Hickeys and Alcohol…

The Google queen is at it again.  The search for today? “Alternative Fibromyaliga treatments.”

I found a treatment that scares me and intrigues me at the same time. 

The treatment is called “Cupping Therapy.” 

Did anyone else automatically think alcohol when you heard cupping?

No?

Just me?

Moving on…

I found the following information on Cupping therapy from http://www.fibromyalgia-symptoms.org

What is Cupping?  (Beer? Wine?  Rum?…)
Cupping therapy has been adapted for use from a form of traditional Chinese medicine. This type of therapy uses glass cups applied to the skin to help relieve pain, flush out toxins, and restore healthy blood flow to the body. Using heat or a suction pump, a vacuum is created inside of each glass cup. These cups are then placed on various acupuncture points throughout the body and left for about ten minutes.

(Remember when you were little and you would put a cup around your mouth and suck in really hard so it would stick?  You inevitably ended up with a big hickey around your mouth and chin.  This is what I’m picturing with this therapy.  I’m also a bit concerned that the first thought that popped into my head when I heard about this therapy was alcohol and the second thought I had was hickeys.)

Types of Cupping
There are two main types of cupping:

  • Stationary Cupping: During stationary cupping, each glass cup is left in one position on the skin. The glasses are not moved.
  • Massage Cupping: During massage cupping, the glass cups are moved around the skin in a massage-like technique. (This sounds a lot like ASTYM to me, only ASTYM tools are flat)

History of Cupping
Though cupping may sound scary at first (You’re not kidding!), it has actually been around for thousands of years. It was first used by various indigenous tribes in Africa, Asia, and South America. These tribesmen used hollowed-out horns to remove poisons passed through insect and snakebites (gross). It was also used in traditional Chinese medicine to help prepare people for surgery and to divert blood from wounds. (Yikes!)

Throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, cupping was commonly used to help cure common colds and chest infections. Nowadays, cupping is making a big comeback. In the United States, it is offered by many massage therapists and acupuncturists, with various celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, taking advantage of this ancient technique..(Well if Gwyneth does it, we just HAVE to do it, right?)

The Benefits of Cupping
Whether or not you are suffering from symptoms of pain or muscle stiffness, cupping is a great therapy. It provides numerous benefits including:

  • improved circulation and blood flow
  • toxin release
  • faster healing of muscles, ligaments, and tendons

(again, this sounds very similar to ASTYM)

It also works to reduce pain and soften stiff muscles and tissues.

Cupping Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Cupping therapy is especially beneficial for people suffering from fibromyalgia. If you have fibromyalgia, you know how tender your muscles and joints are (Um..duh). Even a vigorous massage can send your body into spasm. Cupping, however, is a non-irritating type of treatment. It will not exacerbate your muscle pain in anyway, or compound any of your fibromyalgia symptoms. It is especially good for:

  • reducing trigger points
  • increasing muscle flexibility and range of motion
  • decreasing anxiety and depression

What to Expect During A Session
At your first cupping session, you will probably notice quite a few different tools that will be used during your treatment. These include:

  • glass cups
  • alcohol (AH HA! I knew alcohol was involved!)
  • cotton balls
  • candles
  • matches (Do what now?  Those better be to light the candles!)

Though these implements may worry you (Yep!), rest assured, this is not a painful treatment. You will lie down on a massage table and your therapist will first locate areas that require treatment. Once these areas have been identified, the cupping procedure will begin.

  • A candle is lit and used to light on fire a cotton ball that has been soaked in alcohol.
  • This cotton ball is then held inside a glass cup, creating a vacuum.
  • The cotton ball is removed and the cup is placed immediately on your skin.

You will feel a slight suction where each cup has been applied (does anyone else have a loud “slurping” noise ringing in their ears?). Typically, between four and six cups are applied during one session. These are left on the skin for no more than 15 minutes. If you are receiving a massage cupping treatment, oil will first be rubbed over your skin. The glass cups will then be moved over your skin to help massage sore muscles and joints.

After the Cupping Treatment
After your cupping treatment you may notice some red marks in the form of circles on your skin (AH HA again! I knew there were hickeys were involved too!). Don’t worry – this is a sign that the cupping technique has worked to increase your circulation. You will also feel deeply relaxed and the areas that have been treated will feel flexible and light.

 

Google searching also has to come with looking at the images.  This is what I found when I looked at the cupping images…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOLY CRAP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know on diary farms when the hook the cows up to the milking machines?…

 

 

While I think this therapy is very interesting…

I think I’ll stick to ASTYM.

 

Yesterday…

A long time ago, a fellow fibro sufferer gave me a piece of advice.  It was when I was having a hard time dealing with everything that was coming along with fibro.  I was only a few months diagnosed, but the advice made as much sense then and it does now…almost two years later being diagnosed.

She told me that I have to learn to mourn parts of the person I used to be and embrace the new me.  It sounds a bit depressing when you first hear it, but I think it can mean a lot of things…both depressing and positive at the same time.

It’s easy to forget the person I used to be, because fibro has changed almost every aspect of my life. 

