Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

This poster was in Tweed Heads today.
Like the sentiment.
Publish Post

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Inspiring post on Neurotropian - click here to read.

I recommend you read Matthias's post on Neurotropian, "Play as if your life depends on it".

This post goes beyond "actively seeking happiness" into the realm of embracing joyfulness. Important message for people with pain.
Thanks Matthias for another great post.

Inspiring post on Neurotropian

Where old meets older.
Part of the old Newrybar Bakery now an award winning cafe.
Little village shop - Newrybar
Crashing waves.
Cosy Corner today.
This is Lennox Head today.
Our beaches are closed as we have severe weather conditions courtesy of a Low just north of here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Click on a tag to the left to bring up all posts on that topic.

Today I added a list of tags to the left of this blog. You will notice that there are tags under posts. If you wish to read more on a topic you can click on the tag under the post or on a tag from the tag list.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I wish you and yours a truly wonderful Xmas. For those of you suffering no matter what the cause, I wish you comfort and peace. For those of you caught up in the rush, I wish you calm and serenity. Happy Xmas to all.


Not all mirror therapy is the same.

If you google "mirror therapy" you come up with a range of therapies all calling themselves "mirror therapy". Some mirror therapy has been developed to combat body image problems and involves face on examination of yourself in a mirror and "telling yourself" that this or that body part is OK. This, I believe, is a form of training and psychologically based.

It is not the same as the mirror therapy which was invented by Vilayanur S Ramachandran (see link to left of page) to help alleviate "phantom limb" pain. Further studies in the UK and in Australia have proven this type of mirror therapy to help allieviate the pain and symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome. Just as the brain keeps responding with pain messages in the case of phantom limb so too does the brain send pain and pain response messages in the case of CRPS. These messages are not in response to something being wrong (eg dropping a hammer on your foot). The messages are brain driven or created in the brain in the same way as the brain creates the message to tell you heart to beat. You cannot consciously tell your heart to stop beating any more than you can tell yourself to stop the pain. It isn't just pain messages that the brain sends out in CRPS, it's protective messages because of pain eg inflammation, swelling, sweating, vascular messages, colour and temperature changes. These things are under the control of the autonomic nervous system - out of our conscious control.

It hurts and our learned behaviour is to protect the hurting part by stopping things touching it and moving less or resting. This is the best thing to do if the pain was from an injury but it's not. I know that I need to override the normal pain response and move normally and not protect the hurt part. It isn't easy. That's where the mirrors come in. The brain message is wrong. I cannot take pain medicine but even if I could I'd only be treating the symptoms of pain not the cause. The cause is these false messages. By looking at the mirror image of the body part opposite to the one that hurts moving, the brain gets visual stimulus of a moving pain free limb. The brain is being retrained. For me there is usually no instant difference. About 10 minutes after I've finished I notice that I don't feel quite as bad. I do it again and again. It takes effort and I need to keep doing it for several days or weeks. I treat each flare up immediately before it spreads (as it very quickly does for me). Doing this gives the best result. When the pain stops, it is gone for good. If the pain is in the same place again, I know something has triggered it and follow the same process again.
Mirror therapy isn't the whole answer.

  • I do physical therapy every day in small amounts throughout the day. Physical therapy is essential to regain lost function. I try not to over do it (very hard).
  • I breath out twice as long as in for 15 minutes every day to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • I have laser acupuncture and use self hypnosis.
  • I eat foods high in antioxidants (prunes are highest) to deal with the free radicals caused by stress of coping with CRPS. I "tweaked" my diet so that I have more antioxidants especially Vitamin C. Vitamin C demolishes the free radicals involved in inflammation.
  • I refer to my list of things that work for me when I have flare ups.

My plan is to persist until the symptoms of CRPS resolve. If interested look through my blog under archives to see explanations of what I do and photos. Click on tags under posts to bring up other posts on that topic.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Season's Greetings

For How to Cope with Pain's December blog Carnival
I thought I'd share this photo of Doc by our Christmas tree . If you look carefully at the tree you'll see the decoration Doc has decided to add, a broken tennis ball. Last year he watched us put each decoration on the tree and then ran out to find his own decoration and threw it on the tree. Co-incidence - maybe. Endearing - definitely.

Those of you who have followed my blog know that this year has been a journey from the pits to wellness for me. Along the way I've been helped my many of the people who spend their lives helping others find pain relief through practice and research. Finally this Christmas I'm in much less pain and well able to enjoy the company of friends and family, the first time in many years. The things that have helped me most are
  • realizing that I needed to stop looking for what could be done for me but work out what I could do for myself.
  • understanding that physical therapy is essential to recovery
  • understanding of the part the brain plays in pain and working out ways to retrain the brain
  • learning about mirror therapy and the things that support it, like controlled breathing, self hypnosis and acupuncture
  • altering my diet a bit so that I "eat smart" and so deal with harmful free radicals
  • choosing to put a positive spin on whatever happens in life.
If this blog has helped even one of you I am happy. I haven't reached the end of this journey yet but I believe I can see the end of the road. I sincerely hope that those of you who have pain find relief soon. Be comforted by the fact that science offers hope.

Be safe, in less pain and happy this Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tagged - The Meme Challenge

I've been tagged for a meme challenge by fantastic pain support website).

Wikipedia says that "
meme is a unit of cultural information, the building block of cultural evolution". The rules of this meme are

* Link to your tagger, and post these rules on your blog
* Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird
* Tag 6 people at the end of your post by links to their blogs
* Let them know they’re tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

7 facts about me.

