1.17.2018

My Shoulder is What?



I sleep with a teddy bear.  I know it sounds weird, and I know I'm way too old for stuffed animals, but you see my shoulder is frozen.  And when I say frozen, I actually do mean frozen.  Sleeping on my stomach is not comfortable, and sleeping on my right side is not possible. I know better than to even try.  I can sleep on my left side okay as long I stuff a pillow under my armpit for support, but I spend most nights sleeping on my back.  That's how the giant teddy bear found it's way from the basket in the spare room to my bed.  I can't rest my hand on my belly when I lay down.  It's really  bizarre how it just sort of hangs there hovering above my stomach like a limp rag.  Teddy gives me another option besides leaving it stiffly at my side.  I wrap my arms around him, and generally contort him into whatever shape I need to get comfortable.

So the short story is that the rotator cuff tear that happened in 2016 morphed into something called Adhesive Capsulitis, also known as Frozen Shoulder, and there is nothing the doctors can do for me at this time.  The long story is this.

HOW IT HAPPENED
I really don't know how it happened.  I worked out pretty hard core in 2016 about 5-6 days a week.  Mostly HIIT circuits, but there was walking, running, and also some yoga here and there.  Nothing unusual happened.  I don't feel that I pushed myself too hard.  Sometime during that summer I felt an odd twinging sensation in my right shoulder, but only when I did push-ups with my butt in the air.  The regular ones felt fine.  There was no incident or injury causing moment that I'm aware of, and that in itself is kind of scary.   My rotator cuff wore out on me for no particular reason that I know of.

THE TIMELINE
From January through October 2016 I worked out without any limitations.  Over the summer I avoided those incline push-ups when those felt odd to do, and everything seemed fine.  There was no real indication that I had injured myself until around November.  Out of nowhere it started to hurt when I reached for things above my head, in front of me, or to the side.  Any reaching whatsoever caused a pretty shocking surge of pain to shoot through my shoulder.  This is when I realized that something was seriously wrong.  All arm workouts ceased.  Yoga, and anything weight bearing was a no go, along with pretty much anything that required me to use my arms.  It's crazy how much my shoulder deteriorated after that.  In October I could do all the yoga poses, but by November I could barely lift my arm without pain.

I went to Germany for Thanksgiving that year, and I distinctly remember an increase in pain doing things like picking up my purse from beside me and getting dressed.  I made an appointment in December, and went to my primary doctor in January 2017.  I was sent home by with some rotator cuff syndrome exercises.  They were super painful, but I did them.  She said to make another appointment if there was no improvement after six weeks.  I scheduled another appointment after about four weeks because there were some moments where I felt like it was getting better, but overall it was still painful and clearly not normal.  Also, I wanted an MRI.  By this time I was in pain every single day so I wanted some definitive answers.  Driving, putting on shirts, sleeping, opening doors, and all of these little things we do every day had become very painful.  I went back to my primary doctor in March, and got an orthopedic referral.  Because I'd already been dealing with this for so long, the Orthopedic doctor sent me for x-rays, and referred for an MRI, and Physical Therapy.  By the end of March I had an MRI confirming a small rotator cuff tear and started Physical Therapy by April.  

I went to physical therapy every 2-3 weeks and did exercises 3 times per day every day at home.  I did a set before work, a set when I got home from work, and the last set before bed.  Some days I was in so much pain I needed a break and I'd take a day off, but other than that I was consistent because I really wanted to get better.

Back to Germany I went in July 2017.  This time, it would be for 6 weeks and included a solid month of travel.  I knew it was going to be hard to keep up with my exercises, but I was definitely going to try.  I brought my bands and my over the door pulley system with me, but as expected I wasn't as consistent.

