Friday, April 22, 2011

Ordinary Pain

     I'm on the hunt for a better way to manage my husband's chronic back pain, which is the result of the spinal fusion he had more than a decade ago. It sucks to see him in pain all the time and not to sound callous or anything, but the unpaid sick days that he's had to take here lately aren't helping the situation at all. Obviously, running to prescription meds isn't necessarily the answer, since the bulk of them don't work anyway and the hydropmorphone? Read my post from yesterday to see how much I like that particular drug. In any case, it's always such a reactive course of action to take, the ER visit and consequent painkiller prescription. There has to be a better way to deal with this; I just don't know what it is.

     I brought this up to my husband, that I'd like for us to be more proactive when it comes to dealing with the Marfan's and all its side benefits. It's hard, considering that his is a mostly wait-and-see-what-breaks-next type of illness, but I really feel the effort still has to be made. For twenty-odd years, before I came into the picture, my husband never really thought about ways to better manage the situation. (I could explain why that was, and I will, but believe me when I say that that particular subject is worth months of posts. No, really.) Now that there are two of us being directly affected by this damn disorder, some things are going to have to change.

      I know what the drug options are and none of those are really proactive. I'm trying to figure out how to PREVENT these ER visits from happening in the first place, remember. I've started looking into holistic options and I must say, I'm getting disheartened. Once again, the amount of information out there for people with Marfan's Syndrome is ridiculously small. My husband mentioned to me that he was once advised to try acupuncture as a possible treatment for his chronic pain. Great! A starting point! As you might expect, he's by now not a huge fan of needles, but I figured if they're going into his back, he'd never see them coming, right?

     I was excited about this option for all of ten minutes before I found this - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11603611. Oh God, an infection in the lining of the heart?! I swear, the more research I do, the more fun this disorder becomes. (That was sarcasm, for those of you that were unclear.) Now, that article doesn't say whether that particular patient had a pig valve or a titanium one (my husband has the latter), but I don't really think it matters now. Acupuncture = not an option.

     A friend of mine who's training to be a massage therapist suggested massage therapy as an option (whatever made her think of that?), but I'm skeptical. One, I don't know if a therapist would be able to work on him like they would a regular person, due to the relative fragility of his tissues and the hardware already in place. Could his muscles handle a deep-tissue massage, or would they be more prone to tearing? What about his spine? What if the masseuse used too much pressure and broke loose some random piece of hardware? The other problem is that massage therapy is again a reactive solution when what I want is to be proactive.

     I'm not to the point of feeling as though I'm beating my head against a wall yet, since I've really just begun to look into our options. I'm also trying to not assume that I'll end up there, either, because that would be defeatist of me. I can be realistic about the Marfan's and what effect it has on our lives, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be all Gloomy Gertie about it whenever a new problem pops up. I try to look at whatever situation we're in at the moment as objectively as possible and figure out how to put one foot in front of the other in order to get where I want to go. I think it's a good plan.

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