When I was first diagnosed with a mental illness, I had the general mindset that a doctor would hand me some miracle drug and everything would be better. (After all, those Prozac and Zoloft commercials seem to imply something of that nature.) I quickly found out that finding the right medication is a trial-and-error process, and that it usually takes about 6 weeks to find out if one medication works or not…and then you have to decrease it and take another one. My psychiatrist – thankfully – used a very scientific method of only changing one thing at a time. That way, he could tell it was the Topamax that made my face itch, and not some other drug. The whole process took about a year and a half, and oh what a ride that was. But that’s another story.

I learned that while medicine can help, there is a lot of patient-managed care that needs to happen. Even though I have my medication cocktail sorted out, I still need to take my medication, practice coping mechanisms, notice when I’m having a flare up…

I guess I’m just used to having conditions that no one can really fix. Migraines, IBS, Bipolar Disorder, Fibromyalgia…fun little labels that mean I get to spend a lot of time on medical issues, going to the doctor, stretching, and trying to keep my body and life in balance.

So imagine my surprise recently when three medical treatments seem to have just worked. Like, really worked. (I hope I’m not jinxing anything by saying this.)

Treatment one: occlusal guard, or night guard. There is conflicting evidence about whether or not night guards can help night-time teeth grinding. Some people say not to use them if you have sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. (I suppose fibro might fit into that category.)

Still, I have a pretty bad time when I grind my teeth. It’s usually when I’m stressed, and I end up with a lot of jaw pain that often leads to migraines. I was a little skeptical, but since my insurance covered the night guard – wonder of wonders – I decided to try it.

It took a little getting used to, but I’ve slept better than I’ve slept in months – years, even. I’m not saying that this will work for everyone, but I think that grinding my teeth was probably causing some sleep disturbances as well. It is wonderful.

Treatment number 2: my wonderful, wonderful podiatrist gave me diluted alcohol shots to help with my Morton’s Neuroma. The shots are supposed to help break down excess tissue build up to relieve pressure on my nerve. I’m not sure exactly how it works. It seemed to get better at first – although my foot was still numb and tingly, but at least not in horrendous pain. Then the pain came back for a few days, and I was really worried I’d have to have surgery. Now, there is an occasional pang, but the pain is almost completely gone. I’m pretty sure that after a few more treatments I will be good as new. (Again, hoping I don’t jinx this.) Having a medical issue that’s treatable is just amazing to me.

Treatment number 3: custom-fit orthotics in my shoes. I suppose this doesn’t actually count as something that *poof* makes a problem go away. But I now have orthotics in my shoes to help provide extra arch support and deal with my flat-footedness. They make such a difference. I’ve even gotten an extra pair of shoes to wear in the house (ones that aren’t dirty on the bottom) so that I can wear them all the time. My feet hurt less, and I feel more in balance.

I guess these experiences have restored some of my faith in the medical profession in general. Not that I discounted medicine before – I’d just begun to expect treatments to only half work. Or to have a medication that works, but has horrible side effects. This was a pleasant surprise.

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