Cupping Therapy

What the heck. I wrote a post about spoons, so now I’m going to carry on that theme and talk about cups.

Cupping is supposed to draw fluid into the area; the discoloration is due to broken blood vessels just beneath the skin, much like a bruise. Cupping has been popular in Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures going back thousands of years, but increasing numbers of people worldwide have been adopting it. Cupping involves creating suction on the skin using a glass, ceramic, bamboo, or plastic cup in order to draw the fluid. Chinese medicine claims that cupping improves the flow of qi (energy) in a patient’s body as well.

Until I had my first cupping session, I had no idea that cupping even existed, much less what it was. After trying a variety of things to help my right shoulder heal after dislocating it, my chiropractor decided to try this method on me. He was behind me and I couldn’t see what he was doing; he merely told me that it was going to feel like I was being pinched. Visually, I imagined some kind of metal instrument that would pinch my skin.

He applied the first cup and it took everything I had not to cry out in pain (I already know I have a low pain tolerance, but this hurt massively!). With the third cup attached, I was whimpering and close to hyperventilating. By the last one, my eyes were filled with tears and I was trying to push my mind into an out-of-body experience to get away from the pain. Remember, I’m visually imagining these big metal pinchers digging into my skin! So, he walks out from behind me and, while I’m thinking I’m dying, he has the nerve to ask me to start moving my arm! I just lifted my head and looked at him, the tears spilling down my cheeks! I had a tissue in my left hand, but I felt like my entire body was frozen, so I couldn’t even move to wipe my own tears away. So, after Dr. Craig got a tissue and wiped my face, he got me to stand up and he started moving my arm/shoulder in different directions. It didn’t hurt, and later he told me that the areas with suction will tend to go a bit numb. This went on for a good 8-10 minutes and then he easily and quickly released the suction and lifted off the cups.

(In my post entitled “Are you a melter or a chewer?” you can see a photo of the bruises left behind afterwards. Because of those bruises, I got a week ‘free’ from the torture for my next visit.)

Two weeks ago, he decided to concentrate on my arm, because that was where I was experiencing pain with movement. When he put the first cup on, I gasped audibly. The second cup got a very unladylike whisper in which I told him in no uncertain terms that it “hurt like a MF’er!” Yea, I used the words and while I wasn’t proud, they made my point! Finally, they all were on, and he decided it was worth photos!

I swear you can see the flesh being sucked upwards!

Of course, bruising followed! Last week, another session and here is what it left behind:

You can even see some of the still healing bruise from the previous treatment!

Fun this is not. Painful this definitely is. And yet, I will keep going back again and again, crying, swearing and/or gritting my teeth through the pain. Because it’s finally beginning to make a difference! The actual dislocated shoulder is fine, but there has been ongoing pain and inflammation in the nerves, soft tissue and muscles surrounding the area and down into my arm. For the first time, I’ve been able to find and maintain 90% of my ability to reach upward, as long as I don’t jerk it up. The throbbing pain I’d been having in my upper arm when I was sitting still has not happened for two weeks now. I still try things that I don’t think should give me pain and they do, but I’m taking more chances to return tasks to my right arm and hand that I’d delegated to the left side.

I don’t know how much longer it will take to be fully healed. As much as I don’t like cleaning chores, I find myself wanting to do them because I can’t! But I do believe that I am on the road to healing, and while it can be painful, I would recommend this therapy to anyone dealing with inflammation or knots in their muscles, nerves and soft tissue. Besides, I wasn’t planning to be seen in a bikini any time soon (or any time, to be honest!) so no one will see the bruises unless I choose to show them!

Wish me continued luck!

Around-the-House Hacks – II

This blog post is about nail polish. Guys! GUYS! Before you start making those cringing faces or decide not to read on, listen up! I’m not suggesting you start painting your nails and/or toes! (Some men do have their fingernails professionally filed and buffed, but not polished.) Remember, this is about hacks – other ways – that nail polish can be a handy thing to have. In fact, anyone who has basic tools should also have a bottle of clear nail polish, regardless of gender! There are also hacks for colored polishes, but for now, we’ll stick with clear.

