means of pain control. after living in a drug induced haze for these years i am so relieved to be mindfull of life again. no more zombie mum for me!

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  2. Excellent idea, this blog. I’m a healthcare provider in training, and I think pain management is one area that is largely, uh, mismanaged by Western medicine. Although its nothing like what you experience, I have some chronic pain from old sports injuries, and acupuncture was a life-changing experience for me. It’s interesting to see what is outside of the pharmaceutical world. Good luck in your continued journey!

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    • Thank you! I do use acupuncture now and then as well as trigger point massage and injections which somewhat follow the same principle. I wish more healthcare providers were open-minded to these approaches, I am lucky to have a pain doctor that does, some refuse to see any other way to treat than over-medication. People like you give me hope that will change though! Good luck in your studies, and you may want to try some of my stress remedies they can help with the stress of school 🙂

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  3. love the idea of dealing with pain in a healthy way!

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    • Ugh WordPress thought you were spam! Rude!

      🙂 This blog has been so cathartic for me and has helped me keep up my spirits no matter what new setback I have. It also gives me hope that it might help another to do the same.

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  4. I need help i can not find tree rosin please help!!!!!

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    • Sure Krista, what sort of tree rosin are you looking for? There are a lot of them that are used for medicine, if you let me know the issue or the tree you are looking for, I am happy to help! 🙂

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  5. Thanks for this on hops! I’m going to try it today – just a weak tea to see if this helps for my surgery-recovery high discomfort (as opposed to pain, anymore). I am really hopeful. It’s weird I actually bought some dry ones the other day, while in the healthy store bulk herbs for kitchen spices, with a vague idea that they may be analgesic. I also remember my grandmother (born 1900) talking about the community harvest in her NY state area and how she helped to pick them when she was a young girl. I seem to recall the point of the story being that it was a fun time to meet up with far-flung “neighbors”. There would be camping out and traveling from one farm to another, and she got paid for the work! Is there a perfect time to pick them such that this type of thing would take place in, say, 1913, in order to get the best product harvested just at that time?
    Maybe you’d be interested to know (streamlinedkt) that when I was discharged on the third day after bowel reconstructive surgery I was on 50- 60 mg/day oxycodone ( 10-12 pills/d=2 pills at mostly 4 hr intervals plus occasional 1 mg morphine on request between doses). My written discharge instructions say not to stop taking the medicine abruptly, but to taper. Briefly, when I called the next day to schedule a follow up with the surgeon, and request another prescript. ( to have enough to get through the weekend), I was spoken to by the designated nurse-type person as if she had never heard of such a thing; like she sounded angry with me. I said that I’d no experience with narc pain relievers and was hoping for guidance (from her), she said something vague about switching to Tylenol and explained that I would have to show up in person at the office at a certain time before it closed for the weekend. No helpful information about oxy use and dosing. Eleven days later, she has not returned my calls and when I came to the office, again on a Friday afternoon she almost yelled at me ” YOU’VE HAD 50 PILLS IN THE LAST WEEK! THAT’S A LOT!”.
    I felt like dogshit. I am only taking half the amount as when I left the hospital two weeks ago, with plans to step it down rapidly as I keep healing. Also, I had not TAKEN all of those, but again would probably need them early on Monday. She told me I could just stop, ‘abruptly’, and advised alternating ibuprofen and acetaminiphen. Tapering wouldn’t be necessary and there would be no withdrawal symptoms in someone using for such a short time. Good!. But as I sit here I have sweated through my t-shirt and yet am freezing, wearing 3 more layers over it. My gut is throbbing periodically…much of my discomfort is around eating and digesting and eliminating. I have no appetite and have been making myself eat a little…protein for healing, and now that I’ve been told it’s ok, fiber. My hands are shaking a little. I think some of this IS mild withdrawal, but so what, it’ll be over with soon. The OTC stuff doesn’t help much, PLUS I am supposed to avoid NSAIDS because of an old brain injury that bled. (I keep telling the doctors this but they don’t acknowledge having heard me.) So hops it will be; like I said. I hope it helps more than certain medical professionals!

