Alternative Treatments and Management of Pain, Part 2

Alternative Treatments and Management of Pain, Part 2

If I could lose the weight, I may be able to stop the pain.  That is what I had believed for so many years.  Two things with that thought, it wasn’t working out so well for me, and It seems I had that in reverse.  What is really happening, is I am experiencing less pain, and am now able to lose weight.  Who would have thought it worked in that direction?  I sure didn’t.  It seems it has everything to do with pain causing stress, and stress in turn causes the release of cortisol, and when you are stressed, your body  hangs on to all that fat.  I have been learning a lot in these past months.  And eliminated many groups of food.  In doing so, my Doctor has given me the ability to reduce the inflammation, the culprit to my pain, and therefore manage my health.

Good nutrition goes hand in hand with good health.  We have so many easy options to choose from when it comes to food.  Pre-packaged, chemical enhanced, flavor enriched foods.  Easy to prepare, sometimes just put it in the microwave and push enter.  Or open a can and heat it on the stove.  How I loved a good can of soup.  I think I ate them for years as my go to lunch.  Complete with flavor enhancers, and corn syrup, natural flavor, bleached flour.  No one ever said being healthy was going to be easy, and it’s not.  I struggle daily with the desire to continue to eat chips, processed meats, and GMO foods.  Mmmm bread, one of my favorites.  They are addictive, they are easy, and they are deadly.  Imagine a skull and crossbones label on those foods, and you wouldn’t be far from the truth.  My five year old grandson, noticed that grandpa was eating a cup of Raman Noodles.  He says to me, “OG, I like Raman Noodles, can I have some?”  Now this little guy eats so healthy, and I have never offered him Raman Noodles before.  As I am preparing them for him, he tells me “They are so delicious, but they are not good for you.”  Such truth from the mouth of babes.

Baked goods, bread, mmm all that deliciousness.  Turns out, that while I do not have a diagnosed disease which would rule out gluten from my diet, the fact that I have eliminated gluten has made a tremendous improvement on the level of pain I have.  When I have a weak moment, or ten, and I eat that wonderfully delicious heavy grain bread, I have several days of suffering, and high levels of pain.  So I have a choice to make.  Do I want that bread?  And is it worth the pain?  Or do I want to forgo eating bread, and feel better?  And on the days, that I say yes to bread, I know there will days of pain.

I think the hardest thing I had to give up, and haven’t completely done so, is the chile.  Being a nightshade, chile is highly inflammatory.  Avoiding foods that cause inflammation is desirable, even when initially it felt like deprivation.  I recently read an article regarding a sugar detox, and that is exactly how it was described, as depriving your body of the sugar.  Imagine now, eliminating not just sugar, but nightshades, chemicals, gluten and dairy.  And trying to eliminate all of them at the same time.

When I first got the list, I was full on into the plan, and did very well for the first few months or so.  I was able to drop 12 pounds in the first few weeks and that felt great.  Almost immediately the pain diminished, which added to the adrenaline and propelled me forward.  Then came the holidays, and a vacation to Mexico, and I had several weeks of straying from the plan.  Not fully, but even a few days of the wrong foods leaves many days of inflammation and pain.

When I first met my Doctor, she is an acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine, it was the end of July, 2015, I had been suffering at the highest level of my pain for 8-10 months.  I think when she asked me my pain level, on a scale of 1-10, I responded with a 9.  This was a difficult time for me, as I had been told for years, that this is normal, people hurt, so again with the mantra it’s all in your head, just get over it.  When she acknowledged my pain, and told me it was not normal, I cried.  Thank you for acknowledging me.  Thank  you for telling me it is not in my head, that what I feel is real, and that you are here to help me.  Even now, writing this, I remember how desperate I felt, and how amazing it was that someone believed me.  Maybe I can hope for a future that doesn’t include this much pain.  At that point, I was hoping for some kind of relief, even if it was complete.  I really didn’t believe then that I would feel as good as I feel today.   Yesterday, about eight months after this journey began, she asked me my pain level, and I was able to respond with 2.  By the end of the visit, even that had diminished.  I had never had acupuncture before 2015, and while it wasn’t a fast cure, it was definitely helping.

This doctor has a wealth of knowledge and listens to me, even when I don’t know I am giving her useful information.  I ramble on about this ailment and that ailment, or answer a question, that I don’t realize is relevant, and she is able to filter through the answers, and get me on the road to recovery.  She is amazing, and I am grateful my daughter in law gave me her contact information.