I was in a lot of pain when I came home from Germany at the end of August.  It was a horrible time.  It hurt all day at work, it ached at night, and grew stiffer and stiffer by the day.  I threw myself back into Physical therapy as soon as I got back, but I could tell that there was some serious regression, and the pain was changing.  More things were starting to hurt.  Physical therapy was excruciating, and it was upsetting to see my range of motion decreasing so much.  I was pretty miserable.  Then one morning I woke up and the pain that I usually felt when I lifted my arm in the morning was gone.  I started to get excited, until I realized that my arm was stuck.  Literally stuck.  It was almost like it happened overnight.  One day it was severe pain with movement at the top of my range of motion, and the next it just wouldn't go.  I started to notice different things I could no longer do.  I can't put my right arm behind my back, or even rest my hand on my hip comfortably.  My physical therapist tried to push my arm up.  I had to tell her to stop because not only was it very painful, it just wouldn't go.


THE DIAGNOSIS
When I went back to the Orthopedics in October I was very discouraged to find out that my rotator cuff injury had become secondary.  My shoulder was frozen.  Adhesive Capsulitis.  The capsule around my shoulder joint has thickened and formed scar tissue to the point where there is no room for my shoulder to rotate and move the way it should.  I was told that frozen shoulder had likely run the full course.  Doctors don't really know why Adhesive Capsulitis happens to some and not others.  It seems to be quite a mystery why it comes, and why it goes.  I had never heard of this before and usually others haven't unless they specifically hear of someone else getting it.  I guess it's just not something you hear about, and it is quite bizarre once you start reading up on it.  Sometimes it starts on it's own for no known reason and other times it is triggered by a surgery or an injury that limits movement.  That's what happened to me.


TREATMENT
I felt really sad when I left the doctor's office that day.  I'm frozen?  What the hell?  It sounds like a nightmare, and the research that I did on my own was even more terrifying.  The possible treatment that was mentioned to me was manipulation under anesthesia.  Basically, they would put me under anesthesia so I won't feel anything, and manipulate the hell out of my shoulder to break up the scar tissue.  It could also accompany an invasive procedure to cut away scar tissue.  Every source I came across said that MUA should only be used as a last resort due to risk of fracture or otherwise making the situation worse.  I was terrified by the idea of it, but in so much pain I had to consider that it might be worth the risk.  Turns out, it's not an option for me right now.

When I went back to Orthopedics in November she realized that it was too early for them to even consider a MUA.  The doctor will not do it any sooner than 6-9 months after freezing.  Frozen shoulder has 3 stages.  Stage one is freezing, and likely what I was experiencing during that first year of pain.  This is the most painful phase, and can take 6-9 months.  Stage two is frozen, and this is likely where I'm at now, however this phase typically lasts for 4-12 months.  In this stage the pain is less acute, however my mobility is still extremely limited.  Also, it still hurts quite a bit.  The degree of pain changes from day to day.  I never really know what kind of pain I'm in for when I wake up in the morning.  Sometimes it aches all the way up to my collar bone, for a lot of the day, other days it's not so bad.  The last phase of frozen shoulder is Thawing stage which can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.  Years!!!! This is the stage where I would ideally get all or most mobility back.  What that means is it could take 16-45 months or about 2-4 years to resolve.

I didn't really want the MUA, but having it as an option made me feel hopeful.  I was a little bit crushed when I found out that there is really nothing they can do about it right now, and that my condition probably won't change for at least another year.  Hopefully.  The doctor said Physical Therapy is not likely to be effective on a frozen shoulder so I quit.  Cortisone shots may provide some relief, but it won't fix the problem.  There is nothing to do at this point but wait.  I also make sure to stretch my shoulder in some way every day so that I don't loose the mobility I still have.  That's it.  Just sit tight and wait for thawing that will hopefully come.  It took me 11 months to freeze and I'm only 5 months frozen, so I have a long road ahead of me.

