Monday, December 27, 2010

Red light! Green light!

Merry Two Days After Christmas!

As I mentioned on Facebook, a few weeks ago, just a couple days after I broke my toe, I woke up with a shoulder muscle completely seized up. It was clenched so tight, I couldn't lower it to a normal position and it hurt like a motherfucker so I had to keep my left arm curled up against my chest to keep the weight of it from pulling on the injured muscle. Thus, for several days, I was a limping hunchback, gallumping around the house muttering, "Yes, master...."

I lived with it for almost two weeks and then finally broke down and went to see my doctor about it. She put me on steroids and muscle relaxers and said if I wasn't seeing improvement in 3 or 4 days then we would talk about physical therapy or chiropractic.

I'm sure many of you have been or are currently under the care of a chiropractor and think they are wonderful, and I am honestly glad that you have found relief in their care, but I have yet to meet one that did me any good. On the advice of real, seemingly competent medical professionals, I have sought the help of chiropractors three times and all three times I ended up no better than when I started and in one case probably worse.

My favorite of the three was Dr. Wagner, a youngish, Jon Denver-y looking man, who was very earnest and enthusiastic about all the money he was about to get out of me, and he tried hard to be the kind of practitioner who would educate his patients as well as treat them. Except he didn't take into account that one of those patients might be an over-educated skeptic who requires peer-reviewed articles from major medical journals and years-long, double-blind studies before she might be convinced of anything.

So on my second visit—the one where he showed me the results of my x-rays—he wanted to explain all about "subluxation" and had a small model of a spinal column as a visual aid. The model had not only the vertebrae but also the spinal cord within it and nerves branching out from that. The nerves ended in tiny LEDs. So as he spoke about "displacement" and "dysfunctional segments," he surreptitiously pressed a button to make all the little LEDs flash red, indicating, I assumed, pain and general Bad Feelings. Then, as he extolled the wonders of cracking my neck repeatedly, he secretly pushed another button, which made all the little lights glow green. Green for Go! Green for Yay, Spine! He then sat back, looking rather satisfied with himself, and awaited my response to his elegant proof. Which was essentially, "You're shitting me, right?"

Despite this, I let him crack my neck and other parts of my spine many times over the next several months, and while I kind of liked how my back felt immediately afterwards, it did nothing to improve my chronic back pain or my migraines and I eventually stopped going, indicating to him, I suppose, that the Red Lights of Evil had won. Several years later I went to another quack - I mean chiropractor (I know they prefer Doctor of Chiropractic, but they can bite me) - when I was pregnant with Devon. My hip joints were so loose that they would often collapse as I walked, which was extremely painful. It was bad enough that I left my job a few months before I intended to, because the office was up a long flight of steps and we had no parking nearby. I even bought a cane. The doctors I consulted all insisted that a chiropractor was my only option, so I went and this one was a lovely young woman who happened to be pregnant and was due around the same time as me. She proceeded to take some medeval looking device and hammer my hip with it, then some electrical doohickey, and by the time she was done, I was in a hell of a lot more pain than when I started. And I went back! More than once. Not because I believed she could do anything for me, but because I wanted to at least be able to say that I had tried it when I decided to make someone listen to my complaints about how goddamn much my hips hurt.

So, suffice to say I wasn't keen on pursuing that option. I have become even more blunt from years of self-employment and the consequent lack of socializing, and I'd probably get myself kicked out. AREA WOMAN ARRESTED IN CHIROPRACTIC MELEE. "She kept screaming something about green and red lights," said terrified onlookers.

So, after 3 or 4 days, it wasn't much better, but I decided to wait until after Christmas to do anything about it. The things that hurt most were working at the computer, driving, and pushing a shopping cart. Naturally, I spend most of my time typing and driving, with occasional pauses to pick up stuff at the grocery store. Thus, my lack of posting and the sorry state of the snack shelf in our pantry.

Then - a Christmas miracle! Saturday morning was the first time I awoke without having to immediately take a megadose of Advil and apply alternate rounds of heat and cold. As suddenly as it had come, it went away. There's still a bit of stiffness, and a twinge now and then, but otherwise it's all better. Chiropractors across the Maryland capital area can all breathe easier now.

Strangely, the one thing that didn't hurt was quilting. Which I suppose I should take as some sign that I should just be sewing instead of writing, but no one's gonna pay me to make crappy quilts (at least no one's offered to - yet). I finished the table runner and got that mailed off, so I got the crazy idea that I might try to complete one of the quilt tops stacked up in my closet. Back in 2009, I made this for my youngest child:

Sometime after I finished it, I added a dark purple border and made my first attempt at free motion quilting an entire quilt. I bought the gloves and the silicone thingy and made a good effort, but only got about a quarter of the way done before I gave up.

What I was missing was a table to the left of my sewing table to hold up the weight of the quilt. I got my husband to help with a wee bit of furniture rearranging last week, and I dragged out the quarter-done quilt and gave it a go.

It took me several days to complete the work I had done on it back in 2009. I finished the rest of it in one afternoon.

