Tag Archives: tennis elbow

Swear Alert: Open Letter to C9 Sportswear | RE: tank tops

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Good lord, that was exhausting, writing nice things about all those other awesome bloggers! I’m so glad to be back to normal and start talking about myself again…. You too, right?

Ok. Prepare for a litany of imprecations, epithets, swears, curse words and whatnot. I’m gonna get all ugly, nasty and raged-up in here. Not gonna sugar coat it and go all Yosemite Sam on this like I did with my son and his fragiratzin tagticblackin science project.

Egads, suddenly I feel like I can’t swear appropriately. It’s like when you wind up for a pitch and you forget to let go of the ball and it lands behind you to the right in the neighbor’s bushes instead of near the batter… Some people just don’t know how to drop the bombs. My mom, for instance: When I was younger she was all bent outta shape an’ whatnot about the fuckin’ traffic in the D.C. an’ all. She was driving (sort of) and said, “God Fuck!” and well, I remember laughing about it. I did laugh at her about it. I’m laughing, right now, about it. She is very smart, bred and groomed well, but is a really crappy curser. The poor dear. My dad? Awesome curser. Used to talk like a sailor, ‘cept now he’s all 81 and everything…

Yesterday I went to Target alone. This is never good for the bank account. I bought my awesome prescription for tennis elbow “Voltaren” – sounds like that drink James T. Kirk had with Richie Cunningham’s little brother…from “The Corbomite Maneuver.”

I’m digressing again … (wasn’t that Star Trek some fucked-up shit? I loved it though.)

So then I was in Target’s “Active Wear” section. I went to buy some workout gear – high visibility tops for when I’m on the water so the fishermen and fishwives don’t mow me down in their trawlers. Here’s the result:

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Dear Assholic Pole DanceWear Designers:

I just want to thank you for designing a tank top with “breast shapers” and an inner tube for “lift.” I’m in fucking traction now thanks your goddamned inverted straight-jacket cum halter top.

I suspect I will have to shower and sleep in this bloody mess of a garment you’ve designed. Probably take me 15 minutes more to rinse off the lather because you know how soap is with Dry-Fit, then I’ll have to deal with that moon-faced fucking Jennifer Aniston about my water usage and I will cry out, “SEE-NINE! YOOOOU DID THIS TO MEEEE YOU MOTHER-FLETCHING BASTARDS!!”

If it wasn’t hard enough to get into the tank top in the first place, I don’t know how I’dve managed not having a stroke over the experience of flattening down, massaging and manipulating the shaper so it doesn’t look like a fucking eggo waffle has been pushed down atop My Girls. And the fucking shaper is BLACK? Inside a day-glo Pink top? You can totally see it. Who put this frigging thing together? Caillou? (Who frighteningly and ironically reminds me of Richie Cunningham’s brother above.)

Shapers. That’s rich. Is that why you charged me almost a third of a tank of gas for the top? Tell you what: you reconvert the polycarbons you refined to make this stupid breast shaper into fuel for my car and I’ll pay $22 with a smile.

Look: your shit sells at Target. That means it’s not like, premium-grade AthletiWear (I just made that up – it’s mine: AthletiWear ®) so don’t go puttin’ an air dam on a tubbed-out ’93 Honda Civic on this shit. Just give us WHAT WE WANT: nice looking workout gear that doesn’t fucking twist us up and make us do the sacred yoga pose, “Onoyoudidntasana” the counterpose to which is “OyesIdidbitchasana.”

We will have to call the fire department to use their Jaws of Life to cut me out of it.

Thank you, bitches. The colors are nice though.

Molly (from the hospital)

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Thank you.

Quickie: Gratitude

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Quickie: Gratitude

I have a lot to do today but I wanted to take a moment to give thanks for a very simple thing: lack of physical pain.

I caved yesterday and had the 2nd cortisone shot in my left elbow for the tennis elbow I’ve been dealing with since January.

