#LivingQuell Stories: Reducing pain related to Lyme disease
When I first saw a TV ad for Quell sometime last year, I just barely refrained from stuffing an envelope with cash to send them. Between 15 or so years of Lyme disease and this current SI joint problem, I’ve spent a whole lot of time and effort on pain management tactics. They’ve mostly boiled down to taking an opioid painkiller or just being in a lot of pain and trying to carry on about my life anyway.
Now I’m not opposed to prescription painkillers as a rule or anything. But I’ve inherited my mother’s low tolerance for pain medication, and despite being on the second lowest step in the opioid pain relief tree, it still makes me sleepy. I’ve often been in a position where I have to choose between being able to work or getting relief from pain. For years, I’ve usually opted for being able to work, which means I’ve been in pain, a lot.
So this wearable, drug free pain relief idea was really appealing to me. Also, from a professional standpoint, I’m super interested in intersections of the tech and design industry (where I work) and the healthcare industry (where I live). I was a little skeptical of Quell being helpful to me, as I’ve seen it compared to a TENS unit, and those haven’t done much for my pain. But Quell offers a 60 day money back guarantee, so if I didn’t get anything out of it, I could always return it.
The TL;DR is that if you’re at all on the fence about trying it, you should absolutely get one.
I had a really long bout with Lyme disease. Thankfully I’ve been off of any treatment for it since fall of 2014, but I do still have a little bit of lingering arthritisy pain that kicks up around this time of year.
I also have an unstable sacroiliac joint, as of February 2015. The SI joint is the one that connects your pelvis to your spine, and it’s supposed to just barely move. Mine moves way too much, which irritates the nerves there. It’s extraordinarily painful, and affects everything about my day. Far too much of my decision making process is based on how much pain various options will cost me. It’s painful to walk, to pick up my kid, and to put on pants. I’ve always stopped short of calling is disabling, because I am still able to walk (and to work). But if I’m going with the official definition of “a condition that substantially limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities,” then yes, it’s disabling.
Pain can be a difficult thing to quantify. I’m a fan of the scales that provide some context as to how pain is affecting day to day living, so I made a 0-4 scale for myself based on that, which I track through Symple.
0 – Literally no pain.
1 – Noticeable pain, but not bothersome, sporadic.
2 – Bothersome, affecting my gait, and generally constant.
3 – Painful. If I feel a need to take a painkiller (or wish I could), it’s a 3.
4 – Basically bedbound. Pain severely affects my day.
Since last fall, I’ve been at a monthly average of 3.11
After the first round of treatment with Quell, I did notice that it kind of took the edge off of my pain, but it wasn’t anything significant. I read that it sometimes takes a bit of time to get the full effect from the therapy. I then wore it to bed that night, and found that having it come on intermittently didn’t wake me up.
The next day, I was convinced that Quell is some kind of voodoo magic. I woke up with very little pain. We went to a movie, walked over to a restaurant, hung out with friends, and then I even came home and cleaned out a closet. Any one of those things would have usually caused me to be at least very uncomfortable, and more often dragging a leg when I walked around the house.
I also wear it when working. As a photographer, my work involves a lot of time on my feet and hauling gear, and usually a shoot requires a day or two of couch time to recover. I tested it out for a portrait shoot and for a wedding, and while both still involved some recovery time, I was significantly better off with the Quell than without.
After just over 30 hours of wearing the Quell, I’d marked:
Pain – 3
Sleep interference – 0
Activity interference – 0
Mood interference – 0
My pain didn’t affect my activity level, at all, all day. I didn’t worry about how far away we parked from something, about having to get out of the car multiple times, I stopped working on that closet project when I wanted to, and not when I had to. I did whatever I wanted, and that is absolutely worth $250 to me. I went from my pain affecting every single thing I do, to not even considering it in just over a day.
Now, since then I’ve had a few ones and twos. But my scale is now 0-2, instead of 8-10, so calling it life changing isn’t being at all hyperbolic. My worse days now are about on par with where my good days were before. I honestly can’t believe how well this thing works.
This post has been edited for length. To read Caroline’s full review, please visit her personal site at http://www.mooredesign.us/blog/2017/2/17/quell.
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