 
 WHAT NOW?
When the pain got really bad in November, I felt very lost when it comes to exercise.  I love HIIT.  It really helped me achieve all my fitness goals for 2016, but I was ready to take a break.  I bought a yoga strap and was excited to start focusing on Yoga and flexibility.  Then my shoulder stopped working, and there was a period of time where I quit exercising altogether.  It was hard for me to accept that I physically could not do what I wanted to do, and I sort of thought, I'll do the physical therapy, get better and then I can pick up exercising the way I want to.  Well, that didn't happen, so I did Callanetics because it was low impact.  Then I started doing HIIT again, but with substitutions for exercises my shoulder would no longer let me do.  It's funny what you can get used to.  The hardest part was going through that excruciating pain of freezing, being so scared of what was happening and not knowing how bad it was going to get.  I cried when I found out what this was, and how it was going to be from now on, but shoulder pain and the limitations that come along with it are part of my life now.  I can't lift my right arm above my head.  Cross body movements are very uncomfortable in general. I can't stand with my arms crossed because the right arm won't sit comfortably across my body.  Shaving my armpits is extremely difficult because I can't reach over to the left, or get my right armpit to open much.  Doing my hair up in a ponytail forces my shoulder into a position it does not easily go.  I can't lift things or make certain movements without some degree pain.  My arm can only reach so far, and my shoulder cannot extend beyond 90 degrees.  It just stops.  On good days, I can almost forget my shoulder is frozen.  I'm reminded of it mostly when I sleep, or when I accidentally move my arm too far reaching for something. If my body jerks too much on a sneeze, that slice of pain is pretty quick to remind me.   On the bad days I just deal with the pain.

Is it silly that one of the things that upsets me the most is that I can't do handstands anymore?  I was a gymnast growing up, and I will always be an avid fan.  As I've gotten older the majority of my acrobatic skills are either no longer possible, or I'm too scared to try, but I've been able to do a handstand for as long as I could remember.  I could even walk in circles on my hands.  People all over the world aspire to do a handstand and I could do handstand pirouettes, with ease.  I know I'm being dramatic, but it was just a fun thing I could still do, and I liked that, but now I feel this weird sense of loss that it's something I may never do again.

I'll check in with my doctor again sometime in the summer and we'll go from there.  I may give acupuncture a try for symptom relief, but there isn't much else for me to do but wait.

Looking back, I keep wondering if I could have done something different.  Could I have prevented this?  If I'd gone to the doctor in the summer and said it hurts when I do push ups she probably would have just told me to stop doing push ups.  I went to the doctor as soon as it started to affect my daily life, and kept going to the doctor for answers.  Should I have taken the cortisone shots that were offered?  I did the exercises.  I never let the pain stop me completely from moving my shoulder.  I slacked off on PT in July/August, but never stopped moving it.  I think by that time, this thing had already been set in motion.  Once the shoulder starts freezing I don't think there is any stopping it.

Having a frozen shoulder sucks.  It's not the worse thing that could happen to me, and that kinda sucks too.  The upside?  Well, I still have my arm, and it works; mostly.  That's good.  I can't really think of anything else except, I've discovered how much I enjoy sleeping with a teddy bear.  I should have never stopped. 
 
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1.04.2018

That Kind of Year

2017 IN NUMBERS
0 arm workouts.

1 time eating Panera Bread, and it was so good.  I had to fly all the way to Dover to do this.  Not like they aren't all over the place where I live or anything.

1 pair designer jeans purchased.  I got lucky and found Seven jeans for $50 on a mess of a clearance rack at Macy's.

2 times eating cheese spaetzle in Germany.  I love it so.

3 flights to Las Vegas.

3 books read.  I am not proud of this.

4 times eating Cracker Barrel.

4 nights out that ended in dancing.  1 of those nights included Karaoke.

5 countries traveled to. Germany, France, Greece, Spain, and Czech Republic.

10 consecutive days spent crying.

15 Uber rides, and that's just the ones I requested with my own app.  I spent $175 on Uber rides in the month of December.  It was just that kind of month.

23 blog posts written.  It gets lower and lower each year.  Daily blogging never made sense to me, but now weekly posts are passé and this is my first post in two months.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.

24 doctor visits.

42 Amazon orders.  This includes things for myself, other people, and a few returns.

43 longest consecutive nights spent with my husband.  

44 days spent outside country.

45 number of consecutive days without weighing myself.  This was unprecedented and I loved it.

86 total nights spent with my husband spread over 5 visits.

89 Netflix DVD rentals. 

177 number of consecutive days and counting spent not tracking calories, and counting.  I don't miss it at all. 

