Tension tamers have become an essential part of adulting these days. If you’re like me, you carry all of your life’s stress and tension in your shoulders and neck. Since my Graves diagnosis, the pain in my neck and shoulders has increased. Apparently, your thyroid hormones like to f*c& with your body in a myriad of ways.
Since most of us have issues with tension in our neck and shoulders, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tension tamers. These items have been extremely helpful. Here’s the list:
Trigger point massager: this simple contraption from Gaiam is great at taking at knots in your shoulders and back.
Tune Up therapy balls: these little miracle workers can help you release muscle and soft tissue tension all over your body. They’re very effective in relieving tension headaches. I’ll be posting a Vlog soon on just how do do this.
Yoga Mat: best place to stretch and utilize your Tune Up therapy balls.
Bolster: the bolster is a great tool that will allow you to settle into restorative poses that will reduce tension in your body.
Foam Roller: I love using my foam roller to roll out my trapezius muscles when my upper back, shoulders and neck are tight. It feels amazing!!!
Massage gun: so these things are all the rage. I decided to give it a try. I’ll be posting a full review shortly
Essential oils: I like using Chill Pill by Aura Cacia to relax and reduce tension. A small pat on the forehead or in a diffuser will do wonders for your relaxation.
Tiger Balm/Salonpas patches. These are perfect to wear at night for some relief while you sleep. It is a bit of an unspoken rule that you don’t wear them to work or school. Unless, of course, you want to smell like Ben-gay all day.
Hand warmers: this is my favorite hockey mom hack. I carry all of my tension in my left shoulder right under my bra strap. Accordingly, by placing an activated hand warmer in that place, the heat starts to melt the tension in my muscles.
These are just a few of the tools, I keep in my tool belt to fight tension. On a macro level, I’ve gone back to my yoga practice and stretching daily to alleviate muscle tension before it begins. Yoga has been an essential part of my recovery and my quest for remission. All of my product recommendations are below and range in cost form $6.00-$129. While it may seem like a lot of products, it’s a lot cheaper and a healthier alternative than popping NSAIDs or other medications.
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There’s no dignity in aging that is for damn sure. Along with radiation, isolation this pretty much describes the last couple months of my life. You may recall that I tore my tendon last summer while running. It was a complete buzz kill and put me on a boot and scooter for ten weeks. The injury, a tear in the posterior tibial tendon, was a surgical injury. Unfortunately, in my pre-op blood work they found that my thyroid had gone rogue. I went back two weeks later to ensure it wasn’t an anomaly and sadly it was not.
Now I was sidelined with a torn tendon and a rogue thyroid. I guess they weren’t lying when they said there’s no dignity in aging. Since my thyroid was hyperactive, I was no longer a candidate for surgery, so I opted for the controversial and expensive stem cells injection. Further complicating matters it the fact that our tendons ability to heal is heavily influence by the thyroid. Thus its unlikely that I’ll see a full recovery in the tendon until my thyroid has stabilized. #winning Nonetheless, between the torn tendon and the hyperthyroidism, I’ve been unable to do cardio since late July. It’s been quite the adjustment both mentally and physically.
My visit to the the endo was pretty straightforward. We were both confident that was the culprit behind my hyperthyroidism given that Graves Disease runs in my family. She did stress that I was lucky to have found the disease early as it progresses quite rapidly. Moreover, she laid out a plan of action to confirm our suspicions: more blood work and a thyroid scan and uptake test. If the diagnosis was confirmed, we proceed immediately to RAI (a.k.a. radioactive iodine) treatment. The nice thing about my endo is that she does’t make me come in to get test results or discuss next steps. Naturally, I have my appointments, but it’s nice not having to go into the office each step of the way.
Once my blood work came back abnormal the second time, my GP referred me out to an endocrinologist. Apparently, in South Florida they’re in very high demand. I initially made my appointment in early August for late October. I was none to pleased with that timeline. Fortunately, an appointment opened up in early September.
In late October, after more blood work and thyroid scan/uptake test, she called to confirmed that our initial suspicions were correct. It was Graves Disease, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid gland causing it to be hyperactive. My next step would be the RAI treatment. Fortunately, I was still able to go overseas and enjoy all that Sweden, Finland and Denmark have to offer before completing the RAI treatment. Admittedly, I was far from 100% during the trip, but I still had the most amazing time. (I’ll be sharing more from the trip in the coming days.)
Once I was back on the continent, the appointment was set and my family I prepared for the three days I’d spend in complete isolation. (Fellow moms, I know what you’re thinking – complete silence and alone time= complete gift. You’re not wrong.) This was also the run up to the Purple Stride event and I was serving as Chair for team and personal development for the first time. We had to buy a lot of disposable plates and silverware, since my dishes couldn’t co-mingle with the family’s dishes. I also bought a lot of cough drops and throat spray as throat pain is one of side effects of the treatment.
Early November 19th, I headed over to DCA where they’d administer the RA-131. By this time, I was anxious to get it over with and get back to normal. They called me back and then there was a problem. When they called to schedule, they neglected to tell me that a negative pregnancy test had to be on file. At this point, I was quite aggravated and not willing to move my appointment. It was, after all, their mistake.
