life curveballs

life can throw you curveballs

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My dear foodie peeps,

You never know what the next turn is on the road of living. Yes, life can throw you curveballs. There’s no dodging or ducking. You have to do something when you know that curveball is coming your way. I’ll be taking a major detour and hiatus from Ally’s Kitchen for a few weeks because of a big curveball! I thought it was important that you know what’s happening in my world. So hopefully, you’ll read this rather lengthy missive explaining what’s going on. Plus, I’m hoping that maybe my experiences might help someone else, maybe you, a friend of yours, a family member. We know that we’re all in this life together, and there’s nothing stronger than learning from each other.

After wrestling with whether to share this upcoming big thing in my life, I decided you’d probably notice my time off! And, quite frankly, I think that it’s important to let you know what’s coming up because, as I said, maybe it might help someone else.

In just a few days, I’m gonna go under the knife and have total reverse shoulder replacement surgery. Hey, believe me I’ve not made this decision quickly. In fact, I probably should have done it sooner, but who wants to have nearly a year of recovery and lots of interruptions to their life. Only when we reach a point of no return do we bite the bullet. xoxo ~ally

A Little History

About ten years ago, I noticed that my left shoulder was having some problems, small things, but nonetheless, some issues. I attributed it to maybe pulled or strained muscles from yoga, yes, my hot intense yoga years, or maybe pulling something because I’d lifted something too heavy.

After about seven years of dealing with this ‘problem’ and it not getting any better, I decided it was time, well, time to MAKE TIME, to see an orthopedist. I know I know, you’re thinking I should have done it sooner. And, hind sight is always 20/20. Yes, I should have. But, there wasn’t really chronic significant pain. Nothing interrupting my ‘wonder woman’ pace of life. There wasn’t anything that was really inhibiting or affecting my sleep. I still had the energy I needed to run fast and jump high. In other words, this bum shoulder was just a blip on my radar screen and an inconvenience. Besides I’d grown up with a super strong mother who impressed upon me to just be strong and forge on.

Nonetheless, I came to my senses and knew after 7 years, yeah, there was something going on. And, that there was more to what was happening with my shoulder.  Based upon my MRI, Xrays and evaluation, the doc diagnosed adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder. I was really actually relieved thinking, hey, this can be healed and rehabbed and I’ll be good to go in maybe 6-9 months.

My worst nightmare was the thought of having my bones sawed on and being in intensive surgery. I mean I’ve never had a broken bone in my life, so the thought of doing anything surgically gave me the heeebeeejeeebees! And, I was hell bent on avoiding it at all costs. Sharing this with some friends and family, I learned that others had that problem and I surmised that in no time at all I’d be healed. As long as I was still able to do my beloved yoga, I was happy!

life curveballs
Two years ago my left shoulder was stronger and much more flexible. Gradual deterioration.

For the next almost two years I vigilantly adhered to a variety of non-invasive treatments, even when my health insurance wouldn’t cover it. Repeated physical therapy, exhausting my insurance coverage limits yearly, home exercises, taping, dry needling, ultrasound, cortisone shots. I even tried the controversial treatment, PRP or platelet replacement plasma, which was super painful.

My yoga routine was altered, more gentle yoga, restorative yoga classes, wall yoga, chair yoga. I started babying this left arm and shoulder. Putting my heavy Nikon camera and 100mm on a tripod. See I have mixed dominance. I’m right-handed and left eyed. So, for years I’d scrunch my shoulders, hold that heavy camera/lens and take thousands of food photos. I eventually started taking more food photos with my cell phone, which helped alleviate some of the shoulder inflammation and pain.  And, every time a new version of my Samsung cell phone came out, I upgraded, even if it was less than a year. Thank goodness the cameras on cell phones were being vastly improved. And, using the small cell phone greatly alleviated stress on my left shoulder. Besides I could easily hold the cell phone in my right hand if I needed to.