I lost track of how many wine glasses I drank.  It would probably be more accurate to count it in bottles, and I'm pretty sure I'd be too embarrassed to tell even if I did.  I ate so many ice cream cones over the summer I thought I'd turn into one.  If I knew how many, I might be embarrassed of that number too.  Absolutely no regrets about either.  I'm not really sure what to say about 2017 or what to call it.  Good? Bad?  Neither word really describes it because 2017 was a very mixed bag of both.

THE GOOD STUFF
MJ orchestrated the biggest and best birthday a girl could ask for by getting my sisters to come out to Vegas and surprise me.  I cried when opened the door and saw my big sister standing in the doorway.  I cried when my little sister strolled into the house a few hours later, like it was no big deal, then I cried again when MJ walked into the restaurant where my family was having dinner when he was supposed to be in Germany.  Talk about good stuff.  It was really the best.  It was such a happy day.  Time with people you love is so precious, and it was the best birthday gift anyone could ever give me.    

The highlight of my year had to be what will probably always be known as the best and longest vacation of my life.  I got to live that magical travel lifestyle you see all over Instagram, and I'm telling you,  it was grand.  MJ and I were together for six whole weeks.  We got to travel all over Europe, and I had the time of my life.  Such a thing is not likely to happen again until I retire, but that's okay.  It will happen again, and until then I have all the pictures, snap chat videos I saved and memories that never fail to make me smile. #bestsummerever.

I went to Las Vegas three times to see my parents.  Two of those visits included the whole family, which was great, and one of those visits was just me for Christmas.  I had them all to myself.  It kind of made me feel like a kid again and it was nice.   

I quit calorie tracking altogether and I semi broke up with the scale.  I never thought I'd see the day that I could go days on end without knowing what I weigh.  It doesn't seem like a big deal, but for me it is huge because I've spent my entire life fixating on calories and my weight way more than I should have.  It's always been about the numbers for me, and now that it's not I feel so free. I eat what I want.  Sometimes it's healthy, sometimes it's not, and it's just not that big of a deal.  I wish I'd done it a long time ago, but it wasn't going to happen until I was ready.  This year I finally was.

THE BAD STUFF
I try to be a really good sport but this whole long distance marriage thing is really, really hard.  It's hard on each of us individually in different ways, and it's hard on the relationship.  We've been apart for a year before, but this time around is going on almost 1 1/2 years and the end date is still unknown.  The visits have been pretty regular, and I'm grateful that we haven't had to go too many months without seeing each other, but I still feel like a year plus of our lives together has been stolen and I'm ready for that to come to an end.

Sleepless nights were a thing this year.  A really bad thing that turned me into a miserable person who can't sleep at night, and sleep walks through life instead of living in it.  There is more to life than eating, Netflix, going to bed, and picking up groceries at Walmart.  I want to want to want to do more, but the problem is that I'm usually so damn exhausted that I have just enough energy to get through the work week.  I got nothing left after that, physically or mentally.  Work or life.  Sometimes it feels like I can't have both, and I really need both.  My work life balance needs a serious overhaul, and ridding myself of Insomnia will be the key to fixing that.  But how?  Sounds like a New Year's resolution.

The great post #bestsummerever crash of September 2017 was the lowest and the darkest point for me all year, and that wasn't even the month that included the 10 consecutive days of crying.  That would be November/December.  It wasn't any one thing, just a bunch of things that have really tested my ability to cope and keep a smile on my face.  I was so down about everything that I really could not see the light at the end of the tunnel.  About anything.  It was a very sad and lonely place to be, but I bounced back, and was in much better spirits in October.
 
The shoulder issues that started in 2016, continued into 2017, got worse, and culminated in a pretty tough diagnosis.  That's an entirely different post.  Suffice it to say, that dealing with it has not been easy, and it's not likely to change any time soon.

●●●

So you see, it's hard to explain.  It was just that kind of year.  Vastly different from the year we got married that stands out to me as one of the happiest times in my life where I would say without hesitation, that it was 100% a wonderful year.  Not every year is going to be like that.  There were some really wonderful once in a lifetime kind of things that happened in 2017, but there were also some really hard things that happened in 2017.  I think that's what you call life.  It isn't always perfect, but it is good, which means there is always something different, grander, better to look forward to.

