Dealing with Pain
People are always surprised when I tell them that I’d had over 500 broken bones by the time I was ten, but that I can count the number of times I’ve taken a narcotic on one hand. They often assume that breaking bones must not be painful to me, which I will never understand. Trust me, it hurts…plenty. There’s nothing wrong with my nervous system.
When I was growing up and breaking as often as once or twice a week at times, my mother knew that putting me on some kind of heavy narcotic or painkiller was only going to cause me more issues as I got older. Whether those issues were overall organ damage or addiction problems, she knew they would not be easy to live with. She constantly looked for alternative options for me, and found many when she specialized in homeopathic veterinary medicine.
So what exactly do I take? Here is a list:
- Homeopathic remedies: There are a few of these I take fairly regularly, most often being Arnica, Hypericum, and Bellis. All of these are great for pain, especially right after a bone break or dislocation. Which one I take depends on what kind of pain I have and how I was injured, but you can get all of them at a health food store.
- Arnica Gel: This stuff is amazing for swelling and bruises. It can be applied as much as you want, and often cuts my pain level by about a third (at least temporarily). You can get it at Walgreens or CVS.
- Bone Restore: This is probably the best supplement I’ve ever taken to promote bone growth and healing. Having O.I. means that I’m not supposed to be able to absorb any type of calcium normally (so drinking milk is not helpful for me), but for whatever reason, my body likes this one. Bone Restore is a calcium supplement combined with magnesium, so maybe that’s it? Mom and I don’t know, but it does cut my healing time by half. It’s a little hard on my stomach, but totally worth it to take for a few days around a fracture. Even better, it’s inexpensive and you can get it on Amazon!
- Ibruprofen: Sometimes there is just no replacement for a good old fashioned drug. I do take Ibuprofen (usually in the form of children’s chewable Advil) when absolutely necessary. Advil is my best short term, instant gratification solution for pain and inflammation. A normal adult dose is 600 mg, and I only take 150 mg no more than every six to eight hours. I try to make sure I eat when I take and drink a little extra water, so I don’t think I’m causing any lasting damage.
- Excedrine: If I’m having pain that is more nervy and isn’t caused by inflammation (for example, if I dislocate a rib and it’s pressing on a nerve or if I develop a tension headache from something going on in my neck) then Excedrine tends to work better than Advil. It also has caffeine in it, so it will give me a little boost to get through my day as well. Again, I take about a third of a normal adult dose, and no more than once a day, so overall it’s not too bad.
Besides actual medicines, there are a few other things I do to keep my pain level down on a day to day basis.
- Craniosacral Therapy: Craniosacral Therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy where the overall goal to get your body rhythms (physically, mentally, and energetically) back on track. I tell people it kind of feels like a mixture of chiropractic and massage therapy with a little bit of energy work mixed in. There are only two practitioners in the area that are advanced craniosacral therapists, and I use Myra Buller out of Baton Rouge. Myra has been working with me since I was eight years old, and she knows my body better than almost anyone. She helps my day to day pain, but she also decreases any acute pain I have from a fresh fracture. I see her once a week, and I know that my pain levels would be so much worse without her work.
- Massage Therapy: I have a fabulous massage therapist named Carlene Banister that has been working with me since I was thirteen. Like Myra, Carlene knows my body better than most, and is especially wonderful when I have a fresh injury. I do see her for maintenance body work, but she is especially good at calming down muscles after I’ve broken or dislocated something. I have called her many, many times for emergency treatments, and she always knows what to do to help!
- Hot Packs: This is simple, but I use bean bag hot packs a lot to keep my muscles from spasming especially when I have something broken. Broken bones really only hurt a lot when the muscles around them spasm, so as long as you can keep that under control, the pain is fairly manageable. My hot packs are filled with rice, buckwheat, or flaxseed, and can be heated up in the microwave over and over again. I sleep with them as well, and the help my back from cramping during the night.
- Biomat: Biomats are kind of like glorified, very expensive heating pads that are filled with amethyst crystals. I don’t remember the exact science behind them, but the heat energy they give off has something to do with negative ions or something. Let me tell you, they really work and are worth every penny. I lay on mine at least three times a week before bed while watching TV, and I’ve found they also help just detox my body overall (makes me sweat a lot even if it’s not super hot). I always feel better after an hour or so on the Biomat.
- Swimming: When I swim, I’m able to move and use muscles I can’t normally. Taking the gravitational pull off my body allows me to move in ways I can’t on land, and my muscles and tendons finally get to stretch out. I can even walk in the pool and the endorphins I get from exercise helps my pain too. It decreases my chronic pain dramatically when I swim at least three times a week.
These are the things I’ve found that work for me, but I know that everyone is different and needs different pain management solutions. For some, a steady dose of narcotics is the only thing that works, and that’s okay. I personally don’t like the way they make me feel so out of control and find that they make me care less about the pain but that the actual pain level is really not decreased at all. They are just not for me. I’m lucky that we’ve found other, natural solutions that do help and I’m always willing to try others.