  • I'm a wannabe grandma but my two adult children have no plans to oblige.
  • I've been very happily married for 36 years.
  • I fell between the wheels of a train and the platform when I was five years old but I did not want to interrupt adult conversation to tell them. However as luck would have it my Dad saw me as the train started to move and pulled me out by the seat of my pants.
  • My family gave me a book called "The Art of Fart" as I always crack up at windy jokes. This stems from the time I had a little bit of wind in church as a young teenager. I looked meaningfully at my sister and let her take all the blame.
  • As a teenager I had a vision of myself sitting in a bus in a place I had rarely visited. When I looked out the window I saw an old man in his stripey blue pyjamas lying on the beach adjacent to the road. The bus driver got out only to find the man was dead. Two weeks after the vision there was an item in the newspaper of an old man in stripey blue pyjamas found dead on the beach by a bus driver the previous morning. As this wasn't the first death I had predicted, I made a conscious decision not to cultivate this "talent".

  • I've had a few "out of body" experiences either when very ill or in serious danger. I can tell you for me it was an ethereal experience, not at all unpleasant or frightening.
  • On his death bed my father told my sister and I that we have a half brother. We're still trying to locate him. He was from my father's first marriage.

Here are the blogs I'm tagging for this challenge.

Brilliant writer: Writer's Whirlpool

Living with Chronic Pain

Excellent blog help site - Yellow Shoes

Great web site - Blogging for dummies

Fantastic organizer site Only2clicks

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"In the doctor's dimension" - more brilliant Usiku speak. Click here for the link.

I've posted previously about Usiku's new book, Eloquence
Usiku also hosts a website
Writer's Whirlpool
where he posted his thoughts about the waiting game at the doctor's office, a daunting experience at the best of times.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The second website I wish to share with you is "Neurotopian". Click here for the link.

Matthias Weinberger is a Physiotherapist extraordinaire in my opinion. He is passionate about the new science of pain management and promotes awareness and educates in this brilliant blog. Matthias is also a very talented photographic artist. I encourage you to bookmark his site and visit often. I go back and read his posts several times as there is so much good sense in what he posts.

At present I am very interested in his series of six posts about Mirror Therapy.

However before you read these the video of Ramachandran before Mirror Box Therapy Part I is worth watching.

  • Mirror Box Therapy Part I describes how easily the brain can be changed by vision. Click on rotating spiral to show you how. He presents the science of "Somatosensory maps being re-modeled so that the pain is gone (forever)" because the brain is restructured. Please note that from my observation, if pain returns as soon as you stop mirror therapy, there is an ongoing pathology or mechanical problem which needs addressing. Note the fantastic results with Iraq veterans in Walter Reid trials.
  • Mirror Box Therapy Part III talks about the virtual body in the brain and distortion of images. In my case if I have had pain for a long time my image of my body part becomes distroted eg I become convinced that my leg is swollen. Measuring shows me that it's not but in my mind it is. Mirror therapy stops the pain and returns the image in my brain to normal. Again this section is interesting and explained in such a way that it is easy to understand.
  • Mirror Box Therapy Part IV specifically talks about CRPS and mentions the limb laterality left/right recognition problem. This is the best explanation I've found about this. In previous posts I talked about Noi Group's Recognize program. I think the cards they now have would have been much better for me as I have a big problem with recognizing left and right hands. This post is devoted to feedback from the body to the brain and is most important. I recommend you take time and read this section.
  • Mirror Box Therapy Part VI - as the expression goes "from pain to possibilities". This section is just fascinating. Read it and bookmark "Neurotopian" in your favourites. I'll be checking regularly and hope at some point there will be the opportunity to get updates by email as you can with Blogger.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The first website I will discuss is "How to Cope with Pain" (click here for the link)

How to Cope with Pain is a chronic pain site which supports and informs sufferers, families, carers and professionals. Run by a practicing pain management specialist who has felt herself the burden of chronic pain, HTCwP is informative and practical in its approach.

It is the first US website I have found to embrace the new science of pain management balancing what is already known with what is cutting edge science.

  • HTCwP posts about strategies for coping with pain and also the anguish which goes with chronic pain. One of my favourite posts about this is about the benefits of journal writing. This blog is my journal about what works for me to cope with pain & symptoms. Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California who has written a book about Gratitude and Happiness, suggests daily journal writing about what we are grateful for on that day. This keeps us focused on the positive. Here's HTCwP's post.
  • Mindfulness is in effect an awareness of what is. It's a technique of fostering acceptance by being aware of only the here and now without judgment. If you are mindfully eating chocolate you are aware of the smoothness, the rich taste, the way it slips around your mouth and sticks to the sides of your mouth, as against eating chocolate whilst writing your shopping list or watching TV or chatting. HTCwP's post about mindfulness has a wonderful explanation about how Mindfulness relates to pain. This is definitely recommended reading.
  • Finally I'd like to draw your attention to the series of interviews on HTCwP. As you know my interview is included however I would like you to read Dr Lorimer Moseley's interview about the new science of pain. Dr Moseley co wrote "the exceptional book "Explain Pain" with David Butler. Another exceptionally talented physiotherapist is Matthias Weinberger, a German physical therapist who has a great understanding of newer treatments for pain. Both of these therapists work have embraced the new pain science, Dr Moseley as a researcher and Matthias as a practitioner. This new understanding of the role the brain plays in pain and how we can retrain the brain to break the pain cycle is very exciting and offers great hope for sufferers of chronic pain. I recommend you read the interviews by scrolling down this link.
I believe knowledge is power and I thank How to Cope with Pain for sharing the knowledge which empowers us to help ourselves.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Websites which help me greatly

In the following posts I would like to share with you some of the websites which have helped me greatly.
I will post about each individually and highlight posts which really interest me. I encourage you to visit these sites and click on their archives. Look at the topics and seek information to help you.
Custom Search
Gadget by The Blog Doctor.