I used a lavender thread and stippled the living crap out of it. Found a slightly different purple fabric for the binding, and by Christmas Eve, my youngest daughter had a new quilt, one that her mother made entirely herself, without having to resort to paying someone else to quilt it. I'm not sure what to make of the fact that I was able to do that, when so many other tasks were incredibly painful, but I'm sure someone could make a model with red and green lights to help explain it.


Anne said...

Yay for miracles; cute quilt.

Anonymous said...

Deborah says:

Very nice quilt! Personally, I prefer the quilt as you go method or at least quilting smallish sections then attaching them with sashing. I tried quilting a twin size quilt on my machine...drove me nuts!

Then I went and got myself a fancy schmancy Bernina quilting frame. Couldn't stand that either. A PITA to load and a 4 inch quilting area (using my Bernina 640). Anyone want to buy a lightly used frame?

I discovered the quilt as you go method and now will not use anything else. I just don't have the patience for futzing.

I'm glad you are now (relatively?) pain free? There are lots of healing modalities out there, but they don't all work on everyone. Just like strawberries. They are delicious, but for some people they are poison. So chiropractic is not for you. Try some other modality next time. (Though, hopefully, there won't be a next time.)

Happy holidays!

QuiltSwissy said...

I have had mixed success with Chiropractors, I much prefer my massage therapist who specialized in pain....uh......I mean....pain abatement and remediation.

But I don't talk about her husband when I am on the table, she has a bit of an anger problem there.......

glen: Glad you are better,

April Reeves said...

Glad you are feeling better. I've also had bad experiences with chiropractors and back pain. I avoid confrontation but was so mad that I actually went to the appointment to tell him "you suck and I'm not coming back." My two cents - find a good physical therapist. I've been to a few with mixed results but finally found one that was great.

Sarah Craig said...

Love your quilt! Great work on that stippling!!

I'm glad you're feeling better, but if it flairs up again, try an acupuncturist - at the very least, it would be good for a fall-on-the-floor-roll-around-laughing-your-butt-off blogpost!!!

Mariella said...

I'm almost afraid to mention this option....but I'm selfish enough to want to read to your response after your first acupuncture session....anyway acupuncture has worked for me when nothing else did....

The quilt is great. I made a sampler quilt with those same Moda, Maypole fabrics and I just love my quilt. And like Deborah, I use the quilt as you go method of quilt assembly...that too works for me.

Peggi said...

The quilt looks great! You did a good job! Does the kid like it?

My SIL is a physical therapist. Her teenage son hurt his back once playing football. She worked and worked and worked on him, and could not fix it. So she took him to a chiropractor. She was highly skeptical and suspicious, but she did a LOT of very careful research and asked around in the medical profession. Apparently there are different theories and kinds of chiro training, one of which is the quackery kind, one of which is the good kind. She found a good chiro, took my nephew, and after a few visits he was good as new! If you ever need to see a chiro, email me and I'll find out from her what to look for to find a good one.

p.s. I do remember she said the good ones have a treatment plan that includes an end date to their treatment - the ones that want you to keep coming back week after week are the ones to avoid.

Megan said...

So, for Quilt As You Go, how do you join up the sections of batting? Some instructions I've seen say to just do a sort of double zigzag stitch, but others say its preferable to "dovetail" the edges, which frankly looks impossible.

Deb said...

Glad your feeling better

Joy said...

I am sending you a belated Christmas gift ... a PDF pattern using 2 of my favourite quilt-as-you-go methods. I hope you like them :o).
Joy :o)

scarlett said...

I THINK most of "our" problems are muscle related, therefore, I think a GOOD massage thereapist who will work out the "trigger points" (this will hurt), NOT just a feel good massage.

been there.

Mariella said...

As for the joining the batting with Quilt As You Go .... I lay the quilt all out flat then pull back the fabric on each side then cut the batting so the edges meet or butt or whatever you call it and just loosely baste the batting together...I figure that the quilting will hold everything in place and have not had a problem - and I've made many many many quilts this way

Tsigeyusv said...

Doesn't it feel great to finish your own quilting! Way to go! I have yet to get all fancy, but I can stipple with the best of them.

Glad you can move again, and with little pain. I guess the hint is that you should be quilting more to relieve even more pain.

Anonymous said...

Deborah says:

Quilt as you go....

Check out More Reversible Quilts by Sharon Pederson. (I'm guessing she wrote a first book titled "Reversible Quilts", but I don't have it.)

In a nutshell though, you've got your block, batting, and backing quilted and trimmed.

Cut block sashing 1 3/4" wide times length of block. Fold in half length wise and press.

Cut backing sashing 1 1/8" wide by length of block.

On first block, layer block sashing to block (raw edges together), then layer the backing sashing to the back (right sides together).

Sew 1/4" seam.

Take your second block. Line up the backing sashing with the backing of the second block (right sides together. Sew 1/4" seam.

Press the block sashing (attached to the first block) "closed" (I guess that will be the term) and stich to the block side of the second block.

I hope that all makes sense.

The thing is you don't have to do this block by block. I just finished a quilt where I sewed 4 blocks (just the tops) together, then I quilted this slightly larger piece after which I attached it to another piece.

This technically is not quilting as you go, but derives from that technique and is a bit more user friendly if you want to do traditional blocks.

Happy New Year!