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  • Barbara Elk

The Long Freeze

We're all dealing with COVID in some way. The latest I heard was any form of normalcy won't happen until the winter of 2021. Depending on your personality and background, you're either rolling with the punches or you're aching to get back to the life you led pre-COVID. When the restrictions swept across much of the U.S., my body was just getting back to normal.

In December of 2018 through February of 2019, I was living with an aching right shoulder. It hurt to lift my arm and it seemed to get worse over the weeks. By March of 2019, I couldn't move my arm without experiencing excruciating pain. I went to my doctor who in turn sent me to a few specialists. In the end, I was diagnosed with "Adhesive Capulitus". In short, my right arm "froze up". Well, not entirely, I could still use my hand. But moving my forearm beyond a couple inches resulted with me gritting my teeth and writhing in unimaginable pain. From there, it was six months of living in extreme pain, no sleep, x-rays, heating pads, cold pads, pain medication and more specialists. The worst part was my growing inability to write because the Adhesive Capulitus also affected my nerves throughout my right arm down to my fingers, making them numb and, over time, weak. And since it was my right shoulder that was "frozen", it affected me more as I'm right-handed. The positive result from that time was I learned to be ambidextrous - I used my left hand more than my right hand.

By May, the specialist I was seeing sent me to physical therapy, assuring me that I could overcome the frozen shoulder by doing specific exercises. I went every week and then every other week, to no avail. By early August, the sports specialist I was seeing for this, was alarmed that my diagnosis hadn't changed. He said I had to have surgery. My shoulder was literally stuck. Frozen in place. A corrective surgery was needed promptly because of the damage it was causing the nerves up and down my arm.

In September of 2019, I had the surgery, followed by more physical therapy. It took months to regain strength in my arm. The worst part about "Adhesive Capulitus" is that it might come back again, this time in the left arm. AC is not fully understood in the medical world; what are its exact causes and why it transfers (when/if it does).

What I know and believe wholeheartedly is that early trauma plays a large part when it comes to our health and physical bodies. A Harvard study researched early childhood trauma and the results were that "toxic stress" changes the brain and hormonal system. Exposure to early trauma can result in cancer, high blood pressure, cancer, as well other diseases. Early exposure also contributes to 7 out of 10 leading causes of death.

I believe it is important to tend to your past trauma by seeking therapy and maintaining a daily checklist of your mental state and emotions, ensuring that you are protecting yourself from further trauma. What I endured with my shoulder told me, actually, shouted at me, that I still have a lot to do in healing my trauma. We need to remember that we are all spiritual beings inside these human bodies



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