Thursday, May 27, 2010

Back on the bandwagon

I have held back posting lately because I really did not want to write yet another desperate blog post about pain. Although I've been letting my frustrations out a tad on Facebook, it's quite something else to indulge my inner pessimist in a verbal vomit of misery and dejection.

Part of me didn't want to blog about the past week or so because I also didn't want to admit things were going good (which would be an understatement.) Once things are in this blog they get a sort of permanence, at least for me. And then I also worry that the way I tend to write creates a sense of draaaaama that places a big, dark cloud over the very thought of me for friends and worries my family somewhat needlessly. Given that I've been doing a lot of raining on parades via FB lately, I'm not sure I should be worried that much - I'm sure you're all already tired of hearing about my problems and putting a big X across my name in your social calendar. Who wants to hang out with the broken, miserable, whiney Brit chick? I know I wouldn't.

So, I've been waiting... in short, for P.R. purposes.

Which is why today's blog post is about a new plan. Yes, another new plan. I've lost count of how many plans came before it but at the very least it has to be plan #10. I can list at least 10 previous treatment strategies for my various problems in the last five years, just off the top of my head, so I'm sure I'm missing a few. I'll spare you the details. If you've stuck with me through the years on this blog, you already know the sorry story anyway.

As usual, I had to hit rock bottom again before I could start to claw my way back up out of the pit of pain and despair. (See? I'm dramatic. Don't take me too seriously. I didn't almost die or anything.)

If you read my post before last (Where is TravelVixen?) you'll know that I had cold-turkeyed all $1,000 and 15 hours a month of my various therapy appointments. I had improved my pain about 30%, I estimate, was doing all my exercises diligently and was tired of focusing on the pain 24/7. I was done with "can't" and wanted to chart my own path to prove everyone wrong - I could be not only healed but active and fit again.

Well, it didn't work. 8 weeks after my cold turkey and I am as broken as I've ever been. My SI joint pain returned with a vengeance over Mothers Day weekend and this past weekend I put my back out doing something inane.

As I've tried to ever-so-carefully step-up my exercise regimen (and I do mean carefully and slowly), pain returned, even though I was continuing to follow some basic rules and principles of the Physical Therapists and Alexander Technique experts that I had previoulsy visited. Which says to me (at least in my head) that I have no hope of being anything other than a couch potato. Any attempt to do much more results in pain. Making the bed sparked Sunday's episode, which had nothing to do with my hip - this time it was my middle back and shoulders. Seriously!? Making the bed!? Most people run a mile from doing housework but I would seriously LOVE to be able to clean my house top-to-bottom without needing to stop after 20 minutes because of pain or fatigue, or suffering in a major way the next day (or in this case, days.) Four days later and I'm still in pretty decent discomfort (probably a 4/10 in pain with meds) and every time I take a deep breath, something cracks in my back.

I'll spare you the blow-by-blow but, after four days of this I succumbed and did two things:

I booked an appointment with an acupuncturist. Yes me, the woman who is pathologically afraid of needles and can't even WATCH a needle being inserted into flesh on the TV. The woman who had to bring her husband along for every blood draw during her pregnancy and made the nurses find a room where I could lay down just so I wouldn't faint.

That chick is so desperate she is going to have hundreds of needles inserted into her flesh on the off-chance that all this Eastern Mumbo Jumbo is more than just that. My massage therapist has an acupuncturist she personally uses and is in the same office suite as her and so I'm going to go there. The lady is also a prior RN, so she's not just a Eastern Mumbo-Jumbo'ist. That makes me feel a bit better. I think you should understand Western Medicine before delving into all this other ancient stuff, and visa versa quite honestly. You can't just ignore all the knowledge modern medicine has brought us over the years. Anyone who does just scares the heck out of me. The last thing I need is a Quack.

My appointment is next Tuesday. And yes, of course, I will blog about it.

I happened to see a live promo on a local TV station for a physical therapy facility here in Sacramento, where the focus is on active, sports therapy. The owner is the PT to the local AAA baseball team and the facility is accredited by Major League Baseball, as well as being the training/physical therapy center for a number of well known athletes, including an Olympian and a cage fighter. Quite the resume!

I sent a desperately long mail to the owner, telling him all my woes and he called me back personally that evening. Today we talked and I have a personal appointment with him for an evaluation next Friday.

What do I hope to get out of this PT that I haven't out of the myriad of others? A more goal-oriented approach to my recovery. Yes, I want to be able to get rid of the pain. Yes, I would like to be able to make my bed or vacuum my floors without injuring myself. But I would also like to return to some light yoga workouts and some weight training. I'm not expecting to just jump back in to being who I was at age 29 because, let's be honest, I'm not 29 any more. However, I do want to be able to ski and hike and bike and yoga for fun again. I want to be fit and healthy and as free of pain as I can possibly be. I want my life back, in short.

