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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Quick trip to Baltimore

Right now Craig and I are on board a plane headed for Baltimore, MD. Tomorrow morning I have my first appointment with Dr. Crutchfield, a vascular neurologist at Sinai Neurology. I haven't posted an update since my Hruska Clinic recap, so this seemed like a good time to do so.

Thirteen days ago, I woke up feeling better than I have in a long time. My headache was very much present, but at a low enough level of pain that I was pretty much fighting the urge to jump up and down. The ole' pain scale is virtually meaningless to me these days (hard to measure pain relative to pain) but I did happily report to Craig a "3", a substantial improvement in my normal 6-8 range. Unfortunately, it gradually crept back up over the course of the day. By evening, I was back to "normal pain" and have been there since. Seriously, what kind of f'd up joke is that?

So I've kept on keeping on the last two weeks...still wearing my glasses from the neuro-optometrist in Lincoln, performing my PRI rehab, going to Pilates, taking lots of walks, hammering out some interval workouts on the Keiser bike and Vasper at EXOS API. This past week in particular, I've been in a lot of pain. Whether the pain is causing the constant tension in my deep neck muscles or vice versa, I'm not totally sure, but it's likely a little of both. I had a bodywork session with one of the EXOS massage therapists, Eric, to try to loosen things up. He worked mainly around my t-spine with some fascial work on my scalp. I also saw Veronika for a few hours on Wednesday. We were optimistic (trying to still be) that after the PRI work, my body would be a bit more receptive to some of the manual work. Acknowledging that my neck definitely "felt different" (which could also be at least partially attributed to the neck brace), and in an attempt to improve circulation and alleviate tension, she worked on the vascular restrictions in my head/neck (I mean really, look at that vascular system??) and even my left arm (a limb I've affectionately coined my "metal arm", in honor of the two plates and sixteen screws that have called it home since a soccer collision 12 years ago). We've speculated that there could be some "tug" coming from my forearm, which compelled us to try some "scraping" later in the week too. This basically consists of rubbing body butter on my arm and Craig using a little tool to dig into the area around my scars.

I'll be honest, though, it's frustrating as HELL to still not be feel even just a little bit better. I'm (BEYOND) looking forward to tomorrow's injections with Dr. Crutchfield, but will say that it's been taking a lot of energy to prevent the perpetual cycle of hope and disappointment I've been experiencing from turning into a chronic state of discouragement. Fortunately for me, Craig has a pretty amazing way of restoring that depleted energy and hope. He's a real keeper huh?

I'll plan to post an update after tomorrow's visit, where I'm hoping to gain a better understanding of my expectations over the next few weeks. As of right now, I'm scheduled to fly back to Baltimore again at the end of the month for a second set of these injections, though I'm not sure if that will depend on the results of these. Fingers crossed either way.

To ensure that the "bummer" updates haven't exceeded the happy ones in this post, I wanted to include a few final thoughts. As I mentioned earlier, I've started a part-time entrepreneurship program at SeedSpot, a local non-profit that helps to incubate businesses with a social impact. On Wednesday mornings we have "localpreneur" sessions, where been-there/done-that's provide motivational and subject matter lectures to the group. It's super interesting. This week, one of the speakers was a woman named Asha Wadher, President of a local IT company called Atmosphere Solutions. She presented her own entrepreneurial journey through a truly authentic and inspirational series of "lessons-learned".

Granted, I'm definitely more consumed at the moment in operation-get-rid-of-headache than I am in starting my business (or anything relating to my career for that matter) but throughout the lecture, I couldn't help from drawing parallels between almost every point she was making and the unique and unplanned journey that I'm on. I'll give you a few examples of her take-aways...

1. Give yourself the gift of failure
Her message: Don't be afraid to mess up. Just like they had to try and fail at various web services before landing on their niche in e-commerce, the solution comes at the end of "failed" attempts.
I heard: I can't get upset and discouraged about every doctor's appointment that I've left in tears or procedure that hasn't worked because all of those experiences are leading me to the solution.

2. Listen to your gut and hone in on it.
Her message: Trust your instinct. Certain employees weren't working out but when she started reflecting on the initial interview process, she recognized a "gut feeling" she was ignoring.
I heard: I often feel overwhelmed by different treatment paths and others' input. No one knows my body better than I do. If taking drugs for my head doesn't feel right, listen to that feeling.

3. There's no silver bullet.
Her message: In business, it's not always about fitting a round peg in a round hole. You have to keep creating the dots. It's about the synergy of all things coming together. "Luck" is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
I heard: Stop thinking in absolutes. One approach to therapy is probably not going to cure me. One procedure is probably not going to cure me. The synergy of everything I'm doing is what matters, which is why I should remain positive and motivated for each small step.

4. It's all about perspective.
Her message: The worst possible day I have as an entrepreneur doesn't even come close to the struggles that some people in the world face every day.
I heard: When you're out walking on a trail and you hear "right behind you" and a mountain biker flies past you and for a split second you feel sorry for your self that you can't be on your bike...look around and think about how lucky you are to be where you are and to be healthy enough to be out hiking.

There were a few more, but you get the idea.

It was inspiring for me to hear these messages, even if I was choosing to hear them out of context. As I'm sure any person in chronic pain can relate to, not being able to do the things you want to do or feel that way you want to feel, day after day,has a way of deflating confidence that you'll ever be capable of doing or feeling what you want. And whether you're building your own business or trying to get rid of a headache, self-belief is something you simply can't afford to lose.


  1. Hope your trip to Baltimore goes well! Fingers always crossed for you, Katie!

  2. Hey Katie: I can't imagine what you have been through and continue to go through. You must be so angry. I imagine your body might be angry with you too, for putting it through all this! But it did give you an amazing message when you woke up to a 3. It told you it is capable of less pain, even tolerable pain, even if it just lasted a few hours before ramping back up to full speed. It told you that those moments can happen, when your system balances itself out close to what it used to be. If there was not a single day, hour or minute of tolerable time, it would be awful. But it did send you a minute, an hour or two of message of what can be, so seize on that as evidence that no matter what is wrong, it can align positively for whatever unfathomable reason for just enough time to show the light at the end of the long painful tunnel you are in. It is possible. In the dialogue between you and the body that is angry with you, it forgave you for one small window, just to say Katie, it can happen. Life is like that...I am not sure I would be throwing so much therapy at it, as it may be irritating the tissues more than helping, but the collar, the injections, maybe even a few weeks in traction, it all sounds about right. There are more 3's out there, and less, so hold on! xxxx Roy

    1. Thank for your message Dr. Sugarman!