Before 2019: Gadgets, Lotions, and Pills

I tried every gadget and gimmick sold to unsuspecting consumers who are in pain from rounded shoulders. I have braces in several designs and sizes. I took the brace to conferences and any time I flew to attend meetings. They helped sometimes, but not all the time and never for long.

Deep heating lotions were nice, but did not provide any long term relief. I took it along in travel and used it especially the blue stuff. Nothing seemed to give me long term relief. I was surviving using gadgets, lotions, and Excedrin.

I even bought a worthless gadget that went on my back to remind me to sit up straight. What a waste!

2021

No braces, no lotions, no Excedrin, and pain free!

2019 to 2021: Up I Go

2019

Walking up stairs became harder and harder and climbing steps that are higher than normal was almost impossible. I could no longer, step up on a chair to reach the top shelf of a cabinet. Somewhere along the way, I lost the functionality of the gluteus and other muscles that stabilized the body.

I had Gluteus Amnesia or Dead Butt Syndrome. When we sit too long, blood flow is restricted, nerves get irritated and, over time, our hip flexors tighten and our gluteal muscles lengthen. This doesn’t mean our butts are “dead;” it means they’re weak and not activating efficiently. It also means that other muscles have to work harder to compensate. Translation: in addition to a numb or possibly inflamed butt, you may also experience back, knee, ankle and foot pain. Symptoms can be mild and occasional severe and long-lasting.

2021

It took months of exercise to bring my gluteal muscles back to life. Now, walking up stairs is effortless. Climbing on a stool to each the top closet shelf is accomplished quickly without pain. I can sit and feel my butt getting sore after a couple hours. Ugh and Yeah!

I am getting younger day by day.

2019 to 2021: Laughing or Not

2019

Laughing and coughing were painful. I held my stomach so I could cough and sometimes even breath.

2021

As my ribs were reshaped, I could cough without holding my side. It was a longer process than I expected because I determined that the fascia and maybe the diaphragm were injured when the vertebrae was compressed in my back. As I learned later it was more than the diaphragm that were shifted internally. As I focused on what was under the surface, my back continued to strengthen and the reshaping became more permanent.

2019 to 2021: Sitting

2019

I could not find a chair that was comfortable to sit in. Previously I had an amazingly comfortable chair that I wore out BUT the chair was NOT the best hair to sit in. The chair curve around my back so I never sat up with good posture. I curled up in the leather chair for years and managed to keep it going for as long as I could. We bought a great chair for Bud but I could not sit in it. My shoulders rounded forward and it was a struggle to stay upright. The growing lump in my back hurt when I tried to sit up.

At church I sat in the pews and leaned forward rather than sit with my back again the back of the pew. If a person sitting behind me hit or touched the back of the pew, it sent pain radiating though my back. Attending conferences and sitting in the chairs provided was challenging. Sometimes I brought a pillow to help ease the pain. Speaking of pillows, I had a small pillow that I used when I sat at the dinning room table.

After my favorite chair collapsed for the last time, I made a chair in my bed with pillows and contraptions I bought from Amazon.

2021

I love Bud’s desk chair! I can sit for hours and hold my back during long Zoom meetings. I have a wireless keyboard that I can use on my lap rather than use the Laptop’s built in keyboard.

I sit at Church and lean casually up against the back of the pew and the jabs from those behind me have no affect on my back.

I don’t need the cushion to sit at the dinning room table.

I do get tired when I sit for a long time, but nothing compares to the problems I faced two years ago.

I have a new contraption for reading in bed. It is little more than a board with padding over the board and padded arms were I rest my arms. I rest my head as I lean back which imitates the neck exercise I do daily.

Yes, I feel two years younger!

2019 to 2021: Sleep

2019

It was impossible to find a position that relieved the pain even at night. I normally slept with a pillow under my knees. At some point in my life, I heard that sleeping with legs elevated was good for your back and heart, but I questioned whether it was the cause of my back pain. I tried to sleep with extra pillows and without, but my back hurt either way. I tried to sleep on my stomach, I tried to sleep on my side, but by morning I was on my back and woke up in pain.

2021

I started going to Dr. Nate in June 2019 and learned that my extra pillow under my knees was a good idea and sleeping on my back was best for me. I purchased a large foam wedge that I used from that point on. In fact I purchased several wedges over the first year to ensure I had one available wherever I slept.

Now, I go to sleep quickly lying on my back and sleep peacefully for four hours. I wake up with no pain and get up without thinking about the years that I dreaded getting up every morning.

Two year later and I feel healthier and I am sure I am getting younger not older.

2019 to 2021: Drugs

1/2019

Excedrin was my pain killer of choice. It general helped me through the day, but of course it had its downside. Primarily, it slowly destroyed my stomach, so I took Nexium to minimize the effects of Excedrin. Until it the lining of the stomach cracked and started to bleed.

1/2021

Drug free is an amazing feeling. No more Excedrin, no more Nexium.

While kicking the pain pill habit is impressive, it isn’t because of anything I did. It is the result of a Chiropractors who specialized in optimizing the spine. It was fifteen months after I started treatment that I kicked the Excedrin habit cold turkey and lived through the headaches that resulted after I stopped the intake of caffeine.

Finally my dependency on pain killer to survive the day ceased. I feel healthier and I am sure I am getting younger not older.

