This Is Me: Family and Foundation

I watched the award-winning speech twice, first with my right brain and then with my left.

The first time I viewed the 2022 World Champion of Public Speaking, Cyril Junior Dim, I sat back and enjoyed the story, the humor and the emotional drama. The impactful message resonated with me and inspired to write this article.  My creative mind was activated.

During my second observation of the speech entitled “Ndini”, I used my left brain to analyze the structure, word usage, and delivery techniques. Click here to view the speech.

It is with both sides of my brain (with help from my corpus callosum) that I write this article.

The foundational phrase of the winning Toastmasters speech by Mr. Dim was “This is me” which translates to Ndini in the Bantu language Shona.   The repetition of this powerful message struck a chord in me and caused me to reflect on my own family and identity. 

Cyril Dim wove a powerful story around self-acceptance, family and tradition as he reflected on his middle name which came from this father’s language.  He boldly asked the audience, “Have you ever hated or been ashamed about some aspect of yourself?”  I wasn’t proud of my answer to that question but knew that this was an important topic and worthy of further contemplation.

I suppose that before I can proclaim “This is me!”, I need to ask “Who am I?”.

More than a result of the human reproductive process of my mother and father, I am a Heinz 57 blend of genes and traits from my ancestors from numerous countries across Europe (UK, France, Germany and Italy).  I am also a US citizen who represents the values and ethics of my family and friends.  My parents and home environment growing up surely shaped me and made me into the woman I am today.

I love and respect my parents and wish they hadn’t left the earth so soon. 

My parents pinning on my 2nd Lieutenant bars after the Army Commissioning

Who I am is strong and solid thanks to the love, support and encourage of my parents, my siblings and extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins.

Me and my siblings

My foundation is a resilient and durable patchwork quilt of genetics, experiences, traditions, and values.

I lived at home with my parents until I graduated from college and received a US Army commission.   In retrospect, I should have spent more time with my parents and thanked them more for all that they sacrificed for me but, like most adolescents

 I didn’t appreciate what I had.  During my teenaged years, I wasn’t as proud of my Mom as I should have been and was often embarrassed by her hearing impairment and her simple words. It pains me to think of how badly I treated her when she couldn’t understand me.  My impatience and rudeness were horrible, and I am embarrassed by my immature and selfish behavior.  It wasn’t until I moved out on my own and was married that I fully appreciated who my parents were.

Like Cyril Dim, I came to embrace and be proud of my family name and my parents’ values.  I know that they are responsible for my strong foundation, my work ethic, and my patriotic spirit.

The words below were read to me recently by my Yoga Therapy coach, Nancy Martch, and truly hit the mark on idea of Ndini- This is Me.   

I am steady, resilient, direct and complete.  

“Foundation Stones”

by Danna Faulds

Here is my past—

what I’ve been proud of,

and what I’ve pushed away.

Today I see how each piece

was needed, not a single

step wasted on the way.

Like a stone wall,

Every rock resting

On what came before—

No stone can be

Suspended in mid-air.

Foundation laid by every

act and omission,

each decision, even

those the mind would

label “big mistake.”

The things I thought

were sins, these are as

necessary as successes,

each one resting on the

surface of the last, stone

upon stone, the fit

particular, complete,

the rough, uneven

face of these rocks

makes surprising,

satisfying patterns

in the sunlight.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Birds, Words and Green Trees

Every time I spend a few days away from home in a house surrounded by green trees, I get the urge to write. I’m not sure if it’s the clean air, the amazing views or the lack of distractions that prompts my literary desire to share my thoughts with you but here I go.

It could be the fact that I’m staying in a charming AirBnB in Prescott, AZ with my husband Steve and the owners from France have an amazing collection of books. Our bibliophile hosts feel like family to me as I view the many family photos on the white walls. I can feel the love and joy they get from cooking and sharing meals with their children and their friends.

As a recent and neophyte author, I have an immense appreciation for prolific and complex writers like Tom Clancy, Dan Brown and Michael Crichton. The main wall in the master bedroom has a large bookcase filled with pages of an adventure and intrigue. I could feel the emotion emanating from the titles on the spines.

So what is my story to share with you? Why would you be interested in my thoughts and experiences as I type these words from a wooden deck over looking the city of Prescott?

A large hawk just landed on top of a telephone pole about 50 meters from me. He hung our and watched me for a while and then flew off. Sometimes I wish I could be weightless and fly.

The morning air is clean and cool and crisp. My hands are getting cold as I type so I just grabbed my large, white ceramic mug of hot green tea and took a healthy sip. I look up again at the baby blue sky, the green and brown mountain horizon and feel a sense of serenity and gratitude. I feel happy to be able to share my thoughts and photos of this lovely place.

I feel connected with the trees and the birds and it brings me comfort and relief. I feel connected to the warm family that owns this home and as a result my own family in New Jersey is close in my heart and mind. I miss them dearly and look forward to my trip to see them in a few weeks.

The elevation of this property is 5,790 ft and I’m a facing due west at 270 degrees. My mind and senses are open to new input and information and I’m happy to chronicle my journey and share it with you.

