Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bend Me, Shape Me

     Monday morning, my husband did something he was told a long time ago never to do - he visited a chiropractor. Apparently, he was told by the surgeon who performed his spinal fusion that it would not be in his best interests to see a chiropractor, ever at all, and he's held true to that until now. Honestly, ever since I found out about the Marfan's Syndrome and everything it entails, I've been completely on board with the chiropractic care = badness school of thinking. I admit, I'm really no more versed in chiropractic care than the next person, but I know that they deal (exclusively, or so I thought) with the spine and that, as we all know, is something that really shouldn't be jacked with on a Marfan's person.

     No one was more surprised than me (except maybe my husband) when he came home from a doctor's appointment a couple of weeks ago with a prescription to see a chiropractor, but since it was his trusted pain management doctor who'd given the order, we decided to go with it. After all, the prescription specifically said not to touch his spine and this chiropractor was one who had worked with Marfan's patients before and knew the score. That, plus the fact that our treatment options are woefully limited, led my husband to make an appointment to be seen by the one medical professional that he'd always been warned away from.

     I didn't know what to expect and neither did he, but we were/are so willing to try anything at this point that there really wasn't anything to lose. I kind of wish I could've gone with him, just to see what the doctor did, but he was nervous enough about his impending adventure without worrying about an audience. Also it was at 7:45 in the morning and that's far earlier than I wanted to wake up, so no. He came straight to work afterwards anyway and since we work together, I got the scoop without having to wait too long.

     As is expected at any doctor's visit, the first thing my husband was asked was to explain his reason for being there. He always starts with, "Well, I have Marfan's Syndrome," because A) it's pertinent information so the doctor can take it into consideration when deciding upon treatment and B) it's usually the reason he's at the doctor's office in the first place. It was a pleasant experience for my husband to hear the chiropractor say, "Oh yeah, I know that. I'm familiar with Marfan's." Do you know how rare that is, to hear those words? Most times, my husband has to explain what the hell Marfan's is to whatever doctor is working on him at the moment. Not saying the lack of knowledge is a mark against the doctor, because they can't possibly be expected to know every disorder that could possibly affect their patients. It was just a nice little moment, to not have to perform that song and dance.

     After they chatted it up for a bit, my husband was handed a pair of gym shorts and told to go change. When he came back out, the chiropractor had him lie down on his side so he could see how my husband's muscles moved (or didn't move, in this case.) It was at this point in the story that I had to stop and say, "I'm sorry, what? Why did the bone doctor give a damn how your muscles moved?" As it turns out, chiropractors (at least, this chiropractor) do more than just play with your spine. This one wanted to know how the non-movement of my husband's back muscles were affecting him and contributing to his pain.

     I've always known that the fact that my husband's back muscles don't move like a normal person's has been a huge contributing factor to his overall back pain, but I didn't know that a lot of it comes from the fact that his hips are so weak and so he apparently uses his back muscles to move his legs around. In essence, weak muscles that don't move very much anyway that are being used to do something they're really not supposed to be doing only leads to badness. Who knew?

    After discovering this, the doctor taught my husband an exercise that he needs to do twice a day, both in the morning when he wakes up and in the evening before he goes to bed. It seems like a small thing, but it's more than he was doing before, so we'll see if it ends up helping or hindering. What really surprised me, though, was when my husband told me that the doctor spent a good portion of the visit working to break up the scar tissue that covered his back muscles. Truthfully, it never even occurred to me that scar tissue could be part of the problem. I have no idea why it didn't, as I know there was an awful lot of cutting going on in that area when my husband had his spinal fusion.

     I'm told that it's a rather painful process, the breaking of the scarred parts, akin to someone digging their knuckle into your back repeatedly. Actually, it's not "akin to" it is someone digging their knuckle into your back repeatedly. Hurt like hell, according to my husband, but a good kind of pain, which is something new for us. Typically, there is no good pain, just varying degrees of bad pain, so I'm going to take this as something of an encouragement. Time will tell if this new avenue is the right one to be going down, but I have to say that we're both pretty optimistic that it is.

No comments: