Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15

I have PT again tomorrow.

The upside of knowing that my arm may get twisted out of its socket and or my core might think it's going to explode, depending on what she wants to make my body do? ... I'm leaving work at noon for a 1:00 appointment, and I don't have to go back afterwards.

I tell you, there's an upside to just about anything if you look for it!

Last night, I had Sunday dinner - as per the usual - at Jo's house. I made some reference to me not being very strong. Rook, the sweet 11 yr old boy that he is, said, "That's not true, Laurie. I'll bet you're stronger than me!" (Love that kid. He so wants to make people happy and help them feel good about themselves. Too bad I know I am a weakling.) I just laughed and said, "Rook, You're sweet, but I'm here to tell you that I am not strong. Maggie is for sure stronger than me, and Sally probably is, too." (Maggie is 4 and could totally take me. Sally is 2, and I think she could, too.) Rook just laughed and was like, "Whatever". I said, "Seriously, Rook, watch this. I can't even lift my arm." I put my right arm out in front of me and tried to lift it to my head. I got a good 45 degree angle, but then it was frozen. Rook's eyes went wide and he said "You really can't lift your arm higher than that?" Roomie, who had been sitting to my right, asked in a concerned voice, "How did that happen?" When I answered, "They aren't sure. All I know is, something happened during surgery", she was incredulous. And then Cili caught on to what we were talking about and, looking at my 45 degree angled arm, spewed, at top volume, "YOU CAN'T TOUCH YOUR EAR WITH YOUR ARM?!" Uh, no, C. No, I cannot. And then, still beyond bothered, she looked at my crooked, outstretched, arm and whispered, "Can you even straighten your elbow?" Sadly, the answer there, again, would be no.

I do so love that I'm almost four months out of surgery and my wonky arm is what had multiple children raising their voices at the dinner table last night.

So, here's the most report, as of my last PT appointment:

I now have a rib hump. (Sounds glamorous, right? ... It's not. I'll tell you about it.)

As you well know, we've been working on the muscle groups around my shoulder, around the top and back of my arm, and the muscles that go across my right shoulder blade for some time now.

As of about a month ago, my right shoulder blade started to sort of float towards the outside of my body. It's hard to explain, but it's visibly NOT where it's supposed to me. (If you want to see a freak show, come on over and I'll take my shirt off and raise my right arm - at a 45 degree angle, because that's about as good as it gets - so you can see that bone jut out of the side of my body. Like any good circus side show, it's grotesque, but fascinating at the same time.)

When I went to my last PT appointment, I shared my frustration with her that I didn't feel like I had been making progress and that my shoulder blade, in particular, seemed to be getting worse. She told me that she had an idea for something that might help stabilize my shoulder blade (taping my shoulder blades together, which necessitated me taking my top off), and asked if I would be uncomfortable taking my shirt off in front of her so she could watch my muscle groups work as I went through the motion.

Like I have a visible muscle group anywhere in my body, least of all in my abdominal area... But whatever.

At her request, I turned away from the mirror so I wouldn't be able to look at my body while she had me go through a couple exercises. First I took my shirt off. She raised an eyebrow, pursed her lip and said "I wondered about that...". She came and stood in front of my and traced my scar with her finger so she could get a better idea of how and where it was (it's a crooked scar in the first place, but all the extra skin around it makes it all wavy and weird in some places), then she asked if I would raise my arms over my head. I did, and she smiled and nodded, and said "I thought so!" At that point, while my arms were still in the air, she asked me to turn really slowly and look in the mirror so I could see my posture.

Holy moses! My back was arched in an effort to throw my right shoulder back to where it "should" be and my torso was visibly twisted.

Hello, rib hump!

Apparently, the right side of my body has been compensating for the lack of weight/organs on the inside of the left side of my body by torquing my upper body.

I am not kidding. My back was curved and my abdomen was divided - upper half torquing to create a balance, lower half stuck straight forward.

She had me lower my arms and then raise them again, this time watching myself do it. When I had a conscious awareness of what I was doing and how I moved, it was much less noticeable, but I was still visibly twisting to create balance.

How in the world missing guts in the left side of my stomach could have made my right shoulder blade get slippery is beyond me, but I'm here to tell you... they did.

My new - totally heinous and practically impossible - exercises to try and bring my right and left sides back into harmony are:

Leaning against a wall, knees bent in an almost sitting position, with my hands clasped and my arms and head/neck stretched down and to the left. I then slowly stand and bring my arms to the right and over my shoulder while I lean/roll against the wall until my right shoulder blade is pressed up against the wall. I hold that as long as I can, then relax and curl back down to the left. Rinse and repeat three times.

I do this same stretch/movement lying on my back, but with a rolled up towel behind me, parallel with but just outside my spine. ... Hurts like the devil.

Also, lying on my side with my arm positioned straight over my head, head lying on that arm to anchor it, while I try (I say try, because, while I've made worthy efforts, it is hard) to push my bent legs over from a curled (because I'm lying on my side) to a knees-bent, but up position. In theory, I should be able to have both arms above my head while I do this, but the searing pain around my bellybutton won't let me do that. (Which I find interesting, as my bellybutton has been dead for almost two years. Why I can feel this stretch, I do not know - but feel it, I do.)

The theory is that I have muscle groups that are tight because I've been holding myself in compensatory positions, and that if we can stretch/release those muscle groups, everything should be able to shift back to where it should be - or at least get closer to where it should be.

These exercises, combined with taping my shoulder blades together, made for an absolutely BEASTLY week last week. (I cannot even tell you how many muscle groups I feel stretch when I wake up in the mornings now. It's a little ridiculous.) I wore the tape on my shoulders for just about a week.

I'll show you a pic of the tape. When she told me what she wanted to do, I had no idea what that would look like or how it would work. It's actually pre-fabbed medical tape. You can buy it in medical stores (or on Amazon) and it comes with instructions on exactly how and where to place it.


How 'bout that black bra? I mean... for the very first Cancer Girl lingerie shot ever, I thought I'd be a little daring.

I could really feel the difference it made in the first 3 or 4 days. Towards the end of the week, I wasn't really feeling it, but I took the tape off last Friday and almost died from the pain in my arm all day. The soreness and residual pain that I KNOW was associated with the tape and removal thereof is mostly gone, but so is a lot of my range of motion, too. Wearing the tape isn't a long term fix, but it did certainly help me get some motion back, so I'm curious to find out if she wants to do that again tomorrow.

You know I'll tell you all about it. Maybe I'll even take more pics. (The other piece of medical tape I have is black. They were out of "nude" when I ordered online. The back of a black bra AND black medical tape? Oooh. La. La.)