Maybe one of my New Year's resolutions for 2018 should be to count the number of bottles of wine I drink so I can include it in the next year end post.  Nah, I can already predict it's going to be another thing I lose count of.  I'm definitely planning to read more, sleep better, cry less, and live with my husband again.  I also want another pair of designer jeans.  I'm even willing to pay full price if I have to.


10.24.2017

Why We Didn't Use AirBnB

When we went to Europe we had five hotels to book, which added up to 17 nights of hotels in the space of about a month.  Once I narrowed down my search on Trip Advisor, I was definitely stressing about how much money all of these hotels were costing us.  I felt I owed it to myself to check out AirBnB and Home Away, just to see what my options were so I created accounts and started looking.  However, I found that the search was even more exhausting over there than on Trip Advisor and that it probably wasn't going to work out because A.  I probably wouldn't be saving all that much money in the end and B.  I just wasn't comfortable taking a chance on some of the places.

Hotel #3 NOSTOS APARTMENTS in Santorini.  This adorable kitchen.
Some of the rentals have pretty rigid cancellation policies, and I only feel comfortable booking when I can cancel.  I don't even mind paying up front as long as I can get my money back if I  need to. Even the cheaper no cancellation allowed price doesn't lure me because I can't stop the what if anxiety.  How many big vacations have I had to cancel?  Zero! But still.  You never know.

Hotel #1 EIFFEL SAINT CHARLES, Paris
Hotel #2 HERODIAN HOTEL, Athens
I can't stay some place that doesn't feel clean.  I just can't.  This is part of why it takes so much research for me to find a hotel and why I really like Trip Advisor.  The reviews are extensive, and the pictures are real.  I head straight for the traveler photos (not the glossy hotel pics) of the bathroom.  If that 'aint right, I don't have to look at anything else because I already know I'm not staying there.  Also, I know a lot of them are exclusively vacation rentals, but I'm pretty sure some of them aren't and I don't know if I like the idea of staying in someone's house, sleeping in their bed, surrounded by their things.  I sometimes even have issues staying in homes of people I do know.  I definitely wouldn't say I'm OCD, because I'm clinically not, but I am that person who doesn't feel comfortable just anywhere.  I see things that nobody else does.  Textured fabrics in general kind of gross me out and if the place doesn't feel right, I'll be wearing my house shoes the entire time.  I can't just roll up anywhere and be okay like my husband.  And the thing is, he has standards. He likes nice hotels, but he certainly doesn't carry the anxiety that I do about how clean it's going to feel.

Hotel #4 HOTEL EL COTO in Colonia De Sant Jordi, Mallorca
I don't want my vacation ruined.  I don't have time for that.  Every day is just too precious for me to risk being cancelled on, or showing up and finding that the place is not as advertised.  Or something else, because I've heard some pretty random Airbnb stories.  I just don't want to risk something going terribly wrong on my vacation.  If I'm going to shell out money for a trip, I really really need for everything to go smoothly.

Keys from hotel #1 Paris, Hotel #2 Santorini, and Hotel #3 in Mallorca.  How charming is that?
I like luxury.  I don't have to stay in the nicest hotel in town, but I am also not interested in staying in Uncle John's extra bedroom.  Some of the lower priced options were functional, basic, and served as a roof over one's vacationing head with nothing more and nothing less.  I'm afraid I tend to want a little bit more when I'm on vacation and it's worth it to me to pay for it.

