Butterfly Cauldron

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

But what does this mean?

There's an interesting article on the wire today about chronic pain.

Researchers believe proteins hold clues to chronic pain
Low blood levels of two anti-inflammatory proteins could be key to chronic pain, researchers report.

Low concentrations of two cytokines, IL-4 and IL-10, were found in patients with chronic widespread pain, according to a German study published in the August issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Cytokines are proteins that act as messengers between cells.

The study included 40 patients who’d received intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) as a novel treatment for pain that hadn’t responded to standard therapy and another 15 patients who did not receive IVIG. The study also included a control group of 40 healthy people.

Blood samples were collected from all the study volunteers, and the pain patients were asked to rate their pain, fatigue, mood and cognitive function.

Okay, so it's good news that they think they're figuring out what causes chronic pain. Yay! However...what does this mean? I mean, I'm happy to know there's a protein in my body that's not doing it's thing. Cool. So, tell me how to fix it. Seriously, what do I do to up those proteins? What do I do to make that happen, because living in chronic pain is a bad, bad, bad thing.

The deal with chronic pain is that you get used to it. You get used to feeling draggy and tired and achy. It becomes normal, so you don't really notice it. Which is dangerous, because pain is your body's way of saying there's something wrong. So you run the risk of ignoring a serious warning sign, because you're so very used to being in pain.

That's why it took me years to find out I had an inflammed gallbladder. It hurt, yes. But everything hurts on me, so when one spot starts hurting more than others? Eh. It doesn't really register with me. I had gallbladder pain off and on for six damned years before we found out what it was. And the only reason I found out is that it started hurting daily, instead of once or twice a month. My surgeon said my gallbladder was getting to the dangerous stage and if I hadn't gotten it taken out when I did, it could have ruptured and then I'd have been in serious trouble.

It feels strange, being a chronic pain patient, because you go to the doctor so often. (BTW, I just got my latest round of tests back and I'm prefectly healthy. Well, you know, aside from the previously dxed conditions.) I worry sometimes that people think I'm a hypocondriac. I know I'm not, but it seems strange to be my age and be on so much medication/go to the doctor so very often. On one hand, I don't care what people think. But on the other...I'm only 31. This cannot be my life, ya know? Not for the next sixty or seventy years. (And I plan on living to be an old, old woman with many many cats and lots of books. I will have myself a little cabin on a mountain somewhere where it gets cool in the summer and cold in the winter. I will grow a flower garden filled with my favorite flowers, even if they don't match together. My garden will have no symblance of order, but everyone who sees it will know it's mine. I'll make pots of tea and sit on my front porch, reading. I'll give cookies to all the children in the neighborhood and everyone will know me as That Nice Old Lady With All the Cats. I will paint as much as I like, write as much as I like and generally do whatever the hell I want to do. And when I die, people will miss me and plant roses at my grave.)

So, anyway. I'm glad they're making progress, I just wanna know how that translates into the real world!

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posted by Zan at 6:02 PM


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