Thursday, March 06, 2008

An open mind and a broken body

Sorry it has taken me a few days to get around to telling you about my acupunture visit. That night I had dinner with a dear friend who now lives in Canada but was in town for his spring break. Then last night I had dinner with another friend as well. And tonight I'm going for my dress fitting... so I'm going to try to write some of this now.

Eve is a massage therapist and acupuncturist. She was recommended to me by a coworker after I said something about my last massage (at a spa) being crap. I finally decided to go see Eve because I couldn't take the neck pain any more. I woke up on Friday with a horrid crink in the right side of my neck. I'm used to having issues with my left side but not my right. By the end of the day, not only could I not turn my head OR tilt my head, I was feeling it all down my right arm.
Fortunately, my friend Amanda is a physical therapist and she offered to work on my neck for me. She came over Friday night and I went to her Sunday night. It was excruciatingly painful and bruised my neck BUT I could turn my head after Friday night... and after Sunday night I could tilt a little better.
Even though I was feeling slightly better by Tuesday, I still wanted to see what Eve could do for me. I've had mid-back pain for many, many years and this neck stuff has started in the last few years plus I get headaches pretty much every day. I've learned to live with them but I suppose I shouldn't have to...

Eve works out of her Riverside home. For those unfamiliar with Jacksonville, Riverside (at least the area she is in) has these old beautiful homes. So I pulled up to her historic, and very cute, home just before my 3:00 pm appointment. She even had a swing on her patio!
We sat in the living room (waiting room?) and chatted before getting started. She was very nice and had some very interesting things to say. She asked about what was bothering me, what I had done to try to fix it before (I've been to a pain management specialist who only put me on muscle relaxers and I went through physical therapy for 6 or 8 months last year). She also asked about my sleep and about my spiritual health and those kinds of things.

She said that mid-back pain is unusual (that's what I have... the pain managment specialist said I carry my stress in those muscles... the physical therapist said that my chest is too big for my frame so it pulls forward and those muscles aren't strong enough). Eve says the body will manifest your emotions through the body... for example, if you go to a movie and it's a real tearjerker but you don't want to cry because you are in public, many times your throat will hurt (this was her example but I always cry at movies... my friends laugh at me). Or if you are unhappy with your job, it might make you sick to your stomach. The mid-back is the area where you carry your power... so if you aren't feeling very powerful, then it could manifest there. Like if you want to open your own business but you don't know how you would get the money or who would even want to buy whatever from you so you don't do it but it bothers you... which is a bit funny to me because I've recently been thinking a lot about how I feel like I am supposed to be doing something more in life. But that's another blog topic altogether and I'm scattered right now as it is.

So then it's time for the treatment stuff.
There is a room off the living room where she has a massage table set up... with a heating pad (yay for cold me) and relaxing music. I strip down to my undies and climb under the sheet on the table, lying on my back. Eve comes in and would like to look at my tongue (my co-worker had told me about this so it didn't take me off guard). She said my tongue is healthy but it shows some borderline anemic qualities. What worries her most is what she hears when I open my mouth for her to look at my tongue. My jaw makes awful noises when I open and close my mouth. It has been doing that for awhile now and I went to a dentist to see if I could do something for it but this particular dentist completely turned me off when he started trying to sell me on whitening my teeth and getting braces. My teeth ARE white and I already had braces! So anyway, I didn't trust him and I haven't found a new dentist yet. But when she heard my jaw she talked about how that whole area of my body was hurting... my neck and my shoulders and my jaw. For lack of a better term, I suffer from "grin and bear it".

She then asked me to take a deep breath. When I breathe deep, I breathe from my diaphram... naturally. She was impressed by my breathing. She has to teach so many people how to breathe from the center. Now I'm not saying I naturally always breathe from my center... I'm just as bad as everyone else breathing from my chest. Apparently when you are shallow breathing you are telling your subconscious brain (95% of it) that you are in fight or flight mode... something bad is going to happen. So then the other 5% of your brain starts thinking about everything... the past, the present, the future. You turn on 25 tvs in your head and start looking from one to the next... The only time you should shallow breathe is during cardiovascular exercise.

I keep leaving and coming back to this post and so I keep losing my train of thought.