Will this guy deliver? Who knows? But it's worth a try. In this, I am driven by this quote from Thomas Edison: "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."

I'm hoping one more is all I need because, mentally, this last set-back really got me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The not-so relaxing spa visit

How can that be, right? Spa and relaxation go hand-in-hand.

Well, that has usually been the case for me but, of course, like many things lately, the "powers that be" have conspired to make my life more interesting and blog-worthy by providing me with an 'experience' to share. My pain is your enjoyment. You're most welcome.

It begins with some good news: I won a $50 gift certificate to my 'favorite' local spa. Yay! In going through my gift-cards I also realized I had a $100 gift certificate to the same place from Christmas. So, SCORE!, thought I, I'll book myself a mega spa evening and really go all out.

Rather than the usual European Facial and Eyebrow wax than I indulge in from time-to-time, I wanted to do something different. I looked through the menu of services and decided upon a hot stone massage (which I've never had before) and a "Fire & Ice" facial, becuase it was new and sounded interesting.

Last night was my spa evening and for some reason it started off with me having the mommy guilts. I had to stop work, grab Daisy from her nanny and then drop her right off to her Nan and Grandad's house. For some reason, the quick pass-off didn't sit right with me. Late afternoon/evening is "our time" and I found it hard to drive away just to do something so frivolous. I never would have thunk that I would have had these problems but, there you go, that's motherhood for you - full of surprises. The point is that my frame-of-mind was not "Oh goodie, mummy's going to get some 'me' time!" it was more like "Man, I'm cutting into "our" time just to spend two hours being selfish."

Things started off well. The massage was good. I wouldn't necessarily say that I would do a hot stone massage again but the novelty was good enough to appreciate it as a one-time experience. My masseuse was quite funny too; not your normal calm and soft-spoken masseuse. He was gay (which is neither here nor there but just a descriptor) but that fastidious, nervous-energy, kind of gay man - think Alan in Two and a Half Men (who is not gay in the show but should be) or Mitchell in Modern Family. So he did everything with quick and short movements, like when you bat a fly away from you. He constantly straightened out the sheets on my massage table and dropped the stones in a metal bowl as if they were hot potatoes. (Which I guess, of course, they were.) It was enjoyable but different. I will say it was nice to get a massage 'just for fun', for a change.

Then came the "Fire & Ice" facial...

I started to get an inkling that this wasn't going to be enjoyable when the esthetician began the treatment by asking whether I had anywhere I needed to be after the facial. I said no, just home to my husband and daughter. "Good," she said, with a little too much relief in her voice "because sometimes the warm Hungarian mud sometimes leaves people a bit pink. But don't worry, it goes away very quickly and leaves your skin feeling WONDERFUL!"She said the last word with extra emphasis, which is when I knew I was being set-up for a not-so-pleasant experience. It's the old, this is going to hurt but you'll be so glad you did it, warning.

And so she pasted the Hungarian Mud Mask on my face. "It's going to heat up and then back off after a minute or so. You may feel some tingling," she said. At first there was nothing and then I started to feel prickling (tingling wouldn't cover it.) Then the prickling turned to burning and the burning quickly intensified to proportions where it was no longer bearable. I felt as though I had just dipped my face into a vat of boiling water. "Warm" didn't cover it, "Hot" was an understatement. "They weren't kidding about the "fire" part!" I exclaimed after a minute or so and asked her to take it off early, which she did.

As I emerged from my "happy place" (the place I go when I'm trying to block out pain or discomfort - which, incidentally, is on a floaty, bobbing up and down on the sea in Jamaica) I realized that, even with the mask off, my skin was burning, tight, and felt puffy. "You're pink!" the esthetician said with glee. She said it like she would have if she had just pulled off the mask and seen that I transformed into Catherine Zeta Jones - like it was a really good thing. I wasn't buying it. Too much happy always raises red flags for me.

When it got to the "ice" part and she massaged my cheeks with ice cubes, I didn't feel significant relief. I didn't have a benefit of a mirror but I would have bet my last dollar that, at that moment, I looked as though I'd fallen asleep on a tanning bed. So I spent the rest of the facial, which could have been quite relaxing, stressing about what monstrosity would greet me in the mirror when I got out.

20 minutes later I found myself staring at my puffy, red skin in dismay. My face was burning and I had skunk eyes where she hadn't properly removed my make-up and had run a ring around them with the 'hot' mud. THANK GOD I didn't have dinner plans or something. I looked and felt hideous. On top of this, I was developing a headache.

