Sunday, January 29, 2023

Scarcity vs Abundance

I'm now on my husband's insurance. It's good insurance but it has a huge deductible, which for someone like me who has multiple mental and physical health conditions, it makes a difference.

Last year my deductible was really low and my co-pays ranged from $0 to $30 for regular stuff and then no more than a couple hundred for big tests/procedures. This year so far I've had some doctor's visits that were "only" $80 to my PT for my shoulder being $130 for each session.

Why am I starting this blog with this information? Another hit in this area has been my counseling. Last year I was able to afford to meet with my therapist once every week or two. With the increase in fee, I moved it to once every three weeks for now... and it might be once a month those months that money's really tight.

When I went from two sessions a week to one due to the cost, my physical therapist gave me more exercises to do at home since I was missing a session every week. So... I brought up that idea to my mental health therapist - to have "homework" to work on during this large gap of time.

Okay... now I'm finally to the main point of this point - scarcity vs abundance. My therapist has brought me a long way in the time we've worked together and we've tackled many of my issues. However, a new one came up right before our last session together. 

Right now I can't remember which past scenario in my life that I shared with her that led to this topic. However, I wrote down what she wanted me to work on - and it was to start with reading about the scarcity mindset.

Honestly, I've been putting it off. I would much rather work on a puzzle or play on my phone than work on these issues. But one thing I've learned from PT is that the exercises I do really make a difference - and some things I couldn't do at all a few weeks ago, I can now do with ease. It's been a useful reminder that the little things matter more than we think and progress, even though slow, is still progress.

After a thorough time doing my PT exercises, I felt it was time to tackle this. 

First, I researched the scarcity mindset. I had heard of it before so I knew a little bit but here are some of the things I learned. (Sorry that I don't have references. I copied and pasted the points that stood out to me the most before I thought about writing this post. If you want to read more about it, just google "scarcity mindset" and it'll probably take you to some of the articles I read.)

Here are the main things I learned from reading about 5-6 articles... (the point is copied and pasted from the article - the paragraph underneath is my paraphrase/explanation of the point).

First, a short definition I found for scarcity: "Someone with a scarcity mindset is one that focuses on the lack of things,"

- Find one abundant thing to focus on.

    In other words, certain areas of life might be lacking, but if you look hard enough, all of them won't be. One example is that finances may be really tight but you might have plenty of time. That's true for me, especially while I'm still recovering from my rotator cuff surgery. I need to focus on the fact that I have an "abundant" amount of time.

- How would it feel to be abundant? What would your life look like?

    That's a hard one for me and something I'm going to have to really explore. Some of the areas that I know I focus on scarcity rather than abundance include finances, food, energy/stamina, ability to handle social situations well... and I'm going to have to think about others. Like I said earlier, areas of abundance at this point include time, intelligence, and the love of my husband. But what if I felt I had enough money... what if I felt like I don't have to eat extra because if I don't, I'll feel sick before I can eat again... what if I was able to move and go like I could 10-15 years ago? This is definitely something to think about...

- Journaling might help by both helping you identify areas where you already are abundant as well as areas where you’d like to focus on being more abundant.

    This point is why I'm doing this blog post. If I'm working on personally, maybe sharing the process will help someone else.

- A scarcity mentality sees limitations instead of opportunities. 

    In other words, one example is - losing your job means focusing on a lack of income instead of the chance to try a new career. The example this article gave was, "Wow, I have 25 years of marketing experience, which will be a huge asset if I decide to start a business"

- Ask yourself if you had all the time and money in the world and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you be doing? Questions like that will help to open your mind up to what’s possible.

    Whoa... I've heard of doing this before but it was too scary. I ALWAYS feel like I'm going to fail at anything I try to do. Yep... definitely need to work on that.

- Scarcity mentality refers to people seeing life as a finite pie, so that if one person takes a big piece, that leaves less for everyone else. 

    This is one I didn't even realize went with scarcity. I also have a really hard time with this concept. I hate being judgmental, but I am. I'm incredibly competitive and though I hate to admit it, I have a hard time sincerely congratulating someone for doing something well or accomplishing something that I haven't yet accomplished. Yeah... I had never really pondered that it's actually my belief that if someone else wins, I lose - and I hate losing. There's not enough out there for both of us to win.

Okay, I've got to cook some brunch for my husband and me. This is just the beginning of this journey for me. I'll try to occasionally update how it's going on here, but no promises. (If you've read my blog for a while, you know how many Part 1's don't ever get a Part 2.)

Oh, I almost forgot - one thing I'm already doing that was recommended in the articles was to focus on gratitude. I didn't copy and paste it because it's one thing I had already decided to do, but in a different way than in the past.

For the last two years, I've put stickers on my calendar instead of X-ing off the days, so I can easily see what day it is - and stickers look better than X's. This year I'm trying something new. Instead of a sticker, each morning I write on the previous day something I am grateful for that happened on that day. 