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    • Wow, you would not believe how often I hear stories of people not helping patients understand the medications they are taking. I suffered severe withdrawal symptoms from what I was taking – which I found out later were very large doses of hydrocodone for a very long time. I would highly suggest you read the post on Kratom, since it can help you with the symptoms and you can step down easily and use very small doses to get you through the withdrawal symptoms. Hops are a good choice, they are a strong sedative and can help but will make you very sleepy. Lavender also helps ease the anxiety that comes sometime with withdrawal as well as cardamom which will relax you. I hope this helps you, and I hope things improve for you soon, and you are feeling better ❤

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  6. Glad to have found you. I am wondering if you’ve found out any more current information on (specifically) B12 injection dosing for CRPS / RSD.

    I have been digging around the internet to no avail. I have a web site, Pain Maps, dedicated to non-drug treatment options and neuroplastic approaches:

    http://www.painmaps.com/

    Would love to hear from you, especially if you have any current info on B12 I can post. Educational resources for all.

    Jessica

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    • Jessica from what I have read, and the medical studies I have come across, say that unless you are low in specific vitamins (low as in dangerous levels found in blood tests) – vitamins should not have an effect on your CRPS. If you are specifically low on Vitamin D, that can cause nerve pain – but you would need a blood test to know your levels. I would suggest seeing your doctor and requesting a blood test to check your levels if one was not done during your diagnosis (one should have been done, see a new Neurologist if one was not). If something comes up as low, they can help you get levels where they should be and most often over the counter supplements and diet changes can resolve most deficiency issues. I broke down vitamins in this post here is some good information on B12 and what deficieny can cause – B12 WebMD Information and some on Vitamin D

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  7. Well, I appreciate your feedback but, contrary to what you have read, vitamins can in fact have a significant effect on CRPS without necessarily being dangerously low. (I have conducted quite a bit of my own research, and perhaps things are different where I live but I cannot speak to that as I do not know who you are or where you are from).

    As you know CRPS is a highly individual experience and significantly affected by individual health conditions, so I am sure you will agree with me that everyone should do their own research. Where a lack of access to adequate testing exists, or where a person may not have funds for testing, or whatever, it is still a question worth indulging. For example, recent links have been found between CRPS and infections; other sources are pointing to autoimmune aspects.

    As for diagnoses, no such thing exists in Canada and as far as I know, North America. Awareness of CRPS is very poor and the people who do know about it are “diagnosing” based on symptoms alone. Additionally, doctors are often reluctant to test for vitamin shortages (which is why one often has to go t a specialized, expensive lab to pay for them). I know many people whose doctors outright refused to do these tests. Equally so, neurologists are not concerned with any of this sort of thing, nor do they assist with getting your vitamin levels up to par.

    I do not intend any of my comments here as an attempt to initiate a dialogue — I just don’t have the energy right now, I am in the middle of my own health crisis. I just wanted to know if you were aware of any recent research on B12 for CRPS. I have already read your post on vitamins, but thank you for mentioning it just the same.

    I’m glad you are doing what you are doing for folks in pain, and I’m sure your efforts are of help. All the best in your journey.

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    • I am sorry I did not mean to come off antagonistic. I have just had no verifiable proof that this treatment does work, and attempt to warn people who have come across fad treatments, or false natural healing information – there is just so much bad information out there especially when it comes to Dr Oz (but I am glad you are researching for yourself NEVER stop doing that!). At present there is only anecdotal evidence I can find on B12 working (which would mean that it is extremely possible the placebo effect did most of the work).

      Do you have links to medical studies that show that vitamins have a direct effect on CRPS? I would be interested to read a medical studies with good evidence on this. You are correct in that CRPS manifests differently in each individual, but based on biology/anatomy, what I have read in forums with CRPS sufferers, and in medical studies at this point – there is no better than placebo in treating CRPS symptoms with vitamins. There has been a lot of speculation on what causes CRPS – genetics, autoimmune, viral, etc. But none are definite things, and it is still relatively poorly understood (which I am sure you know well). Considering that B12 deficiency has no documented symptoms similar to CRPS, and the other information, it might be best to save your money on expensive shots without the assurance it will help you and maybe take B12 supplements or increase foods that are high in it in your diet – again this is all just my personal opinion and I am not a doctor 🙂

      Diagnosis should always be by exclusion, since as you said there are no definitive tests, and part of that diagnoses should have come with a complete blood work up to show if there are issues with vitamins or other items detectable in the blood that could cause CRPS-like issues. If you have a way to point me to medical research showing statistically significant improvements in patients with CRPS I would love to read them it since that would be well worth trying out. Otherwise I would suggest maybe posting on some CRPS related forums (there are a lot out there) to see if there are people who had significant improvement with B12 shots with symptoms similar to yours.

