On Not Being Mostly Dead.

Being skewered, electrocuted, burned, suctioned, and scraped.

It’s what saved my life, or at least what gave me my life back.

Ten days ago, I couldn’t lift my arms without excruciating pain, I couldn’t pick up anything heavier than a couple pounds without my shoulders screaming at me, I had several nights where I didn’t sleep because there was literally no comfortable position, I had radiating pain all the way down my arms and to my fingertips, and I had been in nearly nonstop pain for four weeks.

As of today, I can hold my camera for an extended period of time, I can lift other moderately-sized things (but not the laundry basket. I may never be able to lift a laundry basket again. I need laundry service for life I’m sure of it.), I can sleep in multiple positions without too much pain, and most importantly, I can run. And it feels so amazing.

Now. It’s still a process and I still have ups and downs – and the one thing I still can’t do is sit upright with my feet on the ground for a long period of time. Such as yesterday, which started off completely exhilarating with a fantastic run and no pain, but ended in a good deal of pain and zero minutes of sleep after I had a two hour meeting. But sitting like that can be avoided more than you’d think, and overall, the trend is clearly toward less pain and more life, and my happiness level compared to a few weeks ago has skyrocketed.

And all because of being skewered, electrocuted, burned, suctioned, and scraped.

Not nearly enough people seem to know about the miraculous powers of Physical Therapy. I did, but only because of a couple prior running injuries. The miracles my PT had performed then, such as the time I hopped into his office on one foot while carefully balancing the other foot that was swollen to roughly the size of Australia and later walked out with zero swelling and hardly a limp, gave me confidence that he could help me get through this as well.

For the local people, my irreplaceable PT is Robert Funk at OnMark Physical Therapy in Moody. He’s a Muscle Miracle Worker and currently holds the title as My Favorite Person.

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I drive 20 minutes and go past multiple other Physical Therapy clinics to get to him because he’s the only one I would trust to skewer, electrocute, burn, suction, and scrape me.

Anyway.

Wrecks are funny – okay no they’re not funny at all. Wrecks are weird – you really have no idea how badly you’re hurt until a week or two later. I’m fairly certain that my brain only had a set number of receptors to process specific pains, and as we fixed the ones I identified, I just kept discovering new ones.

We started with my leg and neck, then moved on to my shoulders and arms. And, slowly, all of the body parts are starting to feel normal.

It’s a miracle I tell you.

But the methods to get to that miracle were nothing short of fascinating.

There’s electrocution, but probably most of you are familiar with that. The tens unit is strapped onto the most sore places to shock those muscles into submission. I find this process quite comforting and downright restful.

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The tens unit is paired with a heating pad that comes straight out of boiling water, which is also lovely – until the towels between me and the heating pad disintegrate.

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Thankfully, Robert’s assistants are always there, ready with fresh new towels.

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Next is the muscle scraping – a procedure called ASTYM that regenerates soft tissue – also relaxing and surprisingly effective.

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The suction cup is the newest tool in his arsenal, used to separate my soft tissues and help them heal. It kind of feels like being pleasantly pinched by rubber pliers.

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The massages are also quite fantastic, and always leave my sore shoulders and neck so, so happy.

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And then there are the needles. Also known as skewering, although I think perhaps I’ve been the only one using that term.

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I don’t mind needles. I never have. So when Robert asked if he could use the technique called Dry Needling on my tense muscles, I didn’t hesitate. Why not? Sticks and Stones can break my bones but needles can never hurt me.

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The actual insertion of said needles is undetectable. But when they do what they’re supposed to do and skewer the jammed muscle, it feels rather like a very pinpointed charley horse.

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You might also be interested to know that he uses his finger as a guide so that he (just barely) doesn’t stick the needle all the way through my leg. On my neck, he uses my shoulder blade to prevent puncturing a lung. He’s really quite thoughtful like that.

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But seriously. Those needles are stupendous. Just like a miracle covered in chocolate.

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Robert would find a lump in my neck or shoulders, stick a needle in it, and by the next day that lump was gone. He needled my shoulders four days in a row last week, and in one week, I went from nearly no pain-free arm movement to nearly complete pain-free arm movement, and from a sobbing, crying mess about my constant pain to an ecstatic, frenzied runner.

Since all of you are dying to watch, I had one of the technicians hold my phone one day for Periscope and saved the video just for you:

It’s downright fabulous to be in less pain, and I’m beyond happy to feel nearly normal most days, even though I’ve probably still got at least a few weeks to go in my therapy, and there are some things that are beyond even his ability to fix, like the damaged discs in my neck.

But life, oh life – it’s wonderful to have life again.

So if you have sore spots, please go get some holes poked in them. I promise you will feel like a new person.

Disclaimer: Although the diagrams are completely accurate, this post has not been approved by any medical professionals, including my physical therapist. But it should absolutely be considered professional, sound medical advice.