Injured List

Sometime last summer between Bikini Body Guide Week 13 and Healthy Body Guide Week 12 I injured my shoulder.  It hurt when I did those push-ups where you stick your butt up in the air, but I didn't think anything of it.  I was working out 5-6 days a week so there were always aches and pains.  I was sore for like two months straight, and my knees always hurt.  I can work through pain, and pain is all I thought it was.  After a while I stopped doing push-ups that hurt, and stuck with regular ones.  I figured maybe I'd just tweaked my arm somehow, and that it would eventually go away.

But it didn't. 

I did circuit training workouts with cardio in between from January through September.  As planned, I went to Hawaii in October feeling better about my body than I had in a long time.  When I returned, I settled into a less intense and less structured workout schedule.  I bought a Yoga strap and was excited about shifting my focus to Yoga, and working on my back flexibility, but by the end of November I could barely lift my purse.  Up until then, my shoulder only hurt when I did those butt in the air push ups (also known as pike push-ups), but suddenly I couldn't lift my arm, or reach for things, without a searing pain ripping through shoulder.  I couldn't sleep on my right side or my stomach.  All arm workouts ceased.  I couldn't even do yoga.

I have bad knees.  I can't overwork my lower half, so I cut down to walking and/or running on weekends one leg circuit training workout per week, until eventually I quit the one circuit too. The only thing I really felt comfortable doing without knowing what was wrong with my shoulder was walking, but also I was burnt out.  The weather was cooler, the days were getting shorter, and my Insomnia was bad so when my shoulder pain started to take over, I kind of gave up.  If I moved my arm a certain way, or even moved it too fast it hurt.  Even simple things like driving, opening doors, and lifting my arm to wave at someone hurt.  I couldn't even cuddle with my husband unless he is on my left hand side.  I'd started walking around with my elbow stuck to my side because that was the best way to ensure there would be no painful movements.

I went to the doctor in January and got sent home with a list of shoulder exercises.  I did them diligently every day, and my shoulder started to feel worse.  Then it started to feel better.  Then it started to feel worse.  I went back to the doctor and pushed for a referral to Orthopedics, because in my eyes, this was way past a wait and see situation.  I needed some answers.  Orthopedics sent me for an MRI in March which confirmed a tear in my Supraspinatus rotator cuff muscle.  Physical Therapy started in April. 

There are four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder.  One along the top, two across the back, and one that runs up the side. That's the one I tore.  It affects abduction, so for me it's kind of like having a dead arm.  My arm feels about 50 times heavier than it actually is.  I actually feel gravity pushing against it whenever I activate my muscles to lift my arm.  Depending on the motion I either feel weakness or pain.  Sometimes it aches from my shoulder all the way to my collar bone with no movement, and other times I forget it's injured until I'm trying to pull up my covers while lying in bed or reaching over to hit the switch for the garage door on my way out. 

I wasn't sure how I was going to fit in my daily physical therapy exercises, but I make it work because a rotator cuff tear is not the kind of thing that will just go away on it's own.  I wish it would.  I do a set of exercises before work, a set when I get home, and the last set before I go to bed.  I do this every single day, because being injured sucks and I don't even want to think about having surgery.  At my last physical therapy appointment they added three additional exercises.  Two months later, there is some improvement, but it also seems to be up and down.  Some days are better than others.  I can sleep on my stomach now, which is pretty exciting, and less things are causing me pain throughout the day, but my arm is still not 100%.  Not even close.  It's very stiff in the mornings and getting in and out of shirts and sweaters still hurts.

I don't want this to turn into a chronic pain type of situation.  I want to handstands and bridges again.  I want to be able to do push ups, and as much as I love to hate it, I even want to do Bikini Body Guide again, but until then, I'll be in the corner working my therapy bands and over the door pulley system from the 1980's.  Last month I realized I'd be on vacation in a bikini in less than two months and had only been running on the weekends.  Oops.  So I started a no impact mostly abdominal/lower body toning workout I can do with only a few adjustments multiple times per week without moving my arms too much.

What a difference a year makes.

