Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Alternative medicine and me

Newly opened box filled with nutritional supplements and packing peanuts
It's starting to look a lot like Cripmas...
This is one of the several posts that has been sitting unfinished in my blog queue.  I've tried to clean it up to make it more current, so I apologize if there are any weird timing-based issues with the writing that I missed.

One thing that comes up a lot when talking openly about one's illness or disability is the question "have you tried [insert therapy, medicine, supplement, herb, exercise]."  It's a question that I know many times comes from a place of love and sincere desire to help.  I've written a little about it before on this blog, and other people have discussed this more succinctly than I have (for instance, Toni Morris from Psychology Today).

I used to have a pain management physician's assistant that was into complementary and alternative medicine, so sometimes my prescription would include the names of various supplements to try.  Magnesium, GABA, valerian root, melatonin, fish oil, l-glutamine, l-carnitine, B-complex....some on an empty stomach, some only with food, some at mealtimes, some before bed.  Every time I try something new, it involves a financial commitment along with a commitment to making a constant rattling noise as I move around my day with a horde of pills, all in the name of hurting less and functioning more "normally" in society.

I also tried several things in a book called From Fatigued to Fantastic, which is geared towards folks with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  My pituitary birth defect has a lot of fibromyalgia-esque symptoms (and many folks with hypopit get diagnosed with both disorders, although a rheumatologist told me that fibro was a diagnosis of exclusion, so I couldn't have both).  I didn't try everything in there, partially because of finances, and partially because of the time commitment many of those suggestions would involve.  A lot of the author's suggestions overlapped with the supplements my pain management PA was suggesting, so I tried with the desperate hope of avoiding the knife.

None of this helped me bypass surgery.  I don't know if any of it really actually helped, partially because I tried too many things at once.  I've learned that some of these things do make a quality of life difference (B-vitamins when my energy is lagging, melatonin, magnesium, and valerian root for making me sleep better).  Some of these supplements are hard to gauge effectiveness on (like CoQ10 for brain function and memory...memory problems being a huge problem for many folks with chronic pain, and something that makes my scholarly work incredibly difficult).

A green dish sitting on a wood desk holding eleven different pills
This is my non-food breakfast of champions
Since I made a sizeable order at Puritan's Pride for some of these experiments, I keep taking a lot of them.  I did enough research that I feel confident that I'm not doing any harm to my body, and most of these things are vitamins and minerals (the bottom picture shows several fish oil capsules, vitamin D, several magnesium pills, a B-complex, & two different amino acids).  I'll see what happens to my quality of life when the supplements run out.  I just need to be content in knowing that I at least tried.

It's all part of my "keep on keeping on" plan....just keep trying.

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