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Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 1 at the Hruska Clinic

Craig and I touched down in good ole' Nebraska yesterday, leaving the 80 degree sunshine and greeting the midwest with open arms. We were so grateful to have friends "gift" us the flight with their extra miles and have an apartment-style hotel to stay in with pretty cheap patient rates for the week (a mile away from Whole Foods, might I add). We even scored a 3 day free pass to Aspen Fitness across the street, so while Craig worked out this morning, I was able to get in my bike sprints in a spin studio full of KEISER bikes! (It's the little things, right??)

After grabbing lunch and walking around the University of Nebraska campus for a little bit, we headed over the Hruska Clinic for my first visit with Ron Hruska, MPA, PT. Going into the appointment, we both knew that his approach would be unlike anything we've experienced thus far (with the exception of the introduction to PRI that I've had with Joe over the last few weeks)...and we weren't disappointed.

After talking through my story and evaluation, Ron explained that he really isn't too concerned about the instability in my upper cervical spine (which as a refresher, is the reason I'm in the neck collar). Instead of nerve irritation caused by the instability, he believes that my pain is likely originating from two alternative sources...

1. I have cranial pain caused by torsion through my skull. Basically, my sphenoid is twisted and my temporal bone is positioned too far back. That twisting of my sphenoid would also explain why every time I open my mouth, the disc gets displaced anteriorly and my jaw pops. Ron feels confident that this CAN be corrected through visual integration. If you're interested, you can learn a lot more about the science behind PRI Vision here , but the basic idea is that by wearing eyeglasses with a very specific and specialized prescription, your brain and nervous system can re-wire themselves to restore proper communication between the brain and body.

2. My foramen magnum (that large opening in the base of the skull through which the spinal cord exits the cranial vault, pictured below) is too far forward. This is creating contact with my brain stem, which has become a stabilizing strategy, creating more tension on my brainstem. This actually makes a lot of sense to Craig and I because my most recent MRI showed a basilar invagination in my brain stem (which looks like a little "kink") but no doctor has really been able to make much of it so it hasn't been really on our radar as anything significant. He also said that my brain is perceiving the floor at my thoracic spine (around T4), which is putting more stress on my brain stem to create stability.

Ron laid out the course of treatment today, which will consist of wearing the glasses and also wearing a bite plate part-time (removing contact between my teeth will be part of the process of restoring temporal-mandibular-cervical-cranial function. We tried a few different lenses today, which corrected my hip and neck mechanics (in profoundly obvious ways). A "normal" person should be able to feel a difference wearing the glasses standing up, but I couldn't feel anything (even with stronger lenses) which I think reinforced that we've got some real work to do. When Craig put them on for comparison he almost fell over. I didn't have any pain relief today but we definitely have a lot of information to carry us into the next few days. Tomorrow I have 3 appointments - one with Ron and the optometrist, one with the dentist to get an impression for a bite plate, and then one with another PT, Torin.

All in all, quite an educational day for us. As much as I would love for there to be an off switch to my headache (I actually had a dream there was during my nap from Omaha to Lincoln yesterday, haha!), I know it's still a process so the most important thing is the we're pursuing the right steps. More to the come in the next few days, for sure.

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