Each day is a step in the right direction.  I know the choices I make directly effect the outcome of my health.  Learning how to be in control of what you consume, rather than letting what you consume control you.  There is so much information available at the tip of your fingertips.  Not all of it is factual, but in simplistic terms, eat foods that are as close to natural as possible. Keep the ingredient list under 5 or 6.  Avoid foods with words you can’t pronounce.  The food industry enlists chemists, engineers, scientists to figure out what combination of ingredients and chemicals will enhance the flavor in your processed food, and what can be added to make this item more addictive.  Bet you can’t eat just one.  That was a slogan for a chip company when I was growing up.  How true that turned out to be.

It becomes important to realize that your health is relevant.  Many of the prescribed drugs can be avoided if you just take your health into your own hands.  Seek the advice of a nutritionist, talk with like minded people.  Start with one goal, this week I am going to cut out chemicals, or sugar.  What is your need?  How fortunate I feel that I have managed to be relatively healthy, in terms of blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes.  Having spent much of my adult life weighing over 200 pounds, I may not have been that lucky.  I do recall a bout of infections, and during one of my many doctors visits to a general practitioner, my blood pressure was pretty high, I think somewhere around 130/110.  To be fair, I could hear my heart in my head most days.  So I knew it was high.  When the Physicians Assistant said she was going to put me on meds, I told her, not going to happen, I will figure it out.  This occurred years before I met my current doctor, and having been a dieter most of my life, I had a rudimentary understanding of what foods to avoid in order to deal with my high blood pressure.

I stopped hearing my own heart beat, and just ignored it after that.  My most recent visit with the general practitioner while I was sick this winter, indicated a blood pressure reading of 110/70.  I’d say that is pretty good.  Aside from being sick as a dog, I was feeling pretty good seeing that number.

I share all of this, in the hopes, that if you or someone in your life,  is suffering from chronic pain, there is hope.  I know I am not the only one who will avoid over the counter, and prescribed medications.  Just hearing the side effects of most of these drugs is enough to make you question the sanity of the people pushing them.  How can they consciously market these items?  Well fine, I know how they can do it, they love the profitable market that the drug industry is.

Which reminds me what my Doctor told me, when I mentioned how low my blood pressure was,  she said “The side effects of the supplements I recommend for you are, you will feel better, you may lose weight, and you will become healthy”.  The goal we have, is getting me to the point, where I do not need the supplements, and I can continue having a wonderfully pain free and healthy life.

 

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Bee Venom Therapy – Apitherapy

Bee Venom Therapy – Apitherapy

I had a fortuitous meeting with a Black Bumblebee.  I was innocently walking along the ditch bank in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and she was innocently harvesting nectar from a flower on the path.  As I purposefully strode past her, my ankle brushed against the flower she was on, and she fell between my ankle and the tongue of my shoe.  Feeling attacked and threatened, she stung me, which led to a startled yelp out of me, as I came to a complete and sudden stop.   My walking partner and I watched her fly away as I profusely apologized for screaming.  I told my friend that I was not allergic, and we continued on our walk.  We had to keep our pace as we were expected back at the office.

Black bumblebees are not aggressive, and do not sting often, the action of me brushing her off the flower she was harvesting caused her reaction to sting.  She did not leave her stinger in me like a honeybee would, black bumblebees stingers are not barbed, and she very well could have continued to sting me had she been so inclined.   When we returned to the office, my friend looked Black Bumblebees up on the internet.  I think she wanted to know what I could expect as far as the sting was concerned.  At this point, it was not very painful, I only had a small red area around the sting.  What we found was that swelling and itching could be present at the sting site for a few hours up to a few days.  It also seemed to indicate that it would hurt like crazy within a few hours.  That it did!  By the time I got home, I was ready to put ice on the site.  Over the course of the next few days, I had much more swelling and discomfort at the sting site.