The Big Pop

In October 2019, I had another setback with my shoulder arm while traveling. My bicep tendon popped. Hey, I wasn’t doing anything strenuous or crazy. Just pulling up my yoga pants after a potty stop! I felt it immediately, and, I’m telling you, it was excruciating pain. With almost every movement I made there was usually a sharp dagger like pain. Even put my left arm in a sling just to make sure I didn’t move it. I made an appointment a few days later with my orthopedist. Come to find out that it was a partial tear.

Treatments were things like ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, rest (ha ha, that’s a joke!) and working with my physical therapist more. When asked about ‘pain’, it was hard for me to describe. My ‘pain’ threshold is high meaning I can stand a lot. This pain was chronic. But, it wasn’t a sharp shooting pain, it was a constant throbbing hurt in my entire left shoulder front and back. My sleep was now being compromised. And, you know what that means over time, I was losing some of my energy because I was tired. The way I described the ‘pain’ was that it was like a perpetual throb, as if I’d been hit in the front and back of my left shoulder with a baseball bat. It was now tender to the touch. Pains would radiate down the arm and into the fingers. My neck experienced more and more hurt and throb.

By this time, as you can imagine, I’m making some big adjustments to my everyday life. I started checking my luggage on flights. Yeah, this might sound crazy, but I always carried on because of the chance of my luggage being delayed or lost. I invested in a high end very expensive ergonomic backpack. Sleeping meant I couldn’t lay on my left side, hurt too much, waking me throughout the night. When putting on clothing with sleeves, be it a coat or shirt, that left arm went in first because I just couldn’t stretch back and grab it if I put the right arm through first. When I’d get in the car and buckle my seatbelt, I’d pull with my right arm versus my left. Lots of other little things, which told me, I now had a pretty big problem.

Factors That I Think Significantly Contributed to my Bum Shoulder

I’ve thought a lot about this issue. And, hopefully, it can help others, especially younger women. What has caused this severe osteoarthritic degeneration of my left shoulder. Well, no one knows your body better than you, and here are my theories. And, this is pretty good speculation:

  • One, for decades I carried a heavy purse, baby bags, backpacks and more on my left shoulder. Lots of wear and tear.
  • Two, for nearly seven years, I hand held daily and sometimes for hours my heavy Nikon camera/lens. More shoulder stress.
  • Three, several years ago I had a skiing fall, tore the ACL in my left knee. Nothing noted on left shoulder, but I do believe this fall trauma on my shoulder also contributed to where I am now.
  • Four, just life and living. Our joints may surely wear out, especially if we live long enough.
Doing my Homework

In 2020, I decided this was the year I had to address this issue. I’ve been so blessed with amazing health and the ability to do whatever I want despite being at level seven of life. So I’m not complaining. And, I knew I wasn’t going to live out the rest of my days with about 25 to 30% less energy each day. I’m totally not a whiner and I don’t like to be slowed down. Time to bite the bullet and see what’s happening with that shoulder.

First thing was to find the best shoulder surgeon I could. Dang, if someone’s sawing off my ball and joint, slice me open, I want the best. I decided to explore the Steadman Clinic that is world renowned for its orthopedics and treating athletes, Olympic and professional.

life curveballs

 

life curveballs

But before I contacted anyone there, I had to check to see if this facility was in my insurance network. Miraculously, it was!

Next, finding the shoulder specialists. There were several at Steadman Clinic. I made my decision very ‘scientifically’. One doc’s first name was Matthew. My oldest son’s name. Google is amazing. I learned so much about this amazing doctor by reading, researching, reading and researching. I called to make an appointment with Dr. Matthew Provencher. Like Trip Advisor, doctors get reviews, I read all of his on Healthgrades.  Plus, I read with great interest 43 reviews at his website. Yep, I was impressed because the common thread was that he was the best, and he has this compassionate caring bedside manner.

life curveballs

Next step, was to make an appointment with Dr. Provencher. Called myself. No problem. I was quickly scheduled.

