crane

Filling My Days

I think the most frustrating thing about trying to heal from overuse problems is that the list of things that I can't do basically makes up most of the "therapy". Given that most of my life has to do with what I can do, not with what I can't, it puts the focus on the wrong thing for me. And sometimes things affect the central condition that had nothing to do with video games.

So, I have a better understanding of what exactly is happening, but that doesn't make it any better. I seem to have a combination of tendinitis issues in the left wrist and hand (and forearm and elbow and shoulder (top, back, and front)) along with a cervical curvature problem in my neck that is pinching the nerve bundle that goes to my entire left arm. When the narrowing in my neck gets bad, my entire left arm hurts. This also means, however, that when I ice my neck most of the pain in my left arm goes away. Except, of course, the pain that is actually due to the tendinitis.

All of this is due to extreme overuse. That's pretty clear.

So, at first I simply avoided video games. Which, in my mind, meant that I could do anything else. That hasn't proven to always be helpful. It turns out that painting doesn't aggravate anything, which is good, as I have been trying to do more. Unless, it turns out, I decide to do Western watercolor and prop a board up with the paper on it. It seems that the angle I have to look up in order to paint that way aggravates the neck problem. Nearly everything else is like that.

Cooking, on the most part, is fine; except when I have to look down to make the skins for Chinese dumplings, or if I have to hold something down with my left hand for an extended period of time. That's not just food on the cutting board, but also holding tags that I want to calligraphy a blessing onto. A lot of this I have to learn the hard way, which means that whenever I make progress and feel better I tend to try something else that puts me back down in the same hole.

The tendinitis adds another dimension, because when I hold things for too long with my left hand, or type for more than just a few sentences, the tendons start to ache and excite all the nerves of my arm. And we get back to the old recipe of just not do anything, which gets to be really depressing.

One thing that I can do in excessive amounts is walk. Anyone who is also my friend on FitBit will notice that my weekly average has gone way up for the last couple of months. The weather in Colorado has been getting better, but it's still not go-out-every-day weather. We had 60 to 90 mile-per-hour winds a couple of days ago through the entire region. I can ride the exercise bike in the basement, but I have to be very careful of my head angle and how far I reach with my left hand. The circulation boost still helps.

Another thing that really messed me up was the crown replacement. It turns out that stress and tension, who knew, tightens all the muscles of my neck, shoulders, and upper back; and it seems that tension in those muscles flattens my neck. I tightened up so much in fear that I could feel my left arm going numb, but I was just sitting in the dentist chair. I was able to do the thing that I do on long car trips or plane trips, which is just turn myself off and try to go to sleep during the procedure itself. And then the dentist wouldn't believe me when I said that bite was a little high. It took another two days before she could correct that, and then I wasn't insistent enough on her correcting my nightguard or checking the bite again. So I am stuck with another four days of waiting and aching and my jaw, neck, and shoulders being as tight as rocks until she can look at it again.

My physical therapist had actually been pretty happy with my progress until the crown replacement. Then he said, "It happens. Don't worry, you'll get over it and will make progress again."

I think it's better? Sometimes I'm not sure, because there is always pain, except when I'm walking. At the beginning of all this I thought it would be more an exercise in figuring out how to fill my days, rather than gaining a new understanding of what it is I have to dodge.

One of the things I've been enjoying has been learning Japanese on duolingo. It's just ten or twenty minutes a day, and the flow of it has made it pretty easy to remember what I've learned. It helps that a lot of the beginning phrases are also very common phrases in anime. Some of my old gaming friends have been good about chasing me off the games, and trying to find other common ground to stay friends on. A few of them have been recommending anime to me, and it's been fun.

Sadly, I also have to be very careful about watching anything for very long, as watching my computer aggravates some of the same positional problems that caused the neck problems in the first place. I also put stretching software in place to make sure that I don't stay in the same position for very long. Another thing I thought of is to get one of the new pedometers that bugs me if I stayed still for too long. The good thing, however, is that in moderation I can watch just about anything now. And I've been enjoying My Hero Academia, The Ancient Magnus' Bride, Yowamushi Pedal: The New Generation, Ms. Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, and others. It's been fun, so long as I get up and stretch between episodes.

Jet and John are far more optimistic about my progress than I am, but that's usual. I am happy with DragonDictate, its accuracy and versatility are good, especially compared to the built-in Windows 10 speech recognition. I'm also very familiar with the controls, so I get less frustration with trying to get it to do what I want it to do. But is kind of funny to end up yelling at my voice recognition, and have it record what I said.