Despite the discomfort at the sting site, the most amazing thing happened over the next few days.  For four to five days, I was pain free in all of my trouble spots.  My back stopped hurting, my hips stopped hurting, my legs, my shoulders, my arms.  All the widespread pain, that I had been dealing with for years, was blissfully relieved during the time that this lovely Bumblebees venom was circulating through me.  What an interesting turn of events.  The relief was incredible.  By this point in 2015, I had been suffering more than ever, and was feeling so completely desperate.  It was like someone opened a window to a dark room, and I truly felt there was going to be a change, that maybe I could get better.  I was stung on July 2nd, 2015, and I still had 20 days before I would have my first visit with the Acupuncturist/Doctor of Oriental Medicine.  This sting event would be one of the first things I mentioned to my Doctor, who promptly recommended I seek the treatment of a woman she knew who was practicing Apitherapy in Albuquerque.

My first Bee Venom Therapy or Apitherapy was on August 7, 2015.  It began with a question and answer session, and I relayed my story of the black bumblebee sting.  *June really enjoyed that story, and we talked about it often during my first few months of visiting with her.  To begin therapy, June removes the stinger from the bee with tweezers, and then deposits the honeybee into a jar with water and honey.  Knowing the bee has sacrificed her life for this therapy, June takes care to give them what comfort and nourishment she can in their final hours.  When the stinger is removed from the honeybee, she will die from dehydration.  June then did taps with a stinger on my stomach, to test my reaction.   Obviously you don’t want someone going into anaphylactic shock while getting a treatment that is meant to help them.  Once she was satisfied that I would not have an adverse reaction, she continued her treatment.  June begins by taking my pulses, and determines which organs need a boost, and then she would focus on my aches and pains.  Sometimes the bees would get so loud you could hear them buzzing in their containers.  Some of her honeybees have been Africanized and are more aggressive then others.  Some are Russian bees and are stubborn and escape artists.  Often they would get out of the box, and fly around the room until they found the window.  June truly has respect for her bees, and has four hives that she started and harvests for her patients and self therapy.  If they do not have enough food, she will add honey to their hives to supplement what they have made for themselves.

After having multiple sessions that included tapping, and some sets of the stingers, June mentioned a full sting.  Here I am lying on the table, thinking a set was a full sting.  When I received a set, I would experience swelling in the area, but also relief from the pain and inflammation.   I asked her what is the difference between a set and a full sting.  June explained that a a tap delivers about 1 micrograms of venom, a set delivers about 10 micrograms of venom, and a full sting delivers about 100 micrograms of venom.  After a few moments of silence I said, I’m a little scared now.  June said we didn’t have to do it today.  I needed time to absorb the idea of the full stings.  I remembered the reaction to the sting I had gotten from the black bumblebee, and was a little freaked out that a full sting, offering so much venom would cause me some pain.  To be honest, the sets up to this point were not painful, so I thought I was a total stud, then I hear from June, that I haven’t really experienced the full power of the bee venom therapy.  So yeah, I was a little hesitant to consider multiple full stings.

At my next visit, June said she had been thinking about doing full stings.  Considering my last visit with her, it was all could think about.  The taps and the sets were helping with my pain, and inflammation, but I wanted to get even more benefit.  I really wanted the full benefits of BVT so I had already decided to ask for the full stings.  I told her I also had been thinking about full stings.  And we were off.  She started with my hips as they were huge, painful, problem areas for me.  June used an ice pack, for a few seconds on the site, and then she lets the bee do her thing.  Honeybees leave their stinger behind when they sting, and that is the delivery method of the larger quantity of venom.  After using the ice the one time, we didn’t use it again.  Knowing that a sting is coming it is not surprising, and although I can feel some of them “fire” up, I just breathe through the stronger ones.  The effects of the stings were longer lasting, and in some way quite addictive.

Then we moved to my lower back.  I think I have gotten as many as eleven full stings at one visit.  And upwards of twenty bees for tapping and sets.  Usually, I would get a set or a full sting in each hip, which she will sometimes surround with some sets.  I think she called that the “Eye of the Dragon” and five or more full stings in my lower back.  Occasionally I will ask for work on my arm, or my ankle, and she will also touch up my knees.   Most recently having complained about an issue I have with my right ankle, June gave me a treatment which included a full sting on the ankle, some sets, and tapping.  She did this on both ankles, and then also on my left arm that continues to be problematic.  I felt so good afterward, for days, much less pain, much less annoyance with those areas.

I look forward to each visit, as this form of treatment causes me no side effects other than feeling good.  June is able to tune up my organs as well, and she works in conjunction with my Doctor of Oriental Medicine in my treatment.  Without these two incredible women in my life today, I can’t imagine how I would be coping.  Certainly my husband would be bearing the brunt of my chronic pain.  This alternative treatment has had a profound impact on my life.  The honey bees are amazing little creatures with incredible healing properties.

