Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dreams Can Come True - You're Reading One

It's been a while since I last posted on my TOS journey.  Much has happened recently, in spite of my TOS, and I've been focused on that instead. 
I published my first novel, "Blue Hydrangeas" on Kindle back in April and in paperback in September.  This was a project started in 2002, years before my TOS and other repetitive strain injuries made it nearly impossible for me to pursue writing as any kind of career or hobby. 
The manuscript languished on my hard drive, waiting for better days.  Occasionally, I'd open it up and tinker with it, refining the prose, tightening the story, preparing for publication, etc.  In May of 2012, a friend suggested I publish on Kindle, and I figured, why not?  It took me almost a year to publish, but I did it and to glowing reviews. 
Seems as soon as the digital version went live readers were asking for a paperback, and so I managed to put that together, too, which turned out to be a much more difficult task and impossible to complete without a little help.  So, due to these two milestones in my life - achievements I thought I'd never see - I've neglected this blog. 
The best I can offer my readers is a little hope, and some encouragement that TOS and repetitive strain injuries can be managed and the pain can be controlled enough to bring us to a point where we can go on living and achieve our goals. 
Publishing this book has opened a new door for me.  The last seven years have been fraught with disappointment and frustration over the fact that I could not pursue my dream of becoming a published author.  I had tried the traditional route before becoming disabled and failed to gain any support.  I could not even consider the possiblity of starting that process all over again - the research, the letter writing, the waiting - with an uncertain outcome.
But, as I went through the process of learning how to live with my injuries, the publishing world changed.  Independent publishing became more acceptable and more achievable.  When I reentered the arena, I had a new avenue in which to pursue my  dream, one that I could travel at my own pace.
I am in complete control of my project, and while that is scary it is also necessary, because like so many others with repetitive strain injuries I am an overachiever who pushes herself well beyond her limits.  With someone else directing my progress this could be disastrous, but with myself at the helm I am able to steer a safe and steady course, avoiding flare ups and preventing myself from crippling myself in the process.   
Sometimes we need patience and acceptance in treating these disorders, allowing our bodies to heal and conditions to arrange themselves to best suit us and our new abilities.  Situations change. Attitudes adjust.  While we are healing, the world moves on, waiting for us to come back and start living again.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's All About the Stretch

At last, scientific evidence of what I and a number of the alternative health professionals I've worked with have known all along: it's all about the stretch.  More specifically, it's all about connective tissue.

"Connective tissue joins your thigh to your calf; your hand to your arm; your breastbone to your clavicle. As you move, it allows your muscles to glide past one another. It acts like a net suspending your organs and a high-tech adhesive holding your cells in place while relaying messages between them. Connective tissue is one of the most integral components of the human machine. Indeed, one could draw a line between any two points of the body via a path of connective tissue. This network is so extensive and ubiquitous that if we were to lose every organ, muscle, bone, nerve, and blood vessel in our bodies, we would still maintain the same shape: our  'connective-tissue body.'"

Increasing evidence shows a link between chronic pain and connective tissue, although this has not been well studied in the past.  In a recent article published in The Scientist, Helene M. Langevin, MD (quoted above) discusses the relationship between pain, connective tissue and acupuncture.  I was told long ago that my pain issues were due to "bunched up connective tissue" and "myofascial pain syndrome."  The only real relief  I've gotten is from the smoothing out of these tissues through manual manipulation and massage.  Acupuncture helps, too.  So it seems we were on the right track after all.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence (From Pain) Day

Funny thing about TOS: when I feel bad I don't like to talk about it.  Who wants to hear about another's aches & pains, or how many pain pills they took today, or how they couldn't do what they wanted to because they hurt so much?  On the flip side, when I'm feeling really good I don't want to talk about that either, because I'm afraid I'll jinx myself and start the cycle all over again.  Alas, this TOS life is complex.  Yet, I will admit that for the last two or three days I have been feeling wonderful, with little pain and functioning like a "normal" person, or at least my "normal," before TOS and my other repetitive strain injuries railroaded my life.  No simple feat, these pain-free days.  They follow a series of alternative therapies and remedies mixed in with some mainstream medical magic: acupuncture and soft-tissue reprocessing from the Pain Whisperer, Tom Chi; a 45-minute all-over body massage by the wonderful Connie Wehmeyer at Subtle Energies; a trial of Curaphen, a pain relief health supplement by Euromedica; a cortisone shot in my right shoulder; weaning away from Cymbalta, an anti-depressant used to alleviate chronic muskuloskeletal pain; an Aquasize class at the Y; lots of ice to elbows, ankles, and shoulder; Topricin pain cream; and plenty of rest and sleep.  It is not a quick or easy job to manage pain.  In fact, it's rather time-consuming and round-the-clock.  Disability is not fun for anyone, especially me because I feel I have so much to offer and so much to do and be, and as you may have surmised it can get expensive.  Insurance does not cover any of the alternative therapies, and what mainstream medical treatments they do cover have to earn their approval.  Sometimes it's frustrating trying to find a system that works.  Then there are times when all the pieces fall wonderfully together and some sort of pain nirvana is achieved, which is where I am today.  Whatever I'm doing, it's working for now, and I'm grateful.  Happy Independence Day! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Perfect TOS anthem

This is one of my favorite Third Day songs, and it's reverberating in my head lately as I go about doing the work of publishing and promoting my book, at the risk of exacerbating my pain issues.  I need to slow down.