      Again please don’t think I am arguing with you, this is just a way for all of us to share what we have learned since knowledge empowers all of us 🙂 I would love to hear more information from you on where your CRPS is located and some of the symptoms if you opt for the B12 if it helps you. I wish you the best and hope your health improves soon!

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  8. Thank you for your note and no worries — you did not come across as antagonistic. I just thing you and I are on very different pages. You seem to put a lot of weight on conventional western medicine and I do not; you are seeking medical research whereas my research is not focused there at all, nor am I actively seeking out medical studies.

    The operative term here is “actively seeking out” — meaning I would never exclude them but as someone with CRPS I have found conventional western medicine (and medical doctors) not only useless but in some cases, harmful.

    This conversation is very difficult to have when you haven’t visited my site. I’m happy to continue the dialogue, but when you don’t know what Pain Maps offers, who I am and where I am focused there is little point, yes? I do not assume you would have the time or the interest, but it is there if you want to look it up.

    What I am interested in is cutting edge research coming out of Australia and the work of neuroplasticians in approaching pain and neurological dysfunction. I am also interested in alternative treatments, and given there are so few options for CRPS sufferers out there, I do not require the hard proof or medical studies in order to tell people what is out there. Like you, I encourage people to do their own research but beyond that, I think you and I are on very different pages. At least that is my impression.

    Lastly, I would caution you against dismissing someone like Dr. Oz. Yes, it is true he promotes a lot of baloney. But he has also featured on his program reputable guests such as Dr. Norman Doidge. Once again we return to the importance of critical thinking, and people discerning for themselves what treatment strategy might work after diligent research.

    I hope my note here is well received and I do appreciate where you are coming from and what you are doing. Thank you for your care.

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    • I actually had read over some of your site with your first comment, and I would have to agree we are on different pages. But I believe you were incorrect in saying I put more stock in Western Medicine. Yes there are good doctors and bad out there, that does not mean to not use them at all. I do not put more weight in Western Medicine than anything else, or I would not be using every natural thing I do in conjunction with alternative and western treatments. Each is good for somethings, not as much at others. What I do put weight on, is proof – proof through rigorous usage of the scientific method that what I am doing is a) not harmful and b) actually going to help. Since the placebo effect is such a powerful thing, there are many alternative cures that people use that have no benefit, or that they could be harmful to them. Using scientific studies for verifiable proof that something is better than a placebo (not just one, many, many studies over many, many years) is the one way you can be sure what you are doing is good for you and can truly help with issues. Also, herbal medicine acts with the same laws of chemistry that Western medicine does, and ergo should be held to the same standard of testing. Many herbal remedies and alternative therapies do have that backing, in this case B12, while great for nerves has had no medical studies to prove it helps CRPS. Now I am not saying you can not use the placebo effect to your advantage, but I would not be able to in good conscience suggest to someone to try something that did not have definitive proof it would help and not harm them.

      I cited Dr Oz since he is the most well known person for medical disinformation, especially since his Senate hearing questioning the claims he has made. You can read about that from a rather trusted news source http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/02/04/the-operator

      Everyone wants a magic cure, a panacea that will end their woes, but realistically this is not something that exists in any medicine. Also, while cutting edge research is a great thing, there is a reason in the tech world there is early adoption problems – it usually takes a few goes to get things right. Which means that subjecting yourself to a new treatment that hasn’t been rigorously tested carries in itself an element of danger.

      I hope you continue your research, and if you can find articles with studies showing B12 helps I would be excited to read them 🙂

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