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Stress Effects [publisher's letter]

Publisher Tracy Patterson with her dog sitting in the desert resting up from a hike

Tracy Patterson

Over the holidays, I suffered from a problem in my neck, resulting in nerve pain in my arm. It was especially bad when standing or sitting; hence, laying down was pretty much the only option where I could obtain at least a little relief. I likened this arm pain to a bad toothache I once had, which in a way made sense since they were both about nerves.

At this time of year, finding a chiropractor was next to impossible, but eventually I was able to start chiropractic treatments, and acupuncture, and it slowly began to turn around … and I mean slowly!

I can say that I will be much more careful when it comes to slinging my handicapped dog around, which is how I think this problem came to be―holding my arm out in awkward positions beside me or in front of me, trying to jockey Katie through the door or into her stroller. Almost two years of this took its toll, and wow what a sharp reminder it was that we should always pay attention to how we are moving, lifting, and generally using our bodies, especially as we get older.

While reading the feature article this month, I was reminded of something I experienced during this painful period. I had a few instances where I was doing not too badly in the pain department, and then I became stressed about something. I could actually feel how stress impacts the body―the level of pain went from about a two to a nine almost immediately. And I noticed this on three separate occasions, so I knew it wasn’t just coincidence. The science shows that stress affects us, but this was the first time I ever experienced the two paired so closely.

My thinking was in two parts: One is that I become stressed way too easily, and two is that I need some techniques to calm down or ward stress off before it starts. I periodically do some of the preventive steps suggested in the article, but these experiences made me realize that it’s definitely worth making sure that these proactive measures are daily habits.