Women of my generation, who lived before it became a trend and appropriate to go bare-legged, will most likely tell you that they were never far from a bottle of clear nail polish. It was the “go-to” whenever nylons got snagged or the beginning of a run in their hosiery. But there are so many gender-neutral reasons that a bottle of clear nail polish is good to have handy!

Clear nail polish can be used to smudge-proof important labels. Whether it’s the address on a letter or package that you’ll be mailing out that you think might be handled in inclement weather, or the labels of important information on bottles and tubes of medicinal items, a stroke or two of clear nail polish will prevent weather, water, even humidity from breaking down the ink that holds the important information.

If you keep anything in a metal container – like shaving cream in your medicine cabinet or paint cans in your garage – you know how easily moisture interacts with the metal and leaves rust rings. An easy way to keep those rings from forming it to use clear nail polish on the bottom rim of the container. No more worrying when family and/or friends are visiting and have the opportunity to take a sneak peek into your medicine cabinet!

If you want to keep buttons attached more permanently to your clothing, apply a coat of nail polish to the threads holding the button in place (front and back, if applicable). It keeps the thread from fraying, preventing the disaster of losing a button when you’re out in public. Make it a habit to do this with all new clothes you purchase as well as all buttons to an article of clothing when you sew a button back on.

Speaking of sewing, forget those silly gadgets that you can never figure out how to use when threading a needle. Simply run the cut end of the thread through the nail polish brush, rub it once or twice between your thumb and forefinger to tighten the threads and viola, it will go right through the needle’s eye!

Clear nail polish is a handy temporary fix to a windshield ding or crack! Working in the shade, dab or paint both sides of the ding/crack and then move the vehicle into the sun so that the polish can dry thoroughly. This will give you some time to get estimates and/or arrange a repair appointment without further spreading. Dabbing clear nail polish over any dings and chips of your vehicle’s paint will also prevent rust from forming at the site.

Got a threaded screw? Brush some clear nail polish on the screw head, insert the screw and let dry before using again! If you ever do need to remove the screw, just use extra pressure with your screwdriver in the reverse position and it should break the seal.

Oh, no! You notice a small hole has been poked in your window or door screen. Rather than attempting one of those repair kits or worse yet, go through the expense of replacing the entire screen, if the hole is 1/4th inch or less, you can dab on some clear nail polish. Not only will it stop any small bugs from getting through, it will also prevent the hole from enlarging!

These are just a few hacks that make a bottle of nail polish a good investment for anyone! I’ve used it on a large pretty shell I found at the beach to keep it shiny and protect its pastel colors from fading. People on low sodium diets often paint it on some of the holes on the inside of a salt shaker lid to limit the amount of salt that dispenses. It works on the underside of silk flowers and foliage to repair a small tear. A little bit painted on the underside of any decorative ribbon guarantees that the ribbon won’t fray.

Seriously, the uses for clear nail polish are only limited by your imagination! So make sure you have a bottle and the next time you’re wondering how to “fix” something, try it!

A Nurse Cries

A lot of this writer’s poems speak to me, but this one truly pushes hard on the “feels” button, and I keep coming back to read it again and again.

commonsensiblyspeaking

 

She cries

Salted pain hangs from her lashes

And falls upon her light blue smock

To mix with the sweat of long days

 

She cries

For each life as it passes

In a constant state of shock

As death takes count in virulent ways

 

She cries

As lack of sleep takes its toll

But she is so driven to care

Always a part of her giving heart

 

She cries

Respect not always given her role

Hidden behind the mask she must wear

For how her life has been torn apart

 

She cries

Leaning against the still woven part

Of nerves now frayed and threadbare

She tends the wounds of her own soul

 

She cries

To cleanse the mind, let some healing start

For she knows there is still need out there

And there is fate that she cannot control

 

She cries

Not for…

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Mental Health Awareness Event

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month (May), one of the partnered streamers on the Mixer platform, where I’ve been known to hang out, put together a special 7-hour (come and go as you please) event featuring other streamers telling their stories of dealing with sometimes physical but often invisible mental health issues. Its intent was to bring both awareness and compassion about these issues and how people have learned to cope with them.

