06 7 / 2011
I’ve been experiencing, what for me is, a serious life change. I’m 66 and very soon I’ll have my 67th Birthday. In 1986 I realized, after many tries at exercising alone, I really enjoy exercising with other people. I’d had my first surgery to relieve pain in my reproductive system caused by a Dalkon Shield that had seriously injured me 16 years earlier. After the surgery I knew I had to strengthen my abdomen etc…My friend Joanne suggested I give her exercise studio a try. I was uncomfortable at first, but I kept going. Being a “People Person” I started talking to some people, and within a short time felt a home working out there.
Long story short, I had been working out at “The Works Dance Studio” on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley up to 3 to 5 times a week up until January 2010. The friends I’ve made there have supported me through Lymphoma 1993, Breast Cancer 2006 and life threatening emergency shoulder abscess surgery 2010. My goal had always been to stay strong as I aged, so my husband and I could go on long hikes, which had always been one of our favorite pastimes. When he retires we’d planned to go to all the National Parks we’d never been to, and maybe even go to Europe! For now those plans are on hold.
After my Mastectomy in 2006 I was given a drug called an aromatase inhibitor to help prevent a reoccurrence of cancer. It had lots of possible side effect. I chose not to read them all because as soon as I started I imagined I had them. I’d once borrowed a friends copy of Merrick’s Manual and had the same experience, so I decided I wouldn’t have side effects. I was supposed to take the drug for 5 years, but after a 10 months I was experiencing intense joint pain. Especially in my right hip, right knee, right thumb, several fingers and my right shoulder. I visited my Oncologist to discuss stopping the medication. He checked a computer program using my type of cancer, what stage I was at when I was diagnosed and the fact that I had no lymph-node involvement. He said my chances of reoccurrence were 3% and I could stop taking it if I chose to. Which is what I did.
After about 3 months the pain had gone. Two years later my right knee started to bother me so I went to an acupuncturist my husband had see who really helped him. He gave me an injection of an anti-inflammatory and my knee stopped hurting.
In July of 2009 I was swimming and noticed my right shoulder hurt. I thought the pain would go away, but it varied in intensity and never subsided. So in late January 2011, I made an appointment with the same acupuncturist, and during 4 visits, for reasons I still don’t understand, he gave me a total of 7 injections in my left shoulder (which had also started hurting after I tripped over my friends black standard poodle). He gave me the acupuncture needles in my right shoulder, but used hypodermic needle in my left to inject the anti-inflammatory.
The pain of the injections became unbearable so I stopped seeing him. Within a few days my arm became swollen, and within a few weeks I’d had X-rays, an MRI, put on strong pain killers, and finally had a Cat Scan which showed the problem to be a huge abscess with gas surrounding it. I was told, by my orthopedic Dr. that I was not to go home. They took me right to the Surgery Dept. for Emergency Trauma Surgery to save my life and arm.
I remanined in the hospital for a week until they were able to determine what kind of bacteria had been introduced into my arm. All the while I was on strong antibiotics. Finally the cultures grew and I was told I didn’t have Mercer, or Sars, but I did have one Strep bacteria and two Anarobic sp? (I’m not sure of the spelling). I went home and spent a total of 13 weeks on a specific antibiotic to treat them. I had a “pikline” inserted into my right arm so my husband could administer the antibiotics every day. I took Probiotics in the hospital and will continue using the for the rest of my life. My nutritionist says we don’t replenish enough as we age and we especially need to take them if we are on antiobiotics because they replenish the good bacteria it kills.
I was given exercises so my arm wouldn’t lock up and I started physical therapy after the “pikline” was removed. I’ve seen Orthopedic Surgeons who agree that I will have to have my left shoulder replace. I find it has effected so much of my movement that I’ve always taken for granted. Movements like puting on Jeans, my bra, reaching up to take something out of a cabinet, combing my hair, sleeping on my left side or right side just to name a few. I don’t work out anymore with my friends. I’ve tried and I can’t lift weights or move my arm without sever pain. My right hip has started bothering me which is making it hard to do aerobics. I do Pilates with lots of modifications! I’m looking for a Yoga Class.
I’ve left this last part of my experience for the last. I’m mentioning it because it is very upsetting to me that I can’t experience my sexuality with the freedom of movement that I always enjoyed, and this has been a major problem in my personal and professional life. I’m still seeing clients and modifying what I can do.
My husband has been wonderful and has helped me understand that through love and compassion we are still able to express our passion.
I know we could all find ourselves with a disability at any time. Having worked with people who were born with one or who have aquired one, I’ve found the latter to have the most difficulty dealing with the change. I’m determined not to let negative thoughts keep me from exploring changes, and letting go of what I once COULD do, but rather what I now CAN do. Our sexuality is an extremely important part of who we are. I won’t let that amazingly valuable part of my being slip away. Like exercise, I feel so wonderful after every experience. Love~~~ Cheryl