*Name changed for purposes of this article.

Alternative Treatment and Management of Pain

Alternative Treatment and Management of Pain

Alternative treatment and management of pain.

Never having been a person who wants to pop a pill for every ache, after decades of pain that increased over the past year, I sought alternative methods for dealing with it.  This led me on a path of oriental medicine, herbal supplements, and bee venom therapy.  Over the course of the past 9 months, my pain level has gone down, I have lost weight, and I have learned why I have had so much pain to begin with.  My intention is to enlighten others to a different approach to pain management.  And ultimately managing how you approach your overall health.

I am not a licensed practitioner.  I am simply someone who chooses to listen and follow the advice of the trained holistic healers in my life.  This journey is still beginning, and I am so looking forward to the continuation of where I have been taken already.  The differences that have already been made in my life over the past 9 months have been incredible, and where as before, I had been feeling hopeless and desperate, I now feel hopeful for a wonderful outcome.

My story began decades ago.  Starting with aching in my knees.  I learned then to live with the mantra, it’s all in your head, just get over it.  Mostly because after a few visits with Doctors, nothing was found, and so… I learned to live with it.  Sometimes I would use a knee brace.   Mostly I just kept going.  I was pretty active, in my younger years, living in Boston, I rode my bike, or walked to the subway.  Always moving, always active.  This, I believe kept my joints lubricated and working.

It wasn’t until more recent years, that the pain was increasing, along with my weight.  For over 20 years, I was upwards of 200 pounds.  At the most, I know I weighed 230 pounds.  While I knew I needed to lose weight for my health, I did not feel bad about myself, I could look in the mirror, and like who I was.  With the help of weight loss meetings, and learning about nutrition, I was able to drop pounds, but continued to hover just over 200 pounds.  My thinking was, if I could just lose weight, I wouldn’t hurt so much.  Regardless of the knowledge I had about nutrition, and for the most part eating healthfully.  I would get to the point, after being unable to drop any weight, of just saying, oh forget it, let’s eat that cake, or chips, let’s drink soda all day long, what difference is it going to make.

As long as I kept walking, and mostly eating well, I could maintain the weight, without getting bigger, I just couldn’t stop the pain.  By this point, the pain was no longer just in my knees, it was widespread.  Not always in the same place, sometimes more intense in my hips, or my back, or my neck, or my legs.  Thankfully, I have an ability to be bright and happy most of the time and not many people around me, not co-workers, nor my grown children really had any idea that I was suffering.  My husband, Abdiel, and I have been married for 10 years.  He has seen me at the worst, but he also knew I did not usually complain.  In 2015 the pain was at such a high level, that I was complaining, and asking for massage, and sleeping on ice nearly every night.  Abdiel even found me an ice pack, that when opened, it was as big as a pillow case.  Man he was my hero when he brought that home!  I could curl up on in and go numb.  I could sleep for a few hours at a time.  It was bliss!

In 2013, I did finally ask the Physicians Assistant, who regularly treated me for whatever was ailing me, for some pain medication.  She prescribed Tramadol, a narcotic to treat pain.  Over a four week period, I used it five times.  Each time the reaction to this drug became stronger.  One of the side effects of this narcotic is respiratory distress up to and including death.  Wait, what?  So the fifth time I used this little pill, I really had to concentrate on breathing.  I was certain I would wake up dead.  That was the last time I took it, and it was years before I sought alternative treatment.  Ice packs became my best friend.  Laying on them at night became the only way I could get some relief and fall asleep.

Throughout this pain, I have continued to be an avid walker.  Regardless of where I worked, I would take time during my lunch break to walk outside.  I truly believe this is one of the things that has kept me out of a wheelchair, and able to continue to move.  My husband and I would joke about a wheelchair.  Abdiel buys and sells items, and would often find some really nice wheelchairs or walkers, and would tease me that this one is for me.  Honestly in 2015, I got to the point of hopelessness, and would covet some of the nicer walkers.  Without walking through the pain four to five times a week, I feel I would have been using one or the other in the near future.  Being a positive thinker was also a benefit I had.

My journey is just beginning, in the following weeks, I will continue to share, and will get into my course of treatment, and the hope I now have for a pain free future, and a healthy lifestyle.