2019 to 2021: Weight Gain

1/2019

In 2019, I started to gain weight due to inactivity and the inability to exercise. The pain restricted my movement and continued to affect my weight goals.

1/2021

Unfortunately, I gained 20 pounds after my husband died in 2019 then I gained another 10 pounds when the pandemic restricted my social life even more. I started Jazzercize with my handicap daughter and was able to increase my exercise level with some success before the Pandemic hit. I continued Jazzercize on demand as my back responded to treatment.

By 2/2021 I had lost the pandemic weight gain and stated on the weight gained after Bud died.

I watch my weight and eat less and less as my body becomes more and more efficient with age. I avoid sugar and other refined carbohydrates. I avoid over processed food and try to balance vegetables and protein with some dairy.

I drink water continually during the day to ensure adequate hydration. I avoid foods and drinks that might negatively affect the effectiveness of water absorption.

I exercise every day sometimes for an hour, sometimes for only 30 minutes. In winter and during bad weather, I continue to use Jazzercise On Demand. During the summer, spring, and fall, I jog or walk in the early morning hours.

I take daily vitamins insuring I get a wide range of vitamins including extra vitamin D in the winter when most exercise is indoors.

I am vaccinated against pneumonia, influenza (annually), shingles, and any other vaccinations that are recommended for adults over 65.

I am not perfect, but I am not tempted to eat cookies, cakes, and other baked food with high levels of sugar. Occasionally I eat candy, but for good or bad I hate dark chocolate. I can inhale a bowl of caramel popcorn in minutes. If I let myself, I could become easily addicted to ice cream. Instead, I keep food that I shouldn’t eat out of the cupboard and frig. I avoid having brown sugar and popcorn in the house. Somehow the popcorn pops itself and the caramel seems to magically appear.

I avoid fast food restaurants, in fact I avoid all restaurants. You do not know what is in the food that they prepare. I even avoid the amazing food at Church socials. Maybe it was ok when I was younger, but as I grow older I scrutinize all food I eat.

It is so much easier to lose weight when you are not in pain and not living on pain killers.

I feel younger and younger as they year goes by.

2019 to 2021: Looking Over My Shoulder

2019

Looking side to side and over my shoulder. Sounds simple but over the years the ability diminished slowly. In fact it happened so slowly I wasn’t even aware that I had lost significant range of motion. Over the previous years I was treated by chiropractors, physical therapist and a doctor of osteopathic medicine. Some of the work they performed gave me temporary relief but none eliminated the pain or gave me the results I expected. On one occasion the treatment actually exacerbated the pain and negated any attempt to correct my weakening back.

When driving, I used the mirrors to see over my shoulder and behind me. The most challenging was seeing cars that were in the blind spot over the right shoulder.

2021

The blind spot has practically disappeared as I smoothly turn my head to view cars on the right side of the car. I still use mirrors to watch for cars approaching or traveling near by, but I can easily turn my head and look carefully for cars that might invade my space. Driving is easier and puts minimal stress on my core as well as my back.

In addition to ease of movement, I use time at stops to stretch my neck and move my chin straight back. The stretching exercise continue to strengthen the muscles in my neck.

The range of motion is better than I can remember. Two year later and I feel healthier and I am sure I am getting younger not older.

2019 to 2021: Getting Up in the Morning

1/2019

Every morning I woke up and lay in bed for a long time trying to decide when and how I would get up. Eventually the need to go to the bathroom would drive me to get up despite the pain. Excedrin did not lessen the pain during the short walk from bed to bathroom. I slowly rolled off my bed edge and grabbed the edge of the dresser to stabilize my slow steps to the bathroom.

To return, I used the sink to pull myself up and paused at every step to breath deeply and slowly moved back to bed.

1/2021

Two years later, every morning I wake up and think about what I need to do that day. where I needed to go and what I want to accomplish. Somewhere during the though process, I automatically get up, go to the bathroom, and return to bed to continue planning the day. With a goal to blog every day, I pick a topic and write.

What is missing from the picture two years later? I have eliminated the pain 99% without taking pain killer medications. I don’t use the dresser to walk to the bathroom. I don’t use the sink to help lift myself off the toilet and lean against it to wash my hands. The morning routine is automatic and virtually pain free.

Two year later and I feel healthier and I am sure I am getting younger not older.

Twiggy

Strike One: My 36-25-36 figure never looked good in A-line dresses. I always felt short and dumpy next to my perfect Mom and wearing a dress with a belt that billowed out (also a style in 1966) was not flattering either. I was doomed before I could drive a car or vote. I sucked my stomach in and hunched my shoulders to look more like Twiggy. The realization that the model was a year younger than I didn’t help.

Like my mother and grandmother, I enjoyed sewing and made the most fashionable dresses. But none of them made me look like Twiggy. In fact, my mother had to rip apart more dresses than I care to remember to try to make me look fashionable. Then Katie moved into our home. Katie was a cute little foreign exchange student from England who lived with us my senior year in high school. Katie was fun and popular, so I thankfully followed in her shadow. I tried to sit up straight, walk straight, and stand up straight but it seemed not to matter much.

I was good at making impossible things happen. I lead an effort to impeach our civics teacher and fought my poor posture with the same determination. But it didn’t seem to make a difference, my shoulders were already beginning to droop.