Hotel #5 COSMOPOLITAN HOTEL in Prague, Czech Republic
By the time I found a place that had extensive A+ reviews, a flexible cancellation policy, in the ideal location that met my rigorous standards of cleanliness and ambiance the cost was close to the same amount I would have been paying for a hotel.  In that case...I might as well pay for a hotel I can count on.  The infrastructure and housekeeping staff that a big hotel provides is worth it.  They can arrange transportation if needed.  You know exactly what amenities will be available.If they overbook, they will find you another room.  If something is broken, they fix it.  You know there will be a hair dryer, and sometimes, you even get a cozy robe and slippers!
Cosmopolitan Hotel Prague
Some people say that they don't like the feel of a big hotel when they travel and that they prefer a more authentic experience.  I mostly agree with that.  Inside the US I don't care that much, but I definitely try to avoid Marriott, Hilton etc when we travel outside the US for that very reason.  I found that many of the European hotels we've come across tend to be small boutique hotels anyway.  In Paris for example, most of the hotels are really tiny.  When I say tiny, I mean so tiny there is barely room to walk around your bed, and fit into the elevator with your luggage.  Bam.  There is your authentic experience.  The hotel where we've stayed in Paris twice now, is a perfectly cozy boutique hotel on a quiet little street, walking distance from a laundromat.  I was so hot and sweaty I seriously considered using it.  There was nothing chain like about our cave style apartment in Santorini at Nostos Apartments or that amazing 4 bedroom apartment in a quiet neighborhood in Rome that we stayed in last year.  I felt so at home at El Coto in Mallorca, and I mean, look at all those adorable keys.  In Paris, they make you leave it at the front desk when you come and go, but at the other two it goes where you go.  I was worried about what would happen if we lost them.  The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Prague had the largest hotel feel of any we stayed in, but the building itself was charming, and at the end of the day, I'm pretty much gonna be okay with nice, fancy and hotel like.  That's part of the fun of being on vacation.  Also, nice and fancy usually means clean. Sold!

The hours upon hours of research on Trip Advisor paid off.  Every hotel we stayed in was pretty amazing.  They were clean, well situated, and really enhanced our vacation experience.  That's really important to me.  I still haven't done the cold hard numbers on exactly how much we spent.   I'm not very good at math, but I think it was a lot.  I didn't really want to know at the time, but now that the money is already spent, I'll go back and add it up.  If anything will make me seriously consider an Airbnb for next time it's that!

Plenty of people find perfectly lovely AirBnB, HomeAway, or VRBO rentals for a killer prices and have a positive experience.  Maybe one day I'll be one of them.  I'm definitely open to it, but there were a lot of moving parts on this trip and I just didn't feel like taking any chances.

Do you utilize vacation rentals by owners?  If so, which website did you use and was your experience good or bad?
 

10.10.2017

Sometimes it's all Just a Little too Much

September was the worst.  

Coming home after 6 weeks abroad was fantastic. There were spiders in every corner of my kitchen. Disgusting Spiders. And you know how much I hate spiders? A lot. It's just one reason I really need my husband to come home.  I am so afraid I took my garage door opener with me to Germany, and it's not because I drove to Germany or even to the airport.  My car was in the garage the whole time I was gone, but I knew I'd never make it through the front door of my house in the dark with my luggage through cobwebs (I knew were waiting for me) without some serious mental trauma. 

I was also really thrilled to show up at the post office on Saturday afternoon to collect my mail only to be told there was no record of my mail hold.  How are they going to send me an email that my mail hold is ending soon when they never even did it in the first place? I was beyond annoyed.

The other awesome thing that welcomed me home was my dear old friend insomnia.  Return jet lag was preferable. Dead tired at 7pm, deep sleep, and wide awake at 4:30am was doable.  I could work with that, but tired at 7pm, barely any sleep, and an alarm clock that goes of at 6:30am, leaves much to be desired.  Grocery shopping. Meal prep. I missed it so much! The familiar zombie like routine of work, eat, skip the work out cause I'm too tired, and then go to bed so I can not sleep was back in full effect.  I was not impressed.

What most of my weekends look like lately and I'm not mad about it
As miserable as I was, I had to ask myself an obvious question.  Does my life really suck that bad?  My actual life.  Not the one that I pretended to have while I was in Europe.

I was really bitter about my return to the US and having to say good-bye to my husband again, but I didn't expect anything different. You can't fly business class, spend six weeks swanning through Europe having the best time of your life with and expect everything to be rainbows and sunshine when it's all over. That's not how any of this works. At least not for me.  The high was just too high and there wasn't anywhere else for me to go but down.

