The idiom stuck in a rut implies that we may have become too repetitive in our lifestyle choices; as the Cambridge Dictionary puts it – we’re too fixed in a job, activity or way of doing things and that we need to change. Often we want to but that decision is hampered by our circumstances, our responsibilities and even by our own mind and body. Continuing to do the same thing, may make us feel secure, allows us to postpone making decisions and sometimes keeps our true desires hidden.
However, our bodies aren’t as clever at such deception. It prods us with various niggles and aches until something much stronger gets our attention – Pain. It’s the way our body has to sometimes communicate – not just because there is a health issue that requires care, but may also be its way of nudging us into changing something about our lives. This can create the turning point.
Mine happened on 1 January 2018. I woke up wondering why my arm and shoulder was in such pain and I could hardly raise it. It felt like it was held in some metal vice that I couldn’t escape from. Now, I consider myself resourceful, doing self-massage and cupping therapy, however I was having no noticeable impact. The next day I was booked in for acupuncture and to see a sports massage therapist. Both were good, but the pain seemed to be getting stronger and the stiffness as well. I know that there is sometimes a healing crisis, when symptoms appear to worsen, but in my case they did. By the third day I was at the hospital emergency care night clinic. I couldn’t relax or rest properly and I just wanted to cry because I couldn’t use my left arm properly. Obviously they checked to make sure it wasn’t some heart issue, and decided it was a frozen shoulder, sending me to my GP for pain medication the next day.
Lying on my bed, propped up high with pillows and cushions, waiting for the GP surgery to open, I pondered how I got here. A year before I had been diagnosed with spurs on my cervical bones, which were catching and pressing on nerves and veins in my neck. This was affecting the blood supply to my left arm and causing me to experience weakness and numbness. However this issue had been on going undiagnosed for over 5 years, even though I had visited the GP about it. But I knew deep down it was more than that, I had become stuck in a rut. During the past 7 years, I had been made redundant 3 times, moved back into my mother’s house after having lived in a south east London flat for 8 years previously and before that abroad for 4 years. I had become a child, instead of being an adult. On top of that, I was afraid to leave, and felt trapped. Not by the people in my life, but by my own fears and grief for the profession I'd decided not to return to.
I had started a chi kung teacher-training course earlier in September, and decided to do some of the basic exercises from that to help me. I started with standing in Wu Chi, before moving to a Tree Hugging stance with my arms raised to where I was able, which wasn’t much. It was really uncomfortable, but the aim of chi kung is to let go, and I needed to let go of my shoulders, breathe into my abdomen (lower dan tien) and focus on the soles of my feet being grounded. In 5 Element theory, letting go pertains to eliminating what we no longer need or benefit from. I had to imagine everything softening downwards. I noticed that I started to feel less pain and could move my arm upwards further into the tree hugging position. This made me really hopeful, as there are many horrible stories on the internet of how excruciating and longstanding frozen shoulder can be. In the meantime, I had an intense treatment of shiatsu massage, several sessions over the course of 8 days, followed by regular weekly sessions just to get the blood moving in my shoulder and help me to relax.
It’s natural to try and protect your pain, by holding your breath and tensing your muscles further but that can worsen the condition. So I continued to do my chi kung exercises daily. In addition, I worked. I found different ways to sit comfortably while doing my shiatsu therapy and it helped to move my shoulder. Moving is good, even though your mind is screaming at you - retreat, retreat. All in all I reduced the pain and increased the range of movement in my arm within a month. My research indicated that there is a link between hormonal changes (for me being perimenopausal), a pre-existing condition (spurs on neck) and an incident (picking up a toddler 2 days before) that triggered the perfect storm for a frozen shoulder. So the key to shifting it for me was taking hormonal support – I took evening primrose oil, ate more fruit and vegetables and kept moving. I struggle with swallowing tablets, so though I had been given Naproxen and Omeprazole medication, I managed to limit my intake of those to only 10 tablets over the course of 3 weeks when the pain was most severe and I couldn’t get any sleep.
Around the time of my shoulder issue, I was trying to make a decision about my shiatsu work, to continue what I was doing or change my pattern. I had been struggling with this, but the pain made me realise I needed to let go of some of my days so I could be healthier and happier. So I did. I also knew I was ready to leave the safety of my mother’s house and though I hadn’t started looking properly, a new home found me at the end of February and I moved in April. I found myself a business coach – Lisa Allen – as I knew I’d need some help if I wanted to continue to bring about further shifts in my mindset. Even though it has taken nine months since New Year’s Day to fully relinquish my neck and shoulder pain, I believe, just like the Autumn leaves that have started colouring our pavements, pruning our beliefs and embracing change can attract interesting possibilities and our own positive personal transformations.
Hi, I'm Vennetta. I'm not a professional writer, blogger or social media influencer. I am a Shiatsu Practitioner, who loves doing the therapy that I do and sharing my experiences and observations with anyone who happens to land on this page. If you feel interested enough to read my blog, then thank you. You are appreciated.