I have had a few good doctor visits recently, and am making a ton of progress, so I want to share the good news!
I had a good follow-up with my Vascular Neurologist/Stroke Team a few months ago at Northwestern. My last scan showed my vertebral artery had healed very well and my symptoms have been pretty minimal. The pain in my neck and shoulder has calmed down a ton, and I haven’t had any “stroke like” symptoms in a while. We are working on getting off ALL medications for pain. I have been off the opioid pain meds for over a year now! I also went off the muscle relaxers a few months ago, and most days am dealing without tylenol or anything other than the natural remedies, cymbalta, and topical pain cream. This alone is HUGE progress.
I also followed up for my yearly vascular scans on my stents and bypass and saw my vascular surgeon. Everything on my scans looked PERFECT as the doctor said. Since everything seems to be working properly and I haven’t been having issues, I will only need these scans every 2 years now, instead of yearly… the less doctors and tests, the better!
Last week I saw my physiatrist at the Ability Lab, and that went pretty fantastic as well. I saw my main doctor from the pain management program and also saw a resident. They were very pleased with the progress I have been making on my overall physical health. I finished physical therapy, and am feeling confident continuing my workouts on my own. My left shoulder and arm are getting stronger and easier to use. My grip strength is getting better, and to sum it all up my quality of life is getting better. It’s hard to explain to most people how much chronic pain can affect everyday life, because most don’t have to deal with it. When your dominant hard/arm is less than fully functional it affects EVERYTHING. I’ve been dealing with this for years, but last year when I had my most recent dissection it got a whole lot worse. These issues come from my neuro vascular issues, as well hypermobility, multiple surgeries, deconditioning, and overall weakness. As the doc said, I have put in the work, and it is really starting to pay off.
I feel like i have most of the answers I have been looking for as far as my health goes, and though there is no cure for chronic pain, or any of the other conditions I have, I am truly learning to manage them. With all of the skills I have learned from my PTs, OTs, doctors and other care providers I am getting back to living my life, and not just being in survival mode.
Here’s to a good summer, and staying strong and healthy.
(garden and photo by: mom)