I remember being shy when I was young.  I loved playing Barbie’s with my sister.  I loved riding bikes around down-town South Bend with my best friend.  I remember making up dances to Madonna songs with my best girl-friend (inspiration to eventually teach Zumba?…hmmm).  I loved swimming and thought I would “save the world” being an advocate to save the environment.

I hated middle school and found friends in high school through the swim team. When I look back at high school, I see the pool.  I spent most of the later part of high school with boyfriends.  I went to prom, to Friday night football games, movies, worked part time at a grocery store, etc. etc.

I went off to college and had some of the best, and worst times of my life.  I changed my major three times before I decided on an English degree (and then later decided to work in the financial field…go figure).  I was sweetheart of a fraternity and loved them like brothers. I partied too much and too hard (sorry Mom!) but still managed to pull off pretty good grades.

 In college, I struggled with major depression and hit the lowest point of my life.  By the time I graduated, I was ready to move on with my life.

I met my future husband shortly after graduating.  He brought happiness to my life that seemed to chase a lot of my depression away. I had no idea what I wanted to with my life, but I knew I wanted to marry him.  We were dead broke when we got married.  A month after we were married, Trent’s heart started to stop unexpectedly.  A month later, and mountains of hospital and doctor bills, we were even more broke, but somehow seemed to get through it all.  We played board games, ate Raman noodles, and eventually found jobs and started to settle. 

We bought a house and spent a lot of time repairing it.  Work, work, work…

A few years passed and we found out we were going to have a baby!  11 weeks later, we lost it.  It was one of the most painful experiences of my life.  The day I told my Mom I was pregnant a hummingbird came up to hear as she was sitting outside.  As we talked on the phone through the 11 weeks, the same hummingbird came to visit her whenever we talked.  After I lost the baby, the hummingbird never came back.  I have a special bond with hummingbirds.  When one flutters by I feel a little soft spot wondering if it’s a little spirit coming to visit me.  I find peace with hummingbirds now and think I always will.

With that came my major weight gain.  After that came my next love…Zumba (and the start of my weight loss) 

Then I started to get sick more often. 

Then came debilitating back pain.

 

And then came fibro…and a new me.

I think I did what everyone else does when they’re first diagnosed.  I thought about what I wasn’t going to be able to do anymore.  I was worried about my future.  I felt cheated.  I was 28 and felt like I aged about 10 years over-night.  I felt old, moved like an old person when I really hurt, and got sick all the time like an old person.  I was sure I would have to give up Zumba.  I had heard horror stories of people have to go on disability and how they couldn’t get out of bed for more than an hour a day.  Was that going to be me?

Hell no! 

I should probably have mentioned throughout my stages of my life, stubbornness was always a huge part me.  That never (and probably will never) change! 

I found my “guardian angel” and thank God for her!  (insert tid-bit here:  I later found out some people in an old Zumba class nick-named her hummingbird) She brought me Physical Therapy and Pilates and wouldn’t let (and still won’t let) fibro get me down.  In the long run…the place where I do Pilates, Physical therapy, and Zumba also led me to a great Rheumatologist. 

So why am I in mourning?

Even after two years of having the “hell no, fibro’s not going to get me!” attitude, I still have rough patches.  Patches where I feel more tired, where I hurt more, medications don’t work, seeming to NEVER have a good night’s sleep, feeling frustrated with people’s lack of understanding of Fibro itself and mostly wishing for the days where I didn’t have to deal with all of this.

And then I look back at the parts of me I can mourn and say goodbye to, and the parts that have brought me to being a fibro warrior.

I may still ride a bike through down-town South Bend someday, just because someone said that a person with Fibro can’t. 

I’m still making up dances…but it’s more to Latin music than Madonna.  Looking back, if I hadn’t been diagnosed with Fibro, I probably wouldn’t have ever had the motivation to get certified to teach Zumba.  For that, I am grateful for fibro.

I’ve said goodbye to some of my shyness.  I can’t be shy and be a voice for fibro sufferers.  If I bring understanding of fibro to at least one person through my voice, I feel like I’ve made a difference. 

My days of being a “party animal” are over.  After meeting my husband, most of the party animal in me went away, but after fibro it was gone.  A hangover isn’t really fun when your fibro symptoms make you wake up feeling that way most mornings anyway.

I have embraced my marriage in a new way since being diagnosed.  As much as it kills me, I know I have to ask for help sometimes.  We’ve been through so much together and I know we can handle whatever challenges fibro throws into a marriage. 

I mourn over the part of me that really wanted to me a mother.  I’m not sure after fibro that it’s something I want to be…at least for right now.  I know thousands of women with fibro have babies every day, but it doesn’t help calm my fears.  I think it may happen someday…we’ll see.  I’ll keep my eye out for hummingbirds.

I still feel like I aged over-night since being diagnosed, but I think with that came a new (dare I say, more mature) outlook on life.  A new outlook on what is important in my life and it made things that used to get me so down and depressed seem silly.   

I have to remember that even though people sometimes treat me like I’m going to break, or they try to break me, or I hurt so bad I already feel broken, that the new me has accomplished so much..just being motivated by trying to prove fibro wrong.  Would I have been as motivated to lose weight? Or teach Zumba? Continue to work?   

I don’t ever remember a “me” that was this motivated.  I think some of the things I have accomplished in the last two years are a fair trade for the parts of me I have to let go.