I come into 2023 with great hope and humility. I’ve been accustomed to believing that I can control my health outcomes and have made many logical choices over the course of the last 40 years with that in mind. And to date, I have seemed to keep one of my biggest fears - osteoporosis at bay; my bone density tests continue to show that my bones still qualify as being outside the reach of osteopenia. After watching my mother’s spine deteriorate and body shrink, that powerful image drove me to spend my whole adult life working to avoid her fate with weight bearing exercise and the best nutrition I could access.
But a surprise visitor came to my frame. One I’d never considered. Even though my grandmother had arthritis at an early age, I thought I had avoided those genes, that I was luckier. I don’t really know what type she had, but I’ll guess it was Rheumatoid, since its onset was probably in her 30s. My dad recounted many stories of her suffering. Well, low and behold, I happen to have developed severe bone on bone osteoarthritis in my shoulders. That diagnosis became the beginning of my “Shoulder Jail”. My ability to move my upper body quickly became restricted. The shock of that diagnosis in February 2021 sent me into a swirl of denial and search of treatments to evade the prescribed surgery. The first two surgeons told me that I would NEVER do yoga again, NEVER lift weights - one of them even used the words, “I want you to be weak; weakness will prevent you from causing the replacement to fail.". Both yoga and working out with weights have been part of my lifestyle and purpose. I found a regenerative medicine doc who gave me stem cells and platelet rich plasma to stave off the need for a new joint. I was determined to get my body to heal itself - with prayer, EFT, positive imaging, my naturopath cousin’s recommendations, and an online New Age healer to try to regrow my cartilage.
The PRP and Stem Cells only gave temporary relief. Pain and continued loss of function over that next year began to frighten me. I felt more and more vulnerable - and not in control. I had tests for nerve involvement in September of 2021 that led to Cubital Tunnel surgery that November. I’d noticed the muscles in my left arm losing mass and tone. It was slow, but steady. The doctor pointed out caved in portions of my outer hand and inside the space between index finger and thumb- I’d never realized this could happen - to MY body. The healthy body I nurtured for years. I noticed my bicep flattening. But I believed that I could exercise myself back to what I deemed normal. I didn’t understand the physiology - that arthritis and nerve damage can cause muscles to stop responding. The muscles had not responded to my continued efforts, at least not retuning to full function. I was coming to the point of surrender, but not quite.
My last cortisone shot came in July of 2022. Oh, did I ever feel like myself again. Even though my range of motion (ROM) was adversely affected on my left arm, I plowed back into life with vigor. For about two months, I built my business with new classes - up to seven per week. My clients accepted my limitations. I also helped my daughter with care for my beautiful grandchildren over the last 2 years, joyfully lifting, carrying them. But that arm has continued to deteriorate and pain returned with a vengeance in early November. Muscles began to hurt in odd places inside my upper arm. Although cortisone can be effective, it isn’t recommended long term, as it can further damage to the affected joint. I realized that the surgery I had eluded was really my only practical solution. Unless I wanted to live with chronic pain, and extreme loss of function.
So here I am. Humbled by life. Literally brought to my knees. Readying myself for the procedure that has frightened me. Surrendering with hope to the belief that all things are possible with faith. Trusting that I can be made whole again. That this miraculous body, divinely created - with all the special intelligence of tiny cells, even smaller DNA and healing instructions will work on my behalf. I can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for me. I still believe. I just finally realized I can’t do it alone.