Pain or No Brain?

Ages and ages ago (except it doesn’t feel that long ago – doesn’t time fly when you’re in a fibro fog!), I (with my doctor’s advice) weaned myself off Lyrica to see if we could find a better way to deal with this condition. If you followed the posts, you’ll remember that I ended up at Step 1 again and back on it…almost immediately.

Basically, it seemed, I was given the choice of being in pain (no Lyrica) or no brain (with Lyrica). I chose no pain.

I am beginning to question my choice…as my brain and everything in it quickly turns to mush.

119. fibro fogLyrica (and Neurontin, by the way) blocks the formation of new brain synapses, drastically reducing the potential for rejuvenating brain plasticity – meaning that these drugs will cause brain decline faster than any substance known to mankind! (This is not me being OTT – this is a quote by some-one else.)

Synaptic plasticity is a key feature of nerve architecture that enables your brain to tolerate stress, recover from trauma, and make changes. That’s how your brain bounces back from intense stress (or not, in our case). Hmmm….and that could be why I just can’t seem to quit smoking. Our brains, on Lyrica, are no longer flexible or “plastic.”

Doctors use them for all manner of nerve issues because they are good at suppressing symptoms. However, can we justify this use now that the actual mechanism of the drugs is finally understood? – they are creating a significant long-term reduction in nerve health.

148. fibro fogTo make matters worse (yes, they can get worse), antidepressants block the action of acetylcholine. What does acetylcholine do, you might ask? It is the primary neurotransmitter involved with memory and learning. And, how many of us take antidepressants? I know that I do. See what I mean by things getting worse?

Can it really be right to force us to make this kind of choice?

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Understanding the Pain

I really liked this metaphor for understanding our pain, so I thought I would partially reblog (also I feel like crap, so I’m kinda cheating):

Understanding the Pain Response of Fibromyalgia

By Adrienne Dellwo, About.com Guide

When you’re trying to understand how pain works in someone with fibromyalgia, it can help to step away from the medical jargon and compare it to something most of us are already familiar with. To me, it really helps to think about a computer network. (Don’t worry – you don’t have to understand a lot about computers to get this!)

Computer Network Malfunction

Picture the computer network at a large company, with a bunch of computers all connected to a server, and an IT department full of guys who keep it all running.

Problem #1: Now imagine there’s a glitch in the system and things just aren’t running right. The computers start popping up with erroneous warning messages, so everyone starts emailing IT about them.

Problem #2: The glitch causes all of those emails to be sent in triplicate.

Problem #3: The IT department is woefully under staffed today, with 2 guys present instead of the usual 6. They were already working hard to keep the system running when suddenly they were swamped with emails and there’s no way they can keep up on them. Now the email system is on the verge of crashing because of the sudden spike.

You can imagine the chaos and confusion that would result, as well as the drop in everyone’s ability to actually get their jobs done.

Nervous System Malfunction

Now let’s look at how this applies to what’s going on in your body.

The computer network is your nervous system. The server is your brain, and the computers represent cells. The IT guys? They’re playing the role of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps your brain process pain signals.

In Problem #1: The cells inaccurately interpret different kinds of stimuli as pain (erroneous warning messages.)

In Problem #2: They send pain signals to your brain (emails,) but because they have high levels of an enzyme called substance P, they send up to triple the number of signals they should send.

In Problem #3: Your brain is working hard to keep your body running, when suddenly it’s bombarded by pain signals emails. It doesn’t have enough serotonin to process the messages that are coming in, and the pain distracts resources from other areas.

Just as in a company, this dysfunction causes myriad problems in your body and your life and makes it hard for you to function.