Ben and I went together to this appointment. I needed a second set of eyes and ears. Sometimes things like this can be overwhelming, so you have to have your advocate with you.
The streamline efficiency and detailed concern of various people that we saw from check in to PAs and more was ultra-impressive. And, yes, Dr. Provencher has this kind gentle, yet very through, professional and precise, Mr. Rogers-like demeanor and personality. Within 36 hours I had a new MRI, CT scan and all my pre-op work completed.

Bottom line, my shoulder is bone on bone, my rotator cuff a mess and AC joint is also compromised. I’m scheduled for reverse shoulder surgery March 10th. Believe me, I’ve already watched several You Tube videos (Warning: Very graphic, so if you have a queasy stomach, don’t watch. We’re all different. For me, I arm myself with as much knowledge as I can.) trying to better understand what will be happening to my body. Again, my opinion is that this is absolutely essential, I think, with any kind of healthcare. YOU have to be your own best advocate.

Recovery and rehab will be a long-committed process. My arm will be in a sling for a while. Probably will affect my cooking to some degree during this time. This recovery will be tough on my mind because once I’m feeling better, you know me, I want to run fast and jump high. Gonna be like harnessing a wild pony. But, I know I HAVE to be patient with myself, the months of rehab and all that’s involved will lead to a more healthy speedy recovery.

Getting Ready

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been getting ready for D-Day. Planning and organizing for things like where and how I’m gonna sleep. Extra help that I’ll need, well, besides Ben. Getting my supplies ready. Buying some new pieces of clothing that are oversized for me, yes, even undies, making dressing easier. Assessing the house where I’ll be navigating and potential hazard(s). Cooking and freezing healthy soups and more. Really you just can’t be too careful with your planning. Readying myself spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Getting ready also has meant lining up recipes that are drafts on my website and scheduling them for sharing with you. I’ve spent hours and hours doing this over the past weeks. Hey, there are some amazing things coming your way, so be sure you’re signed up for the newsletter and to get every post!

I even got my hair cut about four inches because, for the life of me, I couldn’t teach Ben how to pull my long hair up into my signature pony tail on top of my head. I figured he’d not be real adept at putting on my doo rags either!  Hey, with just one arm and hand, I can’t do that for a while. We practiced and practiced, but he just couldn’t master the scrunchies!

With the coronavirus situation as of writing this post, I’ve been extra vigilant about germs and not getting in crowds. And, I’m trying to stay active and limber with my gentle yoga, stretching and hiking/walking. Since I’m not doing yoga classes (avoiding people and germs), I’ve found new friends on PBS (early morning shows!) with yoga, Wei Lang, Gentle Chair Yoga, Brain Function Exercises, Comeback Yoga (really cool and focuses on veterans).

life curveballs
This is me just two years ago. Notice how flexible my left shoulder is. No way I can do this now.
The Good Things

On a great note as I go into this surgery, my doc says I have great muscle tone, strength and range of motion. Guess all the yoga, PT and exercise work has paid off. My dear foodie friend, Merry of A Merry Recipe, is coming to stay with me shortly after the surgery. You bet I’ll be eating quite well, plus Merry’s gonna keep me laughing! And, yes, watching a lot of Netflix, so leave me your recommendations!

I feel in my bones that I have the best doctor out there. He’s recognized as one of the 28 best shoulder surgeons in the nation. Hey, he repaired Tom Brady’s shoulder, so I reckon I’m in really good hands! And, the joints of many athletes and regular everyday folks have graced the Steadman Clinic, so that gives me great confidence.

Most importantly, I have YOU, all my foodie peeps that care about me and will send up great juju energy and prayers for my surgery and recovery.

Hey, in not time at all, I’ll be bionic! We have a lot more cooking to do, things to accomplish in life and adventures on our boho magic carpet! I love you all!! xoxo ~ally

life curveballs life curveballs

47 Comments

  1. I had the exact surgery 8-months ago. My shoulder was crushed in a bad fall. When you get it done, I’ll tell you more, if you need some info on what to expect. Good luck!