I still don't know know why or how, but the cuff is torn.  I'm being careful with my shoulder.  I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing and hopefully the physical therapy does what it's supposed to be doing and I'll be using that Yoga strap in the not so distant future.

How We Traveled Europe on a Budget

I think sometimes we feel kind of weird about talking about how much we spent on things unless it was super cheap.  Like, if someone compliments you on your shirt you could proudly say, "Thanks, it was only $20," but what if it was $125?  Is it still okay to volunteer that information?  I wouldn't know because I've never spent that much on a shirt, but I have spent that much on jeans.  Now I'm going to tell you how much I spent on my first trip to Europe

When we decided on a European vacation in 2012, I was so nervous about how much it would cost.  I googled "average cost of European vacation" and a few sources said about $2,000 depending on where you go, how long you stay, and accommodation preferences, which didn't tell me much.  I fake booked possible flights and possible hotels for possible dates in possible cities, and the numbers scared me.  I wanted to experience that whole backpacking through Europe kind of thing...minus the backpack...because in general I travel with way too much stuff to make that work.  I wanted to be there for at least two weeks and see as many cities as possible, but how do I do that on a budget?

That's where Carnival Cruise Lines came in.

1 round trip ticket:  San Diego to Europe:  $1,026
1 one way ticket:  Barcelona to Paris $126
Total:  $1,152

1 ticket Thalys High Speed Paris to Amsterdam: $100
1 ticket CNL overnight train Amsterdam to Stuttgart:  $150  (doubled as hotel room that night)
Total: $250

7 nights Carnival Cruise Mediterranean Cruise (Double Occupancy):  $1,172  (total for 2 people!)
     *Ports of call-  SPAIN:  Barcelona, FRANCE: Toulon (Aix En Provence), Cannes, Livorno (Florence & Pisa)
     *ITALY:  Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples.
2 nights Barcelona:  $250  
2 nights Paris: $372
1 night Amsterdam $133
Total (12 nights Lodging for two people):  $1,927

Not included is excursions, food and drink for our non cruise days, and miscellaneous transportation expenses to get from point A to point B via train.  We mostly used trains, but I think there was one or two taxi's involved.  MJ is excellent at navigation so we didn't have to do a lot of the shore excursions which can be pricey.  We only did one, and it was because of a transportation strike on our Pisa and Italy day.  So the cost for one person (assuming hotel is split down the middle) was $1,402 for airfare (flying in from the West Coast)/transportation and $963 for 12 nights of lodging based on double occupancy accommodations for a grand total of $2,365.55 all in.  I know it sounds terribly expensive when you lay it out there like that, but the average cost per night for 13 nights lodging was $158 and we got to experience so much.  I still can't believe how much bang for our buck we got out of that cruise.
Carnival Cruise Ship
So this is how our trip went.  I flew from San Diego to Barcelona, MJ flew from Stuttgart to Barcelona (at a cost of $160 one way) and we met up at the airport.  We spent one night in Barcelona in a cheapie (but very clean and nice) hotel near the airport.  We spent seven nights on the cruise traveling from Spain, to France, to Italy, and then back to Spain.  The ship returns early so we had the day to explore Barcelona and spend one more night there, before hopping on an airplane to Paris for two nights.  We took a train from Paris to Amsterdam where we spent one night, and then an overnight train from Paris to Stuttgart.  We had to fly home out of Stuttgart because MJ was already there for work and that is where his round trip ticket originated from.  I suppose I could have left him in Amsterdam, but nope, I wanted to do that last leg on the overnight train with him and then fly home together.

