Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Looooooooong Road to Recovery

I spent most of December and all of January on a sick leave. It felt surreal because from the outside, I looked just fine. The tennis elbow problem, which started off with the ganglion cyst on my right wrist, has now been felt on both arms. I've been to two different physiotherapists (PT) and I've gone back and forth to the doctor many times to get a sick leave. Not fun. The worst part of all was probably the thought of losing my job and not being able to recover fully. Yikes! What would I do, then? If I hated my job, the sick leave would probably make me feel relieved, but that is not the case at all since I still enjoy my job. So the stress of being out of work for a long time also weighed on my mind a lot. 

I've discovered kinesio taping and ultrasound massage from two different PTs. Twice the first PT put on some kinesio tape on my arms (each time I asked her to do it on a different arm since I wanted to test the difference between that arm and the arm without any kinesio taping on). I've also received lots of pointers on how to keep a good posture and a neutral position for my wrists whenever I do anything. The second PT even managed to pinpoint what I must've done wrong to make my back (shoulder blades) become so tight. I've also received a series of stretching/strengthening exercises to do

On the worst days, I couldn't even cook anything a bit more complicated without any throbbing pain afterwards. Since it was my first bout of tennis elbow, it took me lots of trials and errors to know what to do and what not to do. The second PT told me that what worked and what didn't work varied greatly from one person to another. No wonder! I felt at such a loss before I had my PT appointments.

Anyway, this week I started going back to work again. I'm thankful that my bosses are understanding and supportive and since I only work part-time, my work schedule is ideal for me. I still feel some pain (it varies depending on the activities I do) and I'm still using the kinesio tape (I've been learning how to put it myself through trial and errors), but I've stopped using the painkiller in the form of gel since it only masks the pain. I've learnt that it's handy to use some painkiller when the pain is too much or it makes me unable to rest well during the nights, but when the pain has subsided, it may be dangerous to keep using it as it only makes me feel that I'm much better already, whereas in actual fact it's not true. 

I don't know how long it'll take until I feel no more pain from doing work/exercise. So far I've only done one shift and I had a little pain afterwards and the next day after I did some zumba (and the strengthening exercise routine), I felt more pain. I don't dare shovel the snow yet, so I feel bad for my husband since it's been snowing a lot again. But anyway, I feel more hopeful about healing after meeting the PTs.

Anyway, here are some photos I took during my walks (okay, the first photo is the exception LOL!). These days I rarely use my bulky camera to take photos as it's easier to take photos with my mobile he he...


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Splendid Sodankylä

Was bored since I couldn't do anything much, so went for a walk along the river bank and took some photos and one video. I combined the video with the one from last Christmas and added a song and some quotes.

Monday, December 14, 2015


I have several reasons why I haven't been blogging, but the latest reason is that I've been having trouble with my wrist/hand/arm. First there was ganglion cyst, but it disappeared on its own after some rest and after I started wearing a thumb/wrist stabiliser at work. The stabiliser helped me at work, but apparently my wrist hasn't completely healed yet as the inflammation flared up again. So now I'm again banned from doing anything strenuous. Not sure how long it's going to take. I guess it's going to take as long as it takes. Definitely bad timing for me to have a long sick leave at work since it's near Christmas, but it's not that I want to experience something like this. 

The doc prescribed me a stronger dose of pain killer last Friday, but after taking two pills I had a allergic reaction to it, so I stopped taking it immediately. The pain has subsided a lot now, but I still don't dare do anything strenuous as the doc told me that I could only start gentle stretches in a week. 

This problem has made me realized just how often we rely on using our fingers/wrist/hand movements each day. And it also makes me feel awed at those people who've managed to live their lives with less limbs (or even without limbs). 

OK, time for me to rest up my hand again. I made this with an app on my mobile, so the quality of the photo was reduced a lot, but anyway, just want to show you a lovely pink sky that I saw sometime last week. This is a photo of semi-frozen river downtown.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

3BT: Random Days

1. I finally succumbed to the temptation after having resisted it for at least three years. I bought myself a body pillow as an early birthday present for myself. You see, Indonesians use a kind of round body pillows all their lives and over here they've finally started selling body pillows (though they're longer and not in a round shape). Funnily enough, the first night I used it, I had a bit trouble adjusting myself as I hadn't been using it ever since I moved to Finland, but I'm getting more used to it now and I love it. :-D

2. Watching this video made me laugh.

3. This month it started snowing and just as I liked it, the temperature didn't go up too much, so there was no ice at all. The fresh snow may be a little slippery, but not as dangerous as the ice. Winter Wonderland, I love you! 

4. I ordered something for a Christmas gift and about a month later I realized that the price had gone up quite a lot. Feeling lucky that I got to pay the cheaper price! :-D

5. Experiencing a clarifying moment after having had a muddled brain for many days. 

6. I've been taking time away from FB for a while and it feels GREAT to have an FB vacation. :-) 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oiling My Ears

Each year usually by the time November rolls around, I take out my SAD light box and sit in front of it regularly each morning. Otherwise I'll feel lethargic and uninspired and my brain goes foggy. If October is grey and rainy, though, I usually start using my SAD light box that month. This year was crazy in the way that I had to use this lamp already in July as this year's summer was so grey and rainy. We're now down to 6 hours of daylight and it's getting rapidly less and less as we're approaching Christmas. I noticed that a few people have already turned on their Christmas lamps when we drove around the other week LOL!!!

