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Mechanical vs. Chemical Pain

If you’re having pain somewhere, do something about it.  Pain is your body’s way of warning you that something isn’t right.  But then again you might be like me and have no pain or warning signs whatsoever and have a massive stroke one day.  It’s up to you.  Well, it’s not really up to you.  Anyway, pain….. If you have pain – this doesn’t include neurological pain after a stroke because that’s all weird – I’m mostly talking about back and neck pain here.  If you have pain somewhere along your spine or out in your extremities and it’s intermittent, it comes and goes, you can turn it on and off or your therapist can turn it on and off through positioning, that’s mechanical pain.  It’s…well it’s mechanical.  It depends on how things are positioned.  Chemical pain or internal pain will always be there.  It’s unchanging based on the position of your body.  When I would evaluate someone’s spine, if the pain that the patient was experiencing did not change at all no matter what I had the patient do, that was when I said to myself, hmm something else might be going on.  But if I could get the pain to lessen or get a lot worse depending on what position I would put the patient in, I would be pretty confident that I could eventually abolish that pain.


Growing Up

When I had the stroke, I was 30 years old, which is an adult by 12 years as is defined by this Western culture that I live in.  I was technically an adult, but I had quite a lot of growing up to do.  Quite a lot.  Well, in the last few years since the stroke, I grew up and then some.  I have been told quite a few times that I am wise beyond my years.  And I am.  I definitely am.  See, a stroke ages you quite a bit so after the stroke I was aged by probably like 50 years.  Now I’m regressing in age so I’m about 80 minus 30, maybe.  But I’m wise beyond my 33 years, probably about 20 or 30 years wiser than I should be so um……… old am I?  I don’t know, don’t really care either.  Age is all relative.

gc growing upgc changegc skittles



Singing Lesson

I had a singing lesson last week and my teacher had me perform a breath exercise and he said “did you never do anything like this in therapy?”  My answer, “not even close.”  He was disgusted.  He said nothing but I could tell that he was disgusted by the look on his face.  My most recent speech therapist, who I adore and love, taught me a lot about breath support but had me do NOTHING like what I do in my singing lessons.  My first speech therapist taught me nada about the breath and I DO NOT love and adore him.  The opposite, actually.  I am a physical therapist.  A PT’s education is about physical stuff.  Muscles and bones and whatnot, but good God a LARGE part of a PT’s education should be focused on breath work and how different breathing patterns can influence physical movements.  A speech therapist’s education is about SPEECH and the breath is the foundation of speech soooooo…..what the hell?  These exercises should be a part of every speech therapy and it’s ridiculous that they are not.


Capsular Pattern

I was reviewing a chart the other day and saw the phrase ‘capsular pattern.’  Most joints in the body have a capsular pattern.  Here’s what that means……Most joints in your body are surrounded by what’s called a capsule.  The capsule is a thin, fibrous sac that surrounds the joint and has a bunch of fluid in it that helps lubricate the joint and decreases friction.  The capsule also has a bunch of nerves and stuff that help with sensation and proprioception.  When you lose motion in a joint, there are certain patterns of motion loss to look for that will tell your super, duper, incredibly smart therapist if it’s a problem with the joint itself or if something more sinister is going on.  Like, perhaps, a stroke????  No, just kidding.  I mean it could still be a problem with the joint and not have a capsular pattern but anyway, if you go to a health care provider and they mistake a stroke for a joint problem or vice versa, get a new health care provider ASAP!

Take the shoulder for example.  If the shoulder joint is messed up… you’ve heard of frozen shoulder right?  What happens with a frozen shoulder is that the capsule thing I talked about – when your arm is down at your side the underside of the capsule folds up like an accordion.  When you raise your arm, all those folds flatten out.  That’s what should happen, but when your shoulder freezes for whatever reason those folds become sticky and adhere to each other and no longer unfold when you raise your arm.  Hence, range of motion is lost and your therapist has to get in there and stretch that shit back out.  You most likely should lose motion in this pattern…….First external rotation goes.  Put your arm by your side, keep your upper arm still and move your hand out to the side – that’s external rotation.  Then you probably will have lost a little less abduction (lifting your entire arm out to the side) than normal than loss of normal external rotation.  And lastly, you’ll probably lose some internal rotation,(same as external rotation description but move the hand toward the belly instead of out.)  But less percentage of normal internal rotation motion is lost than with external rotation or abduction.  This is just a guideline, your motion loss might be different but this is pretty accurate for orthopedic injuries like this.  Most joints have this guideline.



I rant and rave on here a lot about how I am not too fond of medical doctors.  I have a DAMN good reason to feel that way.  Damn good.  In my last post, there was a discussion in the comments about the inadequacy of physiatrists and neurologists and Jim said at the end of one of his comments “So, we’ve identified the issue, now what’s the solution?”  Hmm.