The thing I miss the most is being able to write. My spoken vocabulary is still much smaller than the vocabulary I can use when I am typing, and I know that my grammatical structures become simpler. The last may not be a problem, as being easy to read is not a terrible thing. However, I sometimes find myself avoiding words because I think that the dictation software can't spell them, and then surprises me by being able to spell Kobayashi without any interference whatsoever on my part. Besides, I have a difficult time spelling in the first place when I'm typing, and don't pay much attention to it until the editing part and writing by dictation means that I have to pay attention to the spelling while I'm writing. We'll see how it turns out, but I do have an idea for novella that I want to get written by summer. I think the thing that appeals to me the most about the idea is that the people involved have presented themselves to me in action and full-color. Blood and a pulse are far more preferable to dry ideas.

So I am progressing, by the beginning of May I will see the doctor again to figure out how much more I might need to do. There is also Jet's leaving for Japan in late July or early August, and I really wanted to play with him before he leaves. Not everything. He understands that I will have limitations even if I do get better. I have been watching him play, and there are few things that I can play with him that only involve clicking the mouse with my right hand.

My bees should be coming on the 28th, and I'm looking forward to installing them. That will be something else I think I can do. The vegetable garden needs to be cleared of weeds, and there's a huge patch of garlic that I might need to transplant and/or uses some of the green garlic for green garlic bread. There is spinach that I seeded from last fall growing huge and the green onions are coming up. My herbs are outside already, and ladybugs are cleaning away all the aphids beautifully. The crocuses have come and gone, the tulips are up, and the irises are coming. The neighbors who have peonies have huge growing plants with hundreds of flower buds. I'm looking forward to the flowers.

Maybe that's what I need to focus on.

I have another show for July and August. The Longmont Art Association has asked me to enter their artists registry, and I'll probably do that, as the local banks, coffee shops, and other businesses regularly display artwork from that.

I also made a book, a very simple small journal; but the process was very satisfying. Sadly, looking down while doing it was bad for my neck. I'm going to have to work out a way to fold paper without pressing it with my left hand, a way to sew the folios by holding them near my head instead of looking down at them, and what dimensions and materials I want to use for the next one. I also have a tiny watercolor palette in a tin box about the size of a mint box. I want to use it on a journal, so the paper may have to be lightweight watercolor paper. That would be fun, especially if John and I decide to travel more when Jet goes off on his adventures.

Sometimes I feel like I'm going to have to just live with the neck problem for the rest of my life. The doctor said that physical therapy should just take care of it, but I feel like I've had so many setbacks that I'm not sure I can take her word on that. And maybe the physical therapist is correct and if I could get all the muscles to loosen up in my neck shoulders and upper back it would fix itself; but that seems nearly impossible when stuff happens like the crown.

I guess that doesn't always happen.

The other day I came home from a walk while Jet was showering, and water was pouring from a light fixture on the kitchen ceiling. I just got a bucket, and called for John, who came running at the tone of my voice. The funny thing with that was that I didn't worry about that situation whatsoever. I didn't get any more tense. I guess it was because I knew that John could take care of it, and Jet and I joked afterwards that even we could have taken care of it eventually.

Maybe that's the difference, so much of what is happening to me physically is stuff that I cannot control as completely as I would like. That will probably continue with the whole aging process. I'm just not going to be able to do everything that I used to be able to do. I'm getting the hint that the reason why older people are meditation masters is because sometimes there is nothing else to do. There are times when I'm icing, walking, or stretching when I can let my mind go anywhere. Sometimes it's been very refreshing to use meditation discipline and just be present even in those "boring" moments. Something else for me to learn.
I swear by foam wedges for supporting bits of me that need it, and my Christmas present was an electric shiatsu mat that lays over a chair - just a 15 minute session after I do something like kneel on the toilet seat for am hour to mosaic the wall really unlocks the muscles in my back that go into spasm - not like proper massage but good as a daily thing
Oooooo.... that sounds wonderful for my neck and shoulders! I'll have to look into that.
I will be crossing my fingers that you do improve and continue to improve, and that working in the garden and with the bees will help. (And yes, definitely enter the Longmont Art Association's artists registry!)

Speaking of anime, you might enjoy _Silver Spoon_ - it's by the author of _Full Metal Alchemist_, but a very different setting.

Many hugs.
Thank you! I think the registry should be a lot of fun.

I actually haven't seen all of Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood yet, and want to work my way through that. I shall also sample Silver Spoon as well, as our tastes are fairly similar. I've had a lot of good recommendations from Carl.

Many hugs back.