Anyway, so here come the needles. She put four in to start. One in each of my hands on the outside part, over under my pinkie. And then two on the inside of each of my knees. The needles are tiny but I was nervous about it hurting anyway. I couldn't even feel it when she put them in my hands or in my left knee. I did feel the one in my right knee but it was nothing like getting a shot. She left the room for about 20 minutes while I just relaxed and remembered to breathe from my center. When my right knee was bothering me, I just tried to focus on sending my breath to that area. It really seemed to help.
When she came back in the room she took those four needles out and checked to make sure I wasn't "needled out". I was fine so she put in six more. These she just put in and took back out... no leaving them in for 20 minutes this time. Two went in my hands again, this time on the inside part... the area between your index finger and thumb. My right one hurt again but it wasn't surprising because that's the arm that was killing me all weekend. It was weird because I thought it was still in even after she took it out. The left one felt nothing. She also put one in each of my feet... if I remember right, it was actually my ankles but I really don't remember because I couldn't feel it. And she put two in the back of my head where my neck and head meet. None of it hurt. Plus she said, as she was putting the needles in the back of my head, that I wouldn't get headaches anymore!

After the acupuncture she did some massage. She also mentioned that my body is very tired. No kidding! I fall asleep the instant my head hits the pillow at night but I don't sleep well.
And she also talked to me about my neck again once we were all done.
She spent 8 years as the massage therapist at a chiropractor and she said if I chiropractor saw my neck, they would freak out. My thought was because of all the knots. Nope.
Everyone has a curved neck. Your neck is curved because your head is heavy. The curve distributes the weight. If your neck is straight, that's bad because it's putting all that head weight straight down it. My neck is so straight, it's even slightly curved the WRONG WAY! Ick!!!
Disclaimer: I don't look like a freak... I don't have a bendy neck... I promise.
And, also ick, if you looked at the shape of necks at different ages... well... I have the neck of a 70 year old!
Disclaimer #2: It's not all wrinkly or saggy... just bendy. But not visibly bendy.

So the main thing I need to work on for now is breathing from my core. Getting that buddha belly every time (great... weird neck and fat belly!).
Yesterday was the first time in years that I didn't get a headache.
Today I'm starting to get a slight one but I haven't been breathing as well today.

I'm going back... next week I think. Or as soon as I have the fundage...
It's working for me... but (as I implied in my title) I think if you have an open mind, a lot of things work better.


Bearette24 said...

Interesting...I've been having mid-back pain sometimes lately, usually if I sit still for a long time. It might be because my chest got bigger, or maybe I feel powerless because pregnancy changes things? Anyway, food for thought. I'm glad the acupuncture went well for you.

kitkat said...

I'd like to hear more about the longer effects of the acupuncture (if it lasts, I mean). It sounds great, and I agree that if you think it'll work, it'll probably work.

kitkat said...

I meant to say also:

Did you pick up the diaphragm breathing from our yoga in the park?? That's where I learned to do it, and it's really helpful for calming me down.

Tracy said...

Bearette - I'm glad you made it to Miami safe and sound!
It is definitely food for thought. She also mentioned that people tend to really take care of their physical bodies but they forget about their spiritual bodies. I bet you are getting plenty of relaxing, "spiritual" time on your vacay!

Katie - I'll keep you updated. It really seems to be working for my headaches but my shoulders are still feeling tight. I'm sure some of that is my fault though... not the acupunture's lack of working.

Oh goodness... did I spell diaphragm wrong in my blog? Did I use that word? I think I avoided it on purpose...

I don't know if that's really where I learned it. I think a lot of it came from my crazy acting teacher in undergrad. I thought she was insane at the time. We did a lot of Alexander Technique stuff.
I miss going to yoga in the park... I think I went once or twice after you moved but my motivation in going was hanging out with you!

kitkat said...

I miss the yoga in the park and I miss you! Having to pay for yoga is not nearly as good. And yeah, I had to look up the spelling of diaphragm (you did use it!).

Tracy said...

I did! I see it!
I won't change it now though because then our comments would look silly.

The day after my wedding will be the first sunday of the month for June. I wonder if they are still doing yoga in the park. I wonder if it would be weird if I snuck out to go with you (if you are able to come to the wedding)...

Elsa said...

Wow - that sounds very promising. Pretty impressive that you didn't get a headache. It'll be interesting to see what happensin the next few days...weeks...months... I had heard before that it doesn't heard - so you just confirmed that for me.

Tracy said...

I'm going again on Thursday! : )

Scarlett Lillian said...

Ha, looks like we are both going through our fair share of ailments at the moment. I'll add you to my prayers also! We can't have you in pain for your big day! And actually, can you email me your massage therapist? My chiropractor recommended I start doing that as part of my treatments for my hip. I was like, wow, I like this doctor, a doctor who will PRESCRIBE massages. That's what I'm talking about! ;-)