Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Migraines and Sutures

I was brushing my teeth last night and suddenly I felt like I was on a boat in rocky waters.  A few moments later my head started to hurt right over my left eye and quickly spiraled into "I have to lie down, damnit" pain.  I felt too bad to go downstairs to get ibuprofen so I took some Tylenol and half a valium (in case it was a tension headache ... I wasn't sure since I haven't had a migraine in twenty years). and went to bed and did some lymphatic drainage around my face and neck.  It did help the pain go away until I got up this morning and started moving around. 

Migraines - through truly the suck of all sucks - are also fascinating.  When people say they feel like their head is going to explode, it really is how they feel because there is so much vaso-dialation in the head that the pressure is so intense.  I've seen people rub their head and complain "Oh, I have a migraine" but I'm always dubious because they're still up and functioning.  Everyone I knew (including myself) can not fuction at all during a migraine until it's over and you're in that weird "migraine hang-over" place where you feel like you still have "memory of the pain" but it's not so bad you can't function, and you feel kind of traumatized and wiped out.  There is no definite "this is what causes some people to have migraines and some people to not" although there are definitely recognized triggers for people who do get them.  It's one of those mysteries that if I had gone into medical research I would've probably wanted to study them.  Well, that and/or autoimmune diseases.

Speaking of "if I'd gone to medical school" - my vet was out yesterday to do a follow-up after four months of Geir being on Adequan to help with stiffness in his hind end.  I gave her some of my equine massage cards and told her that perhaps one day I would actually be certified and could work professionally so could she refer me? She said definitely (yay!).  (I'm STILL waiting for the Dept. of Health to sort out the fiasco of who gets my application and how do they process it ... seriously? They even asked me "Where did you get this application and where did it say to go?" and I told them on the Dept. of Health's website and I mailed it to the address given with the instructions ... aaaargh). 

Anyway, I said I had a lot of fun following her that one day to all her appointments and she said I'm welcome to come with her any time I want.  So, I may jump on that and go again with her a couple more times.  She also said it's a good way to meet people and connect with future clients.  I said if life had been different I would've liked being a vet and she had a "excited little kid moment" and said, "Oh, can I show you something cool?" and pulled out her phone and the first photo was of a horse's leg completely ripped open all the way down to the bone.  It literally looked like they'd taken a large chunk of flesh, muscle, tissue off the front of the horse's leg.  Of course it was after the wound had been cleaned so it looked more like a surgery photo than a photo straight after the accident where it's all chaotic.  I said I had no idea what to do in that situation.  How would you cover it to patch it up? Take tissue from somewhere else?

So, she showed me the next photo which was right after she'd sewn it up.  It was a very intricate pattern - not just a straight line of stitches.  She literally sewed it together like a patchwork quilt or puzzle pieces.  I asked how she'd been able to find skin to do that and she went back to the previous picture and showed how she first used the deeper tissue to pull it together and then sewed that together, which pulled the outer skin closer together in order to be able to sew that together.  She showed me the five days later photo and it looked really good.  Then she explained that it would look worse for a bit because the body would "eat away" any dead skin edges and the would would look a little more open, but that is a natural part of the healing process before the body then starts healing the healthy tissue ends together.  Totally fascinating!  And amazing to me what one can do with such a bad injury.  But then that's how I decided to hire her was watching her sew up a nasty wound on a horse at my old stable and being so impressed with what a good job she did.  They were hiring fairly recently for a vet assistant that could ride along with the vets in their practice and they would train on the job for a person to get certified, but honestly, I'm loving the equine massage stuff too and it's far more challenging for me than being a vet tech - fun as that would be if I worked with my vet.

Poor Beetle was very sore the other day when Miss C. was riding him so she asked me to look at him.  We took him and Geir out on the trail just to stretch their legs but when we came back I asked if she could walk/trot him in the arena so I could see what she was talking about.  He balked at the idea of trotting and instead of his normal long, low neck and happy swaying trot, he did lower his head, but in a defensive way, with his ears pinned back, and his movements were jerky and strained.  The conversation turned to "What do you think caused it?" and I realized in a professional situation the best thing would be to say "There's no way for me to know, but this is what I'm feeling."  Although, as a friend I too want to know what caused it and try to figure it out.  He just recently went back to turn-out in the big field so the obvious assumption is he yahoo-ed and either slipped and fell or strained something.  But as a professional there is no way to know what caused it and making assumptions is no good.

Miss C. asked if I thought she should keep riding him to help him stretch or give him time off.  I said that wasn't my call to make that it was her decision, but that he was having stiffness, pain in these areas and she should watch for higher levels of discomfort and pain and make her decision based on that.  Then I added, "But as your friend I would say no, he's in too much pain right now and the stretching aspect of riding would be over ridden by the pain aspect."  Then I put my professional hat back on and said I'd show her some ground stretches which damnit! I didn't end up having time to do!  Well, things are more lax when you're only practicing your professional role with friends.

The cool thing was, his left side of his longissimus dorsi was like a hard wire running along the side of his spine.  His right side was hypertonic but nothing like the left.  I've honestly never felt anything like that before.  I made Miss C. feel it and said, "This is nowhere near normal!"  So I focused mostly on that part of his back because of time constraints.  First I did some manual ligament therapy (which is really, really cool stuff!) then did a little myofascial release in order to actually loosen stuff up enough to get to things, then found a couple very uncomfortable stress points and worked those out.  When I was done Beetle had yawned and stretched and farted all over the place and the wire in his back was gone.  When I walked him back to his house he had his head practically on the ground and was swaying happily with his walk.  Unfortunately, because I didn't have a lot of time, I worry that it was a reaction to compensating for other stuff going on, so it's going to come back.  And sure enough I did hear from our boss that Miss C. said he was really stiff again yesterday.  So, I need to find time to spend a whole hour looking at what other stuff is going on with him.

But I love the solving the mystery aspect of massage.  And I love how happy the horses get when you can help them feel better.  Beetle was so happy near the end of his massage he turned his head and gently tried to groom me!  The same thing happened with Pal yesterday when I was working on his lower back on some "stuckness" around where he had a crushed sacrum (which is why he was retired to the school after being a competitive reining horse).  After he threw his head all around, yawned a bunch of times, shook out his whole body and farted, he decided to thank me by trying to groom me.  That really, right there makes it such an awesome job!

If you need some cuteness this morning, here is a video of the director of the school I've been studying at, giving a massage to an animal most of us don't have the opportunity to work on: 

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