I was pondering this question today, as I lie on the couch with my sick, feverish little girl… do I feel more like a guinea pig (always trying something new) or like a lab rat (being poked and prodded and then waiting to see what happens next)? I think…the lab rat.
As most of you know, I have not only discovered my gluten intolerance in the past year, but have been dealing with knee/leg swelling for more than a year and a half. You could read more about it in Welcome to My Life, but a quick recap otherwise:
It was Summer 2011 and I’m a teacher. Had been hiking and exercising, felt like my knees were swelling underneath my kneecaps. Went to have x-rays, knees blew up like a balloon and stayed that way for year. Figured out kneecaps were out of place (both of them) and have been trying to strengthen them and keep them in place this year, even though swelling is still an issue.
Back to the lab rat part… I have spent 5 months in physical therapy (walked on a treadmill in the water), a year with the chiropractor and massage therapist (alleviated my constant lower back pain and continued to realign my kneecaps, as needed), and countless hours monitoring which foods, medicines, exercise techniques, etc. had any effect on the swelling that would not go away! Now, since my kneecaps have been ‘popped back into place’, the swelling has seemed to be less noticeable. But anytime I wear thick socks or anything tight on my legs (leggings), my legs swell. Anytime I sit for a three-hour meeting or stand for hours prepping food for the week…swelling. Oh, and did I mention that I decided to do a 5K in April?
So, my latest venture has been to seek out yet another alternative for my situation, which led me to acupuncture. Now, if I were reading this two years ago, I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t believe that I had gone down this road. Not that I have had anything against ‘alternative remedies’, but I never had the time to investigate them and therefore, they seemed a bit ‘out there.’ Nevertheless, I have grown (and have run out of medical options). I asked my chiropractor and he recommended an acupuncturist that he sees.
The first time I went, he talked to me for awhile, looked at my legs and told me he didn’t think that acupuncture would help. He did think that his Chinese Medicine might help and promised to look up some remedies and get them to me the next week. I went back and got these tiny tea pills and promised to take 8 of them, three times a day for two weeks. During that time, I took them religiously and tried to keep up with my exercising, as it seemed to me that I was dealing with a circulation issue and that movement would help more.
I went back last Friday and talked with him about my minimal results. I noticed slight improvement and had been able to run more, but I attributed that to increased movement and strength in my knees. He wondered if the increased movement would have caused more inflammation, though, so maybe I wouldn’t have noticed the improvement from the tea pills. I agreed to continue for 2 more weeks. He then said that it might not hurt to try a few inflammation points in my legs, if I wanted to. “Of course. Why not?” So, I laid down on the table, had several teeny, tiny pins inserted into my legs (which I couldn’t even feel) and tried to relax (cause this is completely natural and relaxing) for the 20 minutes until he came back to take them out. He said to watch for the next few days to see how my legs respond.
After 3 days, I can officially say that I am noticing a difference. I didn’t workout this weekend, in case that was actually causing more inflammation, and my legs felt great. This morning, after waking bright and early to write sub plans and track down a substitute so I could stay home with my sick girl, I worked out on the elliptical and no new swelling happened. I haven’t had a full day of workout, teaching and cooking yet, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens then. But for now, I am cautiously optimistic that we may be on to something. And after all the medical hell that I have been through with this injury, I am happy to continue the lab rat mentality for a bit longer.