Inflammation – How to live with pain


We all at some point get inflammation and the pain that comes with it, reaching for pills is generally what we all do. But what if that isn’t an option?

 

I have mentioned this before and will probably mention it again because I think more people should be aware of this condition and others like it. I have a genetic condition called Marfan Syndrome. It affects all the connective tissue in your body, so can affect a lot of things. Two of the main things it has effected with me is my heart and well my spine. I have scoliosis caused by an extra half vertebrae ( I like to think that this means I have more backbone than most). It wasn’t officially picked up for a long time, I have had back issues since I was a child but always just thought it was because I’m tall and have bad posture. Then going through my medical notes I noticed on a chest x-ray summary that it was noted I had a curve in my spine, at the time I was having bad back pain and thought ‘Aha’ that is what it is and when things started to get worse I actually went to the doctors about it. That resulted in seeing a surgeon who told me flat out that he would not operate, my curve had fused itself. Essentially the curve had gotten to a point that my body thought my spinal cord was at risk and so my vertebrae grew spurs of bone connecting the vertebrae together making it immoveable. This means my curve won’t get any worse but also means surgery would most likely result in me being paralysed.

So what are my options: prescription anti-inflammatories, it is amazing how you don’t realise how much pain you have been in when it has been prolonged. The first night I took them I was apparently as high as a kite. It wasn’t an effect the pills had it was the euphoric relief of not being in pain. They worked so well that I was sleeping properly, exercising, had energy again and only needed to take them once or twice a week. Than I got pregnant, which wasn’t really a problem because I could still take brufen if I had pain. Four months into the pregnancy it was found that the irregular heart beats I had been trying to tell doctors for years weren’t normal were in fact life threatening. It was a bit of a strange series of events, I had been on a 24 hour monitor and took it back to the hospital before work. Then was at work and very busy and I get a phone call saying that the cardiologist wanted me to come in for a talk immediately. So asked my boss who agreed it probably was important and let me go thinking I’ll go in talk to them and return to work. I picked up my partner on the way because he always comes to my appointments. I get there and the doctor tells me that what is going on is serious and he won’t let me leave the hospital until he has tried me on a new medication. I had previously reacted badly to a beta-blocked and this cardiologist isn’t one for taking risks with my health. I was essentially held hostage by my cardiologist for my own good haha.

Anyway how does that affect my inflammation issues, well the beta-blocker I’m on reacts with anti-inflammatories even brufen, anti-inflammatories reduce the effectiveness of the heart medication. So now I am left with no pills to help with the pain. It has been pretty bad lately so I’ve been trying to find something that might help with it, I’ve tried massage and those ice/heat gels (officially the most horrible thing I have ever experienced), baths, heat packs, all physical methods of reducing pain essentially.

Curious I decided to look into what inflammation actually is and thought maybe the body has it’s own way of processing it. Maybe I can enhance how my body processes it, turns out it does and you can. There apparently isn’t much hard evidence in the effectiveness but like many things these days what you eat can make a difference. Since I am in constant pain these days and well being in pain does not have any sort of positive effect on your wellbeing both mental and physical I thought maybe it is worth looking into.

A big thing that has been realized lately by many people is that Omega fatty acids are crucial to our bodies functions but we get far too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3. Balancing this out is a key part to the “anti-inflammatory diet”. I’m not a big supplement person I believe if you have a balanced thought out diet you will get everything you need, that being said since having a baby I’ve been iron deficient and my body has been extremely unbalanced which I have never experienced before. So what am I going to do?

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Well we brought a new orthopedic bed, it hasn’t helped at all really. I take lots of baths, with candles and nice smelling soaps etc. (not just for the pain but for relaxation), I am attempting to change my diet. I say attempt because I haven’t really ever dieted before, I have eaten what my body has told me to eat and that has worked out well.

The ‘experts’ say sleep, de-stress, certain things in your diet and exercising can help. The irony is pain causes lack of sleep, stress and comfort food.

Here is my plan:

  • reduce my sugar intake (not because of inflammation I just have way too much in my diet)
  • take my son swimming regularly (exercise)
  • increase the amount of Omega 6 I get in my diet (take cod liver oil tablets and eat more seafood)
  • drink more water (I’ve been slack lately)
  • go to bed at a reasonable time (teething aside I haven’t been good at having a set bedtime)
  • Use more ginger, rosemary, cayenne, turmeric, oregano, cloves, and nutmeg in my cooking
  • Eat more good oils and berries high in anthocyanins like blackcurrants

I’ll will update this post in three weeks and let you know how it has gone. Fingers crossed it improves my inflammation if not I’ll be healthier.

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