Ever since we got back from Malta, I had been dealing with sinus problems. The nurse prescribed me a stronger type of antihistamine and the doc prescribed me four bottles of nose spray that I could use long-term (though I prefer not to!). I only bought one bottle first and I'm now down to 4/5th of it and I had been trying to figure out a way to stop using it. You see, when I had my days off, I could get by without using it, but for work, I needed an optimal mental capacity so I could focus on work and communicating in Finnish, so I had been using the spray for work. I had also tried other means: Neti Pot, nose oil, steaming my face. The pressure between my eyebrows and along my upper teeth kept coming back. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR...

In the end I tried something else: oiling my ears. I took a Q-tip and oiled each end with baby oil and then just shoved it into my ears. The weird thing is that it has worked pretty well so far! I've been doing it for a week and I haven't had to resort to using the nose spray at all and the pressure is 90% gone. Strange but true, eh? :-D

It's been snowing again for the past few days. Yesterday was the first time I had to shovel the yard and today I'll have to do it again. It's good to be forced to get out and do something physical in winter. It was kinda heavy to shovel the snow as the temperature was 0'C and the snow was very wet. A thick pile of dry snow will be less heavy than a thin pile of wet snow.

Here are some Winter Wonderland photos I took when I walked back from work:

Here's also a video clip of downtown Sodankylä taken by Samuli Korvanen:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

3BT: Random Days

1. Went aurora chasing two days after the previous post's big aurora, but that time the aurora wasn't as strong, so I couldn't capture the photos too well even though I had my camera and small tripod with me. However, I did manage to see reddish colour and I could see the progression of when the aurora started dancing right above the horizon before it moved further up to above my head. Here's a collage of the not-so-good photos (but at least you can see the crazy shapes the aurora can make).

2. Hubby managed to take a day off, so we went for a weekend trip to Levi and had a relaxing time there.

3. I've booked a massage for preparation to go back to work. Work is going to be super hectic during the first two weeks of the store being re-opened after the renovation, so I feel that I need a fit body for that.

4. I'm planning to send my mom to Finland next year for a visit and this thought is really exciting for me. The only thing we both need to secure first is a permission from our bosses to have the holiday at the same time as my mom's visit he he he...since she can't handle the cold, it has to be in summer.

5. Finding ginger candies at a supermarket in Levi. They're exactly like the ones I like from Indo, so even though they're expensive, I bought two packs of them HA HA HA HA...

P.S. Here's another one of the aurora photos taken with my camera (I don't have any wide lens, so can only capture bits and pieces).


Friday, October 09, 2015

My First Big Aurora

Two nights ago as I was going to turn off my computer and go to sleep, I noticed several aurora notifications from the local meteorologist site (I'm subscribed to get the notifications). When I noticed the high numbers, I realized that the Northern Lights must have been strong ones, so I ran outside and yep, despite the fact that our place was surrounded by street lights here and there (that dampened the colour and brilliance of the dancing lights), I could see their movements very clearly across the sky. I had seen them a few times before, but they were much weaker and then they were gone in a few minutes, so I never tried taking photos of them. So I ran back inside and grabbed my mobile phone as I wouldn't know how long they would last. Unfortunately my camera's battery hadn't been recharged, so I had to be happy with my mobile camera, though I doubted that it would be able to take any decent photos at all.

I tried taking photos using different modes. Fireworks: nope, night mode without tripod: nope, videotaping: nope. Just black, black, black. So I did the only thing I could do: automatic mode with flash. The first few photos were blurry, but I could see some green, so I learnt to hold my mobile more steadily and in between the photo taking session, I had to learn to hold my breath as well. You see, if I had breathed out when I held my mobile upward to the sky, my cold breath would go up and cover the camera LOL!!! If I had breathed in, my hand would shake a little. But I must say it was worth all the holding back of my breath HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...

The Northern Lights kept on dancing around the whole sky for hours, though I only stayed there for about half an hour. Amazing, though I couldn't see the green that clearly (more like very pale green/whitish) due to the many street lights around me. I didn't want to bother going farther away to find a darker place as I didn't want to miss it at all. My neck was sore after coming back as I had to look up the whole time I was out. They say that tonight there will be another strong show and I'm recharging my regular camera at the moment, wishing that it won't be cloudy tonight. We shall see how it goes.

In the meantime, here's a collage I made of the few decent photos I managed to take with my mobile. They aren't good enough to be printed, but at least you can see how they keep moving around and changing shapes. FYI, the ones on the second row are vertical photos. 

