I was working with Burt (not his real name) yesterday morning and told him about my blog. He wanted me to write about him.
Burt came in with his wife last October. They had big stacks of papers from all the doctors that they had visited. Burt was diagnosed with ALS by Emory and The Mayo Clinic. The musculature on his forearms and hands had atrophied so that they looked like toothpicks. He had jerky spasms all night in his upper body. His doctor said that they were more “spectacular” than the ones he normally sees with ALS.
Richard told him to come to see me. Really? Okay.
Seems like I’m in over my head, but let’s run a few tests. I didn’t think I would find anything interesting as they had already run all these nerve conduction tests and clearly determined that it was ALS. I went to my trusty freezer and got an ice cup. I had Burt grip his wife’s arm before and after I would stroke various muscles with ice. They noticed that he became stronger after I stroked over certain muscles with the ice cup.
So, I talked to them about trigger points. I explained how the pain and cold traveled over the same nerve and when I stroked that muscle it temporarily disabled the trigger point. I explained about The Godfather of Organized Pain and how the top vertebra in the neck a key part of The Pain Organization. Burt then explained that he had tonsil cancer and had quite a bit of work done near there. Well, there’s a clue.
Burt didn’t have any other real options so we gave this a shot.
I spent time tracking down the cranial problems that were connected to the forearm, shoulder and lower cervicals. In those beginning sessions, I also took the last few minutes to mobilize his atlas, lower cervicals and shoulder joints. He made steady progress. I watched as his forearms grew and became stronger. His nightly spasms seem reduce dramatically with regular cranial work. He was pleased. His wife was really pleased.
Burt went back to his doctors in January. They retracted his diagnosis of ALS. They said that people don’t recover from ALS and asked him what he did. Burt explained about seeing me. He told them that I said that he showed signs of thoracic outlet syndrome. He told them that when I mobilized restrictions in the cranium and atlas that it changed the balance of the lower cervicals and structures of the thoracic outlet. They told him I didn’t know what I was talking about. They said that the cranium and atlas had nothing to do with thoracic outlet. They strongly suggested that he quit seeing me. Yeah, I don’t get that.
Burt works in the field as an engineer for a utility company. He told me that his boss evaluated him this spring. Last year, his boss was certain that Burt would be going on disability and take early retirement. The other guys in the union had problems with his growing disability. His boss was surprised to see him recover and now thinks that he will be able to work until he earns full retirement.
We work together each week for about an hour. We talk about grilling. We talk about our vacations. We steadily work on dismantling The Pain Organization. We also smile a lot about his progress. It’s a great job. Really.