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pain from inuries, epicondylitis, scared of Chinese doctors

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Hello, I don't know where to begin so I'll start at the beginning. For the record, I'm 27, 130 lbs, 5'11".

I was born in Louisiana with bronchial asthma and was in/out of hospitals under age 10 many times due to it and getting sick often. When I was 3, I got hit in the head by a stone. Bled alot.. didn't go to hospital, just lay on couch. After 10 years old my family moved to Ohio and I suddenly stopped getting sick often and instead became hypersensitive to many things, so I have a lot of allergies such as cigarettes, isopropyl alcohol, some trees & grass, nuts, certain fruits, nickel, and pollen. It's best I don't touch many things or eat anything without knowing what exactly it is. When I was 12, I got ran over by a van. I was basically knocked down and the right ankle was run over while laying on my left side. Nothing broke, luckily, but there was a fracture. After a couple months on crutches and a few weeks I could walk ok, but ever since I have pain in my right leg, knee, and ankle causing a small limp usually. It hurts more when the knee is bent, so I often try to keep my leg straight. Every time I bend my knee straight, it pops sort of loud. Also, occasionally the knee will hurt more and awkwardly pops from pressure going inward, as though it wants to bend inwards. In high school I did things like skateboarding, BMX, dirtbiking, rollerblading, and ice skating. I've had my fair share of falls, too. Flipping over my dirtbike's handle bars at 50mph on a gravel forest path was memorable (as I was dodging my brother who suddenly stopped). Once I fell on my BMX bike and the metal spikes on the petal sliced up my right leg from ankle to knee on the front along the shin. Father said I needed stitches.. I chose to stay home and rest awhile in homemade bandages. That pain in my shin is still there too, mostly when walking a lot or too much strain. About this time I realized I have epicondylitis, because my elbows cannot bend 180 degrees straight whereas most people can or further. I'm not sure what I did to get it.. I played golf and tennis with a friend several times a year. I did work on cars often (as I read repeated twisting movements with screwdrivers can cause it). There's only slight pain in both elbows. Sometimes they get stuck and I have to throw my arm out to pop them. It feels more like the bone is formed to stop at this 160 degree range as the inner elbow has a bone protrusion that no one has in normal elbows. At 17, I consumed so much caffeine to keep me awake that I crashed and went to the hospital. My heart wasn't so good but I got better. At that time I gave up meat to rid heart burn and cost of meds. It worked, I've been a vegetarian for 10 years and no heartburn or stomach pain. I did get really sick from the caffeine crash though. I couldn't eat for 2.5 weeks straight (reason for being underweight even 10 years after). Afterwards I slowly forced myself to eat more and more keeping a sort of meal schedule because I seem to have loss the feeling of hunger. I thought I may be anorexic, since I still continue to skip meals often, at times no food for 2-3 days until I realize I haven't ate. Just never feel like I need to, like I'm always full. My asthma gets worse over time, and I stopped medication during college (due to price, no insurance.. I had to choose food and rent vs meds. Of all the asthma/allergy meds the doctor put me on.. nothing worked. Advair was my best shot.. but my body adapted to it as well and I feared overdose and stopped). Oh yea, my mother has multiple sclerosis. I know it's not hereditary, but it does say the risk is higher for those with a parent or sibling with it. My father's hearing was half deaf since he was a teen, and currently near deaf. Anyway, in college I had a lot of stress with work and school. I joined a karate club in the university to get exercise and relieve stress which worked except I collapsed from over-exertion and asthma quite a few times. I suffer some injuries from it like varicocele after being kicked. Hurt for months.. doctor said it was ok.. how is pain ok? Especially in that place? Now it's just sensitive, hurts with any bump. Also when I twist my right arm counter-clockwise, cracking and pop noises (like cracking your knuckles in a row) happen down my sternum. Sometimes it feels good to do it.. other times a little pain and unease. Near end of college I had an episode of loss of consciousness from 7 day sleep deprivation (electrical engineer major can be strenuous). I just remember waking up on the floor and my ex asking why I'm sleeping on the floor and late to class. I lost around 2 days of memory there so I don't sleep deprive myself anymore. Later I got into Tai Chi because karate got to my lungs and body too much, achieved purple belt though. A doctor found out I have sinus arrhythmia, and I tend to get sinus headaches from sinusitis or rhinitis at times of the year. Amoxicillin clears it up in good time though.

I've been living about 2 years in China now. I think here my diet has improved drastically. I've seen a traditional Chinese medicine man in the countryside for my asthma... eh, let's just say being poked with flaming twigs and aggressively rubbed with hot tea didn't work, but I have drank some odd teas and ate some interesting new vegetables and plants I never seen before.. even flowers, and I feel better to some extent. I still have chest pains everyday, trouble breathing.. that's normal for asthma symptoms and I'm used to it by now. On really bad days I take prednisone which can be acquired cheaply here without prescription and I have used it before in the US for the same purpose that kept me alive after a massive dog allergy attack that triggered it. On those days I can't walk up stairs or move much without suffocating.

My current issue is the right leg pain. I wake up often at night from it or the elbows. I gave up driving when I moved to China, so I do a TON of walking now plus going up and down stairs due to lack of elevators. It's a healthy lifestyle and gets you really active instead of being sedentary with machines to do everything for you, but it increases the wear and tear thus more pain. So now I'm looking for pain medication options while being scared of Chinese doctors. My Chinese is almost fluent, but I can't describe in medical terms or get someone to understand me in enough English to translate. With all my allergies, I worry a doctor will do something I'll regret. So far, I've looked into buying a walking cane to ease pressure off the leg. I feel like age is only going to make it worse and waiting won't help. Oddly enough I came here to seek alternative medicine but most people here have never seen or heard of the problems I have.. oh well, still enjoy the life everyday.

Anyway, hopefully any suggestions.. don't want to take so much Ibuprofen anymore, good for the frequent headaches though, or body aches. Right shoulder blade always aches and pops.. haven't figured that one out yet.

Take care,
(Darui)
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replied August 27th, 2012
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Hello Darui. Welcome to ehealth forum.
It looks like you have a variety of issues going on. I suggest that you work on them one at a time and gradually improve things rather than trying to tackle them all at once. The most important problem is your asthma but it seems like you have that pretty much under control with the prednisone.
I urge you to get a medic alert bracelet since you have so many allergies. You also might want to hire a fluent translator to bring with you to your first few visits to a new doctor to eliminate any chance of error due to communication problems. Consider taking a list of questions or concerns and speak to your doctor in great detail about your health problems.
I suspect that you are suffering from arthritis brought on by some of your earlier injuries. Besides ibuprofen, there are other things that can help with that such as using a heating pad or ice pack, stretches...
I am no doctor and cannot address every issue but I hope some of my suggestions help. Good luck in finding solutions to your health issues and again, welcome to ehealth forum!
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