Here's one vertical photo in its original size (notice the street light below as a guide to let you know just how long the aurora is):

If you want to see other more amazing photos from across Finland, here's the link (click on each photo to see a bigger version): Aurora.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Two Separate Paths

Time and time again I've felt stumped when people say to me that they'll pray for us to have children or that they hope that we'll get a miracle pregnancy. Even when I've told them that I've considered our family complete, they'd insist, "But you WILL be happy if you get pregnant". I know they mean well, but they just don't understand that this path we've been walking on for the past few years is a separate path than the still-hoping path. There's only one person so far that I've talked to that understands that they're two very separate paths and how getting pregnant means a total redirection of life and the birth of (pun intended) mixed feelings.

You see, even though technically speaking I can still get pregnant as I'm still young enough (though I  never did get pregnant when we were seriously trying), this path we've been walking on is more similar to the path of those people who've had enough kids and the kids are already in Junior High/High School, so their focus in life is totally different. Will they be happy if the wife suddenly gets (miraculously) pregnant? I'm not saying she wouldn't, but it's not going to be the same as when the couple were seriously trying to get pregnant when they were younger (when they felt that their family wasn't complete yet). That's where we are at - well, minus the kids.

We're content. We no longer feel like we're missing something. And believe me, it's not easy to get to this stage when the world won't let us forget how rewarding and fulfilling parenthood can be and how those who are non-parents just don't get it. Just look at how people have judged the non-parents who are in politics, even writers***. I remember years back a famous female writer died and in the comment section of an article on her death and books, some people argued that she wasn't such a good writer because she wasn't a mother. This was one of the things that made me feel that I was seriously lacking something as a woman back then when I was still dying to join the Motherhood Club. The battle with the questions "Am I less than a woman because I'm not a mother? Don't I know what true/conditional love is because I'm not a mother?" was harsh.

In the letter I wrote to my mom almost two years ago when she suddenly started sending me messages about praying for us to have children, I explained to her that those kinds of prayers weren't helpful at all. In fact, it only made me feel like our family wasn't complete and that we were still missing something. Her prayers also made me feel like she was pitying us and it wasn't helpful, either. After all the time and effort it took us to finally reach this point when we're at peace with what we don't have and after all the time and grief work it took us to finally feel whole again as human beings, well-meaning (hopeful) words about a miracle pregnancy don't do us any good.  

What's funny about dealing with people who still insist on praying for us to have children is that they can be defensive when I ask them to pray for something else instead. In my mind, what's the use of praying for something when the person himself/herself isn't even trying to get it and the person himself/herself doesn't even put any efforts to get it? Isn't it absurd? Why is it with people that they keep trying to fix someone else's (assumed) problem when the other party doesn't even feel it is a problem (anymore)? 

Yes, we both have a hole in our hearts due to infertility and childlessness, but other people's prayers/hope for a miracle pregnancy only make us feel as though they were pointing to our hearts and say, "But look, there's a hole in your hearts! I want you to have children so that the hole in your hearts can be filled." What they don't realize is that we don't consider the hole to be something that has to be filled anymore. The hole has shaped us in unique ways and taught us important lessons in life, just like parenthood has shaped and taught parents in different ways. The hole doesn't feel like a curse anymore. In fact, we are now able to be thankful for the lessons given by the hole, and for that, I think other people should be glad for us.

I'm going to end this post with Brene Brown's animation on Empathy. 

*** P.S. I'm well-aware that even parents judge other parents. I suppose as long as there are humans on earth, people (sadly) won't stop judging other people no matter what, but from where I'm standing, sometimes it does feel like parents hold a trump card whenever I read comments like that. After all, how many times have you heard/read people start a sentence with "as a parent" or "as a mom"?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pure Alexia

Remember the book on sale that I bought a while back? Well, the English title is The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks. It's a fascinating book full of real life stories of people who've suffered from different health problems. I haven't finished reading yet, but what I've read so far really fascinates me and it's about pure alexia. Click on the link to read more information on it, but basically speaking, Oliver has met some patients who have lost the ability to read letter and/or musical notes and/or the ability to recognize daily items, yet they still retain their ability to write (although they're not able to read what they've written).

They have found ways to navigate life with their disabilities. It's heartbreaking to read one story where the woman's condition gets worse as time goes by despite her best efforts to navigate life with her disabilities, but in another story it's truly encouraging to read how another woman manages to live a full life despite her disabilities. In fact, she even manages to use her experience to help out similar patients deal with their challenges. It's fascinating to read how a musician who has lost the ability to read musical notes can rely on her/his muscle memory and his/her ears to play a piece of music. It's heartwarming to read how other people around the patient have helped them navigate life.

But seriously, imagine for a while that you've lost the ability to recognize daily items. You go to a supermarket and then suddenly you realize you can't read the labels anymore and you can't even be sure if what you're looking at is an apple or an orange. You pick up the newspaper and you feel that what you see is written in Martian language. How would you feel? What would you do? 

All in all, even though I haven't finished reading the book, I HIGHLY recommend it. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

I found The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by accident and I'm loving it already. I also love the videos that have been made so artistically. 

For example, I'm often guilty of jouska. Click on the link to read the description and let me know if you've done a similar thing. I definitely do that A LOT ha ha ha ha ha ha...

Here's one video. When I was watching it, I felt like pumping my fist to the air and shouting, "YEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! This is the kind of thing I love so much!" 

Ahem...okay, let me just calm down and let you see what I mean.