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Muscle Fixing - cellophane — LiveJournal
the story of an invisible girl
Muscle Fixing
Today I went for my first 15 minute "chair massage". It hurt. I mean it was good, but it hurt a whole lot. When did massage stop being relaxing, and start being painful? I must be getting old.

Let me back up a bit. Back when I had my nasty car accident, I strained some muscles pretty badly in my left shoulder/neck. (I didn't really write about this much, because I was busy being hurt and stuff....)

I felt okay right after the accident, but I could feel those muscles beginning to lock up even a few hours post-collision. By the next morning, they were really bad. If I found a position where they weren't being used at all (example: coma, or sitting up perfectly straight with every vertebrae balanced on the lower one and not moving), they weren't bad. But using the muscles even a little bit caused sharp pain.

It made me look a little silly actually, because any time I wanted to lean over at all, or lie down or anything, I had to support my head with my opposite hand, reaching over and around my head to hold it straight. I simply could not bear the weight of my own head with my neck muscles! Weird.

Anyway, that day I went to a walk-in clinic. I'm paranoid about visiting doctors -- I generally expect them to send me away, telling me nothing is wrong. (I don't actually know where this paranoia came from, but there it is.) I was pretty certain that nothing was seriously hurt, but I felt badly enough that I was hopeful I could get something to lessen the pain.

He gave me some x-rays, and I checked out okay. I described what was going on, and what had happened. F (who was kind enough to accompany me) chimed in, mentioning that I am a skater and have a high pain tolerance. He was trying to make it clear that the fact that I'd decided to come meant that I was truly suffering. It was interesting, because the doctor said, "I can tell by how you're sitting."

I glanced down in surprise at how I was sitting, one leg tucked under the other, and didn't notice anything special. "You have perfect posture," he explained. "Your neck is completely straight -- that's common with neck injuries, when it hurts too much to move." He was right, I noticed, although neither F nor I had noticed it earlier. I could have been a ballet dancer just then, I had such good posture. Except for the not-moving part....

Anyway, after our initial talk, I waited forever, perching on a chair that reminded me of a dentist chair, talking randomly with F. At one point I actually gave up, too frustrated and in pain to want to wait any longer. "He's not going to help me," I told F sadly, wanting to just leave. He convinced me to wait a bit longer though.

Finally the doctor came back, and it turned out he WAS willing to help! I was so relieved; I was so afraid I'd just have to tough it out. There wasn't anything he could actually fix; my muscles were just very badly strained. I just needed rest, and my body would heal itself. But he gave me a variety of muscle relaxers and pain killers and anti-inflametories that would make it possible for me to rest. Yay, stuff to make me hurt less!

He said the injury was too "hot" right then to do anything but wait, but I should come back in a couple of weeks and he'd see if I needed anything else. Then finally I was free to go and rest (although first I proceeded to go to my insurance company and sell them my broken car for salvage).

Anyway, fast forward a couple of weeks, and I went back. My muscles were much better. I could lift my own head (!), and I had most of my range of motion back. I was still pretty stiff and sore though. The doctor recommended massage therapy as the best thing to complete my healing, beginning with a deep tissue full-body massage, and continuing with a chair massage twice a week to work the knots and kinks out of my shoulders.

Unfortunately being excessively busy, I didn't manage to actually schedule the darn massages right away. I finally treated myself to the full-body massage a week and a half ago. Expensive, but worth it (not to mention doctor-recommended!). It was nice... quite painful on my neck and shoulders, especially when she found the knotted up muscles in there... but there were several lovely relaxing bits too.

Today, I finally made it in for my first chair massage. I was kind of looking forward to it, because I figured "Hey, massage! Should feel good and relaxing."

Well, no. I forgot it was massage therapy, aka physical therapy. She only had 15 minutes, so she worked just on the problem spots. No peaceful foot rubs or oil or soft music for me today!