I’ve done all manner of interventions: acupuncture, massage, strength and physical therapy. I even did a wacky self-induced masochistic torture which did provide some relief, but never took it away.

I am a Big Believer in psycho-genetic pain. I have read several books by Dr. John D. Sarno on the matter of “Tension Myositis Syndrome” (the link will take you to his site, but his work goes way beyond back pain) and I believe what he says has legs. I have friends who think I’m nuts — they actually look at me like I’ve got three heads when I start talking about the connection between emotional repression and physical pain or the chakras and how they manifest what we’re up against. I still love these people and I don’t care if they think I’m nuts. I end up feeling better and they continue to repress. I’m digressing…

I have personally experienced relief of physical ailments by participating in the exercises (mental folks, so the only sweating you’re gonna do is emotional) Sarno proposes. This tennis elbow is included in that experience, but it hasn’t gone away completely because I believe two things: 1) I haven’t done enough of The Work he proposes and 2) I am still holding back a few things which leads me back to #1. I am digressing again, I apologize.

The point is: I am grateful for the shot of cortisone. My pain is gone, completely, for the time being and that means I can concentrate on healing inside because I won’t be distracted by the manifested physical pain. Maybe I will write a post about it. Maybe…

I am extremely aware at this moment of people who are in pain. I am conscious of it because now I don’t have any and I know what it’s like to wake up with the pain I’d had for about nine months as my body gradually adapted and muscles compensated for the injury. This morning, I woke with the phantom of that pain: anticipating it but not feeling it. Worried about it but not experiencing it. Obsessing over it, but not having it. I am sort of out of sorts — the pain had become a part of my existence and my identity. I have fear in my heart that it will return; part of this (the return of the pain) I can not control; the fear I can. And I will have to work on that.

I know that everyone out there who lives with pain on an hourly, moment-by-moment and daily basis is in my heart today.

I am putting together a post because I have won three blogger awards in the last three weeks: Versatile Blogger, Very Inspiring Blogger and the Liebster Blog Award.  I am thrilled and grateful for the recognition; there are fantastic writers and photographers and artists out there that I’m gonna share. I hope you will take a peek at that post! If you love movies, I’ve got a site for you. If you love painters, I’ve got a couple sites for you. If you love holistic health, I’ve got a site for you. If you love woo-woo psychic stuff, I’ve got some sites for you. I’ve got you covered, is all I’m gonna say. So, stick around. We’ll be right back.

Thank you.

Grasping the Water

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Grasping the Water

I’ve been off the grid, actively, for about 10 days and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s necessary for me to unplug from time to time to truly recharge the energy that I need which helps keep the family system running smoothly. I held on to the last 10 days of summer vacation with an almost feral grip.

This never works.

I needed to unplug; “it” (the internet, social media, the blogging) was getting to me. When I’m out of sorts, the house is out of sorts and I don’t just mean that it’s a messy place (which it usually is — we are a very active family of five and everyone has a sport or two they like so that means a lot of zipping and zooming). I mean that meals go unplanned, the dog doesn’t get walked, the clean laundry pours out of rubbermaid baskets.

We have a lot of fitness equipment in our basement which we all use but we prefer being outside. My favorite sport out of the house is rowing. I used to do sweep rowing which is typically many people (usually 8 people) in one boat (also called a “shell”) plus an on-board coach called a coxswain who steers and commands you to do what s/he says. You just do it. This person is usually three inches tall and weighs 30 ounces but their voice makes you get shit done simply because you want to. You don’t want to fail.

In sweeps, each person holds one oar with both their hands. The oars in sweeps are huge, about 12′ and they probably weigh about 8 to 10 pounds each. I stopped doing sweeps because of tennis elbow (the torque and pressure can be immense during competition), but the love of being on the water never faded. So I learned to scull this summer. Sculling can be done with one person (if you rowed sweep with one person you’d go in circles all the time). A single is a much smaller (25′) and lighter (28#) boat that uses two narrower, shorter (10′) and lighter oars and of course the water. Always the water.

