Sunday, June 27, 2021

March, April, May and June Makes

This year's been incredibly cruel to me. It's one hundred percent due to my bad judgement. I had injured my left shoulder last year and it was very slowly healing on its own. I did see a physiotherapist (subsidized) once and he did a few shoulder manipulations (press here, press there, pull here, pull there) and taught me 2 very simple exercises to do every day which he said should fix the problem. By the way, he was insistent I did not have a shoulder issue. He was very sure I had a neck issue. Also, he told me I'm not allowed (by him I suppose) to see him again for the same ailment unless I go back to the doctor to get another referral to see him. It had taken me a 3-month wait to see this idiot physiotherapist in the first place so no thanks. 

Well, things were going well shoulder-wise until January when I went to throw rubbish down the rubbish chute. In Singapore if you live in a flat, the rubbish chute is where you dump your rubbish. In very old flats, the rubbish chute is inside the flat. Mine is a shared rubbish chute with my neighbours located a few steps outside my flat. On that fateful day, I made a bad mistake of throwing a bag of trash that was way too big for the rubbish chute opening. I ended up jamming the door which couldn't close completely and it couldn't open either. The sensible thing to do would have been to call up the town council to fix it. But I opted to do the stupid thing. I used both my hands to yank the door open. And yes, I managed to pull the door open but the force from the impact of the door opening suddenly sent me flying backwards and you guessed it - it aggravated my bad shoulder. The pain was so bad I thought I was dying. I squatted down howling like an animal. Eventually the pain subsided but the damage was done. The good news though is I managed to free my trash down the chute and the rubbish chute door was not damaged.

At first I didn't see a doctor because you know what doctors say about injured shoulders? Do nothing, it'll heal on its own. So with that wisdom in mind, I left my shoulders alone. Which was a very big mistake because my left shoulder slowly became very bad to the point where every little thing made it worse, causing great pain. It felt almost random. Like if someone touched my shoulder, if hubs sneezed (he sneezes a lot), if my shoulder touched a chair, if someone brushed past my shoulder, if someone pulled my left hand, if I moved my left arm an inch, if I breathed deeply, if I turned... 

One day I told myself I had better find myself another physiotherapist because on its own, my condition was getting worse. I went to this clinic which I go to for health checkups and you know what the doctor said? Do nothing. It'll heal on its own. But he did refer me to the clinic's physiotherapist. Unfortunately, physiotherapist services at this clinic is not subsidized so it costs about 100 bucks each time. But since it's not subsidized, I could literally see the physiotherapist as many times as I wanted. The thing is the physiotherapist only came fortnightly so there was a waiting time to get my first appointment which was in end March. 

Now this story would have a happy ending if I hadn't been impatient. After my first visit to the physiotherapist, my pain was slightly reduced and he confirmed I have a frozen shoulder. A very bad one but he said it's treatable. I was given a few exercises to do at home and I started to feel hopeful. Unfortunately, my next appointment was more than a month away. I felt very desperate and decided to see a traditional Chinese medicine doctor (sinseh) for acupuncture. After all, the doctor had suggested acupuncture at a hospital but I rejected it because I had been there before and the experience was not good.

There is a traditional Chinese medicine clinic near where I live and I made an appointment. The sinseh I saw spoke English so I was rather relieved and maybe trusted him more. He placed a few needles on my arm and shoulder plus a couple on my right foot near my toes. He explained that there's a meridian relationship between the injured area and the non-injured area. Anyway, after the acupuncture, he asked if I wanted a massage (tui-na) of the injured areas. He said why not try his method and see if it worked. This sinseh was convinced I did not have frozen shoulder. He said I had injured certain muscles around my shoulder. Anyway, the tui-na was super painful. He basically felt around my shoulder/arm that hurt and rubbed away. I felt sore as hell afterwards but after 2 weeks the pain went away and believe it or not, I went back to the sinseh a second time for the same treatment. 

This time though, things didn't go so well. Firstly, before the sinseh inserted the needles on my right foot, he didn't do it near my toes like the last time. Instead he pressed and rubbed very hard on my front right ankle. It was crazy painful and I told him so. And the sinseh said that the pain told him he was hitting on the correct spot. Then he placed a needle on the very painful spot (created by him). It was unbearable and I told him I couldn't take it. So he took out the needle and put it on another location. The rest of the acupuncture went as normal. After that, he tui-na my shoulder/arm as before. Except, this time he sounded a bit lost as if he didn't know what the hell he was doing. He would press and ask, this hurts right? When I said no, he would dig around for another location and kept on until he found a spot that hurt and he would rub until tears came to my eyes. I don't know why I trusted the sinseh despite all the pain he was giving me. The next day I could tell the sinseh had worsened my shoulder/arm. The pain was so unbearable and wouldn't go away for weeks. On top of worsening my shoulder, the sinseh also injured my right ankle which was fine before. Could this get any worse?

Yup. One day I discovered I couldn't eat without getting stomach pains and bloating. It got so bad even a drop of water could cause me great discomfort. The good ole' gastrics was back. It was probably due to all the painkillers I had been taking. Plus the stress from the shoulder pain. I stopped taking painkillers immediately and went on gastrics medication for a month. After a month or so, I could finally eat like a human being again. Honestly during the month I couldn't eat and I was also still in pain from the shoulder, waking up each day all I could think of was: another day of pain, another day of suffering. I really hated being alive. How I managed to go through each day without painkillers is beyond me. It's all a blur to me.  

