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Tactical Ninja - Life

Jul. 3rd, 2014

09:13 am - Life

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Spending a week doing acro nonstop did a lot of things for me. One of them was to bring into focus just how much my back problems are limiting me. I would wake up every morning unable to bend properly, and spend significant parts of the day struggling against what felt like locked-up muscles preventing me from holding my spine in correct form, or lying in child pose trying to relax. On our down day there was a lot of walking, and the pain didn't stop all day. I dislike pain and I hate being limited, so I decided to take charge.

Yesterday I went to see OsteoDude. He's fixed me twice before, so I have a fair bit of faith in his abilities.


I've already had back x-rays which came up clear and ruled out any obvious mechanical problems. The next step, according to OsteoDude, is to work out whether it's a less obvious mechanical problem or a chemical one.

Chemical one? WTF?

Well, yes. Apparently there's more than one way for pain to get painy. One is the usual disc out of line, arthritic growth type pressing on nerves and stuff. This is mechanical. The other is where certain chemicals that cause inflammation build up in your muscles or joints during periods of inactivity, so that being still for a long time makes it hurt. This is chemical - and OsteoDude seems to think this is the most likely for me because I'm waking up with it, and movement tends to alleviate it somewhat, and also because I have good range of motion generally and am still able to do things like acro.

So the suggested diagnostic tool is Voltaren (diclofenac for those of you not in NZ). I have to take them at night with dinner, the idea being that if the diclofenac works and I wake up with no pain, it shows that my pain is related to night-time (stillness) inflammation. I'm to do this for four days then stop taking them, and if he's right then the pain should come back.

Once this has been done, then we know it's a chemical thing and the next step is a blood test for rheumatoid arthritis. Eek. OsteoDude says this seems unlikely given my general level of strength, flexibility and fitness, and the fact that there's no evidence of stiffness anywhere else. Unfortunately, if it's not that then the most likely explanation is a drop in estrogen levels messing with my body's general ability to regulate itself - yes, what that means is perimenopause.

Fuckity. I am not ready for that yet. I have mentioned once or twice that I've noticed a scary-ish precursor to the return of the migrainey stuff I had at puberty, along with the occasional flare of OCD, which is something else that happened to me as an adolescent. I figured it was probably related to body changes as I get older. But somehow this is different. Probably because there's no denying it - it fucking hurts and affects my life and I have to see doctors about it and take stuff and ..

.. I'm probably getting ahead of myself. But you know, it seems like the most likely explanation of the ones I've been given. And yes, the Voltaren worked last night. I woke up with no pain. There's some now, and I don't know how that relates to what we discussed. I will persist and see what happens next.

But of course I did spend some time reading about perimenopause and what to expect, and basically freaked myself out. Not just the thought of having to deal with ongoing back pain, which is pretty scary but manageable. It's the other stuff. The stuff about losing muscle mass and diminished libido. I know that most people say hot flushes are a thing, but I don't really care about temporary discomfort - not in relation to the potential for losing things that form part of my identity.

I know I have to accept that things are going to change and there's nothing I can do about that. But my sexuality and my level of activity are such a big part of who I am, and the idea of those things slowly slipping away against my will scares the crap out of me.

"It may not happen like that." It's what I'm telling myself. Other women get hot flushes, I get OCD. Other women lose their libido, I get back pain. This will be my mantra. And if I stay as active as possible, there's no reason I can't keep on doing exactly what I'm doing for as long as I choose to do it, right?

Right?


So I'll keep taking the Voltaren and get the blood test and prepare myself to be told Welcome To Your Forties, Have A Nice Freakout, and meanwhile I'll keep doing bloody handstands because fuck you, estrogen. You don't rule me.

*ahem*

For those who don't give a crap about that, have a thing grist made. He's been experimenting with creating high-voltage electrical arcs in a vacuum. Turns out they are very pretty:



His latest vid is with 21k. Ooooooo!