From the sculling, my right hand has a new blister in the palm which is an extremely bad sign. It means I’m gripping too tightly, incorrectly and too often. The fact that I’ve had tennis elbow in both my elbows (currently my left since January) is not lost on me. The muscles most involved in that affliction are the ones that we use to grasp, grip, hold, pinch, lift and pull. You know: everything you need to row successfully. I’m not gonna beat myself up too much about the blisters: there are other reasons beside incredibly bad form that could help create conditions where a blister develops: wind, oversteering, overgripping, poor hand placement, lack of balance… hmm. Only one of those reasons is not my fault. A hopeful sign about the blister might have to do with steering because it’s the one used to keep the shell on its proper side of the water. All the other blisters I have are normal and the right kind to have. (Masochists, rowers are masochists too.)

. . . . . . Balance . . . . . .

While his balance looks good, he’s got one more stroke before he hits the weeds if he doesn’t reset his point.

The other part of rowing that is essential is balance and while I’ve not flipped my boat yet, I’ve come close and when does that happen? When I’m trying too hard. When I’m unbalanced, when I’m thinking, to be quite honest. When I think about what I’m doing in the shell, I screw up every time. I’m pretty hard on myself though. I know this. And you know all that tension helps in the shell. So if you really want to mess up your row, power through everything and be comPLETEly self-critical constantly. They say animals sense us and tell us about ourselves if we’re willing to listen…yes. True. Want to try it without an animal? Try “listening” to a rowing shell. I’m swearing inside like a Somalian pirate about how much a shell tells you about yourself. Masochists.  The fatter the boat, the less upset. When you’re sitting on top of the water in an 18″ wide shell you learn to get your shit together quick or you’re going over. So what have I learned about myself so far? That overcompensating messes with the balance and if you mess with the balance, you’re throwing everything off. Just be is the way to be.

The last time I got tennis elbow was six years ago. It was in my right arm. It took a long time to eradicate and eventually I gave in, got the shot and that was that. Not so much this time.

So I’m grasping, gripping, holding on too tightly. To what? Lots of things, actually and guess what? They’re all intangible! Yay! In rowing, this is called “the death grip.” In this sport power is important, absolutely, but what’s more important? Technique. Finesse. Subtlety. Nuance. I think those qualities also translate to successful life off the water too.

I am not a subtle person. I am not finessed. Nuanced is not how I would be described. I can be all those things, but they require effort. Meh. And a headcold. When I have a headcold I am finessed and not forceful. I am beaten. My husband is those things, just like my brothers’ wives are too. They are lovely, poised, paced and composed. I have noticed that being subtle like they are feels nice, almost. But it’s not natural. I’m nice, but I’m pretty firm. Holding on. Gripping whatever slice of reality I can manage to hunt up and hold. Cover all the exits.

So my hands are metaphors.

Chill. Before you freak I’ll tell you that these hands were battered in a bigger shell with much larger hand grips on the oar handles after a day in the wind. But still… fuck, it hurt to drive home that night.

Metaphors for what? Trying to hard to make something that can’t be made yet; forcing. Pushing when I could just wait, watch and learn. So I hold too tightly because I want to get it right. Or I’m afraid to let (it) go.

So what am I gripping on to? I have been watching helpful sculling videos on how to grasp the oar handles and feather (turn it so the blade is parallel to the water to ease with wind resistance/speed and balance) properly. But today is rainy and my hands need a rest so it’s gonna have to go into the memory banks unless I practice on my son’s light sabers.

The current tennis elbow has become a chronic ailment. “It’s the most prevalent stress injury we treat,” said my orthopedist in March when I got the shot that didn’t work. “Don’t worry so much about it,” he said. Right. He has a staff at his home or he must eat out a lot.

‘Stress injury.’ I don’t have stress! I SWEAR!

