Tuesday, March 8, 2016

An Inflammatory Field Report

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I check in here about asthma and inflammation from time to time.  Most recently, about three and a half weeks ago back on Valentine's Day and the day after.

I have a sort of an update. I have been having pain in my right shoulder/upper arm since December (I didn't write about it until mid-February because I kept thinking it was going to resolve). In mid-January I saw my friend, Jenn, in Colorado (an amazing massage therapist) and she was not able to release it (which is not normal).  I had full range of motion - just this persistent pain that started in December of last year.

I saw my primary care doc for my annual physical in mid-February of this year.  He assured me that nothing was physically wrong in my shoulder - no injury - just the old (and infuriating) catchall:  Inflammation.  Same thing for my right knee and right heel (sort of like a flare of plantar fasciitis, but a different sort of pain).  Since then - even before then - I've been on the straight and narrow - no sugar, no highly processed foods, and I was icing my shoulder and my right knee.

This morning I woke up and the pain had started in my left upper arm.  I was so discouraged - really - I thought I would cry. I already can't sleep on my right side because of the pain - now I won't be able to sleep on my left side either.  Really?  REALLY???  How the F$@# am I supposed to sleep???

I seriously felt like throwing in the towel.  I mean, I'm on the highest dose of my anti-inflammatory, and I've been doing everything right - and nothing is helping this pain or alleviating it, and now it's in three of my four limbs.  I'm losing mobility and strength in one limb after another - like I'm falling apart piece by piece. I'm starting to feel like the Black Knight.*

For as positive as you all know that I generally am, this has been a difficult patch. I know a lot of people have way worse problems, but it's been depressing and I've been feeling very sad to be doing everything right and not getting anywhere. Being in constant low-grade pain is challenging to deal with.  Every day you wake up and something hurts.  Or you move a certain way and think you're going to expire from pain deep within a muscle.

And it's not like I haven't been working hard to do what I know I've needed to do in the past to alleviate inflammation.  Seriously - one entire shelf in my freezer is devoted to assorted gel ice and wraps to make it easier to ice the affected parts of my body.  But ice hasn't even been touching this arm/shoulder pain. If the pain is inflammatory pain, then ice should alleviate it - at least temporarily.  But it hasn't.  It's not even touching it.

I had a relatively easy workout at the club with my trainer this morning.  I don't even know how I made it there.  I did yoga yesterday and felt so much better until I woke up this morning.  But I forced myself to go and I could see from what my trainer was having me do, and the exceptionally light weights we were using that I had really lost a lot of fitness ground.

And then, on my way home from the club, the penny dropped:

"What if this pain isn't inflammation at all? What if it's a side-effect from my new asthma controller med????  

I don't know why I didn't think of this before.  I've had rare side effects (like bone pain - oh man that sucks) from high doses of certain asthma controller meds in the past.  My asthma controller med is the only thing that has changed for me since November - and the weird pain started in December.

I called my primary care doc as soon as I got to the office this morning and I discussed my thoughts with him.  He said that he felt that it was worth taking me off Arnuity Ellipta (my new controller med) to see.  He was concerned about my breathing if I stopped my controller med completely - which is a valid concern - and I said I would go back on my former med, Flovent, because I still have some of it at home. Having to use of my rescue inhaler a little more often is a small price to pay to not hurt anymore if my hunch is right.  He felt that it would be worth a shot and he called my asthma doc to confer.  They are in agreement that I need to stop the Arnuity Ellipta immediately and return to Flovent tonight, and I'm to check in with my asthma doctor in another 2 weeks.

Am I clutching at straws?  Maybe.  But I'm praying that this the answer.  The doc said that if I'm right, it likely won't work immediately.  Based on my current dose of Arnuity Ellipta, it will likely take about a week for it to completely make its way out of my system.  I'll be watching and checking daily.

Please hold a good thought for me  :-)

* Here's the Black Knight . . . at least I still have my sense of humor . . . ;-)


Anonymous said...

I admire your ability to keep your life as normal as possible while dealing with pain. You certainly are a strong person. I hope that is the med that is causing this latest episode. I've had to deal with pain on several different levels and it's not easy. It would be so easy to sit down and cry and make everyone feel sorry for you, but you aren't that kind of person. I admire your strength, your inner strength. I wish you only the best.

Janice H.

Michelle said...

I, too, hope the med change takes care of it. Brilliant of you to think of it!

Kimberlee Rudman said...

A -
Sending good thoughts, prayers and hugs. I hope this is the reason for your pain. You are fortunate to be able to pick up the phone and have a conversation with your primary physician. It seems like more and more physicians are moving to email correspondence.

Hang in there.

A :-) said...

Janice - many thanks for your kind words. I really did want to cry, and I hesitated to post about this, but we've sort of been following along, so I thought I would. Thank you for your support :-)

A :-) said...

Thanks, Michelle - I wish I would have thought of it sooner . . . :-) Crossing my fingers!

A :-) said...

Kim - I agree, I am fortunate, but I do pay for the privilege as my doctor moved to a concierge-style practice a little over a year ago. I do have great access via email, phone, and in person. So far it's been worth the concierge fee - particularly with what's been going on with me lately.

Anonymous said...

Annie, have you ever had your vitamin D levels checked? Last fall I went to see an orthopedic surgeon about the arthritis in my hands and that was one of the questions he asked me. It seems Vitamin D helps in controlling inflammation. I was low in Vitamin D and the Dr. had me add a supplement to the multivitamin I already take and I've noticed less pain. Maybe this is something you can discuss with your doctor if you haven't already.

Janice H.

A :-) said...

Already on that one, Janice :-) I've been taking Vitamin D supplements for probably 7 or 8 years now. I think it's more difficult to get it from the sun here in the Midwest where we have a real winter - and in the summer I'm always wearing a hat and I'm covered with sunscreen and looking for the shade so I don't get sunburned :-D I'm so glad you are having less arthritic pain!! That's excellent news for you :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm with you about sunscreen and hats. I'm about 90 miles north of you in the exotic state of Wisconsin! :o)) I wish the supplements were helping you more. You and your doctors sound like you're on top of things, so I have great faith that you will find the culprit one of these days. It does take a while for our bodies to give us clue as to what is going on.

Janice H.

candy said...

I sincerely hope the change in meds helps. There are certain things that cause pain for me, so I am aware of what you are going through. {{{hugs}}} and feel better soon!

A :-) said...

Janice - I love Wisconsin!

Candy - thanks - me, too. I have hope and I'm hanging in :-) Hope your move is going smoothly!

candy said...

Thanks, yes, but still waiting for the movers!