As you might have noticed, I've been completely absent this year. This has been due to an arm injury I sustained at the end of last summer. It was a gradual one that turned into a chronic pain issue.
Sometime last year, I noticed my right forearm started hurting when I would pick up my water bottle by gripping the top. Months before, I had noticed that my right grip felt weaker when I did deadlifts. Looking back on this now, it amazes me how persistent my denial was and how easily I ignored the warning signs my body was giving me. Long story short, after letting this go on for too long, and working until exhaustion at the computer, it got to the point where it hurt to use my stylus on my drawing tablet. I could barely lift up a coffee cup or open a door. An MRI of my arm showed that I had a 50% tear of at my Lateral epicondyle -- or in simple terms, a very bad case of Tennis Elbow.
I had a PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injection in January to help heal the area, but the healing process has been slow for me.
And because I'm right handed, I couldn't do much of anything. I couldn't write, draw, paint, type without pain. I could barely tap out email on my phone. And to compensate, other parts of my body stepped in to help and ended up getting injured themselves. At one point, I had an injured left shoulder, pain in my upper back, and pain in my right hamstring, along with the arm pain. My work life pretty much came to a stand still. The closest I got to doing anything creative during this period was painting vicariously through other people while watching YouTube and Skillshare videos.
But with the loving support of my family, my friends, and various health practitioners, I've been slowly making my way back. I began teaching myself to draw and paint with my left hand.
It was going really well, until my left shoulder began bothering me again. So I backed off doing those for awhile!
I've also been making changes in my life:
- I now listen to my body and am so much more in tune with it. I make it a priority to take care of it - to be in my body, rather than in my mind.
- I began using all kinds of relaxation/breathing/meditation/movement exercises in an effort to reduce stress in my life.
- I aim for eight hours of sleep every night (I have been going on 6, sometimes 4.5 hours of sleep before this injury = no bueno!).
- I turn down work. This has been difficult for me -- especially as a freelancer. But I now see clearly that in the long run, taking too much on is not worth it.
- I don't beat myself up for not being able to do everything - our house is messy, we have no garden this summer, I don't post regularly, I'm not on social media as much, but it's OK!
I actually now see my injury as a blessing in disguise. I was on a very unhealthy path. My stress was over the top. It really was the only way to make myself stop living the way I was living - to question it, examine it, make adjustments. It forced me to slow down. To just exist. And to enjoy what I have now. I feel so profoundly blessed to have the people in my life; to have the life I have... :)