Nips, Lips, Hips, ‘N Fingertips

{February 15, 2007}   Why I hate to take Celebrex

First of all, I apologize for not writing for months! I moved my business from a way-too-time-consuming YAHOO!-hosted website to an easy-to-build eBay store; my family and I have been ill (we had the whooping cough! and a nasty cold that lasted over two weeks, including a record-breaking five and a half days and six nights of fever with yet another febrile seizure!); I bought a sewing maching (yes, me, a sewing machine!); I have been going to aqua classes at the local rec center; and we are in the process of taking classes to become certified as a foster-adoptive family. 

So I’ve been taking Celebrex since sometime in September for Osteoarthritis (OA). I finally saw a Rheumatologist, at the advice of my PCP (Primary Care Provider, not street drug) and after an extensive bone scan, some bloodwork and more X-rays, I was diagnosed with “severe, widespread OA”. It is mostly in my neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and lower back. I do not yet have painful ankle or wrist joints, which is a saving grace since I like to do a lot of things with my hands. My knuckles occasionally ache in the Winter, and used to be much more painful whenever I played the cello and guitar, two time-consuming hobbies I have since given up only because I am a full-time at-home momma now, not because it hurt too much.

Anyway, I have tried Celebrex at the lowest dose possible despite much anxiety about taking such a risky prescription drug. I once had a client who took Celebrex, plusI’ve heard in the TV commercials about the risk of liver problems and stomach bleeding, and I’m the poster child for GI problems. Call me crazy, but I don’t take lightly the risk of serious liver problems and stomach bleeding “that may occur without warning” and be “potentially fatal”. I’m a mother, and the thought of leaving my two boys behind just because I wanted to get some relief from joint pain is more than I can bear.

I couldn’t even read the Patient Information. I had DH read it and then boil it down for me as it makes me crazy with worry and I think that I tend to induce the symptoms in myself when I know what they are. So far, I’ve had threeof the less-common side effects including darkened urine, facial swelling, and weight gain (10 pounds since I started on it about 5 months ago, even though I am far more active since being on it and not being in so much pain). I started out on the twice daily dose, but I experienced heart palpitations and dizziness upon standing up. One night, I even thought I was having a heart attack and almost called 911. I called my doctor the next day and she recommended that I cut the dosageback to once daily. I did so, and I was still terrified to take it, but it helps. And even though it really does help, I hate to take it!

For the record, I have tried the following (with some relief, though not lasting): Rhus. Tox. (a homeopathic remedy), fish oil (most recently,  krill oil), Reiki, an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise (aqua classes and weight-bearing exercise/weight-lifting to strengthen the muscles that support the joints), and yoga. I have been trying to lose weight for over a year now, and I have also been diagnosed with “Metabolic Syndrome” for which I was prescribed speed (phenterfine) that had its own set of risks and which I decided was first and foremost not safe to take while I am still breastfeeding (you can find out more about by looking up the drug phenterfine in the reference guide Medications and Mother’s Milk by Thomas Hales).

I hate to take Celebrex, but here I have been off of it for only 48 hours now and I am in a great deal of pain- especially in my knees. Our house has a multi-level floor plan, with four levels and four sets of stairs, and I need to be able to ascend and descend them as needed to take care of our children and our house.

I was going to stop taking Celebrex for Valentine’s day- I don’t know why, but when I get some idea in my brain, I go all the way with it- but I gave in and called in my prescription to the pharmacy just now. I also looked up Weight Watchers and there is a meeting location “0 miles” from me so I am going to go to a meeting this evening at 6:15 p.m.

This will be my third time joining Weight Watchers. I lost a good amount of weight with WW after my first was born (and thanks to breastfeeding on demand until he was eighteen months old), and although I didn’t stick with it after my second son was born, it was mostly because the “nearest” location was just too far away in downtown Ogden, and the time of day when I could go to meetings was the worst time of day for traffic so it took me thirty minutes to get there. I also tried to go to a “Mommy and Me”  WW meeting but it was a joke- with my two boys in tow, it felt more like “Fussy Baby Brother, Mommy & IT’S ALL ABOUT ME”. My oldest was too old to be entertained by the baby toys that were provided (and wouldn’t have anything to do it the activities and books I brought along for him), and my youngest was just too loud and obnoxious, fussing the whole time and wanting to nurse which involved a great deal of exposure and juggling on my part. Nonetheless, it was the only way to keep him quiet, so I did it, and likewise suffered the consequences (weird looks, no one wanting to be my partner when we were to pair up for an activity- basically, I was socially ostracized for nursing in public.)

So tonight I’m off to Weight Watchers, because I am at least 75 pounds overweight and that has to make my OA worse. I don’t think my weight has *caused* my OA- in fact, I think it is the other way around- but I have to do everything I can to feel better. I know I’m way too young to hurt like this, and I am just.not.ready for injections and surgery for my knee pain.

I hate to take Celebrex, but I’m going to take until I am at least 25 pounds lighter, and then try to come off of it again. I will continue to do that every 25 pounds until I am at my ideal weight. If I go off Celebrex then, and I am still in a great deal of pain, I will most likely consider the injections. The older folks with OA and RA in my aqua class swear by them!


