Thursday, February 26, 2015

Guest Post at Assay

Hello, All,

I'd be so grateful if you click on over to my guest blog post for the fantastic journal Assay. I discuss two superb craft guides: Jessica Handler's "Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss" and Beth Kephart's "Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir."

Here's the link.

Thank you so much!

(aka: Tootsie's Mom)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Well, you know Mom has been under the weather, so we decided to post a greatest hits of my Valentine's Day thoughts. (Thank you, all, for your lovely notes!)


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Grateful for You

Thank you all so much for your love and encouraging comments yesterday. We really appreciate your support.

Tootsie & Renee

P.s. You can read the original post about Mom's adhesive capsulitis here.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why Mom is Stressed Out: Adhesive Capsulitis

Mom took a free online stress test, and she scored 38/40, as in ... MY MOM IS REALLY STRESSED OUT! If you want to take the same test, you can find it here.

It's UK-based, so I don't know if what is stressful to the British is different from what is stressful to Americans, but maybe an ex-pat abroad (a BROAD!) like my mom would experience stress more akin to the way a British person would than a North American person would.

My mom feels guilty about being stressed out. Is this kind of anxiety a first-world problem? That you experience anxiety and then experience anxiety about the anxiety you experience because you feel like you shouldn't experience anxiety, but really you are experiencing anxiety? Phew. Sometimes Dachshund Daddy suggests that Mom thinks a bit too much. I couldn't possibly say that.

We have a good roof over our heads, an awesome Dachshund Daddy, and then there's me. I'm the resident Tube of Fur, and lately I've been working overtime to provide cuddles and wags and good cheer. So why is Mom stressed out?
1. She tore a right rotator cuff muscle last summer.
2. That tear, or maybe something else, led to a condition called adhesive capsulitis.
3. Adhesive capsulitis is more commonly known as frozen shoulder. It is an incredibly painful, debilitating condition, which may take up to a year or more to resolve.

4. During September and October, Mom had such chronic, debilitating pain in her right shoulder that she could barely function. (If she bumped her shoulder or had sudden idiopathic shooting pain, she was literally felled to her knees.)

5. Mom took some heavy-duty drugs, but those didn't really work. Apparently that is often the case with adhesive capsulitis.
6.a. Cortisone shots really helped.
6.b. Acupuncture treatments are ongoing and really help.
6.c. An anti-inflammatory diet seems to be making a difference.
6.d. Physical therapy is key.
7. In mid-October, the surgeon started her on a program of physical therapy. Mom could only lift her right arm about 20% up from her body. Now Mom can lift her right arm about 70% up from her body, but her right arm strength is limited. (Grateful that Swiss health care has been excellent.)

8. Mom does all her physical therapy in a little swimming pool at a local hospital above a vineyard.

9. For the first couple of months, Mom couldn't even drive herself to appointments, because our DogShip is a stick shift, and Mom's right arm couldn't move into the position needed to get the stick shift into second gear.
10. Should I keep going?
11. Let me tell you my role.

I've encouraged Mom to share because all our fur friends and their humans are so supportive, and I think part of Mom's anxiety is about not telling people when she is hurting. The reality is that Mom is way better now. But she goes to rehab appointments three to four times a week. And she is exhausted!

I've been researching chronic pain, and it is common to react to pain in two ways:
1. By trying to block it.
2. By drowning in it.
Both are understandable reactions to intense pain (whether physical or emotional). Since Mom is feeling quite a bit better, and finally mostly sleeping through the night, she is trying to learn a third way, which is to mindfully pay attention to the pain. Sounds easy  difficult.

If you know someone who has adhesive capsulitis, DO NOT BUMP HER!

Do what I do. Wag. Come a little closer. Flop on your back. Wag a little more. Come closer for gentle, loving cuddles. And licks. Don't forget licks.

We're grateful for YOU.

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