For many years now, I have subscribed to the author Paulo Coelho’s school of thought: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”.
So, as someone who, for many years has incorporated exercise and wellbeing into their lives in a bid ‘to be the best of me’, imagine my dismay when the universe has positively halted me in my tracks and dealt me a harsh blow. The moment I am persuaded by others to start my blog and share the journey of my aspiration of being ‘Oh Fabulous Me’ (and hopefully inspiring others to be their most fabulous selves in the process), that myself – or my back, to be more precise – decided to be utterly non-fabulous and sustain an injury. The timing is so utterly impeccable. You couldn’t make this up! So much for the universe’s help!
I would be so utterly cheesed off by my inability to work out, if only I wasn’t in so much pain. There’s nothing like an injury to make you feel dilapidated and old – ‘Oh Fabulous me’? Not right now! – Claire
Over the years I have dabbled in many diets and exercises on a regular basis. Some have fallen by the wayside and been overtaken by others, yet some I have continued with and consider my fail safes. My trusted ‘go to’ choices of exercise – namely Pilates and Tae Bo. I have run, done Hiit workouts, Barre Core, Ballet conditioning, swimming, Zumba…you name it and I’ve probably tried it. Infact, mood dependent, sometimes I still pick these up. I have always been lucky enough to be blessed with good health and a strong body and have tried to look after myself in order to keep it that way.
And then something changed…
However, over the last few years I have noticed I tend to hold any stress which life throws at me in my shoulders and have periodically had minor issues with my left one. During which instance, I usually opted for a massage to sort it out.
I have tried different kinds of massages in an attempt to get myself put back together; hot stone massage – which, although rather relaxing, did nothing for me. Turkish (I swear his thumb came through my shin it was so painful – but I did feel great afterwards!). Swedish, Sports (ouch!), Indian Head…
Once I opted for a Thai massage. This was actually rather good. If you don’t mind a tiny Thai lady jumping up and down on your back as it ‘clunks’ into place, whilst shouting “YOU GOT BOULDERS IN YOUR SHOULDERS!” at the top of her voice! It could only happen to me…
However, after sustaining this current and incredibly irksome, painful back injury, massage just didn’t seem to work. Actually, it got so tender that I couldn’t have let anyone near it to massage it. I was beyond frustrated at not being able to work out. So, after buying out my local pharmacy of heat pads, Ibroprofen & Epsom Salts, in a rather futile attempt to send this injury packing on my own, I was persuaded by a friend to try Acupuncture.
So what is Acupuncture?
Acupunture is complementary medicine derived from ancient China but is now widely practiced in the West. It is based on the belief that an energy, or “life force”, flows through the body in channels called meridians. This life force is known as Qi (pronounced “chee”). Traditional Acupuncturists believe that when Qi doesn’t flow freely through the body, this can cause illness and acupuncture can restore the flow of Qi, and thus restore health.
Fine sterile needles are inserted at certain sites in the body to alleviate pain and to treat various physical, mental, and emotional conditions. It involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body.
Having always been open minded about so-called alternative therapies, I would generally prefer to try these before succumbing to the pill-popping of conventional medicine. Its always better to treat the cause not the symptoms, I feel but I had never tried Acupunture. I’m not sure why I have never given it a go in the past and as such, didn’t really know what to expect. I had also heard mixed reviews; hurts/doesn’t hurt at all, you feel agony/can’t feel it/feel tired & floaty, it works/doesn’t work. There was only one thing for it: to try it for myself.
So I booked an appointment and popped along to a complementary medicine clinic. The staff were incredibly friendly and very efficient. I was given a thorough assessment both in question and physical form until the trouble spot revealed itself. It was, as I had suspected, muscular. ‘A very tightly wound up muscle which was trapping a nerve and causing tooth-ache like pain throughout my ribcage’, to be precise.
Enough is Enough
I was asked to sit on a white couch where the practitioner inserted a small needle in my hand and then some in the problem area of my back.
Oddly, it didn’t hurt. I felt a little heat at the insertion point, but that was all. Once said needles were turned, that changed! Oh, the dull aching spread very quickly – and quite intensely – across my mid-back. I had to place my other hand down for support. With every tiny twist of the needle the muscle seemed to fight back – but only a little. It was quite an odd sensation and not too uncomfortable as one might expect. Especially after writhing around unable to pacify the aches and pains for weeks. The pain was definitely localized.
The doctor explained the reason I was experiencing the dull ache around my ribacage. Apparently, it was because the troublesome muscle shared – and had trapped – the same nerve which runs around that area. Much like the same way a person feels a tingling sensation down their left arm during a heart attack. Reasurring! There were short breaks between each turn of the needles. Then in a short 30 minutes or so from the start of the consultation to the end, I was done.
What happens next?
I was given a glass of water and asked to wait in the reception area for 30 minutes to recover. This was to see how I fared and if I was classed fit to drive home. Apparently there can be some side affects such as dizziness, tiredness, nausea, pain…etc but I was fine. A little achey and rather tired – but so would you be if you had barely any sleep for over a week!
I was told it will probably get worse before it gets better (eek!) and I may need to have another course but should wait 4 or 5 days to see if its worked. I am allowed to do gentle exercise (cue: Pilates *smiles*).
This Acupunture treatment didn’t really hurt, which I liked immensely. Whereas a sports massage would have hurt like hell and, in my current fragility, its not something I could’ve coped with. It’s not that I am a wimp, you understand – after undergoing 2 ‘natural’ births, I discovered my pain threshold was actually rather high. But this injury was really debilitating.
I know it’s probably too early to say how successful the treatment has been, but so far so good. I seem to be able to get into my car in a morning without sending my unsympathetic children into mass hysterics at my fumbling, old biddy-like attempts, as I seem a bit more flexible.
One week on, I have been able to do gentle Pilates each day and have (more or less) ceased with the pain killers – Yippee! I have tried a Tens machine to nip any aching in the bud. Also, in a bid to attack the cause rather than aid the symptoms, I have arranged a trip to a rehab clinic for a sports massage (now I can bear more than just my tshirt to touch it ).
I would definitely give acupuncture a go for any future ailments . Even if it hadn’t worked, I would have chalked it down to another ‘experience’ to tick off the list.
Every bone in my body is crossed for a successful, quick recovery. I feel very positive for having been proactive about my recuperation and can’t wait to get back to fighting fit again. Albeit a tad gingerly at first. Maybe the universe will conspire this time, to give me a healing hand…
Watch this space for updates…