I went at the very beginning of the event, as the music streamer I adore was ending her streaming session and sending us over there with a host to show our support. It was nice to be there with people who were familiar to me, and I saw a few other familiar people from other streams I also visit.

Several hundred people were there while I was. It was pretty awesome that so many people showed up offering their support. Some of the people in the chat were also sharing a little bit of their own issues, but mostly the chat was full of kind words and a lot of ‘heart’ displays, offering love and encouragement.

But here’s what happened….. After about an hour and several different people sharing their stories, that voice inside my head started rearing its ugly self, and I found myself questioning why I sometimes feel bad for the ways my mental health plagues me, when all of these people had it SO MUCH WORSE than I do! I listened to a man with Tourette’s Syndrome talk about being bullied and the effect it had on his mental health. I listened to a woman who had ignored her mental health so forcefully that it began to affect her physically and she now suffers with tremors in her arm as a result. I watched a couple do an almost comedic skit about anxiety and panic attacks (I’ve had one panic attack, many years ago now). And as I began processing their stories, that voice shouted at me, “Geez, Jody, you’ve got nothing to feel bad about! Pull up your big-girl panties and just get over it already!”

But that’s not really the worst of it. That voice, usually internalized and directed at me, now finds itself wanting to shout those same words to other people. I have a dear friend, whom I love and adore, who has repeatedly mentioned on social media that she “needs a pool!” She is an avid swimmer, and someone who works at keeping her body toned. And I understand on most levels how frustrated she is because an important part of her life has been sidelined for the foreseeable future. Yet, I can’t help but compare that with people who have lost far more and fight not to respond with, “Pull up your big-girl panties and just get over it already!”

I don’t like that person when I look at her in the mirror. It’s not who I am. In my own life, I remind myself daily to be grateful to have the things I need – housing and food and basic necessities, income that provides for my basic needs – and try not to focus on things I want. I mean, in my eyes, I really need a haircut, but getting one is not life-sustaining. I need to get my nails done because they are now so long that they get in my way, but I could do a botched-up job of cutting them myself and manage to survive. I desperately need a hug from my brother, but as long as I keep telling myself that it will come – in time – I’m able to hang on.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s important that we vent our frustrations – far better than letting them bottle up inside us. But we all are dealing with frustrations over the pandemic, not to mention the frustration of great political turmoil here in the US. For our own sanity, at some point, don’t we need to face the fact that “it is what it is” and figure out how to deal with it? Or at the very least, how not to let it control us?

I’d be very interested in how my readers are dealing with their frustrations and managing to cope. Please share in the comments. And hey, thanks for listening to me vent mine! <smile>

Quarantine Tips: Cry To Me

I miss the days when teardrops were just a blink of the eye away. These days, I realize I need to cry, but it doesn’t happen because I’ve built up a shield of numbness to protect my emotions from all of the drama around politics and pandemics. I look forward to the day when I will finally be able to sob my heart out!

The Grief Reality

Crying is a natural response to the world. Yet, here we are insisting it takes place behind closed doors, and it is something we should be embarrassed about.

My mum used to say you feel so much better when you cry, and that is the truth!

The benefits of crying include:

  1. The release of endorphins
  2. Lowering of stress
  3. The releasing of toxins
  4. It is an emotional signal to other people we need more support
  5. Helps you to sleep better
  6. Its good for your skin
  7. Relieves certain types of headaches, ie. tension headaches
  8. Makes you realise you’ll be okay: the pain ebbs, and the endorphins fill your body.

Don’t shy away. Feel it all; even if you cry happy tears.

The world is scary, but you aren’t alone, and its a lot harder to walk alone, bottling up your emotions, rather than leaning on your friends, family, and your body’s natural…

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Hacks from my Happy Place-XVI

(Thank you to my dear friend, Marnette [aka Prin] for sharing these tips that I thought were worth passing along!)

