I’m home on the last day of a four-day weekend from work. I don’t get much time off, so this is a great opportunity for me to be alone and think. Normally on a day off, my mind is filled and racing with thoughts of trying to clean up whatever household mess the week has created, trying to deal with the issues in my marriage, trying to be perfect. I’m not good at being perfect.
It is on these days when I am by myself that I come back to who I am and who I want to be.
Over the last couple of weeks, my post-surgery physical state with regard to recovery has been pretty good. I’m eating normal foods and the lack of digestive discomfort is noticeable.
The problem is, my gallbladder wasn’t the only issue. Depression, shoulder pain, back pain, foot pain, and excessive tiredness are still part of my daily experience, taking front and center now that the more intense pain is gone. With all this pain, I’m still about seventy-five pounds overweight, with little muscle to help me carry it.
A few weeks ago, a co-worker of mine visited her sports medicine doctor after having issues with her shoulder. He diagnosed tendonitis in her left bicep and rotator cuff. Since I have reached my max out-of-pocket for health insurance due to my surgery, I decided to shrug off my usual stoicism where my shoulder is concerned and get it diagnosed by her doctor. Low and behold, I am suffering from tendonitis in my left bicep and rotator cuff, causing a painful impingement. This has also led to tightness and pain in my back, neck, right shoulder, and both my right and left pectoral muscles. I honestly don’t know how I have been just “surviving” this for the last three years.
The doctor told me that my prognosis looks good and he expects full recovery. Wait, full recovery, did you say? I’ll tell you what … I would never have expected to hear those words about my shoulder. The amount of pain I have suffered over the last three years has been unspeakable.
My husband is the only one who has even a fraction of an idea of how much pain I’ve been in. When I would get into bed on most nights, I would grit my teeth and hold on tight until my shoulder, bicep, back, and pec would readjust themselves. At times I would sit on our loveseat or couch and hold myself in some rigid position, just to avoid the slight movements that would cause me intense pain.
I’ve had about four sessions with the physical therapist and already there is a difference in the way that my arm is resting into my shoulder, into my neck. Every session has been excruciating. Initially the therapist thought that there would only be pain during the assessment. Unfortunately, three years of chronic pain have caused their fair share of toll on my body.
The problem I’ve had over the last few days is that I’ve let my depression issues get in the way of me doing my therapy exercises. Some of it is that I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing. I lost my sheet of paper that has the exercise descriptions on it. Even with the sheet of paper, it can be very awkward trying to figure them out. My solution: today when I go to therapy, I will have my physical therapist record me doing all the exercises so I have no way of feeling lost.
Also, I am going to have to face the anger and pain that have caused this depression. I am going to have to make a choice on a daily, hourly, minute basis: will I choose to focus on pain and all that I have lost/will never have, or will I choose what it possible, what is healthy, what is within my ability to grasp?
Going to the physical therapist has given me so much hope that I will be able to do more than survive. I thought I was half-dead. I thought my physical stamina and well-being were almost over. I had one foot in the grave and felt that the other one would land in the dirt within very little time.
There are a lot of things that I have wanted to experience that might not happen, but I’m still alive. I am still alive. Not only that, but there is still hope for a full recovery of my body. The choices I make right now can change my life for the better.
Where do I want to be physically in the future?
I think this video sums up everything I want. Strength, flexibility, control, calm, peace.