What to do with Contradictory Advice

There can be great benefits to seeing multiple different types of health care professionals, as I’ve mentioned in more than one previous post. They can take care of all the different parts of your health care needs from diet and nutrition to relaxation to pain management to your mental health and pretty much everything in between. Occasionally though, you might get some different advice from them. the problem then becomes sorting through the advice to see which is good and which is… well, not bad exactly, but not as beneficial for you. We are all unique individuals after all, and there is no “right way” for everyone.

imagesImage from: https://www.physioroom.com/product/PhysioRoom_Elite_Pro_Hinged_Knee_Brace/3106/39350.html

The most recent example that came for me started after my last rheumatologist appointment at the end of May. Since she’s at a loss for exactly what I have (yes, probably still lupus but no new symptoms to confirm that). Since we were discussing my knee and ankle pain, and she cut back my medication (as it was giving me severe abdominal pain), she suggested using braces to help stabilize the joints, hopefully causing some pain relief. Naturally, I went out and bought a knee brace to try it out. (The difficult part is deciding which knee to use it on!) The result, it does seem to help. Though a friend pointed out that it could also be the placebo effect kicking in.

banner-placebo-effectImage from: http://www.brainmindhealing.org/placebo-effect/index.html

The contradictory advice: When I was discussing my knee an ankle pain with my chiropractor about a month ago, he said that using a brace would make no difference. He gave me some exercises to strengthen those areas (my list of exercises grows by the appointment). Does that mean it is the placebo effect I’m experiencing with the brace? Should I buy an ankle brace too? Or just stick to the chiropractor’s suggestion of exercises? Would both be the best solution?

imagesImage from: http://greatweightlossexercise.com/weight-loss-exercise-tips/

I don’t really have the answers to these questions. I still use my knee brace – not daily but when I know I’ll be doing a lot of exercise or putting extra pressure on my knees for one reason or another. I think it helps. And even if it is just because it’s a placebo, maybe that’s okay. At this point, I’ll take anything that helps my pain. In the meantime, I do all the exercises both my physiotherapist and chiropractor give me on a daily basis, because exercise has so many benefits I’d be crazy not to!

Am I the Only One?

Do you ever sit there and wonder, is it just me? Am I the only one who feels like this? Am I the only one who has these anxieties or fears or questions? As humans, we spend more time with our private thoughts than we do in conversation with others, and most private thoughts would never be shared.

Thought_bubble.svgImage from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thought_bubble.svg

Lately I’ve been wondering if I’m the only one who gets anxious about telling other people – friends and family in particular – when I’m feeling crappy or in pain. A part of me thinks it’s an ego thing. #Imtoocooltoshowit. But more so it’s almost like I don’t trust other people to care if that makes sense. I feel like their eyes will glaze over and they’ll be annoyed that I’m complaining. (Which doesn’t really make sense since I never complain). And yet, at the same time, I’m always empathetic when my friends and family complain about their bodily aches and pain or migraines or anxieties or stresses. My eyes don’t glaze over and truth be told, I don’t really see it as complaining as much as it is explaining. So why do I think they’ll be different? There is maybe one friend that I would be open with, and probably part of the reason is the length of our friendship and the openness we have shared in the past. (Lucky for me she moved to the same province so I’ll actually be able to see her fairly often).

4325065-0173984450-Only_Image from: https://comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/gen-discussion-1/am-i-the-only-one-who-enjoys-2011-s-green-lantern-1635395/

Am I the only one who feels this way? The logical part of me thinks I’m probably not. Likely there are others who do because that’s the way it is for most things. I’ve found that a lot of the chronic pain community does have similar anxieties and fears, whether this is one of them, well, I suppose you could tell me. The reason I share on this blog is to promote that we aren’t the only ones, we aren’t alone, and hopefully calm some of those feelings that we all get from time to time.

Why are we scared of doctors?