    • Noreen! Thank you for sharing that. I sure hope that you’re feeling so much better. Your accident sounds very very sad. Right now I’m in a lot of pain, but I consider it healing pain. Thank you for leaving your comment and sweet wishes. Sending love and hugs. ~ ally

  2. Love you, Alice.
    Thank you for sharing your story. Know that my prayers will be many for you!
    Looking forward to your inevitable dynamic come back. ❤️??❤️?????❤️
    Patsy

    • My dearest Patsy. Thank you for stopping by and leaving your sweet wishes. Right now in a lot of pain, but it’s what I consider healing pain. I know that in a few months I’m going to be a lot better. Medical science is the nominal. O so glad we live in this period O Tom. Sending much love. ~ ally

    • My dear Patsy…Your prayers are powerful, thank you. It’s now day 4 and I’m seeing small but stead improvements. A lot road to go, but I’m ready to fight the fight. xoxo Love you ally

  3. SCOTT EGAN

    Darlin’, hope you’re out of recovery by now, and that the next few days will be a standable pain experience, before you start recovery. Love you and praying for you and yours.

    • Dearest Scott…yes, in my recovery phase…it’s now day four, and I can see some wonderful improvements. Please keep sending that love and those prayers, my friend xoxo ally

  4. Marlene Hermes

    Dear Ally, Want you to know you will be in my prayers. I am so happy you researched and found
    a great surgeon and with the Lord guiding his hands, I am sure, you will come thru this 100%.

    • Dearest Aunt Marlene, Thank you so very much. Your prayers are very much needed. Tomorrow’s my day and it will be the first of a ‘painful’ healing, but healing and recovery. Ben and I have been super busy today w/loose ends. You’d think we were having triplets!! lol! Love you! xoxo ~ally

  5. Sophia Messervy

    Mama Ally!! Heal fast! You know the Messervy’s are always in your corner, and my mom is pretty good at ponytails hahah.
    Love you!!

    • Sophia!!! OMG, thank you, sweetness! Ha ha…yeah, you know the Messervy’s are our fam, so my boo (your mama) will be doing my ponytails! Love you! xoxo

  6. Take care of yourself, and please … please … please don’t try to heal that shoulder too quickly. Can’t wait to read the story in a year about the Six Million Dollar Woman. 😉 Godspeed, friend.

    • Dearest Adam…yeah, man, I’m sitting here thinking (as DDay is in about 20 hours) how I want to chronicle this ‘adventure’ as it’s my hope that my experiences will help others. I even looked at my bum shoulder in the mirror last night after my shower, I patted it and thanked it for being a really good friend and workhorse for 70 years. It will be missed, but the wheels of progress keep rollin’! xxo ~ally

  7. Dionne Baldwin

    Wishing you fast healing. <3 I’ll be praying.

    • Dionne!! Thank you, sweet girl. Those prayers are super powerful. Hopefully, as a young woman, you picked up some ideas for not battering your shoulder joints over the next 30 years! xoxo ~ally

  8. Miss Ally, hold your horses (or ponies :), it’s time to take care of YOU. Thank you for your extensive research — you never know who might benefit from your wise advice — and for explaining why you’re taking a break. You’ll be missed, but “do what’cha need to do.” You’ll be back twice as strong in no time with a shoulder that can keep up with you! Hugs and prayers, xo.

    • Kimmeeee! Ha ha…you always make me smile! I’m hoping that someone does benefit from my journeys down this road, especially young women who are invincible in their 30s, 40s and 50s, but wear and tear of time in your 50s and 60s can mean these detours. Of course, by then, say the next 20 years for this kind of surgery research, I can’t even imagine the possibilities! Keep those prayers going to the Big Man up there. He’s listening. I’m looking forward to having more energy! xoxo Love you littl’ girl ~ally

  9. Ally,
    I will miss you in yoga. I will be available to walk the neighborhood, make a ponytail or anything else in your Arrowhead recovery. I will see Ben at 7:30 am yoga so I will stay in touch.?❤️?

