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Monday, December 15, 2014


Well, damn. I was really hoping that last update was the game-changer treatment. But after six weeks of seeing Dr. Trombetta three times per week, here I am...headache going strong as ever and patience running thin. On a positive note, I do still feel 100% confident that we've shed light on the source of my head pain (upper cervical dysfunction), which is a lot more than I could have said a year ago this time.

After experiencing nothing but consistent pain spikes, I decided to stop the atlas-orthogonal treatments a few weeks ago. Along with my "F***-this" attitude (hey, just being honest), this also brought an end to the exercise/postural modification recommendations I'd been adhering to over these last few months. Physiologically, could a return to lifting and mountain biking be putting my spine in a less-than-desirable position for healing? Maybe...probably. But the reality is, working out has proven to be the most effective way for me to deal with the mental agony, frustration, and fear that comes along with unrelenting pain. If my headache had improved over the last two months, I would be motivated beyond belief to stay off my bike and out the gym...but it hasn't, so for know, I'm putting logic on the back burner and doing what I need to do to keep my head above water. And side note: After only a week of my return to lifting, I've finally started sleeping through the night...something than my pain has made difficult to accomplish, especially this fall. If that isn't proof of my body's positive hormonal response to resistance training, right?

So is there a next step? Thanks to Craig, there always is. Dr. Dodick (my neurologist at Mayo) recently put us in touch with a physical therapist in Austin, TX, Mark Strickland. Mark specializes in upper cervical and temporomandibular joint disorders and was one of the first certified Craniomandibular Therapists (CFC) in the U.S. and currently one of 24 certified Craniomandibular Therapists (CCTT) in the world. Dr. Dodick, who's also director of the Sport Neurology and Concussion Program at Mayo Clinic and highly involved in concussion-prevention research, discovered who Mark was after learning that pro football players with upper cervical/headache injuries were flocking to his clinic in Texas.

We sent over my films for Mark to review, including my digital motion x-ray, MRI, and 6 c-spine x-rays. He told us that he'd know right away if what he saw warranted us flying out to see him for treatment. Craig and I were both super encouraged to hear his interpretation of the films: "looks like a laterally subluxed Atlas with a right rotated axis...wow! OUCH" because it's one more puzzle piece that fits...The AO treatment was, after all, only targeting my subluxed Atlas, but if my axis (C2) is rotated, how realistic is it that I'd find relief unless that too was corrected?

I'm scheduled to see Mark in Austin on January 12, which means I'm fully embracing just how quickly this time of year seems to "fly by". The plan is to see him five days in a row, and then we'll go from there. In the meantime, Dr. Dodick wrote me a prescription for a new medication, Celebrex, just to see if it can help me manage my pain between now and then. This is just a more powerful anti-inflammatory (which means no shitty side-effects like all of the other migraine and pain meds I've tried), so certainly worth a shot.

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