summer of healing: good days and bad days

OK, so now it’s time for the nitty gritty. (Although I’ve FINALLY had a steady stream of good days, so this post probably won’t capture the true angst I feel on bad days. I know that’s a good thing, but if I do have a bad day I’ll be sure to update this post then!)

Everything you’ve read in my previous two posts is probably easy for you to understand. She has pain, she goes to the doctor, she’s doing physical therapy, and things are on the mend. Well, that’s not the everyday drama/trauma of this “injury.”

You don’t know how badly I wish I could say, “I did ____ and broke/tore ____, which typically takes __ amount of time to heal.”

But since tendonitis is caused by overuse, it took almost a year to get to that breaking point of not being able to walk. I had a slight limp, but I could get around well enough. I was never told to stop teaching Zumba, so I kept at it because it felt good to stick to my routine.

And even though my 3-week trip to Australia last summer wasn’t as carefree as the 2013 one to Greece, I was still able to carry my backpack all over Darwin and Queensland. These days, I can’t even take a trip to the grocery store. (Yes, I’m driving one of those scooters, but you’ll never see a picture of that!)

This article “16 Things People in Chronic Pain Want You to Know” captures everything I’m going through (except #7 since I’m fortunate enough to have a job and health insurance) but I’ll just highlight a few:

  • Numbers 1 and 8 can be combined for me. During the Spring semester I didn’t have too many early morning meetings, but if I did, it took everything in me to get up and get out of bed. Actually even today I waited until the absolute last second possible to get out of bed because I constantly worry about what those first few steps will feel like. Those steps usually determine whether or not I will have a good or bad day. But returning to number 1, I can tell you that I definitely spent way more time on makeup than usual. Since I don’t have to be on campus very much this summer, this is what totally defines this my #summerofhealing! I have much more time to heal, mentally and physically, and can even explore different workout options like aquacise and pilates. On bad days, as recent as three weeks ago, it probably took me an hour to stop crying and “glue myself back together” as Audrey Hepburn says in Breakfast at Tiffanys. Anyone who saw me that day was given a performance. I can guarantee that the second I was back in my car or back home that I was a weeping mess again, so much so that I denied myself pain-relieving appointments (either chiropractor or acupuncturist) because I knew I wouldn’t be able to answer questions as simple as, “What brings you in today?” or worse, “Got any fun weekend plans?” without sobbing.
    • Why do I cry? Most of the time it isn’t necessarily pain related, but the fear that I’ll never walk normally again. Which in turn means I’ll never travel the way I used to again. I just traveled to northern Wisconsin and got really depressed that instead of camping we were in a hotel and driving everywhere instead of walking around town, not even just the few blocks of their main street. Over the past few months I’ve come to terms with never teaching Zumba again, but if I can’t travel, I’m not sure what I’ll do. I know there are plenty of accessible places I can go, but I’m not ready to think about that just yet.
    • When do I cry? Mainly when both feet hurt. While the trouble these two years has been my right foot, my left foot has been displaying (on and off) the same symptoms since I tried out those damn rigid orthotics last September. The new inserts are better, but I’m still breaking them in, which will take about a month. I live in fear of these hurting more than helping, especially since I now know about that accessory navicular, but I’ll see how things go for the rest of the summer. Still, this week leftie was bugging me so much that at yesterday’s PT appointment we did Graston on that foot more than my right, and we iced both.
  • Number 10. Once again, I feel the #summerofhealing is going so well because I don’t have many in-person obligations, professional or social. I have been working and teaching online about 4-6 hours every day (more earlier in June when I was enrolled in the Quality Matters course which deserves its own post), but I can sit, ice, stretch, etc. at the same time! When it comes to social outings, I’ve always enjoyed “Daisy by herself days,” and because I don’t like to talk academic/campus stuff much, I’ve said “no” to colleague invites every summer! This is actually why I fell in love with teaching Zumba and Yoga at the gym–a whole new community of people I could spend time with, with no discussion of promotion, tenure, publications, etc. This summer, because I can’t walk very far, I’m only saying “yes” to events at people’s houses or to new workouts. I joked yesterday that my #summerofhealing was turning into a full-time job because I had pilates in the morning, therapy in the afternoon, and aqua zumba in the evening. Needless to say, I slept well!
    • Related to the pie-chart in #10, I’ve noticed the way I pack for short trips has changed dramatically as well. I’m now carrying extra sets of shoes, ice packs, prescription naproxen, Tiger Balm and Biofreeze, a foot roller, compression socks, and Epsom Salts. I’ll try to take a pic of this crazy collection before our next road trip!

All in all, I think it is safe to say that I now know what chronic pain is, I wouldn’t wish it on even my worst enemy. (Well, maybe this guy, but that’s another story.)

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