When I went to my woo-woo chiropractor several years ago after my first case of tennis elbow, he looked at me as he was wrapping me in kaleidoscopic kineseo-tape to the point where my arm looked like one of those Native American Dream Catchers and said, “Sometimes we hold on to things too tightly.” I will never forget that line. I was all, “whatevuhmuthafletchah, just finish wrapping, I’m Audi 5000,” but I knew he was on to something. We “got” each other right away when I met him and he knew I knew what he was speaking about — metaphorically I was holding on to everything too tightly. But getting this again and figuring it out requires introspection.

I’m so tired of introspection. I want to go on an extrospection binge where I can look at everyone else’s stuff and take notes and feel all superior and whatnot.

. . . . . .Writing. . . . . .

Not ironically, this current case of tennis elbow turned up in my dominant left arm when I started writing my fiction in January. It was also the first time I started to actually consider writing a book. Allowing myself to do something with the writing. I am feeling about 85% better than then, so I know it’s improving, but I suspect I was holding on to fear, truth, lies, success and failure.

Total non-sequitir but true moment: because I am a masochist I also like to use fountain pens. I recently found one I bought when I thought I’d forever lost one my husband bought me when I graduated from college and later found. So I just filled it with an ink cartridge and as I’m waiting for the ink to flow, which it finally starts to do, I’ve squiggled all over a sheet of paper to help the ink to go. And when it finally did, I wrote, “My pen is working!” Well, you have to see it to get it, but there is no right way to write “My pen is working / writing” without it looking like “My penis working / writing.”  Here:

See? You can see where I tried to edit it… cross out “is” and move it below and stuff.

Well, it was funny at the time…

Fiction… I don’t do well with writing fiction. While most of fiction may be based on personal experience or truths, it’s also mostly lies. And knowing that parts aren’t lies sometimes leaves me wondering what is true, so I have a hard time with that. Here’s a surprise: when I travel to a different time zone, I always wonder what the folks back home are doing… my husband won’t travel with me anymore unless I stop that behavior. The fact that I was writing fiction (not really) from a who-knows-what-the-what-person point of view was probably too much for me to bear. Plus I wasn’t ready to tell that story.

I’m gonna break down the things I believe I was holding on to:

Fear: hanging on to fear lets us stay where we are; embracing complacency and avoiding growth, reinvention. We can let fear become a crutch. Why? Because if we actually do what we say we want to do (for me, publish a book) then we’d have to be OK with that. I will always compare my feats with someone else’s success. So let’s say it publishes: Well, it doesn’t make the NYT best seller list. Or let’s say it did make NYTBSL: well, it’s not outsold the Bible….

Truth: gripping what we perceive as truth, also enables complacency. We get to say it works for us; it’s comfortable and we know what to expect. If we synthesize our “truths” then we needn’t examine things any further. Growth stops. It’s like math: absolute. You can’t argue with yes. So the discussion ends. But is this truth? Is this comforting?

Lies: grasping our lies helps us avoid developing and winning at life and it’s a form of self-denial. We don’t need that promotion, we don’t need to lose weight, we don’t need to ask that person on a date, we don’t need to want more, better, greater, nicer. The book won’t get picked up anyway, so why bother continuing it? Why bother writing (doing / pursuing / pushing / pulling) anything?

Success: when we clench to our notions of success, as in where we are right now (we aren’t drowning or being mugged or shoeless) then we don’t try harder. But is that satisfying? I express gratitude for everything I have but when I want something newer, nicer, bigger or better I’ve felt like a heel. The point in life however is growth, progress, evolution and development. The byproducts of those actions is more knowledge, more experience, more awareness. Do we say: “stop learning, that’s greedy.” No, and so I am beginning to allow myself (albeit grudgingly) to be OK with what I have and to be OK with wanting more too. That’s tough to do. I take baby steps and my shoes get tighter every day.