"Oh, did you see yourself in the mirror?" the esthetician asked when I emerged from the room. "You're glowing!" Her forced excitement and positive spin left me with the feeling that they had had some complaints before and had instructed her to paint the pain and the redness as a good thing. Glowing was about right. Like a nuclear reactor!

After getting dressed and returning to the dressing room three times because I couldn't get my t-shirt on the right way (I was in a rush to get out of there and get some cold water on my face), it was time to pay. At the very least, I thought, I don't have to reach into my pocket for anything more than a tip. Which was when I pulled the $100 gift certificate out of my purse and noticed the little red writing on the back. "02/09/10 - $14 remaining" and some initials. Would you believe it, I had completely forgotten that I'd spent all-but $14 of the $100 gift certificate back in February! Which meant that I now had only $64 toward my $150 spa treatments. The rest, plus tip, I had to come up with myself.

I left $100 poorer, red in the face, and pissed that I had skipped a night with my daughter and husband (when family time is so precious these days as it is).

On the way home I blasted my face with cold air from the car's air conditioning and the redness did seem to improve, thankfully. But it took me using a mild cleanser of my own and my favorite moisturizer, to really feel as though I was back to normal.

The silver lining to this debacle? I woke up this morning and my back and hip feel fantastic. No idea what my fastidious, gay masseuse did but it worked!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Where is Travelvixen?

I'm here but just ridiculously busy lately, especially now the sun is out and I'm out of the house with the family, more than I'm home and inside. Plus, what 13 month old actually lets her mother sit at a computer and blog while she's around? Well, not mine!

In truth (although there is validity to all of that) I had been waiting to post a epiphanic entry about how I had managed to self-fix my hip and back issues after changing strategies for the 1,000th time about six weeks ago. Unfortunately, the epiphany wound up being nothing more than a pipe dream and, having bored myself to tears with all my whiney posts about S.I. this and nerve-pain that in the last year, I just couldn't bring myself to share the solemn news: said new strategy is an all-out failure. Pain is back with a vengeance along with muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, the PT exercises, and ice in the bucketload.

Blech. I'll post the details another time since I don't have the time or inclination to devote to the sorry story right now. Needless to say, strategy 1001 is now in full effect, which is basically strategy 999 revisted. Confused? Yeah, well you're probably about as confused as I am frustrated. Sigh.

Let's also not even mention the 6lbs of weight I've gained since I stopped posting my dieting progress on this site. That's just depressing... and shameful. It's not like I was even at my goal 6lbs ago!

Don't feel sorry for me, I'm soldiering on.

Other stuff preventing me from blogging is work. Work is busy. That's a good thing, by the way, especially when you're a commissioned sales person, so I'm not complaining. But it does mean that, instead of taking a 15 minute break mid-morning to post something fun or insightful here or on Lazy Crazy Daisy, I've been plonking away on the keyboard for profit. Then, at the end of the day, I'm so sick-to-death of staring at a computer screen, that I just can't bring myself to open the laptop back up to blog.

Then I'm still trying to have a social life, even though it's like planning a military operation just trying to get together with anyone in the summer. I honestly believe that they should oust all those top military dudes in Afghanistan and just hire a bunch of wives/mothers to plot western victory! Although I don't know what I'd do without my Outlook calendar and my android phone's calendar synchronization...

So, with all that said, I leave the end of this post without really having posted anything at all but with the hope that I'll have the time (and inclination) to share again soon.

Until then...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

On the question of whether people are generally dishonest or just lazy...

... it seems that this new online company is banking on "lazy".

Tiger Tag Lost & Found Network

If you're the sort of person who reaches into your pocket for your cell only to realize you left it on the table at Starbucks, then for $1.99, you can get a sheet of "tags" to stick on your trusty iPhone that make it easy for anyone who finds it to return it to you without ever knowing your name or address.

I saw this new service on Kurt the Cyberguy's spot on Fox40 news this morning and think it's a pretty nifty idea. You know, one of those inventions that you think to yourself that you probably could have come up with yourself one sleepless night but never did? Sometimes the simplest things are the most ingenious.

Beyond the obvious benefits of coordinating the return of your prized posessions to you, TigerTag has really thought through how their service can integrate with other companies and agencies, as well as direct to consumer.

From their website:
To help you to get your lost items back, TigerTag operates a 24/7-service center for easy recovery. In partnership with Fedex we ensure that found items are returned promptly.

TigerTag collaborates with international, federal and local law enforcement and offer integration with national registries of stolen goods to ensure protection of your valuables.

Insurance companies benefit from collaboration with TigerTag, reducing the risk of theft and making the claims process much easier.

Last but not least, all manufacturers of consumer electronics that we work with benefit from providing superior service to their customers, offering the world's first global lost and found service for FREE.

Pretty cool! I'm thinking of signing Hubby up. He is definitely the sort to leave his things behind.
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