{March 8, 2006}   Chiropractical Continued

So I never did follow up with the results of my x-rays. Keep in mind that I have been wanting x-rays of my back for oh, about TEN YEARS NOW- ever since the summer of 1996 when I injured my lower back lifting a radiator out of the very low trunk of my 1965 Pontiac Starchief while I was still in college (paid for by grants loans and myself thank you very much) and working part-time jobs without benefits to support myself {read: I did not have health insurance so I had to go to the university Student Health (Death) Clinic}.

One of the major findings of the x-rays totally caught me off guard, the rest of them didn’t surprise me at all since I have been living in my body most of my life (and my mantra for the past three years or so has been “There is something wrong with my right hip. I think I need a new hip.”)

First off, let me just say it is nigh impossible to tell whether or not the biggest finding was present at birth or happened from a trauma at a young age, since I didn’t get x-rays at birth. I believe the first time I ever had an x-ray was in the emergency room at North Kansas City Memorial Hospital after a nasty bike wreck. I had been racing Jeffery Donovan and Kevin Kolka down the big hill on the grounds of Crestview Elementary, and I looked over my shoulder to see how far behind me they were (that’s right, boys- I was winning), lost control of my bike and wiped out. I then proceeded to pass out, and the next thing I remember my dad was carrying me across the street to our house and putting me in his truck. I recall vividly the feel of the cold hard stainless steel of the x-ray table and being told to lie still. It hurt to put my raw hamburger face on the table but I did it. Nothing was broken. No stitches were necessary. I must have been eight or nine years old.

Then there was the time I fell out of Mrs. Beatty’s tree on Milrey, and landed on my tailbone atop some ginormous exposed tree roots. Luckily, my Uncle Bobby was a Chiropractor at the time so I got a good spinal exam and treatment but no x-rays that my mom and I can remember. I was in fifth grade, so I must have been what? Ten or eleven?

But back to the story of now: Starting with the brain and working down the spinal cord, I basically have cervical spondolysis. I don’t even want to blog about that right now, as it is completely freaking me out. As of last night, I attended a “class” (indoctrination) on postural and structural retraining (spending more money than I already am on copays) that will hopefully help me achieve a state of homeostasis again (just in case I don’t feel better after the 90-180 days, remember no one promised to cure me). If you detected a bit of skepticism in that last run-on sentence, that is because I felt very marketed to last night and am looking for a new chiropractor, AGAIN.

Anyway, here’s a site that helped me understand my cervical (not that cervical) situtation:

Next, my x-rays showed *fusion* at T3. As in T3 is almost totally fused to T4. T is for thoracic and refers to the mid-back region. T3 controls some important functions, including blood pressure and heart functions {I wonder if that explains my Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP!) that has given my health scare providers cause for concern in both of my pregnancies due to increased blood flow?} As usual, MVP has been historically misunderstood and was once attributed (by men of course) to hysteria in women. “William Osler, an eminent physician, noted the similarity between symptoms associated with irritable heart mentioned by others and those occurring in the general population, particularly in women. Some physicians believed the problem was not the heart, but one of a psychiatric nature.”

The interesting thing to note is that my nephew who was born with Spina Bifida also has fusion at T3 and T4. I was completely prepared for the Chiropractor to tell me I had fusion or something nasty in the lumbar area. But this finding in the thoracic area threw me.  

The last most unsurprising and in a wau affirming finding of my x-ray was that my right sacroiliac joint (SI joint) is almost completely *calcified*. this totally explains the pain I have been ahving in my “hip” for years, the fact that a typical chiro adjustment doesn’t treat that area, and why I ended up giving birth to my second child standing up with one leg (my right one) up on the bed. Basically, I was listening to my body and getting into the position I needed to in order to open up my pelvis as much as possible. By the way, in case I haven’t told you this already: my son was born at home, sunny side up, weighing ten pounds, eight ounces and twenty-three inches long. His head and chest circumferences were both fifteen inches. I probably ought to post my HBAC story here one of these days. Meanwhile, suffice to say that I was supported in every way by my husband, midwife and her nurse friend to do what felt right; and I know in every cell of my body that such support and the liberty to move around and get into whatever positions necessary are the biggest reasons why I was able to give birth to my son despite such an “unfavorable presentation” (posterior presentation, after face and brow presentations!!). The overarcing reason why is of course that BIRTH WORKS.

I think that’s it for my report. Some items to be concerned about to be sure. This definitely explains my chronic pain and why there are days I can do yoga and days I just can’t. This is one of those days I can’t due to a sudden bottoming-out of the barometer here yesterday, and that is usually when I write. Goddess forbid, if I am ever trapped inside of my failing body, I pray oh Great Mother that I will at least have a keyboard on which to type. Should my brain fail first, I hope that my loved ones will let my body go so I can complete my karma this time.

Now, I am not saying that everyone reading this ought to run out and get to a Chiropractor quick! Goodness knows there are enough quacks out there that such a knee-jerk reaction could kill you! Please, please, please, if you only ever listen (read) to one thing I say (type), pay attention to this: There are some really bad chiropractors out there and there are a few good ones. The good ones don’t usually try to get you to buy into a big class that involves a series of x-rays and slew of products you need to buy. They don’t try to convert you to their philosophy. They just listen to you and try to guide your spine into a state of self-stabilization. Here’s a really good link for the chiro skeptic side:

And before you resort to Chiropractic, try stretching and doing yoga at home. It can’t hurt.

et cetera