I hope you have enjoyed my short and simple story of birds, words and green trees from Arizona.

1st CAV in the Desert

I served as a Platoon Leader in the 13th Signal Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division during the first Gulf War. We deployed from Ft Hood, TX in October 1990 to Saudi Arabia and then Iraq for the short ground war in February 1991.

At age 23, it was strange and unsettling to spend Christmas away from my family and in the middle of the desert. The night skies were amazingly dark and full of more stars than I had ever seen. The occasional camel sighting did remind we of the three wise men headed to Bethlehem.

The last panel in Doonesbury cartoon below made me laugh. I found this newspaper clipping in my journal from 1990. I didn’t remember having it and probably haven’t seen it in over 30 years.

I was recently interviewed for the Rutgers Oral History Archives about my experience. Below is an excerpt from the transcripts.

KR:  At the end of your first interview, we left off talking about Operation Desert Storm.  What I would like to ask you about first today is, what are your recollections of Operation Desert Storm and the invasion of Iraq? 

BS:  I think the biggest memory and impact was in January of 1991.  We had been in Saudi Arabia since October, just sitting, waiting for the invasion.  We were in northern Saudi Arabia.  I just remember when the ground war kicked off.  We didn’t have any news.  We didn’t have TV or radio like have today, but I do remember seeing and hearing these–they were called MLRS [multiple launch rocket system]–these rockets, and they went off many at a time, and the lights, just watching these rockets take off, knowing they were going north into Iraq as we attacked, and just thinking, “Wow, how much destruction and/or death is occurring at the end of that?”  It was really bizarre and surreal, but that was the only thing I remember and I saw at the time.  It was scary that first night.  We didn’t know if we were going to get attacked with Scud missiles that had chemical or nuclear/biological weapons.  We were mostly scared of chemicals at the time, but it could have been biological.  [Editor’s Note: On January 17, 1991, U.S. and coalition forces launched Operation Desert Storm with a campaign of air and missile attacks on targets in Iraq and Kuwait.]

I do remember the first night, and that was really the only night that I slept in my mask, my gas mask, and the full protective gear.  It wasn’t too hot.  It was January, luckily.

KR:  Were there any religious services when you were in Saudi Arabia or Iraq?  Were there chaplains around to do religious services or counseling? 

BS:  In Saudi Arabia, we were told to not have any outward displays of religion, Christianity, Judaism.  We did, in our tents, have some Christmas [trees], but, again, it wasn’t [extensive].  There were chaplains, but, again, they were told to not put their insignia on their uniform.  As I recall, the officers that were chaplains would have their rank on one side and then you would have your unit on the other, but I think they had either a cross [or] Star of David, and they were told to cover those.  I don’t recall ever talking to a chaplain, seeing them.  I suppose, if it was needed and someone needed counseling, we could have called into the DMAIN, the centralized rear command, and asked for it, but we didn’t need it.  The same for doctors and nurses and medical.  I’m sure these support units were there if we needed them, but I didn’t interact with them either.  We were forward operations. 

For women, we were in the frontlines with our communication vans.  In fact, there were Iraqi soldiers surrendering to some of the units that were in my platoon, and it was a woman that they surrendered to.  She was the sergeant of this little remote radio tower.  It was her and three other soldiers who were men, but Iraqi soliders surrendered to them.  For me, I was like, “Wow, a Muslim man from Iraq just surrendered to a woman, an American woman.”  That was kind of interesting. 

KR:   My next question you have touched upon a little bit in some other questions that we have asked you.  Once Operation Desert Storm was being launched and the invasion of Iraq, what were your experiences like and the experiences of your unit? 

BS:  Once the big launch in January occurred, we left our base, where we had been for many months in northern Saudi, and we convoyed north into southern Iraq.  We left in the middle of the night.  I just remember driving in this huge–it was a deuce and a half–a two-and-a-half-ton truck, very, very uncomfortable, for hours just driving north (20+ hours), but it was pretty exciting, because we knew this was the big thing we’d been waiting for. We’re traveling, and it’s exciting because we’re seeing other tanks and units from Britain and other countries alongside us traveling in the same direction.  Then, we got to a location, and we stopped.  This was where we were going to set up our communications.  I only have one picture from the whole war.  There was a burned-out military–it looked like a tank and it was an Iraqi tank and there were dead Iraqi soldiers on the ground.  It was taken out by a U.S. missile or an Apache.  My soldiers had to call and get body bags and put them in.  I made a decision that I didn’t want to see the bodies, the corpses, because I didn’t want it to stick in my mind.  I didn’t go near it, but we set up camp maybe a hundred meters away from that.  It was kind of creepy to be there.  We were there thirty, forty days.  We stayed there, and it wasn’t long before we won the war decisively.  We were all told, “Okay, time to go home now.” 

More stories and memories to come in my next blog.

Monsoon Winds & Stormy Memories from Saudi Arabia in 1990

I am excited to announce that in October 2022, I will be inducted into the Rutgers Oral History Archives- ROHA (https://oralhistory.rutgers.edu/) in New Brunswick, NJ. This is a great honor as my story will be documented and included with the accounts from hundreds of fellow veterans from the conflicts of WWII, Korea, Persian Gulf War, Cold War and Afghanistan.