I'm hoping that as the days, weeks, and months pass, it'll be a very visual reminder that a lot of good has happened in 2023, even if it's not all good (which life never can be).

Even though it's a month into the year already, here's to having a grateful year!



Monday, January 23, 2023

First Time to Pick Up a Camera Since Rotator Cuff Surgery

I posted this on Facebook yesterday. It's short (so unlike me!), but I so often share my struggles... I thought it might be good to share a success. Unfortunately, I can't share the photos I alude to here, but if you want to see them, go to https://www.facebook.com/nowNovelPhotos and look for the post dated 1-22-23.

"I feel very amazed... blessed... and just a tiny bit sad. Below is the first shot I've taken since my rotator cuff surgery on November 21st - almost 9 weeks since the surgery. It's with my shorter lens (lighter) because I still can't pick up my best camera/lens (too heavy).

The "sad" is that I am still very limited in how much I can shoot. I want to go crazy shooting the action, but I still have to be very careful with my shoulder. I'm just now getting back a decent range of motion and my strength is still way below normal.

One really cool thing is that Travis and I have full access passes, including media seats, access to shoot on the floor, and parking passes! I'm also including a phone photo of my place marker and media credential - the 1st I've gotten as "Tracy Frontz."

It's a bittersweet night, but much, much more sweet than bitter. A few more weeks/months and I'll be able to shoot away. But it's really nice that I was able to pick up a camera much sooner than I thought."

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Transitioning to Being Married During Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery

 Marriage is, um, interesting. I still look at him next to me in bed or on the couch and ask him, did this really happen... are we really married?

It's been an adjustment, especially since we live with my parents and all the stuff that's gone on since we got home from the honeymoon... 

My daughter and her fiance' had to move quickly and they have a LOT of stuff. ALL of their help fell through so he and Shelby ended up doing a lot of the move without anyone else. This was after my rotator cuff surgery where I desperately needed help full time, but he had to work and then go help them move when he got off work. 

This also took a big hit on us financially because they didn't have the money to move or to pay deposits, etc. There was no one else to help, so we did. This was on top of me not being able to work as soon as they said I would, so I have made almost nothing for 2 months now... and we had some other unexpected bills that came up after we started sorting out finances.

Oh... and they had some major issues with the house - no heat; pipes messed up so they went without water a few days (or longer - can't remember); the pipes messing up caused raw sewage to be dumped in their basement... and the landlord wouldn't do anything until I finally found an email for someone higher up in the company. Everything is fixed (well, all the major stuff) now and they are finally getting settled.

My mom had something happen (I can't even remember what happened this time) and had to go to the ER. This was only a few weeks after my surgery so again, he had to go to the ER with me and help. Thankfully, she didn't have to be admitted that time - but she was still weak and had a hard time getting around and doing what she could normally do for weeks afterward.

My dad fell and broke his back, so he also couldn't do his typical tasks. There was a time when Travis went to work and it took all 3 of us to do a task.

We went to visit his family in Florida for Christmas and the first day we were there, I started getting sick. I had a fever on Christmas Eve and was at the hotel alone all of Christmas Day. Several weeks later, I'm still coughing and not at 100%.

Other stuff happened during that time but I won't bore you anymore. Just know that he was thrown into the fire by marrying me. I try, but I'm not always the best patient, especially when I can't do anything for myself. 

But he was amazing during that whole time. The vast majority of the time, he took great care of me and my daughters and my parents. Again, most of the time (he's wonderful but he's not perfect), he was really patient when I was extremely frustrated with only having one arm and not being able to do anything.

We're getting settled now. Mom is feeling better; dad got a backblock so he's not in as much pain, and I'm FINALLY able to start using my arm again. I started working again this week so hopefully I can help get our finances back in order. 

So, the very long version of a short question, I LOVE being married to Travis. Was it everything I thought it would be? No. Am I still extremely excited that we are actually together full-time? H*ll, yes!

I don't know where you are with believing in God, but I recently found a plaque that says, "I still remember the days I prayed for what I have now." I can remember so many times I cried big ugly tears - both before and after I met him - wondering if I would ever be married again. Like I said earlier, it still seems like a dream sometimes... like he's going to get up after we've spent the evening together and go back to his apartment. 

But then I see myself signing my name "Tracy Frontz" or I get called into the doctor, hearing "Mrs. Frontz" instead of "Ms. Riggs"... or I kiss him good-bye before he goes to work or discuss with him what WE need from the grocery store... and I KNOW it's real. 

It really happened. We are together. And even though life is full of crap, it's wonderful knowing that I'm not alone while I'm dealing with it.

Monday, January 16, 2023

I Am Not My Pain podcasts

Last June I was contacted by Melissa, the host of the "I Am Not My Pain" podcast, about sharing my story through that platform. I was overwhelmed between the surgeries, The World Games, wedding, taking care of my parents, etc... so it took a while to schedule. Then after we finally did the interview, it took a while for her to edit all of my ramblings.

