[Tripping On…] Physical Therapy Desensitization, Part 16

I told my physical therapist, Doctor-Number-Fourteen, that I wasn’t able to do any of the stretches or exercises he had recommended I do. I told him that after each session, I was wiped out throughout the next day. After the first session, I was tired for about a half-day. After the second session, it was nearly a week. I had been struggling against fatigue and was in constant pain. We might be approaching a solution.

I probably don’t have Fibromyalgia but it’s on the table now.

The physical therapist had a small degree of doubt in me over whether what I was saying about my pain was actually true until he lifted up the back of my shirt, where I had told him that my lower back pain was centralized, and he saw that the hair had fallen out or mostly disappeared there. I was asked if I had shaved there recently, I thought about how I’ve tried to shave parts of my upper back before but I haven’t been able to reach behind me well, so now I shave for sanitation, whenever I shave. I said no and there was a minor pause.

My route of therapy changed from stretches to desensitization.

Not exactly because of that moment, but that moment helped shift the focus more radically, I suppose. I know the value of exercises and I know that it’s important to press through the dull pains to accomplish your goals. Over my past two or so weeks off on medical leave, I’ve been trying to de-escalate my feelings of pain so then I can work on fixing that, but it’s been tough. Physical therapy, while good, has been constantly pushing me into that pain zone. Even when it’s not anything that should be painful, like being cut or burned.

Our focus now is desensitizing my brain’s reaction to everything.

Rubbing a rough towel over my lower back sends pain signals up to my brain. Done often enough, my brain will realize it’s not being attacked and normalize its reactions to pain. Maybe. By the end of our session and through the 24 hours since then, I’ve been wiped out. I’m wearing a massage vest right now, with full heat and vibration, and it’s actually hurting my lower back quite a bit. Before, it was fine. Months ago when I got it for my upper back headaches, I’d run it for hours without problems. I stopped using it because it wasn’t giving me any benefits. Now, though, running it even for one hour like I have is leaving an almost overwhelming warmth on my lower back.

For that Fibromyalgia diagnosis, we’re not sure yet.

It’s a diagnosis by ruling out other factors. Between the hair loss on my lower back and my reaction to about half of the pain points, it seems like it’s a viable option. I talked to my doctor, well, yesterday and today. Yesterday to tell him that the Methocarbamol didn’t help [it perhaps made things worse] and today to tell him about what the physical therapist said. I wanted to ask if the Tylenol/Acetaminophen with Codeine he prescribed me would work well with that potential diagnosis since the paperwork I received said that acetaminophen isn’t recommended. Doctor-Number-Nine said it would be fine as long as I’m careful to avoid depending on it since it is habit-forming. He also prescribed Pregabalin, which has more uses than just for Fibromyalgia.

I’ll pick up both when the Pregabalin arrives probably tomorrow morning.

The other prescriptions on the list were Duloxetine and Milnacipran, along with ones I’ve already ruled out: Amitriptyline and Cyclobenzaprine. I told -Nine that anti-depressants, in general, haven’t worked for me, and he said they’re primarily prescribed because patients will become depressed through dealing with constant pain. At least it’s clear, though, so I won’t be prescribed anything like that in the future. If there’s any advice I can give to my readers unanimously, please make a list of any medications you’ve taken and your reactions to them. Positive or negative, it is important to avoid finding yourself with medication that won’t help you out in the future.

I should also note about Doctor-Numbers.

I’ve given the physical therapist the Doctor-Number-Fourteen moniker because he, like the physical therapist that helped my upper back in the first part of this series, is providing medical advice. I think of doctors as a broad term like that. Having worked with enough doctors professionally when I was in healthcare IT, they troubleshoot patients like we troubleshoot computers, so it could be argued that the tech support person you call or email is the equivalent of a nurse or even doctor depending on their ranking in their department.

So I kick the Fibromyalgia diagnosis around as a possibility – rather than certainty.

If I respond well to the Pregabalin, that doesn’t mean I have Fibromyalgia. -Nine was skeptical of diagnosis because I don’t have a history of overly-sensitive pain receptors, and to credit, -Fourteen was also skeptical but gave me the information to forward along since it could help with fixing this issue. I know that doing the skin desensitization, where -Fourteen applied mild pressure with various tools left me exhausted, and I would prefer doing that to taking many medications. I would, however, prefer taking medications to allow me to do more than what I did today.

I’ve been in pain basically all day.

I set my alarm for 6am. I got out of bed at 9am to talk to -Nine via a teleconference at 10am. I went back to sleep and woke up at 2:30pm. It’s nearly 7pm now and I’m just starting to feel well enough to where I don’t want to go to sleep to shut out the pain. While desensitizing ourselves to the pains in life is necessary, it is tiring. I have been patient with myself and understanding. I know better than anyone whether I’m slacking off or not.

If anything, I’m too impatient for healing up.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: I started writing about my physical therapy experiences before as a way to mark my progress, and now, it’s become much more complex, but before it was just headaches, rather than whatever this has become.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template.
Written On: 2020 May 12 [6:12pm to 6:53pm]
Last Edited: 2020 May 12 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.