    • Kathy!!! You sweetheart! My ponytail is so me! Bless Ben’s heart, he tried! Yes, Ben will be there for yoga, I hope. And, walking the neighborhood w/a buddy who can trailblaze any potential hazards is important. Plus, what fun just gabbing and talking. Thank you, my sweet friend xoxo ~ally

  10. Susan Bickta

    ALLY!!!!! Oh my goodness!! This sounds so painful (and frustrating…..) ……….and I know what you mean about “sawing into your bones” as I had brain surgery 9 years ago ….. my thoughts at the time were “So, doc!! How are you going to get to my brain without sawing through my skull???” I know!!! DUH!! Right??? So, please know I will be thinking of you and saying prayers for your quick and complete recovery. ANd, we will all miss you, but you must take care of yourself!! Love ‘ya lady!!!

    • Oh, dear, Susan!! Your sawing was much more scary than my upcoming surgery. God bless you! Thank you for all love and prayers. Love you, too, sweet girl! xoxo ~ally

  11. Love ya girlie! I’ll definitely be praying for you and looking forward to your full and complete recovery!
    –L.B. Scantlin aka Faith Warmheart

    • Faith Faith!!!! God bless you and L.B.!! Thank you for this heartfelt comment and the love and prayers. You have no idea how much that means to me. Thank you! xoxo ~ally

  12. Lori McLain

    I will be praying BIG ol prayers for you Ally….and I KNOW God keeps you in His mighty hands and this will be more of the same! Merry Angel will no doubt keep you in healing mode and please know we all love you so very much and know this will be a GOOD thing❤️?Love you mucho GCM gal ??

    • My dear Lori! Listen, you’re right, our Merry Angel is bringing the power of His healing and more! I’m sooooooooooo lucky! And, thank you, my GCM girlie, I know your prayers are powerful. Tuesday’s my DDay…I’ll be ol’ one-handed Ally Cat for a while! xoxo Love you amazing friend

  13. You continue to inspire all your tribe. Difficult decision to make but you are in good physical condition, have faith in your well chosen surgeon, and an amazing support team. If not now, when? Right? Stay positive and know the kindest and sweetest vibes are coming your way over your convalescence! All the best my friend, will miss you but in the interim I plan to revisit some of those yummy recipes and inspiring posts from the past to honour you!
    Be well!

    • Oh, sweet Momcat! You make my Saturday before surgery sparkle! Thank you for those supportive, love, warm words. They really really mean a lot to me. I’m getting a lot of fresh air and sunshine (even if it’s cold here in the Rockies!) for the next three days. Nothing better for the mind, heart and soul. Sending loving #allycat vibes to you! xoxo ~ally

  14. prayers for you and your surgeon <3..and cheers to good friends who drop everything to care for you.

    • Isn’t that the truth, Lisa! Thank you and Merry is beyond amazing…she’s a world class gem. Doing this w/everything happening in the world at this time has blown me away. She knows if there are annnneee reservations whatsoever for her, all is good. But, you know our Merry! Love you! xox ~ally

  15. Mike Ginther

    Hi Ally,
    Claire and I are sending prayers, love and good healing energy. Hey, being bionic is a good thing and now you will be able to pitch that 100 mph fast ball before the season ends haha. Good luck, and a speedy recovery.

    • Mike Mike! You doll! Thanks for coming, reading and leaving me this inspirational message. Hey, I say, move over Tom Brady, Mama Ally’s gonna be doing ‘pot throwing’!! Your prayers and sweet wishes are so appreciated…love y’all! xo ~ally

  16. JoAnn Belack

    Ally,
    So very sorry you are facing this challenge but your strength, grace, optimism, friends and family will pull you through!! You have been an inspiration with your joie de vivre and I know we have all enjoyed seeing all your travels and many accomplishments. I still use and read your beautiful cookbook like a novel !! My prayers are with you on this journey. God Bless…

    • My dear dear JoAnn…your words are just so very uplifting. Thank you, my friend. It’s the collective energy that I feel here from all the wonderful comments that just brings strength and fortitude to my attitude. We all lift each other, you have done that for me for years. Bionic granny coming soon! Love love xoxo ~ally