Failure: locking in and identifying with our notions of failure can only continue if we do it. Failure is self-manifested, self-generated, self-promoted, self-fed and self-maintained and thus we get to be victims of ourselves. I hate that word, “victim,” it’s self-feeding. Deeper: What is failure? Defeat, no-go, “failure to launch,” dud, a write-off, hopeless. Hopeless…aha.  Suddenly that rings a bell. When we hold on to hopelessness, we are letting ourselves give up and then the grip should loosen, and die, shouldn’t it? But it doesn’t. Why? Because hopelessness is akin to dying. And we aren’t dead. As long as we are alive, we still have time. George Eliot said, “It is never too late to become what you might have been.”

Are you still with me? We can learn to let go and see what happens…

So I’ve got another book in the hopper that I started almost six years ago; it’s about parenthood and it’s got potential (because I already outlined the chapters six years ago) and it’s funny and I need to do it. I’m holding on too much to my own expectations and I know that once I do that, once I let go of any expectation, I should be OK.

The point of “writing” is to write. Not to not write. Write about anything. If I grip too hard, my fingers can’t move, can’t hold a pen because the muscles and tendons are spent. And then what? No writing. That sucks. As Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Stupid Jedi Master.

The first gutsy thing I ever did which sort of abolished all these thoughts when I started this writing gig was say, “I am a writer” when someone asked me what I do at a cocktail party. And you know what? The person didn’t fall over in laughter. I told this story to Kristen Lamb, an author, writer coach and social media person I’ve only interacted with online. She woot-wooted me for it (she is also the one who suggested in her book that writers do this). I still tell people I’m a writer and they still don’t fall over. But I need to learn to let go and trust myself. I haven’t really let myself down yet.  

What are you holding on to? Are you “in the grips” of something too?

Thank you. (This is my 111th post! wahoo! All those ones mean to do something, take action.)

When Tennis Elbow is (%$#**& Hilarious

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I have had tennis elbow in my left arm since January. I am left handed.

Tennis elbow is a condition which totally hurts like you can’t believe. It’s a condition which directly affects any motion in the hand that requires grasping and lifting. As a parent of a toddler donned in overalls, envision grasping and then lifting the toddler from behind.

With tennis elbow, you can’t do that. The toddler runs off to the lion’s den at the zoo and you writhe in pain grasping your arm. Oh sure, everyone go after the kid!

I don’t play tennis. I mean, I can, I just don’t. (Sounds frighteningly a lot like an addict who says, “Ay ken quid anyzime I wantew, if I haz a prblm, I wouldquit. Ay juzdon haf a prblm annAy donwanta. Quid, thadis.”) I used to play tennis. Just like I used to go away for weekends with friends and I used to have a job and I used to travel to England. Having kids, whom I love, has changed all that.

Now because of the tennis elbow, even if I wanted to play tennis, I wouldn’t be able to. The kids are in school now, so I have the time (not to travel to England) but I could play tennis again.

I digress.

I got a cortisone shot for the elbow in March. I waited so long because I’m a glutton for punishment AND I wanted to see if it would go away on its own. Oh, and because I also hate (un)loading the dishwasher. After two months of shitty dishwasher experiences, I decided it was time to get the shot.

Shot didn’t work.

I met someone, in the health biz, last week (five months after the shot) while on vacation who told me that if the first shot doesn’t work then another one won’t. And if I continued getting the shots I’d just do irreparable damage to the tendons and ligaments and joint.

I don’t want to do that. I like my tendons et. al.

Since he was in the biz, I asked him what TO do.

“Yeah, since you’re so smart, tell me what to do. Should we shoot him now or wait until we get home?”

I digressed again – forgive me, I have a chip in my brain that activates a line from “Rabbit Seasoning” anytime I get remotely close to saying any lines from it.

He said to “use cross-fiber constriction for three minutes and then ice for five minutes every other day.”

I said, “So use a vertical and then a horizontal band at pressure for three minutes then ice?”

He said, “No. Just one band, opposing the line of the tendon [wrap] at high pressure for three minutes, then the ice for five. Do that every other day until it goes away.”