However, if you read this blog, you might be interested in hearing my voice through something other than print. 

This is how to access the podcasts...

Part 1 - https://anchor.fm/notmypain/episodes/S2E5-Shining-Light-on-Stigmas-for-Chronically-Ill--Part-One-e1p796u

Part 2 - https://anchor.fm/notmypain/episodes/S2E6-Shining-Light-on-Stigmas-for-Chronically-Ill--Part-Two-e1p79av

If you do decide to listen to them, I would appreciate it if you would email me and let me know what you thought or if it helped you. My email address is novelphotos@yahoo.com.

Hope you like them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

It Never Seems to End - Post Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery with Mental Illness

I really thought I had written more posts recently. Thinking back, I pushed myself to write the last post - and regretted it. 

I have barely been back to my desk since.

To be clear, it wasn't writing the blog post that took me out of commission... it was my anxiety. 

This recovery from rotator cuff surgery has been rough. I heard somewhere that it's the 3rd worst pain, just after childbirth and kidney stones. Now that I'm into my 6th-week post-surgery, I would say the pain isn't that bad (though it's definitely there)... it's the limitations that drive you mad.

Add to that anxiety and bipolar disorders and being very overweight and it's been, um, fun? 

I've had a difficult time staying out of my head while healing. There are mixed signals everywhere you look for advice on how to make it through this time. One YouTube video will say to keep your arm completely immobilized; a website article will say it's okay to move it some; then you'll come across a study that showed that no sling is actually best. 

There are tips on how to do a lot of things - like sleep positions (which also vary widely). On the other hand, some of the tips didn't work in my case.

This might be TMI, but I spent the first two weeks trying to figure out a way to pull up my underwear on the affected side. The only advice I got on it was a clothing assist tool - but due to my curves, that didn't work. I tried other similar tools - a grabber, tongs, a back scratcher, using a doorknob (that one did work... once!) - none of them worked.

If someone else was home, I swallowed my pride and asked for help. When no one was home, I would reach back, knowing it could cause damage to my shoulder. After all, who can function with underwear literally falling down? (And yes, I did try going commando but it was really uncomfortable for me and I only managed to do it a few times before giving up on that idea.)

Anyway, this is one example of a cause for the mind games I dealt with.

I would go to the bathroom and while I was, um, doing my business, I started thinking about which trick I would try this time. When inevitably none of these would work, I would take off my sling and reach back, being as careful as I could, to pull them up.

Then the anxious thoughts began. Did I hurt my shoulder? Was I erasing the healing that's already occurred? What if it never really healed? 

So then the spiral continued and grew worse... what if I never regained full function in that arm? I knew I could type so I could still do that part of my freelancing business, but what if I could never hold a professional camera again? 

All the while I'm also feeling judgment and guilt... reciting excuses in my mind like I was about to be sworn in and confess to the surgeon and/or my PT how I screwed up. 

This was an ongoing struggle. Being so uncomfortable in any horizontal position, I was constantly exhausted physically from not getting good sleep. 

However, the mental exhaustion from fighting this balancing act - doing what I needed to do to make it through a day vs letting my shoulder heal the "right" way - was much worse. 

Add to this the uncertainty of this whole procedure and recovery. 

When would I get the sling off? How was I going to deal with going on a trip to another state with a sling? I tried a multitude of slings, pregnancy pillows, neck pillows, bed pillows, folded-up blankets, etc to try to find the best combination for sleep. Which combo would I bring for the trip? 

There were also the questions of the progress of healing... when could I drive? When would I get the sling off? When could I safely use my computer and type again? When would I be able to shoot again?

And most importantly... since this is a surgery with a less-than-stellar success rate, will it even work?

There was one day I had a short manic episode where I couldn't sit still and I definitely did more than I should have with my bad arm.

That day the spiral took over my life. I couldn't stop crying - I just knew that I had messed it up and I would have to have to redo the surgery. No amount of reassurance from friends, family, and even some who had dealt with it before would calm me down. I was a wreck.

But, just like any anxiety attack I've ever dealt with, it eventually subsided. Part of this lessening was due to the years of work in therapy trying to combat this battle of the mind. Most of it, at least in this case, was the acceptance that if I had messed it up, there was nothing I could do about it at that point. 

I also recognized that no one is 100% compliant with post-surgery instructions and PT exercises - and that the majority of them do heal and gain back full function. 

Just like addiction recovery, this recovery had ups and downs and there was no one "right way" to do it. Taking it one moment at a time is key.

My advice to anyone about to go through this surgery is to research, research, research beforehand, but remember that you won't know what works for you until you get there. Listen to your doctor and PT but know that they don't know your body and what you have to deal with - and every one of them has a slightly different opinion on the best way to heal. 

On the flip side, don't be afraid to ask questions. If you have an anxiety disorder, let your medical team know that you might need a little more support than a neurotypical. 

In other words, don't be embarrassed to ask for advice on pulling up your underwear (unless you personally enjoy going commando.) :-)