Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Impatient Patient

On Easter Monday, my officemate and friend dragged me to the Pain & Rehab clinic in Megamall. I still wanted to make excuses not to go, but I could no longer ignore the pain.

After consulting a doctor and going through initial therapy, I confirmed what my Goggle research had revealed a week and a half ago: I had Tennis Elbow. Yes, you read that right, and no, I didn't take up a new sport.

I had been working out with a personal trainer in the gym since middle of last year. After several months of workout, however, I stopped for around six weeks due to the year-end planning schedule at work and the long Christmas break that the government imposed last December. When I returned to the gym last January, my trainer told me I was back to zero as my muscles had already forgotten the strength of yesteryear. I remembered that she led me to use the machines during that session (I added this to absolve her of any negligence). Afterwards, I felt muscle pain for several days, but thought nothing of it as I had gone through that before.

I noticed, however, "recurring pain on the outside of the upper forearm just below the bend of [my] elbow", as accurately described on the website I linked above . Thinking it would go away, I traveled to Cebu, Bohol, Davao, and Tagum, oftentimes lugging around my heavy office laptop bag containing a recently-purchased extended battery, which I woefully found out also meant extended weight. I blogged about that trip here. A couple of weeks later, I went to Bacolod for the IBP National Convention, and thought nothing about lifting heavy suitcases and boxes. On the second night of that trip, I could hardly move my right arm and preferred to stay in the Planta Hotel Centro (this gets five stars, when I get to write a review) rather than explore the Food Trip city I was in.

The pain was too much that it was an effort to pour water from a pitcher. I rested my arm for a day but felt that the pain was just in hiding. I tried to live with it. During Holy Week, I challenged myself to do a Martha Stewart and cleaned out the laundry basket, cooked tomato and tuyo pasta, wiped Pledge on my wooden dresser, applied Kiwi polish to all my office shoes, replaced our bathroom shower curtains and hooks, exterminated all dust bunnies from under my bed, collected stuff to give away from my closet, sterilized sponges and sinks and ovens, descaled the electric water kettle, sorted out the hangers, and stopped only when it was time to go to church.

The result of my superwoman ambitions was a pain on my elbow that made me wince or yelp every time I tried to open a door or lift my arm. So I did go to that dreaded checkup, and I was told to "avoid gripping" or "anything that causes pain" for four to six weeks. I was given a 45-minute therapy program that I had to go to three times a week. I gulped. Not only was I impatient when it came to repeated activities, I also hated waiting in line, and that clinic had some serious lines after office hours.

The doctor explained that tendons don't heal easily due to poor blood circulation. I humored him and my kind therapist and agreed to come back "as often as I could", but inwardly I just planned to apply the anti-inflammatory gel prescribed and to do the exercises taught me.

Now I'm realizing that I grip a lot on a daily basis. I have to make a conscious effort to open jars using my left hand, to ask for help when opening the gate, to avoid cooking and laundry (two of my favorite chores!), and to sling my bag on my left shoulder. A friend, who had gone through worse pain, encouraged me that going through therapy was good for me.

I hope I don't become too stubborn so that my elbow would heal. And I hope to apply the lessons I am learning to other areas that need healing. You know what I mean.

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