I have so many friends, and know so many people in their twenties and thirties who never want to go to the doctor. For anything. Or they kind of do, but they procrastinate and procrastinate and… wait that used to be me. I was literally having chronic pain for months and months before I went to the doctor. And realistically, the only reason I went was because work was on my ass for calling in sick “a lot” (10 times in seven months).

downloadHouse, MD. Image from: https://www.okomeds.com/doctor-gregory-house-vs-languages/

I get it. Going to the doctor isn’t fun. But it’s sometimes necessary. If you’re feeling really ill, especially for a long period of time, or you’re in chronic pain or something just feels really off, it’s probably a good idea to go. I was chatting with a coworker the other day who called in sick one day because he hurt his arm playing soccer. It was still hurting him a few days later but he hadn’t gone to the doctor. Why? Because he doesn’t like going to the doctor so he tries to avoid it. I looked at his arm and it looked bad. Really bad. My advice, please for the love of god go get it checked out. He did, and got x-rays. He’ll likely be less prone to permanent injury because he went.

imagesDr. Nick, The Simpsons. Image from: https://www.reddit.com/r/cutouts/comments/56xyb0/cartoon_doctor/

I often hear from peers, the “maybe I’ll go to the doctor later.” If you’ve just said you’ve been feeling crappy the past few weeks I think we’re past the maybe! What is it about doctors that we are so afraid of? The wait times? Annoying but necessary. The personal questions regarding your health? Necessary and not even that annoying. The fact that they might actually be able to help you? I think that’s enough of a reason to go. Or maybe it’s because we all think we’re superhuman and don’t actually need to be helped? Sure for something like the common cold, or even the flu, I can see why most of us don’t bother, but when it’s something more cumbersome, it doesn’t make sense. We know we aren’t superhuman so it’s strange that we’d just play into that mindset.

imagesImage from: https://freedesignfile.com/192690-cartoon-doctors-with-patient-vector/

I’m sure some of you are thinking – I don’t like the doctor. I don’t believe in Western medicine. Or, there are great alternatives. I hear you and agree. Don’t go to a GP then! Go to a naturopath, or chiropractor. They may have some great alternatives. You may actually need to see a medical doctor for a diagnosis, but if you’d rather consult with another healthcare professional first, by all means, you should.  The point is, we should’t be scared of seeking help. How can we live our best lives if we aren’t feeling well? We can’t.

The Power of Writing

Writing can be extremely therapeutic… which is probably why many therapists from different theoretical backgrounds encourage their clients to do just that. Write. Usually it’s in the form of journalling. Thoughts, feelings, actions, reaction. Things that may be discussed in a session, and things that may not be. Why are they suggesting this activity? What good can writing do? And what happens if you hate writing/ (That’s obviously not me but I know plenty of people who don’t enjoy it). The first of these questions I’ve pretty much answered – it’s therapeutic and has been proven to be so.

IMG_0173.JPGBlogging at Starbuck’s outdoor patio.

What good can writing do? Both fiction and non-fiction or journalling are a great way to get everything that you are thinking and feeling out. Things you can’t say to other people, or tell them, and sometimes things you can but aren’t ready to. If it’s personal, and just for you, free rein is available and you don’t have to worry about what you write. If someone else is going to read it, you need to decide how much of you that you are going to put it. This blog, for example, is about 95% me. I hold back just a little so that I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings or step on any toes. I’ve made that mistake before. The blog is about 50% for me and 50% for you. I find it therapeutic and informative to write about these topics, and I hope that you find it therapeutic and informative to read about them.

IMG_1568Non-Fiction writing can be therapeutic and creative.

And what about those of you who hate writing and the idea of a blog or a journal terrifies you. I would say, give it a try anyway. Especially if it’s suggested to you as something that may help deal with feelings of anxiety, depression, grief, etc. A journal, that’s personal and no one else will read. Where it isn’t important if you have spelling mistakes or proper grammar. It may not be for you, but you won’t really know until you try. And if it’s not, then there are many other therapeutic techniques that you can try.

IMG_2106Other therapeutic activities can include music, art, exercise, and travel!

Whatever you decide to do to work through your feelings, the point is that you are trying to work through them and understand. It’s important not to judge yourself, but rather to learn, grow, change and hopefully thrive. You are a warrior!