This was something similar to what I’d heard days before, on this got-tendonitis video, but there was no mention of the ice, nor did the man I spoke with mention the “distracting movements” (whatever the what that means) nor were there the sounds of weights slamming on the floor behind me. I tried the approach twice as shown in the video. It did nothing for me and the “distracting movements” bruised my arm a bit, making it look weird.

When I got home from my eight-hour drive from that vacation, my elbow was pretty sore. I asked my husband to wrap my arm in some very wide elastic bands, the “TheraBands” I have from physical therapy that I got last summer after hurting my back while rowing. (Back’s better, thanks for asking.)

The process of wrapping me was hilarious. Maybe, now as I type this, it’s one of those “you had to be there” moments, but it was funny because we couldn’t get the elastic to stay put. When it finally did stay put, then we had to pull away from each other to increase the tension. Then he had to leave enough slack but keep it tight enough to wrap the wrap into itself so it wouldn’t slip.

Three minutes of that at this pressure:

The first two minutes are uncomfortable. The last minute is pretty unbearable. Then, ice for five minutes. Thing 3 gets photo credit.

Does the blood rush out of your limb? Yes.

Does the constriction hurt? Yes.

How much does it hurt? A lot.

Does the constriction hurt more than the ice? No.

Five minutes of an ice wrap around possibly the least-fatty part of the body, the elbow joint, is INSANE. Five minutes is like childbirth. Five minutes hurts.

So then what? 600mg ibuprofen (advil, motrin – same thing) once and then wait 48 hours. The ibuprofen is my idea, it’s an anti-imflammatory, I figure it can’t hurt because that’s what my orthopedist said to take three times a day when I first got the condition.

Is it working? I have to say… yes. Slowly and surely, it is.

My pain was a 6 or 7 after the shot when it was a 22 before the shot. I have a high threshold for pain however, and so I often push through things that are physically difficult.  Now the pain is a 3 or 4, depending on the movement.

Why am I doing this? I tend to be a whole-person athlete/exerciser. If I experience pain in one part of my body, I tend to shut down and not do anything. That doesn’t work for me because I’ve got more energy at times than a nuclear bomb and so I have to do something. The yoga I most enjoy is vinyasa which is flow yoga or yin yoga which is slower where you hold the poses and cry for mommy. The aerobic work I most enjoy is strenuous rowing or interval hard running / sprinting followed by jog or walking then repeated about six more times. I enjoy shoveling snow in the winter because I build squats into it. I’m not normal. I add push-ups into my yoga vinyasa or sun salutes because it’s too wimpy for me otherwise. I actually like burpees. I like to do mountain climbers. They are hard to do and they kick my ass, but they are awesome. I like to work.

I have a punching bag in the basement (and pink 14oz Everlast gloves – they’re so cute!) but I don’t use it because of the tennis elbow thing. The push-ups in yoga are hard because of the tennis elbow thing. The rowing is hard because of the feathering which aggravates the tennis elbow thing. The running is pushed to the wayside because I have to hold my arms at 90˚ angles and that aggravates the tennis elbow thing. So then I don’t do anything. But I do actually… I just do it with pain. But I’m tired of the pain and waiting doesn’t do anything but bore me.

So I need to do something and the cortisone shots don’t work and I want to start sculling or sweep rowing again, but the elbow hurts, so I’m going all out – going compression then freeze and it seems to be working. I’m feeling better today and that’s the proof I’m looking for.

Thing 1, who’s 14, had to put the band on me yesterday and he was terrified he was hurting me. I assured him he was, but that it wasn’t his fault and that if he didn’t help hurt me then I’d have to wait until his dad got home and I didn’t want to do that. So he did it and we laughed about it. Then the timer went off and we unraveled it and then the ice. I had to leave the house to get the mail to distract myself.

We laughed. He laughed and I winced.

That’s about the only time tennis elbow is hilarious.

Thank you.