Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Success!

I am having a really good week so far. The experiment of using the autogenic relaxtion cd worked great. The massage therapist was able to go fairly deep and work on the knots in my back and I wasn't sore at all afterwards. And I had an exam for one of my classes last night and was able to keep myself migraine free. I started watching my breathing early in the afternoon and made sure it wasn't too shallow. Then on the drive to campus I continued by repeating positive phrases and regulating my breathing. I was concerned that the closer to campus I was that my subconscious might kick in, so I used my Ipod for the last mile or two of the drive (one earpiece only--have to be able to hear traffic too!) and for the walk from the parking lot. It worked out wonderfully and I didn't get twingy at all. :) :) I am just excessively excited that I have made progress and I feel like I am on the path to regain some control.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Biofeedback Session 5

I didn't have a session scheduled for last week because of work and the break between the last session and this one highlighted my need to practice more. I have to be mindful of my body's needs and make myself take the time to focus on relaxing in addition to what I am able to do the rest of the day.

I also have to remember to not be judgemental of my skill level. This is not a race I am trying to win or a test I am trying to ace. Whatever I am able to put into it is fine and I have to keep in mind that I won't always be able to succeed in completely blocking the pain. My triggers are diverse and uncontrollable so thinking that I am always going to be able to stay on top them is unrealistic. They include genetics, weather, and randomness of the universe. Stress is not really a direct trigger, it just aggravates things and makes them worse.

Today's session involved hooking me up to the breathing monitor, temperature monitor, and the galvonic skin response sensor again. My starting temperature was low and I wasn't able to get it as high this week (91.? at max), not sure if that's related to weather or something else. Breathing did fine and I was able to keep the skin sensors below a 2 again.

She also had me tense and relax different muscles in a sequence. However, when we reached my neck and shoulders, after I released them, my temperature dropped and did not come back up at all. At the same time, my breathing and skin didn't change at all. From what I've read, a temperature drop is supposed to indicate an increase in stress, which with my history of shoulder problems is not surprising. But you would think that if it was the only thing occurring then my other readings should have changed in correlation.

So...maybe it's physical stress but not psychological stress??? I'm not sure at this point what it might mean, if anything. For the next week I am to continue my practice and work on building on visual or verbal cues to remind myself to relax and to breathe. I haven't been very good at this so far, though I have been able to turn the car into one which is good for myself and everyone on the highway.

Before I left today, I asked the therapist about a summary sheet of my readings. It is sometimes easier to explain things to other people when you have data to show them. I want to be able to share this info with the people around me who are important. Also, this is kind of new for most people in my work and personal circles and I want to show them what exactly I'm doing and why and that progress is being made. Thankfully to this point my reputation of being no-nonsense and always thoroughly researching things has helped reassure most everyone about my decision to seek this path.

Here is a Mayo Clinic article with some additional information outlining biofeedback and another article I found that has a decent picture of the sensors attached to someone's hand.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/biofeedback/SA00083

http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20189539,00.html

Sunday we are making our monthly pilgrimage to Massage Envy. It is good for my shoulders and my psyche. I am going to take my Ipod with me and listen to my autogenic cd to see if it helps trigger me to relax more and allow the massage therapist to do her job more easily. Did I mention I'm not very good at relaxing? I mentioned this plan to the biofeedback therapist and she thought it was a good idea and that it showed her that I was trying to be proactively involved in my health and wellness.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More Fulmer...

The following is a really classy article written by a Gator. It is nice to see our love of the game and our traditions can transcend the rivalry.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/77108-a-farewell-to-phillip-fulmer

The item below is a rough transcript of the news conference yesterday, along with some comments from Pat Summitt, Bruce Pearl, & Peyton Manning.

http://www.volunteertv.com/sports/headlines/33806674.html

Fulmer has shown dignity and grace during these difficult days.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Winds of Change

I haven't blogged much about my favorite football team, because this season there has been little worth speaking of. I saw my very first live game at UT during Fulmer's tenure as Assistant Head Coach when Majors was out on medical leave. I have been a fan most of my life and I have some really great memories from Saturdays in the fall in Neyland Stadium.

I firmly believe Fulmer is a good person, who truly cares for his players and in doing what's best for the school.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601079&sid=aqcCPZFfbR2E&refer=home

http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/the_sporting_blog/entry/view/14270/fulmer_agrees_to_step_down_as_tennessees_coach_three_reasons_why_it_came_to_this

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/nov/03/phillip-fulmer-through-years/

http://www.wate.com/Global/story.asp?S=9283616

However, I also firmly believe his resignation is the best decision for everyone involved. He and the program both appear to be a bit worn around the edges and that is a good indicator that a change is needed. I wish him the best whatever he does or wherever he goes (well, as long as he doesn't end up at Florida).

However, they also need to make arrangements for that ineffective offense coach that was brought in this season. I don't think he is meshing very well.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Guilt

I'm not exactly a perfectionist, but I do prefer to have things under control and in order to my specifications.

Kerrie at The Daily Headache, offers her thoughts on how it can feel to fall short of your own standards, repeatedly.

http://www.thedailyheadache.com/2008/10/guilt-how-do-family-friends-really-feel-about-sick-loved-ones.html

Migraine can be so dominating. It is frustrating to get knocked flat and have the things you enjoy taken away from you. There is guilt and anger aplenty. Part of the biofeedback is working to accept myself as I am now, whatever that is, and work with what I have to offer. I am not accustomed to allowing myself limitations, so it has been a difficult path, even though I have been here before. Some years ago I was involved in a fairly serious car wreck and spent a significant amount of time healing.

That event is a major dividing line in my life and accepting those limitations was very difficult. Having someone to blame doesn't make it any easier, it may make it worse actually. Learning to accept help was equally challenging. I like my independance. :) But its okay to accept help if you need it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Research on Migraine Treatment

I cam across this on MyMigraineConnection this morning.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/126036.php

It is a highlight of a larger article regarding research on medicine that targets neuropeptides to halt migraines. They say that migraine is more related to "neuronal excitation" rather than blood flow. Which agrees with what my specialist has told me about my case.

For example, two people experience the same stimulus, like weather or perfume--one gets a migraine the other doesn't. The difference being that the migraineur's neurons overreact and cause pain while the other person's nuerons respond in a more normal fashion and she doesn't experience pain.

It's just nice to see that the research continues.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Biodfeedback Session 4

This was the first full session with the new therapist. We went over some additional background info and discussed what I had been doing in my sessions. She then hooked my up to sensors that measured temperature, breathing, and electrical impulses. As breathing regulates and temperature increases, the impulses should decrease. The tie in for that is that if the impulses can be reduced, pain can be reduced because pain is a spike in the impulses.

The goal is to get your hand temperature above 95. The breathing is 4-5 slow breaths in and then 4-5 slow breaths out trying to keep a steady rhythm. For the impulses, you want to be able to take them from a level of 6 to 2 or less. I was able to achieve all of those, which, I suppose, shows how much control I do have when I take the time to focus. It was an interesting feeling as well. It wasn't a sleepy or tired feeling at all. I felt very centered and that I was able to settle the runaway thoughts that generally flit through my head.

Each week I feel more focused and that I am more comfortable with the method. However, I have to be mindful of what I need to do daily. It isn't something to just pick up and use occasionally. It has to be part of my daily life and I have to practice to maintain the level I have reached thus far. Without practice and making the body remember what it feels like to be in that state, it is easy to lose it.