What’s the solution?  I know that there are multiple doctors and spouses of doctors that read this so whaddya say docs, will you help advocate to get meditation practices and all of Dean’s thoroughly researched hyperacute and acute therapies covered by insurance, and used in hospitals and rehab facilities where they belong?  Because right now, there’s a hell of a lot of research out there and NONE of it is being utilized.  None.  You need some research to take to your superiors?  Go on Dean’s blog.  There are thousands of research articles there.  You want some more?  Here ya go.  What you have there is over 3000 published research articles about the benefits of meditation.

Everyone that goes into medicine does so because they want to help people.  Eventually, usually through no fault of their own that desire to help people becomes overshadowed by a requirement of a stupid insurance company to do some kind of meaningless research.  I get it.  Oh, or as in my case the doctors are just jaded and don’t give a crap anymore.  But no matter what, you can advocate.  You can open your mouth and release words.  You can be an advocate for this stuff to be used, because right now it’s not.  Don’t let anyone else get the opinion that I have of MDs because it’s not good, prove that you want to and can help.


On My Own

One day a few years ago, I drove to work.  As soon as I got to work my legs stopped working and I fell down.  Something terrible had happened to my brain.  I got to the emergency room within about half an hour.  This is PLENTY of time to have been given the miracle drug tPA and maybe I could’ve been helped a little but apparently the hospital I was taken to is just a place where doctors go to hang out and not help patients.  So after 30 hours of hanging out in the ER, some doctor said, “oh she had a stroke, we should probably do something about that.”  So they life-flighted me to another hospital where the doctors actually help their patients.  But they still tell you that you’re screwed and aren’t going to recover after something like this.  After the first week of nothing at all being done for me, that was it.  The damage was done.  There was nothing anybody could’ve done to help me at that point and my recovery was solely on my own.  I just didn’t know that yet.  I didn’t know that probably for about a year and a half.  Within that first year, I thought my doctors might actually know something about how to recover, they didn’t.  I was on my own.  Completely on my own.  So are you if you want to get back to some semblance of the life you used to lead.  This is why I have some semblance of a normal life again.

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I talk a lot on here and am very open about the fact that I have kind of a dysfunctional family, but I exaggerate.  And also, who the hell doesn’t nowadays?  I can count on less than half of one hand the people I know that have a normal, great family system.  Dysfunction makes the world go round.  The world would be a really boring place if there was no dysfunction.  I have talked ad nauseam about the fact that meditation saved my life.  I do credit that with saving my life but I didn’t start until 9 or 10 months after the stroke.  And it took about a year to kick in and really make me feel alive again.  So what kept me alive until then?  My mom.  It was my mother’s love.  My mom does a SHITLOAD for me and I know A LOT of people who cannot say that.  I know people who don’t even speak with their mother.  So I’m incredibly lucky to have that in my life.  I wouldn’t have gotten through this if not for my mom.  I love you Mom, happy Mother’s Day.



2 people sent me this article today. It’s about how yoga can help those with brain injuries. Interesting. You’d think that the people that were supposed to help me the most, my doctors, would have told me something about yoga and meditation and the plethora of research about meditation and its beneficial effect on the brain.
You need to earn respect, not demand it. You earn respect by helping people, being kind, and proving that you have helpful knowledge. Not by being an arrogant prick. If you spent years in school and have some letters after your name don’t for a second think that that will automatically garner respect.
Also, you teach people the way to treat you. For instance, a few months ago someone had the balls to say to me that I should change some things I say on my blog. I’m not gonna deal with that kind of BS so I haven’t talked to that person since. If you put up with crap, you’re gonna keep getting crap.

Please go here for a better, affordable alternative to learning Transcendental Meditation.



A little over a year and a half ago, I needed to reboot my life.  When I say reboot, I mean RE THE F*** BOOT.  I didn’t need to reboot because of the stroke, that was 3 years ago.  I needed to reboot my life itself.  But the stroke allowed me to do this. I had a damn good reason to take some time off from life. I re-evaluated every single one of my relationships and let me tell you…..The majority of conclusions of all of those re-evaluations were not very pretty.  Most of the people I called friends were not friends.  Most of the people that I thought loved me did not genuinely love me.  So I kinda disappeared and fell off the face of the Earth for a while.  I deleted all social media(well, except the blog.  Is this considered social media?). I deleted some friends, I deleted some relatives.  I blocked some e-mail addresses and phone numbers.  I did what I had to do in order to stay in this world.  If I hadn’t of done that, I would NOT be in this world. Well I’m still here. I didn’t have a choice in still being here after my stroke but now I have a choice and I choose to show others how to recover from a brain injury because no one told me anything and I don’t want anyone else to go through the HELL I went through.



I think I’ve proven by means of this blog that I know a thing or two.  After this happened to me, all the people in my life thought and treated me as if I had lost all my knowledge.  Everyone except the three loves of my life, my best friends Vicki, Mandy, and Alyson.  I guess that’s why they’re my best friends.  They never made me feel even remotely close to anything like that.  Everyone else did.  Everyone else would say now, three years later, that they never thought that but that’s bullshit.  Everyone thought that.  No one thought I knew anything after this happened.  Well I did.  I didn’t lose one iota of my knowledge or memory.  Don’t assume that your loved one has lost anything intellectually.  That will set you up for severe resentment later on.