Frozen Shoulder

In July I was teaching between 9 -13 sessions a week, feeling fit and alive, despite struggling with a recurring bout of vertigo. 

In the months preceding I had started noticing that my right arm had a dull pain when I reached into the cupboards for things and was starting to ache a lot. My overhead lifts were weak and the range did not allow me to place them over my centre of gravity; they remained slightly forward, my body seemingly incapable of the mechanics. I can now identify this as the early signs of Frozen Shoulder. Literally overnight, the range of movement diminished to the point where my shoulder seems wooden and I can no longer raise my arm above shoulder height at the front (even without weights) nor do up my bra behind me!

I am now in constant pain. There is permanent tension across the back of my neck and pain and heat in my right shoulder which is incapable of separate movements: the ball and socket now move as if fused to my clavicle and scapula. It has meant cancelling PT sessions with clients and a completely new job role within a store to make ends meet. It has meant walking away from my own training which was gaining significant traction. I was enjoying the world of Bodybuilding, having become a CrossFit qualified trainer and training this way for nearly a year and needing more. 

Looking at photos of my once strong back and shoulders I am reminded of my achievements. But my once strong and toned arms now fight me every step of the way. My mojo has been broken by the brain fog of pain induced insomnia and frustration of my body rebelling against me. 

As a 52 year old woman I am in the 5% of the population most likely to develop Frozen Shoulder; perimenopausal and female. I have become an expert in my own condition of which there are three stages. This first stage (the freezing) can last anything from 9 months to 12 where the pain and locked nature cannot be ignored and progressively becomes worse. I look forward to the thawing which itself can take a further 12 months and eventually a return to normal function thereafter. Hmmm, I will be in my mid 50s by then – without training my shoulders what exactly will be normal function at that stage?

Until now I have completely festered in my own pity party for the past two months but am now emerging. I have had sessions with an amazing osteopath yet it did not improve the range of movement, despite my wanting it to desperately. A session with an acupuncture Dr left me severely bruised and nearly made me vomit trying to manipulate the joint back into the capsule. There have been many tears and anger.

But there are, of course, worse things that can happen. I can still train my legs and just about every other muscle group carefully around the condition and this is what I am doing, daily. Following the mobility is hard because it is painful, but without it I can’t say I have tried. I can’t do free weights and lifts so I have reverted to machines that guide my range – and am whooping it, nearly able to do the whole stack on leg press. There are days when I can do biceps and triceps, and others where the pain prevents me from even trying.

My education into studies and solutions on this condition continues in the hope of discovering a magical method to significantly speed up the process – hot and cold treatment, mobility, TENS, talking nicely to my body and positivity mantras. Hopefully by the end of trying it all the hot piercing pain shooting down the whole length of my arm into my wrist will have ebbed away. In the meantime if I do find the cure I will absolutely be sharing it …

What do you see?

Yesterdays view from the passenger seat

What do you see? The menacing dark clouds or the beauty of the sun rays tearing through? Or do you see the weeds at the bottom that despite their low position reach tall and grow despite the adversity of not being wanted nor beautiful, reach high and proud to bathe in the sunlight and warmth?

How we view what we each encounter has an enormous impact on what we see. My own recent therapy sessions have made me take stock of all the negative events in my whole life, not one event, but many, many that could have defined me, if I let them. It is quite a revelation to realise that we rarely define ourselves by our own achievement or success story. I am not saying that at the time each hasn’t challenged me and broken me to a certain extent. But not for too long.

What is too long? Too long is when people start avoiding speaking to you and prefer to text, because you literally bring them down, you drain them. When you no longer see anything in a positive way at all. Where life really is just dealing you lemons; one after the other. I think we all get to this point sometimes, hopefully not too-often-times. It is then that we need help or to make a serious change in our lives: ours way is not working, so it is time to stop doing it our way and try a different way. Help is not an embarrassment or admitting failure or despair. It is just saying ‘I didn’t expect this and I don’t have the tools or strength to deal with it alone’.

Counselling through the doctor takes so long but it is worth getting on the waiting list and in the meantime self help: read recommended books by people in your situations – you will never be unique in your situation. Someone on the internet will have written / blogged about it at some time. Samaritans are listeners. No judgement. People that want to listen so that you may be able to cope a little better, one step at a time.

Exercise is exhausting, especially when getting out of bed is overwhelming but get outside, close those sad and heavy eyes and just simply b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Nature has been around hundreds, thousands, of years and seen and heard many events, secrets and lies. Let nature caress your soul and look after you. Cold or hot, sunny or rainy, it is living and a constant.

One step at a time. We all need to move forward. In this photo I saw the beautiful sunrays and I smiled because nature does that for me. I bloody love this planet and this humanity I was lucky enough to be born into. Today I see its beauty and therefore today will be a good day.