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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

TWD therapy

This post is full of graphic images for purposes revealed at the end of the post. If you are not a Walking Dead fan and cannot handle these images, the words-only version is here. All pix click to sources, which may contain spoilers.


So this month we're doing manual therapy (hands on) on the sympathetic nervous system (direct nerve input to interrupt the fight or flight feedback loop), and every bit as much a bitch as all the other work I've done over the last 4 years, but seems to be working. If you are at all interested in techy body mechanic stuff, this is the best article I've found so far.

Physical therapy action mechanisms and effects on pain management

And here is a book.

Integrative Manual Therapy for the Autonomic Nervous System and Related Disorder


This is stuff that's been around awhile and very hotly debated for years. Many doctors don't see the point in wasting time on it and generally send patients straight to injections and surgeries, which are also hotly debated and fail to alleviate as much as 50% of the patients who suffer more invasive procedures. I first brought it up 5 days ago and I have 2 sessions left to go.

My thoughts on this 'waste of time'-

  • I've lost 2 pounds, mostly because of the overwhelming residual pain, but it's staying off and I'll take it.
  • In spite of that, I've quite suddenly felt like stepping back into my old workout routine and am now doing my daily walking, stretches, and core strength again. This includes basic arm work that I had to stop doing over this last year.
  • At first I wasn't sleeping well because of the pain flaring up again (likely in response to the worst part of allergy season), but I'm now sleeping really well and my pain level is waaaay down again.
  • The maddening itching, numbness, and referred pain that I've been tolerating along my spine for over 2 decades has stopped completely a couple of times, and mostly hums along at a much lower level this month and I barely even notice it.
  • Headaches flared up during this round of therapy but I figured out it was from laying prone, switched back to sitting and the headaches stopped.

I think the mechanism in simple terms is like using very particular pressure points with deep tissue movement to gain the attention of nerve response and break through a stuck in a rut fight or flight default to reset and train the feedback loop back into parasympathetic acceptance. Basically, instead of taking a muscle relaxer to force my nerves to let muscles relax, this is a way of directly talking the nerves into letting them relax anyway. It's about cutting through unnecessary nerve chatter without actually cutting the nerves.


People talk about meditation and medical marijuana and acupuncture and more, but there's a lot to be said for hands on direct communication with a nervous system. To me it feels like when someone calms a spooky horse down, there are certain ways to move and act that cut through the fear and distrust. If my nervous system is always on edge because of a disorder, and I can bypass pills, needles, and surgery getting relief, YES.

For one time readers and noobs passing by, I was ejected from a violently flipping vehicle years ago and healed poorly at home without any assistance or pain meds, covered it up and passed for normal as much as possible for 2+ decades, developed a wicked severe case of persistent unrelenting fibromyalgia, and finally slid into the dark abyss of immobility and disability. After much consultation and documentation, I am that weird patient who reacts counter intuitively to meds, and now a medical team is watching me come back from hopelessness to functionality over 4 years of physical therapy, along with changing my diet, which was key because I have also turned out to be diabetic.

In short, physical therapy works, at least for me. Compliance (key word) with a really good physical therapy team, complete with specific documentation and goals, has been turning my life around, and while I'm not cured of fibro or diabetes, I'm no longer as dependent on a caretaker as I was for several years before the therapy started.


Physical therapy is very grueling, and there have been a few walls that we've had to back up and figure out how to go around or get over. It takes the kind of commitment that an athlete makes to training. Physical therapy isn't a one stop fix it shop, like car mechanics. It's an ongoing process that measures and directs regaining functionality, and I'm finding that if it is measured by pain levels going up and down, people tend to quit and say it doesn't 'work'. Well, there are ways to slow down and try different things and it can still work. Communication with the therapist is vital. I am one of the very few patients my team has that still comes in voluntarily to keep improving, despite pain flaring up so bad that I have to take breaks.

I know there are lurkers hanging on through the sucky long hard dark nights in terrible amounts of pain and sometimes fear and hopelessness, and I just want you guys to know I've totally been there for years, and it really is possible to find real help. Keep trying. I have to ask my doctor for referrals to physical therapy (I'm so thankful he's on board with that), and it helps that my neurologist is willing to try that first before desperate efforts like surgeries. Once you start the surgeries, there is no reset back to pre-surgery. Nervous system surgeries involve intentionally damaging very specific nerve bundles in order to muffle pain, and this is fine if there's nerve damage and there's no other way. Also, that's how they fixed my heart rhythm problem, fried an overactive nerve, so I'm not anti-surgery at all. I'm just saying if your doctor isn't offering it, ask for it. If your medicare or insurance allows it, they legally cannot tell you no, but you do need to negotiate with a good reason for it. I usually have specific goals- I want to be able to put dishes away in my cupboard and it's hard to reach up without spiking pain or dropping something, so I'd like help with getting stronger and someone showing me how to move properly. Once you get the hang of setting your own goals, you might be surprised how quickly the medical field falls into step with you. It's more a matter of saying the right words than expecting someone to fix you when you live with ongoing vague symptoms that no one knows quite what to do with unless specific corrective procedures are clearly indicated.


I'm not sure how much more therapy I'll be allowed to keep referring into, hopefully as long as I can keep showing it's worth it with improvements. Medicare allows several months of therapy every year, and many insurance plans have physical therapy allowances, although they can be pretty stingy about it. I once complained years ago that my insurance was willing to pay for a $10,000 surgery but not another $1000 to prevent it. There are definitely flaws in the American health system and, sadly, most of our health care runs on plans outlined by insurance companies. For me it boiled down to what I was willing to pay out of pocket, and yes, we did go bankrupt over it, but I'm not in a motor chair. I was this close to qualifying for a motor chair, guys. Not saying I won't wind up there, but I am saying not yet.