Pisa, Italy

It was a whirlwind.  I'm exhausted just thinking about our crazy schedule.  It was insane.  Up early every day to make the most of the day before having to get back to the ship, then to bed as late as possible because we wanted to enjoy every minute that we could of our experience.  We felt it was in our best interest to make the most of the time we were over there, so we added Paris and Amsterdam after the cruise.  Yes, that meant more money, but the way I see it when it costs a cool G to get somewhere I want to stay there as long as I possibly can.  When we traveled on our own after the cruise we didn't have to be back at the ship at a certain time and it was nice to have a little bit more time to meander the last four nights before catching the overnight train to Stuttgart.  It was basically a quick hits tour of Europe.  We didn't have time to just be in most of our destinations, but I loved that trip so much, and as go, go, go as it was I have no regrets about doing it that way.  We were able to visit four countries (not counting Germany because I only saw the train station and the airport) and ten cities.  Food for most of the trip was taken care of.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Do I want to travel that way again?  Maybe.  Preferably a cruise with less involved ports of call like the islands of Bermuda or the Bahamas.  The kind of places where you want to sit at the beach all day or explore a small village.  However, if you are trying to get to Europe and you need to do it on a budget I would still recommend a cruise.  It was a wonderful experience and a wonderful way to see a lot of Europe, but it did get me craving the experience of spending more time in those places.  I already knew I wanted to go back to Rome because Rome wasn't built in a day and we found out very quickly that it can't be fully explored in one either.  I knew I'd want to go back to Paris because Paris in October can be chilly and rainy.  We didn't have time for the Palace of Versailles, or the opportunity to bask in the glory that is the Eiffel Tower as much as I wanted to.  It's a huge city and I want to see more.  We got our second chance at Rome, over Thanksgiving and we will be going back to Paris.

Our biggest family vacation was Ensenada, Mexico.  We visited family in Michigan and Northern California.  We didn't fly anywhere, and now that I'm older I know why.  It's damn expensive to fly a family anywhere, let alone pay for accommodations.  Families who can still afford to travel are very fortunate.

As an adult my first vacations consisted of road trips to Las Vegas.  Then short cruises, often including my own city as a port of call!  My older sister and I did two of those together, and it was great.  Time away is time away, and we had fun together.  My next biggest vacation was a 7 day cruise in the Caribbean.  I was attracted to the one stop shop package deal that even allows you to book in advance and make payments.  It was a good way for me to dip my toes into traveling without having to spend too much.  I was that person who would travel to Las Vegas, but eat Subway and Panda Express while I was there to save money.  I'm the one who insisted we eat as many meals as possible on ship.  My husband is a heck of a lot more liberal than I when it comes to spending on vacation.  I've had to come a little more towards his side because he is not about nickel and diming his way through a vacation.  

Our Oahu honeymoon in 2010  was my first non road trip non cruise vacation after a very long vacation drought, and I've been hooked ever since.  Every vacation since is right here on this blog and it brings me so much joy to go back and read the posts.  I must have a vacation planned at all times, and I've been lucky enough for that to be the case pretty consistently since then.  There was that stretch of time after our second time to Oahu last October when I had nothing planned.  I went to Germany last minute for Thanksgiving, and when I came back there was another lull in the vacation planning.  Everything was up in the air with MJ being out of the country for the year, but  I am knee deep in vacation planning mode and will finally get to check that one place off my bucket list I've been dreaming of for a while.  I have something to live for again!! Only partly joking, because when I'm in that day to day grind of work, eat, sleep, having a vacation to look forward to means a lot.

Paris, France
After last years girls trip to Vegas, some of my friends were saying that we should plan a trip someplace further.  Some place international.  I didn't say no, but I never agreed, and eventually I had to say that I'm not available to do those kinds of trips.  I felt a little bad, but the thing is, my husband and I love to travel.  I can't commit to taking trips with them, because I don't have the time or the resources to do it all.  I wish I did! I would be agreeable to a cruise or some other shorter domestic trip, but my husband is my ultimate travel partner and I really want to experience those places with him.  I'm the only married woman in the group, but I think they understand.

If you don't enjoy traveling.  Congratulations! You are saving money.  But if you do, then figure out a way to get out there and see the world.  White sand beaches, turquoise waters, lush rain forests, grand cathedrals, cobblestone streets....there is so much beauty to be discovered and I can't seem to get enough.  I don't even even want to know the grand total of what we've spent on our vacations.  I also don't really care that much.  I care, because I'm wired to be frugal, but I also don't care because it was worth every penny. 

Europe:  4 Countries, 10 Cities, 15 Days

The Cost of Vegas