If you've been with me for a while, you might recall that last year I was hit by a severe bout of...big honkin' pain in my left hand. It turned out to have an actual medical condition associated with it, which was Thumb Arthritis. Now, I KNOW it sounds like I'm making that up, because ...really? How could that be an actual thing? But I assure you that I did not learn this on WebMD; fully-educated, certified, licensed doctor-type people diagnosed it. The good news/bad news of the situation could be summed up thusly: it was confined to only that one area, rather than affecting my entire body like osteoarthritis typically does...but as I mentioned previously, it huuuurrrrrt like a...son of a gun.
The only..."traditional treatment"...the medical field offered me was to try a month of what I referred to as "i-squared"...ice and (large doses of) Ibuprofen, which made--let's see, how shall I put this--not one freakin' bit of difference. When I reported back in just as much agony as I'd started with, I felt I had no choice but to agree to the next step, which was a Cortisone Shot of Desperation. Besides the immediate effect of causing me to nearly faint (this has happened with both cortisone injections I've received, adding to my...reluctance...to resort to this tactic) the anti-inflammatory properties did last...for about a year.
Aaannnnd, here we are, with the discomfort having returned...and even increased...to the point that I Can't. Stand. It. Anymore...again. However, it's impossible to stress how much I'm NOT interested in another needle. And the only other option mentioned to me was surgery--so yeeeaaah, that's not gonna happen unless absolutely necessary. What, then, to do next? Well, I happen to live in an environment positively teeming with alternative practitioners of all kinds--acupuncturists, massage therapists, naturopaths, herbalists; you name it, and you can probably find it around here. So I did some Googling, (of course) and found a few folks who sounded promising, in that they all spoke of using holistic methods to care for the whole person. This included such components as identifying the underlying causes of outward symptoms, and dealing with problems in such a way that balance is restored to the entire body system...and...so on.
Sign me right the heck up! Seriously, though, I chose someone who attended a 4-year medical school and obtained a degree in naturopathic medicine. She also has a Master's in environmental studies, which she says gives her insight into how the world around us impacts our well-being. So far, LOVE it. I just went for the first consultation, which involves an hour-long...in-depth conversation, basically. This was not your standard "paper gown" examination, however; it involved her reviewing the online intake form I'd filled out prior to the appointment...line by line and in extraordinary detail. She wanted to know what I eat, how I sleep, how I spend my free time, my health concerns, any remedies or techniques I've already tried, my commitment level to addressing the issue...in addition to all the usual "medical stuff" that doctors generally ask when they meet you.
It was honestly exhausting...and yet reassuring at the same time. She took copious notes (on the computer) and devised an initial plan to get the ball rolling. Updated blood work, to test...a whole bunch of stuff I didn't really catch. Iron was in there, and...maybe cholesterol...Vitamin D...um, she mentioned something about thyroid function...that's all I can dredge up from memory. She also instructed me to keep a food diary for a few days--which I utterly HATE doing, and I told her that, but I'll suck it up because that's just how much I want to feel better, damn it.
And she gave me (well "recommended that I purchase") two supplements to start taking right away: a fish oil one (not having quite as strong a philosophical problem with creatures who swim, rather than roam on land, I consented to this); and a pain relief tablet with turmeric in it (the only word on the label I recognized). Furthermore, she stated that she'll be changing the vitamins and minerals I already use, as my go-to brands--based solely on cost, truthfully--apparently don't cut it in terms of purity or reliability of ingredients. (Oops...who knew?)
When we reconvene in a week, we'll discuss the labs, the nutrition log (and by the way, does anyone else feel like this might be somewhat of a...flawed measure? For me, anyway, having to track what I put in my mouth...makes me automatically think more about my choices...thereby skewing the sample. Or am I just thinking too much, as usual? Ahem...putting down the pretzels and marshmallow fluff...picking up carrots...sigh...), and any changes that may have occurred since kicking off the new regimen. She also mentioned a phrase that struck dread to my very core...Elimination Diet. (Aaaahhhhhh! Okay, I'm fine now...at least until I actually have to, you know, DO it...) It's something I've considered in the past, but dismissed as impossible to manage on your own. Perhaps with the guidance and support of a professional, it won't be the nightmare I'm anticipating...fingers crossed...
Overall, I have to say that I am optimistic in the early going. After a solid month of being in pretty constant pain with little to no variation in the intensity, my hand and wrist seemed noticeably less achy and swollen today. With ONE DAY'S doses of the turmeric....voodoo...crystal healing...witch doctor medicine (as Husband so supportively describes it--not a believer, that one, in case you were wondering...). I know what some of you are thinking, "placebo effect", blah blah blah. All I can tell you is that I'm not wincing and ouch-ing every time I pick something up, for the first time in quite a while. It's a start...and I'll take it! Time for my next pill...and to add that Hershey's miniature dark chocolate bar to my Diet Diary...doh!