Stress is relative. There will always be someone Going Through It harder than you, but that doesn't mean your urge to cry and rip out your hair isn't legitimate. While it's important to keep things in perspective, you're allowed to feel stress about anything from the truly tragic (like a death in the family) to the, in hindsight, silly (like a broken Forever 21 necklace).
I'm tied in a pretty solid sailor's knot of stress right now, and I had to remind myself that it's OK to feel this way. My father had his bladder removed on Tuesday—the final step after chemo to rid his body of bladder cancer and prevent it from returning. He has every reason to feel stress right now. My mom drives an hour to the hospital he's in, from Boynton Beach to Miami, and back again every day, staying by her recovering husband's side for as long as visiting hours allow. She has every reason to feel stress right now.
I'm up here in New York, not in the thick of things—my dad doesn't want my sister and me to visit until he's home and feeling better because he's (xo)vain—so I feel almost a sense of guilt when my stress and sadness about his health gets intense. It's his health; it's my mom's daily experience.
But my dad's in the hospital recovering from major surgery after cancer, so I think some stress is in order. I worry about him, and it sucks to not be able to just drive a couple miles and go see with my own eyes that he's OK. That's stressful.
So dammit, I want a massage.
Even though my job gives me access to wonderful spas with amazing massage services, I almost never take advantage of that. In fact, I've definitely never taken advantage of that. That's because the thought of getting a massage—the very thing I'm hoping might relieve some of my tension and stress—causes me stress.
I know some people are reluctant to strip down and lie on a table, all vulnerable in front of a masseuse they've never met. I'm OK with the nakey-ness. In my case, I worry about getting injured, because I was—pretty badly—during a massage at a suburban massage chain six years ago.
My upper arm was in significant pain almost immediately after the massage, but I figured it was a bruise or just a "knot" that got really worked. But a week later, I couldn't lift my arm without involuntarily screaming. I worried that maybe a muscle had been torn, but I also have an autoimmune disease that causes chronic pain, so I've been known to blow off injuries and lump them in with my usual aches. And that's what I did—I blew it off for two months.
Big mistake. Huge. The pain only increased and my mobility only decreased. Putting on a shirt felt almost impossible.
Two months after the massage, I went to my rheumatologist who determined that I had calcific tendinitis. He showed me the x-ray of my supraspinatus tendon, and there was an actual pebble of calcium in my damn muscle.
The treatment was a series of cortisone shots, which sucked, but they stopped the inflammation of the tendinitis and melted away the calcium deposit (at least I think that's how it works).
I really, really, really don't want to feel that pain again, but I really, really, really want to get a massage. My shoulders and neck are SO tense, and I really think I would benefit from it. (And Mom, if you're reading this, I think you would, too. Hanukkah present, on me?)
So, for this Open Thread, I ask you:
- Where's your favorite place to get a massage? (I mean spa, not location on your body, you perv.)
- Do you have any massage horror stories?
- If a massage isn't in the cards for you, how do you deal with stress?
- What else is on your mind this weekend?