Fortunately, I was able to negotiate a compromise with the tech and radiologist. I quickly left DCA and headed to CVS where I bought the cheapest pregnancy test I could find. I hurried back to DCA, took the test, handed it to the tech and got my RAI. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the mini-keg the pill came in. I did have some trepidations as the tech handled the keg with thick lead gloves as she pulled the pill out of a thick glass test tube from within the keg.
The following days were quite uneventful. I worked from home effectively only missing conference calls since my throat hurt and my voice was weak. I binged watch all of the shows and movies I can’t ordinarily enjoy in a house of boys. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed that my neck didn’t glow. I had grandiose plans of making a video of me singing radioactive with a glowing neck, but alas that couldn’t happen. Since the boys were off that week, they took times dropping off water and food to my room. By the end of the three days, I was ready to see civilization again.
As I mentioned, the boys were all home from school that week. You would think that while I was in insolation things like the dishes, sweeping, and putting away clothes would have been taken care of, but alas they were not. No sooner had I left my isolation than I was already willing to go back into it.
It’s been almost six weeks since the RAI and my thyroid should be slowing down by now. However, my thyroid, as mentioned before has gone rogue. It is now more hyperactive than it was before. Needless to say, I’m quite disappointed. I cannot go back to working out until my thyroid is no longer hyperactive. So say a prayer that when I go back to my Endo in six weeks, my rogue thyroid has been reformed and on it’s way to being normal or hypo.
In the meantime, I’ll continue taking the beta blockers and trying to adhere to a sedentary lifestyle that’s miserable. The disease has made watching Goalielocks in net a bit perilous. Fortunately, the beta blockers keep my heart rate and rhythm from being totally ridiculous. Thankfully, the Mayor is a second year peewee and not in a checking league, so his games are still pretty relaxing for me. (You know I had to bring some hockey into it!). I’m utterly exhausted day in and day out, which is a major downside of the disease and the meds I’m on. Sleep is hard to come by when your thyroid is hyperactive. The beta blockers make it even more difficult. One thing is sure, when this is over and it will be soon, I’ll be quite grateful for good health and the ability to be active. I cannot wait to run again!
Tis’ the season for colds, the flue and sinus infections. Honestly, I have to say that sinus infections suck. And it is supposed to be tis’ the season to be jolly, a Hallmark movie or anything else, but being sick. Ugh…. The brutal pace of the last several months has finally caught up with me and my sinuses. I finally acquiesced and went to the doctor’s today. Hopefully, after ten days of antibiotics, I’ll feel back to normal.
To be honest, this has been going on for weeks, but I do not like being on antibiotics unless its totally unavoidable. After four weeks, I finally waived the white flag of surrender and am now on antibiotics. Sadly, my sinus infection didn’t disappear after only one dose. It really should, shouldn’t it?
If I was a prognosticator or a betting woman, I would say that the infection will clear out just in time for the boys to bring a new germ home from school. Oh the mom life is glamorous, isn’t it? I can’t totally blame them I guess, I could have picked it up at work. The modern workplace, much like our schools, is a veritable cesspool of germs. The good news is I got a chance to rest today before diving back into the hockey/school/work craziness.
I’m hopeful that in a mere 24 hours, after having taken 3 doses of the meds, I’ll have my sparkle back. Otherwise, it is gonna be a very long, arduous and busy weekend for me. Tomorrow, while the hubby is working, Goalielocks has two games, the Mayor has a birthday party. Sunday Goalielocks will be back volunteering at Learn to Skate, while the Mayor goes to the beach for a Beach Training day.
Do as I say and not as I do. When it comes time to pamper yourself, don’t skip out. I’m not saying you need to go get an uber expensive spa package every weekend. What I am suggesting is carving out time to take care of you. It could be as simple a a nice soak in a bubble or Epsom bath while you read quietly away from the craziness of everyday life.
Pampering yourself isn’t about being over indulgent, but taking time to keep yourself centered, relaxed and healthy. I love getting massage and so does my body. After teaching several Zumba classes and running tons of miles, my body is beat. Fortunately, I have a membership to Massage Envy where I can treat myself to a nice massage. The massage helps keeps my muscles healthy in addition to helping me relax.
There’s only one problem with the Massage Envy setup. You need to be able to carve out time for the monthly appointment. Thanks to a hectic travel hockey schedule, I can go weekly for the next year due to all the massages I’ve accumulated. The point is I need to make myself a priority and make sure I’m taking care of myself.
Treating yourself can take a number of different iterations. It could be as simple as taking the time for 1 5-20 minute walk during your work day to clear your head. Or you could sign up for a yoga class at a local studio to help you get your zen on. If you’re like me, and you like clothes, a nice trip to the malls with friends and sans kids can do a mind and body good.
Perhaps this weekend I’ll take some of my own advice. Thankfully, the Mayor’s games are local, which will afford me some extra time. I may even be able to squeeze in a hair cut, a massage, and a pedicure. I’m long overdue for all three and they sound so heavenly. In the meantime, take time this week to pamper yourself. Take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, which does in fact include pampering yourself from time to time.