In the last half of 2016, I began seeing a pain rehabilitation doctor I was referred to by my rheumatologist. My neck has been just god awful for me lately.
For a long time, I hadn't been sleeping in my bed but on the couch. Even then, I was barely sleeping.
We started with trigger point injections. This is where lidocaine (a numbing agent) is injected directly into very tight muscular points. It relieves the tightness and allows you to move in ways that will help work that knot out. These were really effective at the start, but began to very quickly lose effectiveness past the first few days.
Our plan b was to start acupuncture and see how that went. It isn't covered by our insurance and y'all know how I feel about 'alternative' medicine things, but I was willing to give it a try.
I can honestly say right now that I don't know if I would be alive without acupuncture.
People may think I'm being melodramatic in saying this but, for me, it's a reality. I can deal with pain in a joint on a normal basis - heck, I lived and worked with bursitis for several months. This neck pain is something that is just demoralizing and awful in the worst way.
I can avoid using a joint like my knee but not my neck!
We've only done the acupuncture a few times, but this last time I went for three weeks until having real neck pain again this past Wednesday. And, when I say this, I mean little-to-no breakthrough pain to manage as well - no TENS unit, hot packs, ice, ointments (aside from those to ease my sunburn), etc.
This is practically a miracle for me.
I've been able to sleep! And in my bed next to my husband at that! Tuesday night was the first night since I got back from Mexico that I didn't sleep in my bed once my sunburn cleared up enough.
All that said, this has been also a practice in self-care. For example, I can't be upright all day. It's just not something I can do and survive. That's actually been part of what's wound up causing me more pain this week.
The amount of time I've spent upright the last two days, though, has been productive and amazing. In addition to publicly speaking out again sexism and sexual harassment that pervades our patient communities, I've also been working on some great things for Chronic Sex and related projects. I won't talk too much about it here, but it'll advance a lot of research and information on sex/intimacy and illness/pain/disability.
I get acupuncture next week Thursday and I couldn't be more excited.