A needling doubt...
Should anyone reading this particular post be new to this blog, however, here is a potted history of The Story So Far:-
After 15 years of taking NSAIDs for lower back pain, I developed gastritis. NSAIDs now = death. NSAIDs swapped for combination of Tramadol + Paracetamol. Gastritis now quiescent. Pain levels, however, hugely increased. Tramadol of limited analgesic effect, but the bee's bum at inducing brain fog so debilitating that a return to work is out of the question. GP's response to complaints of continued brain fog is suggestion to reduce dosage of Tramadol. Which leaves me with a choice between intolerable levels of pain and intolerable levels of brain fog. Isn't life fun?
Anyroad up (as we say Oop North. No, really: we do), when I regaled the latest additions to this sorry tale to my osteopath when I saw him last week, he asked me whether I had considered acupuncture.
Which I hadn't. Or, at least, not seriously. I didn't know all that much about it, and I hadn't realised that one of its chief applications is in the field of pain relief. So I read up on it a bit when I got home. And I was intrigued. And I decided to give it a go.
Which is how I found myself at a local clinic yesterday morning being bossed about by a suprisingly large and imposing Chinese lady doctor whose English is so heavily-accented that, once I had my back to her, I had very little chance of understanding what she was saying. Not that she says a great deal. However, she clearly knows what she's about.
"There is a lot of pressure across your lower back, resulting in inflammation and pain", she said, after only half a minute or so of pressing her hand against it. Having been well brought up by parents to whom courtesy is important, I resisted the temptation to reply, "No shit, Sherlock". (Actually, put anyone within easy prodding distance of my lower back and I become remarkably and uncharacteristically docile and compliant. Right up until the moment when they move out of reach. But I digress.)
Ok, so I know only too well that the soft tissues in my lower back are permanently inflamed and extremely painful, but that doesn't mean I'm not impressed that Dr Liu can reach a firm conclusion to that effect after only a few seconds spent manually examining the area in question.
"We can't relieve this immediately", she continued. "It will take several sessions." Not being exactly a novice in the whole chronic pain area, I really hadn't been expecting an overnight cure. In fact, I don't expect a cure at all. So this was fine by me. After all, what else would I be spending my salary on? (Er, that's a rhetorical question, obviously. In case Boogaloo Dude was about to leap in with suggestions.)
So, I'm lying on a fairly hard treatment couch on my right side. I'm not very good on my right side. I certainly can't sleep on that side. I tend to feel vaguely car-sick. I suspect it's an inner ear issue. Anyway, I can't see what the doctor is doing. I assume she's inserting needles into my lower back. In fact, I can feel one of them going in. She asks me to let her know when I feel "a tingling". Which I soon do. It's a very odd sensation. Satisfied with her work, she leaves me plugged into the mains for half an hour.
Now, not only am I not very good on my right side, I'm also not very good at staying immobile in any position for thirty minutes. Bits of me are already starting to complain before the thirty minutes have even started. However, if I want to move, I've got two choices. I can roll onto my back and embed the needles rather deeply. Or I can roll onto my front and off the treatment couch onto the floor. Neither of these options attracts me greatly. So I lie there. And I lie there some more. My neck hurts. My knees are stiff. My left shoulder Isn't Happy At All. My lower back is horribly exposed to anyone who might break into the surgery and decide to give me a good kicking.
Despite the discomfort (none of which, I should add, is coming from the needles themselves), the half hour passes much more quickly than I would have anticipated. The doctor comes back in, removes the needles, and helps me off the couch. I am dizzy and disoriented. She tells me that I am to come back on Monday, and that I won't need as long as thirty minutes the next time. Once the dizziness has abated a little, I head off to the bus stop. One of the first things I realise is that my stride is longer. (This won't mean anything to you if you don't have joint problems in your lower spine and pelvis. But it's a Good Thing.)
Ok, so there's one thing I haven't told you. But I must. Because there's no way on God's green earth that I'm going to do this without the assistance of my trusty team of diabetes police. (The people who make sure I've taken my meds and that I've eaten. They know who they are.)
"I want you to drink as much warm water as you can", said Dr Liu. (She knows warm water is disgusting. But she's told me to think about the long-term benefits.)
Pop, always on the look-out for a new and entertaining (for him, at least) nag, has swung smoothly into action. And has made himself remarkably unpopular in the process. Poor man got himself seriously snarled at last night. (Although I still don't believe 8 litres is a realistic goal for a day's warm-water consumption.)
As I would really very much rather not fall out with Pop - or, at least, not over something this trivial - I hereby grant permission to all those readers who are in touch with me by phone, email, text message or IM to nag me mercilessly to drink more warm water. Despite the fact that drinking it makes me feel sick. Despite the fact that being female, having diabetes, and taking diuretic tablets for blood pressure every morning mean that - even without the additional x litres of warm water - I'm very fortunate that I don't live in a multi-person household in which there might be a queue for the bathroom.
Go ahead: make my day.