Comments:

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From:dianavilliers
Date:July 2nd, 2014 09:25 pm (UTC)
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That vacuum chamber looks a lot like my bread-making bowl.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 2nd, 2014 09:27 pm (UTC)
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As I recall, it may well be one. ;-) He's having to learn a lot of arts and crafts stuff to support the electronic experimentation, and is looking for a way to make a suitable dome that's *not* a bread bowl...
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From:grist
Date:July 3rd, 2014 04:51 am (UTC)
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It may well be. :)

It's a pyrex mixing bowl, the slabs of plastic are nylon cutting boards and the seal is a silicon pastry mat. All obtained from Moore Wilson's.
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From:momlovesnoel
Date:July 2nd, 2014 09:58 pm (UTC)
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As I read this I made an appointment with my chiropractor because my back is shot and limiting me from....everything. Thanks for giving me the push.

Also, I found voltaren in cream form. This helps so much! Just rub it into the painy part and helps within minutes. I didn't know it also came in pills.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 2nd, 2014 10:02 pm (UTC)
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I've never had much luck with Voltaren cream - I wonder if I've been using it on the wrong things? I'm glad it works for you though.. and the pills seem to be working for this problem.

Here they are for sale over the counter but you have to 'have a chat' with the pharmacist to buy them. They take your name and address and give you all this advice about them. I'm not exactly sure why.
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From:dianavilliers
Date:July 2nd, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC)
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Voltaren can be vicious on your stomach lining. That's why they recommend taking them with food and don't want people on them long term.
They haven't been OTC all that long either - I used to need a prescription for them.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 2nd, 2014 10:10 pm (UTC)
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Ah - I thought it might be something like that. Thanks! ;-)
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From:dianavilliers
Date:July 2nd, 2014 10:53 pm (UTC)
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I don't know why they'd take your address though - as far as I know they can't be turned into anything more recreational. Perhaps it is to keep people from getting them from multiple sources and accidentally overdosing.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 2nd, 2014 10:56 pm (UTC)
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It just seems to be a thing they do with Voltaren. I wonder if it's actually part of pharmacist responsibility and accountability, to keep a record of who they've sold the more risky medications to.
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From:pombagira
Date:July 3rd, 2014 12:21 am (UTC)
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it could also be used to analysis,as voltaran used to be a prescription only medicine.. soo perhaps the pharmarcy keep stats that is used to monotor the usage and what not.. ??

*ponders this*

although it is a bit werid..
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From:tatjna
Date:July 3rd, 2014 12:26 am (UTC)
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All it says on the Medsafe site is that the pharmacist has to keep a record of the sale. It doesn't say why, except that pharmacist-only medicines are somewhat restricted.
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From:grist
Date:July 3rd, 2014 05:01 am (UTC)
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It's what dianavilliers said. They keep track so you don't go to multiple pharmacies and accidentally rot your stomach. Also, you can buy up to 50(?)mg tablets without a prescription, but higher than that and you need one.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 3rd, 2014 05:59 am (UTC)
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Luckily for me, the 25 ones seem to be doing the job. I don't think it's a long term solution but once it's worked out what's causing it, hopefully I won't need a long term anti-inflammatory.
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From:meri_sielu
Date:July 2nd, 2014 10:54 pm (UTC)
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Lots of positive thoughts and vibes re your back pain, hopefully it's nothing as bad as rheumatoid arthritus. :s
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From:tatjna
Date:July 2nd, 2014 10:56 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! ;-) I really hope it's not that too, although I know little about it.
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From:pombagira
Date:July 3rd, 2014 12:29 am (UTC)
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i do occasionally wonder what pre menopause symptoms are, and then i am all like.. becuase i am so text book with every other medical thing.. *coughs*.. not so much..

yeah.. we shall see..

and odly i am quite happy with the getting older bit.. it suits me i think..

*beams*
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From:tatjna
Date:July 3rd, 2014 12:31 am (UTC)
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I'm told that it's different for every woman, but some things are more common than others, like the trouble regulating body temperature.

I'm ok with getting older, but damnit I do NOT want to lose my sex drive or my ability to do pullups. I will fight for that.
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From:pombagira
Date:July 3rd, 2014 12:36 am (UTC)
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yeah.. i can understand that, and given the various little old ladies i have know with good diet, supliments and exersise and a good state of mind.. you will not loose any of those things.. :D

well not for a very long time..

*twirls about*
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From:kotturinn
Date:July 3rd, 2014 04:12 pm (UTC)
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I second that (thinking of several women I know).

