Around 2013, I had a shoulder injury that turned into something called “Frozen Shoulder”, and later had to have surgery. I wanted to use this story as a metaphor for our emotional wounds and healing. In this minisode, I tell the story and you’ll also hear:
- What I had to do before surgery for months, that we all do in different ways when it comes to our emotional lives.
- How we all build up scar tissue and what we can do about it.
- What we do afterward; when it comes to both surgery for an injury and healing our internal emotional wounds.
If you’re wanting to learn some amazing coping mechanisms, consider joining me and other like-minded women for my upcoming retreat. We’re gathering in September and details are here.
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast minisode number 431.
Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insights to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Irwin, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.
Hey, everyone, welcome to another minisode. And I am still on the topic of healing and trauma and things that hurt us, etc. I'm going to tell you a story and use it as a metaphor for those topics. Okay, picture this. I don't even remember what year it was. That's not a great way to tell a story. It was around 2013, 2014ish. We were living in Utah at the time, and if you have ever been to Utah, or if you have ever lived in Utah, they get a lot of snow. Not all parts, but where we were living there was a lot of a lot, a lot of snow. And once every, from what I understood handful of years, they get an ice storm. And one winter, we were there and there was an ice storm. And this was no ordinary ice storm It was like the whole city was covered in an ice rink. It was total and complete ice everywhere. And I thought it would be a good idea to go to the gym. So I went to the gym. In my defense, businesses are supposed to put ice outside on the sidewalk, you know, outside of their place of business if they're open, and probably even if they're not open. And this particular gym did not have any ice. And as I was leaving, I went to step off the curb, and my foot that was still on the curb, slipped out from under me and I landed hard. Like I was in the air, suspended in the air landed hard, directly on my elbow. And it hurt really bad. And I remember getting up and thinking, oh my god, did anybody see me. I don't think anybody saw me. And my elbow was hurting for a little while and then later that day, my shoulder really started to hurt. And then it kept hurting as the days went by and I was trying to like not move it very much and I iced it a little bit. And as the weeks went by, I realized that I could not really move my arm around very much. Like my range of motion was very limited, I could not pull my shoulder up enough to like put my hair in like a high bun. I couldn't wash my hair, with, it was my right arm, of course, my dominant hand.
So I went to the doctor, I had a MRI or whatever it is that they do. And they saw that I had a type two SLAP tear, which it's basically like your labrum gets pulled away from, and that's like what anchors your shoulder together, if I remember correctly anyway, it was it was torn off pretty bad. And on top of that, I had what's called frozen shoulder. And frozen shoulder is common in people over 60. I was 37. And from what I remember people who are diabetic. I did not have diabetes. So I had this injury. And they said, okay, we can't fix your labrum While you have frozen shoulder. So I was like, what's frozen? So what's frozen shoulder basically, it is when you have an injury, a traumatic injury to a joint. I think you can get it in other joints. Besides, I know there's like physical therapists and other experts out there listening to me going, oh my god, this explanation is so terrible. I'm not a doctor. But from what I understand it's most common shoulders. When you have a traumatic injury, sometimes by way of trying to protect the joint, scar tissue starts to form around the joint kind of like a really thick spiderweb. And that's what happened to my shoulder and some are worse than others. And the mistake that I made was not moving it. He said you should have, you know kind of moved in around and I'm like, that sounds very counterintuitive to what was actually happening with my pain. It was so painful y'all like oh my gosh.
So I had a couple of options. You can have surgery or what we recommend And I think insurance wouldn't even cover my surgery until I went through physical therapy. So I went through months and months of the most excruciating physical therapy I have ever done in my entire life, where basically they were trying to stretch it. And it felt like, it felt like if you, if someone took your arm and like pulled it behind your back, you know, people are mean and do that? That's what it felt like they were doing. It was basically trying to move a joint that did not have that range of motion, and they're trying to pull the scar tissue apart. Alright. It was so bad, it was so bad. Finally, after months of making zero progress, I might have made a tiny bit but no progress, they were like, okay, fine, we'll do surgery and it's called manipulation. There's, there's probably a more met that better medical term for it, but it's called manipulation. They completely put you out. I don't know what kind of anesthesia that's called. This is this is the worst description of a medical procedure I've ever heard in my life. Okay. So they put me out. They knocked me out. And then I mean, you could YouTube it, it's gnarly. They basically rip your shoulder so the scar tissue tears, because you can't do that when you're awake, because too painful, and then they go in arthroscopically… Is that how you pronounce it, and then they clean it up, they clean up all the scar tissue.
So what does this have to do with healing our emotional wounds. It was interesting to me because I kept thinking about this particular injury. And it reminds me of you know, when we get hurt in real life, emotionally, someone or something hurts us, hurts our feelings, hurts our self-esteem, hurts our self-confidence, hurts our level of self-trust, our self-love, our sense of safety, and it's an injury, right? It's an injury, and many times like my shoulder, slapped on a bunch of scar tissue all around it to try to protect it, we do things that aren't really helpful to try to protect ourselves. This is where anxious or, or avoidant attachment styles start. This is where we can start any kind of numbing out as a coping mechanism or isolating. Or, you know, the zero fucks mentality that I wrote about and How To Stop Feeling Like Shit, just like I don't care about anybody. I don't care about what anybody thinks of me, all these coping mechanisms that we tried to do to try to protect it. And they kind of work for a little while, right as my shoulder dead it was it was protecting itself until it doesn't, and it really just limiting ourselves as my range of motion was totally limited with my shoulder, when we participate in all those behaviors that aren't serving us the lack of boundaries, the perfectionism the people pleasing.