Ok, the TWD part. My current therapist is a rabid Walking Dead fan, so our 45 minutes flies by with conversation about it. Naturally, a lot of it wound up around Negan, and this is my 2 cents.

My first two TWD articles were The Walking Dead- What would you do to survive? (currently 12.944 views, thanks guys) and The Walking Dead- Overthinking Zombies. I won't rehash those or recap where we are now or anything like that. Let's cut the crap and go right to Negan.


I am a Negan person. I've been really ticked off for several years at the fail going on around just shooting the people who stall survival. I'm a shoot first and walk away person, judge and jury without batting an eye or handing out apologies. I don't feel bad or guilty or sad. This is autism spectrum growing up on a farm killing things and surviving.

The writing is all about jerking the viewers around, so of course they've got Rick coming up against the biggest baddie of all so far, ripping open the question- WHAT WILL RICK TO DO SURVIVE? We've watched Rick go through shock and recovery and organizational planning with plenty of psychological rocks being thrown his way, and now we're going to see how far Rick will go to not only survive, but hopefully keep his people safe and possibly even continue to thrive.

Negan is a brutally logical guy. He is like the Klingon Empire and Vulcan logic all rolled into one. He has established secure trading routes by sheer force of will and he keeps order with a chain of command that doesn't hestitate to show force to keep fear instilled in all the outlying groups.

Here's the thing. Negan has heard of Rick. Rick's as famous as Negan. Rick's gang blew up Terminus, so how could they not be? Negan knows Rick's people are a force to deal with and that they will stay loyal to Rick until he breaks them.


The fastest way to break group loyalty is to destroy feeling safe in a group. Negan could kill Rick and simply take the group, but he's likely going to own Rick in order to level up as almighty Emperor in the new Apocalypse Realm. Once he quashes Rick, he'll have order under his thumb again.

Owning Rick means emotionally breaking him.

Ok, now we can talk. If you don't break someone properly, you create a wild card. Breaking people is an art form, a psychological skill set that I don't believe Negan is capable of. I don't think Negan has the first clue how to psychologically rebuild purposely broken people, and that's why he uses fear to keep them loyal. When you break people correctly, you don't need fear, they are loyal anyway.

That will be Negan's undoing. (I could be completely wrong, but who cares.) His brutality will unleash a new kind of brutality in Rick that we haven't yet seen. Biting a guy's neck open is just survival. Beating someone to death with your bare hands is just survival. Rick's going to have to use his brain now, and it's got to be about more than survival. It's got to be about dethroning and taking over a kingdom.


They've had a little practice with group democracy in Alexandria, and we saw how quickly that fell apart. In the really olden days of human history, crime lords established territories before they became governments. Will Rick grow the strength (or psycho) it takes to steal a domain and reestablish it the way he sees fit?

In the meantime, we see individual wrestling with self doubt, which undermines group cohesion. I know Morgan means well, but pulling the emotional rug out from under Carol after she's become a solid survivor is akin to psychological sabotage, and Morgan was no different doing it than Gabriel, he's just a better killer when he needs to be. Morgan and Carol might be the ones who make it difficult for Rick to win over Negan. I will be very disappointed if the writers don't show Carol breaking down and becoming a loyal Negan follower, since he represents the kind of survival she once thought she needed to become and here she is already in the middle of an emotional breakdown. I will also be disappointed if we don't see Morgan rise up against his newfound principles and make a stand on what kind of life deserves to be lived.

My personal feelings are, should anything apocalyptic ever really happen, if I run into anyone killing their own people just to keep power, I would shoot without the slightest hesitation. My inclination is to see all people as resources, and to throw mental resources away like that is psychologically cannibalistic. People who eat their own are no better than the apocalypse they are surviving. My personal goals would be to collect and allocate human resources into their best fits for group survival, and if that means some do all the protecting because others just can't kill, fine. Some people are made to be warriors, others are not. Someone playing king of the mountain doesn't win the human survival game, and Negan is on the brink of creating a new monster that he won't be able to control.


In the days of human tribalism, the way to win territories was to kill the warriors and take the women, children, and whatever goods and flocks they had, and then set up new tribal leaders on the conquered territories. We keep watching Rick's group hesitate, and they keep getting picked off by every conceivable mental aberration out there. Will this be the season they stop rationalizing their killing? Will Negan be the catalyst for them finally letting go of trying to negotiate first?

I really don't care who gets killed with Negan's bat. Well, I care, but I'm not the kind of fan who'll stop watching the show because I get upset over a character I'm invested in getting killed off. The show is about death. It's about surviving death. Anything beyond that is just chain yanking by the writers. If Negan is the bringer of more death, then I want to see who stops Negan and how they do it. And I don't want to see him kept alive sweet talking people. I want to see how ugly that kind of person really is, and how people survive that kind of person.


Negan is played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, if you want to check him out. With my prosopagnosia, I often get him mixed up with Todd Stashwick.

Personally, I'd love to lobotomize Negan and keep him on a leash... He's a good resource, tall enough to reach things I'm too short to reach. And I'd pimp him out. Gotta rebuild the population.

One thing I've been waiting for on TWD is a biker gang employed by someone hooked up with USGS maps creating a really big network of information gathering and sharing. Just a thought, guys, could go all kinds of directions. It's totally possible that Rick could become a vital hub in a growing local government system, but dang ol' Negan needs to go down first.

My fave Walking Dead parody from a couple of years ago.

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