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So remember my recent “lost Saturday” spent at Emergency due to scary lower abdominal pain? The doctor decided that it was probably “something muscular” and not cancer-related, so I was sent home, still in pain and none the wiser. But during a subsequent email conversation with the amazing Kate (aka Sledpress), she also told me it sounded like a muscular problem that may (or may not) be related to the excrutiating shoulder and arm pain I’d also been experiencing. In fact, both of those started around the same time and just seemed to be getting worse. I didn’t mention the shoulder/arm pain to the emergency doc because, although it hurt like fuckity, it wasn’t in a “scary” location, and I didn’t think they were related.

Anyhoodle, time went on, the pain kept on, nothing was changing… until I went to Málaga! Since Kate had me convinced at this point that the abdominal pain was muscular I started looking for triggers, daily repetitive movements that might be contributing to my discomfort. Then, as if by a miracle, after two days in Málaga my belly pain was easily halved. What? I couldn’t believe it, and I also had no idea why. But it became clear after I got home and went to shower. You see, the new Casa Azahar has a lovely walk-in shower with beautiful tiles. I love it. But there is no bathtub. Meanwhile, at the Málaga apartment there is a bathtub/shower. Difference? Well, at a risk of TMI, I realised that having a bathtub provides a handy footrest when *ahem* trying to reach certain body parts. Just having a flat shower floor requires a different sort of twisting and bending and… BINGO. I found the source of the problem. Or at least so it would seem. I think it will take awhile for the pain to disappear completely, but it’s amazing how much better it got just after two days of NOT DOING THAT (repetitive stress movement). And as soon as I got home I bought myself a plastic shower stool, so I hope that will help with a full recovery.

Meanwhile, Christmas came early while I was away, and I received these two mysterious looking items from Kate. Luckily you can look these things up online and there are even videos to show you how to use them. Because honestly, would you have the slightest idea? And once again, after just two days of using that coat rack looking thingy up there (actually called the Theracane) my shoulder/arm pain has been much reduced. Like whaaat?? For almost two months it’s been frozen solid in PAIN and sleeping was almost impossible. Now I can feel it getting a bit better every day. Incredible.

Of course I need to keep the treatment up, and start doing more preventative self-massage stuff. For example, that little 4-way knobbly thing up there is perfect for when I’m sitting at my desk to release pressure build up in my lower back (well, along with regularly getting up and moving around, natch). It’s been two years since Kate sent me the Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, and I haven’t used it nearly enough. But that stops now.

So the lesson here girls and boys is that we really should be more proactive when it comes to our own health care. Because who knows our bodies better than we do? Both the emergency doctor, and later my GP, just prescribed some scary pain meds (possible side effects: anaphylactic shock!!), which I decided not to take. Because I thought the pain was there for a reason I still hadn’t understood, so I didn’t want to just numb it. I wanted to know why it was there.

Of course both doctors and medical treatments have their place. I wouldn’t be here today if not for the top surgeons who saved my life, and the others who made sure I got the best cancer treatment (almost) ten years ago. And many chronic illnesses are often best treated with drug therapy. But this time I am glad I didn’t go with the simple painkiller option.

Also, I’m not criticising doctors who take the “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” route, because they are so overworked – I’m told that GPs here are only allowed about 4 minutes per patient to stay on schedule, and hopefully they are good enough diagnosticians to point you to the right specialist if you need one. I also agreed with my Emergency doctor that she had done her job (no emergency here, let’s move on). Which then left it up to me to figure out what was going on. And thanks to Kate, and a quick trip to Málaga, it seems things are now getting better.