Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chiari Comforts - Blog Carnival 6

For this month’s topic of Chiari Comforts I would like to take the time to share some of my tried and true methods for staying comfortable and relaxed when dealing with challenging symptoms. In order to find comfort, one first must understand. You must understand the source of the symptom. I always request a copy of my test results so that I can further understand the complications within my own body. You must understand the consequence of the symptom. Pain can easily cause depression which causes our bodies to intensify the sensation of pain. So it can become a vicious cycle. Nausea can lead to nutritional deficits which can further deplete your body. Vertigo and syncope can cause serious falls which can lead to injury. You must understand when it’s time to seek additional help. Not every symptom can or should be treated. Do some research on each symptom individually. Learn when you need to be concerned about a symptom. Likewise, learn to accept when a symptom is merely an annoyance.


For me, the largest, most complicated symptom that I struggle with is pain. At this given moment, it is pain through my sciatic nerve and pain in my head. I know that the pain from my sciatic nerve is due to a bulging disc at my L4-L5. Most likely, a couple of days of anti-inflammatory medicines and some specific stretches will help. In the mean time, I will do what I can to remain relaxed and avoid stress. The pain in my head is due to the latest round of botox shots. The pain will last for 7-10 days. Mainly, I try to occupy myself and not dwell on the pain; but I will take pain medication as needed. More than anything, I remember that pain will not kill me. Yes, it’s definitely unpleasant. Sometimes, it’s downright brutal but it is just another sensation. I live with pain, daily, and I have lived through some extremely painful episodes. I refuse to allow the pain to become a focus in my life. In order to keep life in focus I pray and meditate. This reminds me of what is important and that my life is so much bigger than pain. During spikes of pain I employ breathing and focusing techniques that I learned during biofeedback. One of the simplest breathing techniques is the long exhale. A quick Google search for 7-11 breathing technique will render plenty of results touting the benefits of a long exhale. However, the 7-11 technique can be daunting and it requires practice. A simpler version of this is 4-7. Breathe in for 4 seconds and out for 7 seconds. If you have a blood pressure cuff at home you can easily see results after a minute of 4-7 breathing. If you are in a quiet, still place you can actually feel your body beginning to relax with each long exhale.



Night time panic attacks are particularly difficult for me. I know that I suffer from a form of central sleep apnea which differs from obstructive sleep apnea as my oxygen saturation never drops and there is no pause in my breathing. I just cannot reach REM as easily as others do and my body rouses itself from sleep for no apparent reason. There are some nights that just as I am falling asleep I awaken with a start and become panicked for no good reason. These are the times that I struggle to find anything comforting. I will take a cold shower since being startled always increases my body temperature. I must talk to someone, anyone really. It must be someone that is non-judgmental as I am apt to say crazy things that make absolutely no sense. But more than anything I have to do anything I can to get my mind off of my current situation and onto to anything else. These are the times that incredibly stupid TV shows come into play. The more obnoxious the show the better.  The goal is to shift my brain away from the birage of crazy, irrational thoughts.
So for me the secret to finding comfort is to know where the symptom originates from and to know the consequences of the symptom.  Below is a list of 'comforts' that I turn to on a regular basis. 
Breathing techniques -
Guided visualization -
Chillow - Chillow
Theracane - Theracane