Half-Naked Calisthenics

So, I’ve had this pinched nerve in my shoulder. Pain shoots straight up my neck and down my arm and my last two fingers go numb.  It’s better when I am seated or lay down, but walking around really aggravates it and it becomes rather unbearable. Subsequently, I become rather unbearable and extra whiny unless I’m sitting down.  My boyfriend is a lucky man, isn’t he?

So said boyfriend made an appointment for me to see a friend of his who specializes in this kind of thing. That appointment was two nights ago. This wasn’t your typical chiropractors visit. First, it was at a pizzeria way up in the mountains. At ten o’clock at night. This guy runs his family pizza restaurant as his full time job and practices sports therapy on the side. There is a little room upstairs above the ovens and dining room with a chiropractors table and books and papers everywhere that serves as the treatment office. The patrons are mostly guys in their early 20s who come in to socialize and have a beer and look at each others clothes (a national past time here in Italy). Anyway, we arrived, said our greetings, got looked up and down by the patrons then boyfriend, the treatment guy and me all hoofed it upstairs.

Once in the treatment room, I took off my jacket. I had a tank top on underneath for easy access to my entire shoulder and arm. Specialist guy  motioned for me to take that off too. I took my arm out of my tank top and bra strap. He motioned again – off! I looked at my boyfriend – am I getting naked here? Boyfriend says yes, take it all off.  So I am sitting there, nude from the waist up, on the massage table or whatever it is, while these guys have a conversation about my pinched nerve and how it’s related to my now three times broken collarbone.  OK, people here are comfortable with nakedness, and I don’t really care, so not a huge deal so far.  I just want my shoulder fixed. I’m just sitting there naked while they move my arm around to discuss where the pinch is originating and where pain is transmitting across my shoulder and down my arm. In the US, words would be an effective method to convey this information. But conversation in general is impossible for Italians without a hands on approach.

Next, I lay face down and treatment guy starts manipulating nerves in my arm and neck. He keeps telling me to relax, which I find difficult when someone is raking their fingers over ouchie areas. Fortunately, he quickly gets a couple things snapped into the right places, then has me sit up. This is where I was asked to perform drill team moves while sitting on the table, half nude. Arms straight out in front. Look back and forth with arms in crucifixion position. Reach over my head and wiggle my fingers. Arms out again with eyes closed. Squeeze thumbs insides fists. Did I mention I was half nude? At this point treatment guy starts asking my boyfriend where his girlfriend is. Meaning, my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. Perhaps he assumed I am comfortable doing naked gymnastics for all of my friends, as well as people who are not doctors? Heck, in that case, we should have just carried the table downstairs into the main dining room since so all the patrons could enjoy the show as well. Or maybe he did figure out I was the girlfriend and he just didn’t care? Either way,  I’d say this experience wins the awkward award.

But it worked. And while I didn’t get paid for my performance, it was still an excellent trade off.

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Ouch.

Guys, I’ve been reduced to a blubbering mass of self pity, I can focus on nothing but the knotted muscle and crushed bone in my shoulder. See, I fractured my collarbone on a bicycle two weeks ago. But this injury was not the problem. In fact, that injury was no problem at all, except for the 438 euros the hospital charged me to stand in a hallway with 13 other people for four hours. Oh, then they took two X-rays and confirmed I did not separate the bone (which I knew already), just fractured it about 1/2 way through. I was on a bicycle the next day. I went to the gym, and 8 days later I rode 40km through mud, up and down hills, over rocks and branches without so much as an “ouch”.

No, the problem here is what I did 8 days after breaking it –  I reached for my phone and broke it again. Only this time much worse. In fact, as I was twisting and reaching for said phone, I heard a distinctive crunch. I had just enough time to think “was that…?” before pain shot through my entire shoulder and arm. It turns out I crushed the healing break and it bled, leaving a hematoma right over the break. So now any movement pulls the painful lump right over the break and, well let’s just say it does not feel fantastic.

If any of you know me well enough, you know I have a high pain tolerance and I ignore illness and injuries as much as possible. Case in point: 3 days after surgery on this very same clavicle, I was in Oregon qualifying for a 125GP race. But here it is, one week later, and mentally I am a basket case. Imagine my general outlook on life after an entire day of trying to carry your arm around like a dead weight, while a knife is slowly twisting in the shoulder blade behind it. My outlook has not been sunny.

The best was yesterday, when I finally found a heating pad for my shoulder. They are not easy to find and I went across looking for one. I finally got home after 2 hours of trudging across town while carry my arm in the opposite hand like it was a wet towel, bumping people with it on the metro, and hauling it up and down stairs. I popped the heating thingy in the microwave (it said microwave proof) and it promptly exploded one minute later, spraying blue goo everywhere. Poor GP had to witness the subsequent meltdown.

This injury has made me realize I might be more vulnerable than I care to admit. In fact, it brought on quite a bout of homesickness for a few days, where I just wanted to lie on my old couch in my house with my dogs and cat hanging around near me (or on me if I let them, the big dog included), watching recorded episodes of Project Runway. But I don’t have my dogs here, or even a television, let alone a Dish Network or Tivo.

Oh yeah, and I have cut out wine for the next 6 weeks. Self comforting has been a challenge, let me tell you. Thank goodness for cookies.

I guess I do have time for your crap

Tomorrow is the two year anniversary of  JM’s death.

It’s been a long road, pretty lonely most of the time. I witnessed many facets of myself in the last 2 years, some of which I did not recognize. Sometimes I felt so detached from who I am and what the hell I’m supposed to be doing that it was like watching a crappy movie of someone else acting out my life.  Someone with the acting skills of say, Winona Ryder or Ben Affleck. But I couldn’t walk out of the movie theater like I normally do (actually, I do not watch movies with Ms. Ryder in them because it’s distracting what a fucking terrible actor she is, so there would not be a theater in which to storm out of, but I digress). (Oh yeah and Ms. Ryder is not the only person I refuse to watch in any movie, there are a big handful of “actors” that throw me into a rage if I am subjected to watch them prance around on screen. /rant)

So after 2 years, I  feel like I have sort of gotten my brain back. This has it’s good and bad points.

Good, because I have stopped avoiding my feelings and am facing myself. I’ve emotionally come to terms with being in a relationship again. I’ve made it a point to deal with the many things in my life I have been neglecting and made decent progress (still haven’t gotten the pedicure though). My memory has come back.

But there is a downside to this too. I feel like I lost my “I don’t have time for your bullshit” attitude that I acquired when JM died. I felt like  I suddenly was shown what was important in my life, and I just did not have time for other peoples ridiculous crap. You can only talk about yourself? Goodbye. You’re a liar/shallow/ignorant/manipulative/unfair?  Yep, forget you. Not that I was much of a tolerant person before, but I stopped even bothering with the niceties after JM died. Which was gratifying and freeing.

If I’m lucky, some of this will stick around. Maybe the abruptness will go away, and I won’t feel the need to verbalize I think certain people are stupid. But if I continue to avoid wasting energy on people who otherwise do not give a rat’s arse about me, it gives me that much more time and energy to put into the people in my life that I care about. And I’ve learned just how important that is.