And menopause is indeed different for every woman. For me it was the only time in my life I didn't have problems with my menstrual system! All that happened for me was that my periods got lighter and shorter, and finally stopped (and I haven't yet stopped singing hallelujah about all that!). I also had no problems with the temperature regulation. On the other hand I did suddenly start getting intermittent auras, but without the accompanying headaches. I do have osteoarthritis and have had back problems ever since I was in my mid-20s so am no good at all on that - ahem - back...
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From:khaybee
Date:July 3rd, 2014 02:01 am (UTC)
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I also had a rough start to my perimenopause, but working with a doctor, I have come out the other side better. Perhaps not all I was at 30, but much better than early perimenopause.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 3rd, 2014 02:09 am (UTC)
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Luckily for me, OsteoDude was also able to recommend a very good doctor who not only is a woman, but has experience dealing with just this sort of thing, and has a clue or two about the athletic side as well. Neato!

(thanks for the reassurance btw) x
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From:grist
Date:July 3rd, 2014 05:08 am (UTC)
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Can confirm. Aging sucks. :/
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From:tatjna
Date:July 3rd, 2014 06:00 am (UTC)
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I'm quite looking forward to the part of aging where I become completely invisible, because at that point I am totally indulging my reprobate tendencies, and everyone will ignore it or think I'm senile. It'll be a great time! ;-)
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From:meathiel
Date:July 3rd, 2014 05:31 am (UTC)
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Voltaren are great ... just hard on the stomach. I think you can get them over the counter here as well which is surprising as Germany is very restrictive with OTC meds ...
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From:crazedturkey
Date:July 4th, 2014 12:32 am (UTC)
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Pain and early morning stiffnes can also be a feature of mechanical arthritis - which won't necessarily show up on an X-ray (in fact back xray findings in general corelate very poorly eith symptoms which is why doctors generally dont do the unless there is an acute injury or neurological finding). Voltaren will make that mechanical back pain much better too.

Generally something like rheumatoid arthritis classically has mornings stiffness of at least an hour often severa hours duration. It will also affect more than one joint. Classically. (Obviously things don't always present classically!).

I don't know how old you are but early 40is is very young for peri menopause and I'm a women's health doctor so menopause is kinda my bag.

Disclaimer: I'm not your doctor, I haven't examined you, blood tests are probably a good idea to exclude things, particularly if the person who has examind you has brought them up, but I thought I might help with the panic if I could!
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From:tatjna
Date:July 4th, 2014 12:34 am (UTC)
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Heh, thanks!

And yeah, I know I'm a bit young but my Mum was too, so, you know..

I will definitely spend a lot of time discussing these things with the doctor though. I'd much rather get to the bottom of it that live in mystery-pain.
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From:crazedturkey
Date:July 4th, 2014 12:47 am (UTC)
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:D ah well mum changes things. Bloody mum. Lol.

But yeah. Your osteos given you a bum steer with the 'if the voltaren makes it stop its chemical' story. Mechanical pain also causes a degree of inflammation.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 4th, 2014 12:54 am (UTC)
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From what I understand, the effects of Voltaren last for about 8 hours (at least, that's what it says on the box). I'm only taking them at night before sleep, so they wear off in the morning after I get moving.

The idea is that if it were mechanical pain, the pain would come back immediately and be exacerbated by movement. My pain exists in the morning and disappears with movement. Taking the Voltaren seems to prevent (or mask) the morning pain, and by th time it's worn off my movement has alleviated it anyway.

So if the Voltaren fixes it and it stays fine throughout the day, it's narrowed down to pain that arises when sleeping/still for long periods, which is apparently most commonly chemical.

Which all makes sense to me. But I'm not a doctor so I'm happy to hear about alternatives. ;-)

(i'm honestly not comvinced at this point that it is purely chemical, as sometimes I've had the pain last for several hours or more, especially if I'm on my feet. but movement definitely helps - especially varied movement with bending and twisting. walking, not so much)

Edited at 2014-07-04 12:56 am (UTC)
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From:crazedturkey
Date:July 4th, 2014 01:18 am (UTC)
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I'd talk to your doctor. But it's not that black and white. ( never is ;))
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