The whole sleep deprivation things was hard enough, but the realization that I've been suffering with daily pain for about ten months with no end in sight was enough to push me over the edge.  The regression at Physical Therapy was a rude awakening, that no matter how much effort I'd been putting into exercises, it was getting worse and not better.  Not only that, but my shoulder condition itself was changing.  The pain was changing.  The stiffness is terrible. I had to get a left handed mouse at work and learn how to use it because my right shoulder won't tolerate mousing all day anymore. Is mousing word?  I had already given up sleeping on my stomach, Yoga, and any physical activity involving arms.  It already hurt to reach for things, and get dressed, but one day I found myself crying in the shower because the pain was so bad I barely had the mobility to shave my arm pits.  I could definitely shave my arm pits in Germany, so these changes were happening pretty quickly, and it was scary to have no idea why or how bad it was going to get.  Sure, I slacked off on my Physical Therapy while I was traveling.  It was unavoidable.  I did some PT while I was there, but up to that point I did my daily exercises religiously.  I was doing everything I could do to heal my shoulder and just when I thought it had gotten as bad as it could get it was getting even worse and there was nothing I could do about it.  Up to that point I still had some hope that my shoulder might get better, and the rest of the hope I was hanging onto was crushed within a matter of weeks.

Dealing with daily pain is exhausting, and it really takes it's toll on you after a while.  One of the hardest things was feeling like this big bad thing was happening to me and I had to face it by myself.  Admitting that you are not okay is like asking for reinforcements so that the burden of carrying whatever it is that feels too heavy is just a little bit lighter. I was not okay, but I carried on and my arm hadn't fallen off or anything.  Nobody was concerned.  I felt like nobody cared what I was going through.  I read this study about people living with chronic rotator cuff pain and I started crying so hard I had to get up and shut the door to my office.  I identified with everything.  It validated all of the feelings, fears and experiences I was having as I continued to live with this pain. 

I wish I could say that I was just a little bit down, but unfortunately I know what depression feels like and depression is most definitely what it was.  It wasn't just being tired all the time, and it wasn't just being in pain all the time.  Sometimes it starts with that, but by the time depression takes over it's a lot deeper.  Your thoughts take you to some pretty dark places and the next thing you know you feel completely and utterly hopeless about everything.  I felt like I didn't know how I'd make it through each day.  I also felt like I didn't want to.  I was crying all the time.  Bitter tears of emotional pain that made me feel like my entire existence was a waste of time.  Nobody cares about me.  I will always be sad.  Nothing will ever get better.  These are the the things you tell yourself, and in that moment you really believe it to be true.  It's a really sad and lonely place to be.

Does my life really suck that bad?

I think the answer really depends on when you ask.  My life is not perfect, but it's a darn good one and it generally does not suck.  April was awesome, July was joyous, and August was amazing, but in September, my life most definitely sucked.  That's just where I was at.  Getting back into the daily grind was incredibly difficult.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but 6 weeks of freedom from work felt so good, that I was actually upset I had to go to work.  I had to reacquaint myself with being confined to an office for forty hours a week and why it is that I do it.  Everyone at work was talking about the once in a million years solar eclipse that Monday.  What eclipse?  I was too busy trying to shake the cobwebs off my brain, and it continues to be insanely busy since my first day back.

Last month I was mentally and physically exhausted, and my ability to cope with all the things was severely compromised.  Being a responsible adult 'aint always easy, and sometimes it's all just a little too much.  I'm still struggling, but I know that things do get better some how some way, even when I find myself in a place that won't allow me to believe it.  I got issues (and you got 'em too), but sometimes it really is just one day at a time.

September sucked, but is it too much to ask for an Outstanding October?  It might be, but I'm asking for it anyway. Doing a handstand and a full week of solid sleep is probably pushing it, but I want that back too.  I'll also take a nice November, and a delightful December. 

Related:
Injured List
My Battle with Insomnia

9.05.2017

No Monday, No TGIF, No Problem


Day trip (with husband) train ride to Esslingen
My husband had to work in between the traveling to other countries, and the exploring we did together in Germany.  During the weekdays I was left to my own devices.  Before I got there, he would ask, "Well, what are you going to do all day?"  I assured him, that filling my days would not be a problem.