  17. Ally you are amazing to have endured more than 10 years with this ailment. God Bless you on this journey of healing I can just imagine how you were feeling, I too am exactly the same and forge on as your mother taught you and I. The pain has to be unbearable for you to have made this decision and I pray for a recovery that will be mild and successful. May the lord wrap his arms around you and give you peace and serenity as you heal. Love you

    • Dearest Claudia…I got chills reading your message…yes, our mamas were the same, we were taught not to whine, complain and just plow through whatever life put in our path. God is speaking to me through each and every one of these beautiful comments. I’m truly the most blessed, luckiest person out there. Just send up some smoke signals the morning of March 10th. Bionic Mama Ally will be created! Love you, too, angel xoxo ~ally

  18. We are all here to support you!! xoxox

    • Booboo! I know that…you always have been and always will be…for now, I’m hibernating and avoiding people. Nasty germs out there! xoxo

  19. Love you my friend. My prayers go with you.
    You will be missed. I have come to treasure every post from you.
    Take all the time you need to heal..
    Love Sarah

    • My dear Sarah…gosh, I love you, too, my sweet girl, and thank you for taking time to read this and send your healing energies and prayers. Hey, I’ll be back w/a bionic shoulder and may rival Tom Brady’s football throwing! LOL! At least I’ll be able to pick up heavy pots! xox ~ally

  20. Great post! I am glad you shared it all with you readers. Praying for you Ally Girl! I love you.

    • Merry Merry girl…you know I tossed and turned and prayed about whether to or not, but I feel like others can learn from it. Love you, my dear amazing friend, and see you soon! xoxo ~ally

  21. Dearest Ally,
    You will be in my prayers for a quick recovery!
    Please let me know what I can do for you in a practical way as well
    After all, we are neighbors…ok, an hour away in traffics, but
    StillGrand Strand folk!
    Hugs

    • Dearest Joan! You’re a sweetheart. And, when I return to SC, I may just holler at you. Your prayers are the most important at this juncture. W/all the creepy germs, flus and viruses out there, my quest is to lay low until Tuesday and be healthy going into this major surgery. Big love coming right backatcha! You are a gem. xoxo ~ally

  22. My dear one! My heart and the lovie’s dear hearts are with you. Your surgery is on my baby sister’s birthday so I know that is a wink from the universe it will be perfect. I wish I was closer to be there for you in real time but I am holding extra space in my heart for you. You are pure love magic and will heal in no time. Try and be a good patient so you can come back to us better than ever! Love you! Xoxo

    • Oh, my sweet dear lovies! Yes, a God wink being on your baby sister’s birthday, a very happy celebratory day! Space in your heart and soul is all I need at this point. You keep sending the juju and Mama Ally will rebound in a flash being stronger and better than ever. Hey, I’ll be bionic and rival Tom Brady’s shoulder…Olympic pot lifting! ha ha! Love you girl xoxo ~ally

  23. Will be praying for you and a quick recovery. I had a full tear of my right bicep tendon. It popped while I was playing tennis. When I swung my racquet for an overhead I fell a pinch, heard a pop and I looked at my arm and I looked like Popeye. My bicep had coiled up and rolled down to just above my elbow. I had the tendon re-attached. After my surgery I had 6 months of re-hab and after that my arm strength was better than every. Your situation is much worse and more involved, but you sound like you’re in excellent hands and have a great support system at home. Good luck and God Bless.

    • Suz! Thank you for sharing your own personal experience with me! Oh, lawsy, I know that pop and the pain. Yours sounds much worse than mine was. And, it’s so good to hear that your arm is stronger than ever. Ben talked just a day ago to a 70 y/o gentleman on the chairlift (skiing). He has Parkinsons. Had this same surgery 12 months ago w/the same doc I’m using. He told Ben he was stronger than ever. Isn’t it amazing how God puts people in our paths, like you, to help us. Thank you, again xoxo ~ally

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