It can work for a little bit, and then it really really starts to not work. And it starts to inhibit our lives, it starts to make us feel like shit, because we are not the person who we really want to be in our life. I couldn't live my life fully with a very poor range of motion with my shoulder. So we try some ways to heal it, right? We might try talk therapy. We might try, you know, reaching out to a friend, we might try listening to podcasts, reading self-help books, and it might help a little bit, it really might help a little bit. And for some people, that helps a lot. You know, for some people that physical therapy for frozen shoulder helped a lot and they didn't need surgery. It doesn't work for everybody. So sometimes there's other things that we have to do in order to heal. And for me, that was that manipulation surgery, where they knocked me out and move my shoulder all around and to rip up that scar tissue.
And it happens in real life too. You know, we have these coping mechanisms, these addictions or we push it down to push down all of that, that pain, and it builds up and builds up. And then we have to go in and do something a little more invasive, and push through it and clear it all out. And that might be trauma therapy like EMDR. You know, TMS, like you heard about in Dr. Sasha, Dr. Sasha's episode. Attachment style therapy, and you know, there's all these different modalities that you've been hearing about and that you'll continue to hear about over the next few weeks as I brought in all these experts to figure out how to heal it. To figure out how to get back to that place of complete range of motion. How to get back to that place of wholeness as a person because I truly think we always are like my shoulder joint was I always there, right? It was always there, it just was covered up and limited. Very, very limited. I think that that's what happens to a lot of us we are whole, we are not broken, even though we might really feel like we are broken. I know I have identified as that many times in my life. And sometimes it takes just saying, okay, I'm willing to try this particular physical therapy, I'm willing to try this book, or this podcast or talk therapy, or even if you're doing you know, online therapy with BetterHelp, or whatever you choose. And sometimes that works amazingly well. And then sometimes we have to go in for the more invasive, if you will, therapies to help us become whole again.
And then here's the other thing too. My recovery from that surgery was very specific, they gave me this chair, it was kind of like a, like a wheelchair, and it had this attachment that I would put my arm in, and for 90 minutes a day, that's a long time, 90 minutes a day, all in a row, like I couldn't break it up. I might have had to do it twice a day, I think I did have to do it twice a day. And this thing moved my arm very, very carefully and very intentionally in these certain ways to be able to recover. We have to do that with our emotional health, too. We have to be careful, we have to watch out for our triggers, we have to set boundaries, we have to pay attention to how much pressure we're putting on the injury, essentially. We have to be careful with our hearts, who we give it to. And sometimes we can go too far, you know, maybe, you know, for me it was if I didn't participate ever again, in any sport again, I didn't play tennis or go back to roller derby or any of those things that would have maybe been taking it a little bit too far. But understandable, understandable that I didn't want to get hurt again. And we can do that in our in our emotional lives as well. And we don't put ourselves out there, we don't we're not vulnerable to the people that we think we might be able to be vulnerable to whether it's a significant other or friend. We play it a little bit too safe. And sometimes we never know what the outcome is going to be when we start to step out there again. When we start to be brave and be vulnerable after we've been hurt, and done some healing work. It takes getting out there and just taking that risk.
And I understand what that feels like from an emotional standpoint, and from a physical standpoint. And sometimes, I mean, this was eight, nine years ago that I hurt my shoulder and had surgery. Sometimes my shoulder still hurts. I was told I could never be a CrossFit champion, which I laughed. We had a good laugh about that. And there's some movements that I cannot do. I cannot do the clean and snatch or whatever y'all call it is just, by the way, I forgot to mention the SLAP tear, never got fixed. He couldn't go in and do both at the same time and he said, you can live a normal life having that torn, you just have to be really careful. You can't, you know, do CrossFit and, and like heavy overhead presses and probably pull ups are, are not a great idea. And same with emotional stuff, too. Sometimes we have to be careful, there are certain things that we can't walk into and I can think of several of them in my emotional life where I have to, I have to be careful, you know, I have to be I have to be careful around like, don't go to bars. That's just, that's a little risky for me. We get to know what we can and cannot do. Well think is what I'm trying to say. So I hope that helps. I think sometimes it can be insightful, to use metaphors to be able to understand and accept topics that are conceptual and sometimes just seeming like they're confusing. I know I have felt that way many times.
And I am just so grateful that you're here and I'm grateful for these quick little minisodes. I made it under 15 minutes today. Don't forget that registration is open for The Daring Way Retreat where we learn coping skills to be able to move through big, heavy tangled up messy topics and scenarios that happen in our life that are directly correlated to shame. It's basically learning the steps of shame resilience and how what it looks like in your life. AndreaOwen.com/retreat for the retreat coming up in May and if you are a woman in recovery, there is a retreat in September. That is recovery focused the during why recovery focused AndreaOwen.com/recovery-retreat. And I will see you next week with another expert. And remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our lives responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.