I rolled out of bed whenever I wanted to, ate breakfast, then spent the day doing whatever the hell I wanted.  Unless there was laundry to do, which is no big deal when it's your only chore. There was no Monday, there was no TGIF, there was just one wonderful day blended into the next filled with whatever I saw fit to do on that particular day.  Most days included a walk down the street to the grocery store to pick up wine...and other things.  My husband tried to teach me the ways of public transportation, and I learned a little bit, but I wasn't ready to do it on my own.  I think if I were going to be there longer I would have, but considering the trolley schedule at home (where people speak English) can be a challenge, it wasn't gonna happen.  I was too scared, so each day I'd choose a destination within walking distance.  In this way I was getting my exercise in, cause you know doing a HIIT workout was not my priority.  I also got to explore the city, and practice my navigation skills which in general are pretty terrible.
On my husband's recommendation I walked to this beautiful Cathedral Evangelische Johannesgemeide one day.  I got closer and walked really slow around the entire building taking in every single detail.  This Gothic architecture never ceases to amaze me. 
Spielplatz Unterer Schlossgarten
On another day I hit 16k steps for the day walking to Spielplatz Unterer Schlossgarten.  This park is huge.  It just goes on and on.  The trees are tall and so thick they block out the sun.  Biergarten Schlossgarten is at the very edge, and towards the center of the park are benches to sit, barbecue pits, and a playground for the kids. 

Weissenbenburg Park, was also pretty great.  I enjoyed the walk through through a part of the city I hadn't seen before.  The lookout point with city views was spectacular, and there are many paths to explore.  It also has small restaurant called Teehaus.



I however, was most intrigued by this other area that veered off in a different direction.  I still don't know what it actually was.  It was paved, but it was so dark and so quiet all I could hear was birds, the sound of trees, shifting in the wind, and the sound of my own footsteps.  There is no signage to indicate where it led or even if I was supposed to be there.  The whole area had this forbidden private property NO TRESPASSING allowed look to it.  I walked down a dark path lined with trees leading to a steep set of stairs so overgrown with shrubbery that from a distance I wasn't even sure I could get through it.  I stood at the bottom of the stairs contemplating, and listening for signs of life.  I decided to turn back, but went back the very next day, because I really wanted to see what was up there.

Down the dark path, and up the stone stairs.  The overgrown trees on either side brushed my shoulders, and when I got to the top there was another set of stairs.  At the top I could go left, or right, but I went straight ahead into the trees.  I walked down a dirt path that went who knows how far to who knows where surrounded by trees as far as I could see in every direction.  It was awesome! I probably would have gone further had I not been alone, but the deeper I went the scarier it got.  It was hot, and as it was it would take me a little over an hour to walk back.

Park Karlshohe


Biergarten auf der Park Karlshohe
Park Karlshohe was my favorite.  It was super close, so it was this amazing hidden gem right in our backyard. We went there together my first day in Stuttgart and I went back multiple times on my own just to walk the paths, sweat it out on the the stairs or to enjoy wine at Biergarten auf der Park Karlshohe.  Every time I went I'd go a different way, and keep walking until I found my way out. 


I am so impressed with Stuttgart's green spaces.  They are large, green, gorgeous, and unassuming.  Every single one I went to had a restaurant or a Biergarten.  A few steps gets you from city streets to lush forest.  There might be a small sign on the sidewalk announcing a Biergarten, but when you step inside it's so much more, and so much bigger than you think it will be.  You can easily get lost, however I found that getting lost was welcome.  I had all the time in the world.  It just added to the adventure. 

I found every place I set out to find, and by the time my husband came home from work I was either on my laptop or catching up on TV shows.
Stuttgart, Germany
Have you ever had a time in your life that was so good it nearly ruined you?  So enriched with wonder, laughter, and good times that anything else feels like an insult.  Anything less is a deflated balloon hanging low and unsteady above the ground.  Well, I am that saggy balloon and sometimes it feels like there isn't enough helium in the world to get me flying again.  That about sums up my feelings since I've been home, because those six weeks spent abroad was the best time of my life.

I left my heart in Stuttgart, and it's gonna be a little while before I get it back.

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