Over the years I've taken my fair share of painkillers. Doctors have warned me about the dangers. Well, it's finally come to bite me in the ass. Recently, my doctor told me that my test results say that my kidney may be impaired. They don't know what caused it but I can't take strong painkillers anymore. Panadol is all I'm allowed from now on. The kidney issue can be taken care of with medication so it's not like I will lose my kidney right away. At the moment it's still wait-and-see. After the next test results, the doctor will likely prescribe me some kidney-loving medication.

Well, I learnt my lessons and decided to stick to the physiotherapist. He's patient and his skills are decent. If only he's a miracle worker...If only I didn't have to pay almost a hundred bucks per session... At first I saw him fortnightly. In May, he started coming to the clinic once a week so I jumped at the chance to see him weekly. Hubs nearly fainted when he saw how much I had spent on my treatment. 

So far I have recovered some movements and flexibility. I have a long way to go before I could consider myself fully healed. Due to long period of not using my left arm, my muscles had become very weak. So apart from recovering my arm flexibility, I had to work at rebuilding my muscles. Every day I have to do some specific exercises. Each time I do the exercises, especially the harder ones, I risk aggravating my injury. The thing is I have to bear with some pain but not push it too far. It's tricky. I have injured myself a few times. Some weeks it is 1 step forward, 3 steps backward. Once I injured my back. Fortunately it got better after a few weeks. Some weeks, especially when I don't see any progress, I feel like a frail mess. I try not to think about all the things I cannot do. Instead I think about all the actions I've regained. That way I don't feel like so pathetic.

After a lot of hard work, perseverance and pain, I am now able to do the following:

  • hang laundry (boo)
  • cook independently 
  • bake (hubs has to carry the mixer for me)
  • cut fabric (it's still awkward when I spread out a large piece of fabric)
  • remove my T-shirt the way humans do over their heads (I had to wear very loose T-shirts and remove them like a skirt. Sad)
  • hug someone (yay for my daughter)
  • tolerate hub's sneezes (no more pain every time he sneezes!)
  • wash my hair with 2 hands
  • clean my right armpit (woo hoo!)
  • use the rotary cutter (I almost cried)

On my wish list are just 2 things I hope to do even if I don't achieve full recovery (touch wood):

  • sleep on my left side
  • swim (breaststroke)

Lately I've started using my left arm more. Definitely no heavy lifting but really just to use my left hand naturally when I go about the day. I've also been sewing quite a bit. 

This sleeveless shift dress I actually made just before my shoulder got really bad. I tried it on and had a hard time removing it because there's no zipper or buttons. The fabric is a Ikea remnant I had bought years ago. The neckline and armholes are finished with bias binding. I included one pocket. Why not 2? I forgot why. The edges are serged and I wish I had taken the trouble to change the serger thread to white. To draft this dress, I followed PatternLabLondon's youtube video. You need to have Adobe Illustrator tho'. Honestly, drafting patterns on paper is a lot faster. I gave this dress to my daughter who says she'll wear it a home.

After I had sewn a Gemma top for myself in January, I wanted to sew one for my daughter. (even though she hadn't asked for it). I think I sewed this in March and back then my arm was still in bad shape. It was really hard handling the fabric with a bad arm. Fortunately it's only a blouse so it took me maybe a week to complete. I'm so pleased the serger thread matched the fabric. Sadly, my daughter said she may not wear the blouse because it's sleeveless. I do hope she gets over the phobia of wearing sleeveless clothes like I have.

This gingham shift dress (pattern from Christine Haynes Skirts and Dresses book) was my first attempt at sewing after regaining some flexibility. My left arm was still pretty weak but I could move it around and it did its fair share of the work. It took me one whole week to complete the dress. I don't know why I chose this pattern. Is it hideous? It's pretty shapeless but it was an easy sew. Anyway, I made the mistake of using this thin fabric so it's a bit see-through. My daughter says she'll probably not wear it because it's too see-through. My bad. I haven't tried on this dress because I'm not confident I can get out of it. Yup, another no zipper, no buttons dress. The sleeves aren't cut separately so no finishing required. The neckline was finished with bias binding. The raw edges were serged and again I wished I had changed the serger thread to white.

My daughter said if I were to sew anything new for her, it must have sleeves. So I worked on a pattern for a blouse with inset sleeves. Getting the fit right took ages. It's still not perfect but it's not too bad. I wanted this blouse to be a top she could wear to work so I chose a light colour. The fabric is calico with white print. The closure is invisible zipper. The neckline is finished with facing. I made the mistake of cutting the facing too narrow and it couldn't stay down naturally so I had to hand tack it all around. What a rookie mistake. For this blouse, I made the effort to change the serger thread to white. It took me 2 whole days - 1 day to thread it correctly and 1 day to recover.  

The last item I made is basically the blouse with sleeves and invisible zipper but lengthened with 2 pockets. I took the trouble to change the serger thread to grey and this time it only took me a few hours. My daughter prefers the dress with a belt as she doesn't like to wear shapeless dresses. When I was a hot young chick back in the days, I wore this kind of dresses all the time. I cut the neck facing wider for this dress and it lay down obediently.

My next project is likely to be a shirt or blouse with buttons. This shirt no.1 which I made in 2018 and never wore became invaluable to me during the period when I couldn't remove T-shirts over my head. Suddenly clothes with buttons were badly needed. I only have 4 buttoned shirts and shirt no.1 with buttons very quickly became my favourite. Who knew this shirt would come in so useful? Since I've come to love buttoned shirts, I would like to make one for my daughter. Hopefully she won't reject it! See you in my next post and I pinkie promise not to bitch about my frozen shoulder anymore.
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