I was perversely proud of the fact that she was impressed with my injured muscles. "There is a huge huge knot here in your neck," she told me as she worked. Oooh, I got her to say 'huge' twice! I guess I'm just relieved, when I'm hurting, for another to see have physical evidence that I have a reason to hurt. Otherwise I'm paranoid that I'm just over-reacting.

Anyway. She did lots of digging and kneading, and I must say it was quite painful. Those neck and shoulder muscles are really taunt, and very resistive to being moved. But I think it was helpful too, I really do. I felt looser when she was through, and I could move my head more easily. Coolness.

I'm not sure I'll find time for twice a week, but I've already scheduled something for next wednesday. I'll just try to squeeze these in when I can, and hopefully I'll find myself a little bit better each time!

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bluelotus From: bluelotus Date: February 16th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Ouch. Muscle strain is pretty painful I would imagine. Have you thought about a short physio course to run along with the massage?
mbumby From: mbumby Date: February 16th, 2007 01:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you're getting help and glad it's working. It's hard to make time to do _anything_ extra but when I had physical therapy (or more recently, my chiropractic visits) I made them my _sole_ priority -- and meetings could be shifted or would be missed. (Good for F. keeping you company -- and there.)

I am very familiar with the "nothing is wrong" routine. There's nothing wrong with the fact that after over 3 years of living somewhere I'm still winded going up the hill in front. Nothing wrong with the fact that my hip would occasionally stop working. When I want in with a VERY painful bump on my leg (if I put my socks on wrong I could be incapacited with pain for 10-20 seconds; my vision would fade out) they told me it was a Dermato Fibroma (sp?) and to go away. A year later I'd called up to get another appointment, but it was still a month away when I went into Urgent Care for a cold I'd had for 6 weeks or so -- I couldn't even talk. They told me that I should take butterscotch drops for my throat, but to go away. I said "ok, but since I'm here, can you look at my bump?" They looked. They set me up with an appointment 2 weeks sooner than the other one I had. Short version is that it was cancer (dfsp) and was taken off.
From: writerwench Date: February 16th, 2007 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh yeah... been there, still have the occasional twinge of pain in my upper arm, from an old motorbike accident. And it took several weeks of being unable to lift the arm before my parents would allow me to go to the doc, and get it X-rayed - just a hairline fracture, but boy it hurt.

So often you KNOW you need help, you KNOW something's wrong, and the bland refusal of anyone to take you seriously is like bouncing off a wall of soft rubber. I had that with my older daughter all her childhood. Sometimes reduced me to screaming with frustration (quietly, at home, so as not to bother anyone, really) that nobody else CARED if she was in awful pain.

From what I've learned from studying basic therapeutic massage, it's REALLY important that you keep your appointments - don't let a week float by here and there - the muscles will respond much better if they're treated continuously, rather than having one treatment, then letting them stiffen up again. Just having a massage occasionally really isn't effective, it has to be a COURSE of treatment. Twice-weekly chair massages will keep the muscles healing properly. Please don't miss any!
thatguychuck From: thatguychuck Date: February 17th, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Just having a massage occasionally really isn't effective, it has to be a COURSE of treatment. "

Very good advice. I'll try to remember that the next time I wrack up my body and need therapy. Thanks!
From: writerwench Date: February 18th, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome. I'm by no means an expert, but I did pick up that the way muscles heal after a traumatic injury means regular massage will speed the healing. It's something to do with the speed with which muscle tissue regenerates. Or something. Not just a masseur thinking 'Great, here comes a twice-weekly client for the forseeable'.
netmouse From: netmouse Date: February 16th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Please consider this an open offer to give you a massage whenever you want one (preferably when we're already in the same place).

When I was in physical therapy for my ankle, I was amazed how painful the adjustments were that the therapist was making in my foot - but they made exercize hurt *less*. Now I'm missing those painful adjustments, as exercize has started sometimes leaving my ankle sore again.
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