Today I want to talk about the cucumber. You know, that long vegetable with a dark green skin and a light green inside with seeds, also used to make pickles. Now personally, I do not like either the taste or the scent of cucumber, so you won’t actually find them in my kitchen (or anywhere else in my house!). But for those of you who DO like cucumbers, here are some nifty things to know about them!

Feeling tired in the afternoon? Put down the coffee, caffeinated soda or energy drink and pick up a cucumber. In addition to the many B vitamins, cucumbers are also a good source of carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give
off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes. The phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explorers for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don’t have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

Stressed out and don’t have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

Just finished a business lunch and realize you don’t have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemicals will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

Looking for a ‘green’ way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the
shine, but is won’t leave streaks and won’t harm your fingers or fingernails while you clean.

Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, and it also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

Cucumbers! Not only good for eating!

Spoon Theory

Yesterday (May 21st) was Global Awareness Day to facilitate awareness for people who are both physically challenged as well as mentally challenged. I was fortunate enough to have a sweet online friend who hosted a charity event for an association dealing with chronic illnesses. While not life-threatening, I suffer from several chronic illnesses. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, most are not visible to the naked eye. I say fortunately because I don’t appear any different on the outside, so I don’t get bullied or stared at or made fun of. I say unfortunately because I can be suffering and no one knows it unless I choose to share it. And, to be honest, it’s difficult to share when people have no concept of how you are feeling, so the best you can hope for is some momentary sympathy. During that fund-raising event, the host shared some of her chronic disease issues, all of which are invisible to the naked eye (although, at one time, she was wheelchair bound). I mentioned that people who don’t suffer from chronic illnesses don’t understand how those illnesses affect them in other ways physically, as well as mentally. One of the common physical effects is fatigue – both physical and mental. The host also mentioned using the ‘spoon theory’ for dealing with fatigue and shared its basic facts. I also did a search for it later and read a more in-depth article on the what, the why and the how of the theory. After reading the article, I decided that I needed to adopt this theory for my own use.

This theory is good for anyone who suffers from fatigue, regardless of the reason. In a nutshell, each spoon equals one unit of energy. You have to think about everything you do daily – shower, get dressed, work, make meals, etc. and allot how many units of energy you spend on these daily routines. The suggestion is that you give yourself 10 spoons each day. Whatever you have left after those daily routines are for other things you need to do – like cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. You do those things until your allotment of spoons is spent, and then you’re done doing for the day!

Because I suffer from a sleeping disorder of some kind, I’ve decided to adapt my spoon allotment to one spoon for each hour of quality sleep I get the night before. This forces me to be more flexible in my “to-do” list, but it also allows me to get more done when I’ve slept well! For example, I slept really well last night (hey, sometimes it happens!) so I can plan to do more today! Because I’m well-rested, writing and posting this blog article will probably take me less than 2 spoons. I’m planning a load of laundry, which, because I have to go up and down the stairs three times to complete the wash and dry before putting it all away, will easily use up 4 spoons. I have a few dishes to wash up (1 spoon), some general straightening up to do in my kitchen, living room and bedroom (2 spoons). That’s already 9 spoons! I, based on my sleep last night, am giving myself 2 or 3 more for today. I have some little projects I may tackle, a billing dispute to handle by email and then, I may read a little.

I’ve mentioned on and off here that I have a shoulder problem that has been ongoing for several weeks. Basically, I have soft-tissue and ulnar nerve inflammation, which means I can’t raise or reach with my right hand/arm without causing pain. It is getting better, but too slowly for my liking. The inability to do so many things without pain is also mentally fatiguing… I get easily frustrated, which pushes me towards depression, and I fight every day to stay away from sinking there. The spoon theory, in essence, mentally eases that frustration, because I realize I can’t do all of the things I want to be done even if I didn’t have that issue!

I’m sharing all of this because maybe one (or more) of my readers suffer from fatigue and are struggling with it. I’m also going to practice “saving up” spoons for time when I know the next day holds something that will require extra energy. I’m also giving myself permission to take naps without feeling guilty because I can understand those naps give me more spoons to spend when I wake up!

Again, I hope that some of you out there can benefit from this, or know other people to share the theory with. Give it a try! After all, what have you got to lose?