In April 2022, two strong and articulate women from the Department of History at my alma mater, Rutgers University, interviewed me about my family history, campus ROTC life, and military experience in the Gulf War.

Me in Southern Iraq, February 1991

A bit about ROHA from their website:

Since 1994, the Rutgers Oral History Archives (ROHA) has been recording the life narratives of:

  • Alumni and/or New Jersey residents who served during times of conflict
  • People with a story to tell about New Jersey’s rich social and cultural history
  • Men and women who helped shape the history of Rutgers University

ROHA’s digital archive features 1,202 life course oral history interviews and over 32,000 pages of fully text-searchable transcripts.

Here’s the cover page of the first interview transcript.

RUTGERS, THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY

NEW BRUNSWICK

AN INTERVIEW WITH BRENDA SMULL

FOR THE

RUTGERS ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVES

INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY

KATHRYN TRACY RIZZI

and

GWEN ALLEN

PHOENIX, ARIZONA

APRIL 12, 2022

Below is an excerpt of my response to a question about my experience during Operation Desert Storm:

“I was there for about ten months.  Saudi Arabia and Iraq, in those months, there were seasons where there were monsoon rains and winds.  I’ll never forget, one time, I’m in my tent, and a huge windstorm came.  It literally blew the tent off me, and it’s just me on a cot in the middle of the desert.  That was quite interesting.  Everything you owned was in two duffel bags, so you didn’t have a whole lot of clothing.  We did have services that occasionally helped launder our clothes, but, oftentimes, we would wear the same pants for days, and I did not take a shower every day.  Then, when we went into Iraq, water was limited.  I remember, I went thirty days without a shower.  As a woman, that wasn’t as ideal.  We had birdbaths, but for anybody who’s been camping, birdbaths are good for like two or three days.  Thirty days is a whole other experience.  Again, I was young.  I survived.  It wasn’t that bad, but it was just very uncomfortable.  Your body doesn’t stop doing what it does, even though you’re at war in the middle of a desert.  That was that experience.  That’s why I was always envious [that] the Air Force people were in buildings, at least most of them were, and I didn’t get to be in any buildings.  

At the end, when we were leaving the country in April 1991, we went to Khobar Towers, which is actually famous because later, a few years after I was there, there was a big bombing there.  Khobar Towers were in Saudi Arabia, there was a big bombing, and I believe some were killed and injured.  I was only there for a week or two before they flew us back home.  That’s the story about that.  [Editor’s Note: On June 25, 1996, a truck bomb detonated near the Khobar Tower housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing nineteen members of the U.S. Air Force and injuring over four hundred American and coalition military personnel.  The Khobar Towers housed coalition forces engaged in Operation Southern Watch, the no-fly zone operation in Southern Iraq after the Gulf War of 1990-1991.
]”

Taking the High Road: Giving Feedback in a Polarized World

One of the things I love about Toastmaster meetings is the opportunity to hear diverse perspectives and stories from club members with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and political affiliations.  For some, Toastmasters may be the only place where members are exposed to viewpoints that differ from their own.

In July 2022, I witnessed two very different presentations while attending two community Toastmaster clubs in Phoenix, Arizona. The speeches also had many similarities, as both were well presented, dynamic and passionate. The speakers were intelligent, successful and respected baby boomers whom I know and admire.

The topics of the speeches were socially charged ideas given from the presenters’ point of view and frame of reference.  Based on the size and diversity of the audience, it was probable that not everyone agreed with the premise and points of talk. 

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

What impressed me most about these specific Toastmaster meetings was the high quality and neutrality of the formal speech evaluations.  Providing verbal feedback on a topic that you may not agree with is not easy and the club members accomplished this should be praised and respected.  The Speech Evaluators did an outstanding job of providing quality input on the delivery and structure of the speech while avoiding judgmental statements on the content of the presentation.  They took the high road and made me very proud to be a Toastmaster.

I felt strongly about this topic in October 2016 and published a blog entitled “Objective Evaluations in a Polarized World”.  In this article, I emphasized that “the ability to give objective and neutral feedback on another person’s speech is hard enough without the many external and internal factors influencing us. Pesky things like human nature, emotions, personal biases, insecurities, extreme political views, polarization of opinions and what I call the “siloed, echo chambers” of social media”.

Now more than ever, my advice from six years ago on giving objective evaluation is important and relevant.

Below were my key recommendations:

  1. Remember that as a speech evaluator, you are there to observe and provide neutral and constructive feedback, recommendations and suggestions on the basic tenants and techniques of effective communication and public speaking. 
  2. Focus on the Delivery and Structure of the presentation with specific examples.
  3. When commenting on the Impact of a speech (especially if you disagree with the content), try to set aside your personal emotions and biases and look at and assess the overall audience response to the speech.
  4. Honestly ask yourself if the topic/point of the speech is clouding your ability to provide positive and objective feedback on the Delivery and Impact. If it is, then:
    1. Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who supports the topic and reflect on how they would respond to the speech.
    2. Run a “What if” scenario in your mind by replacing the content of the speech with something that you agree with and see how you would view and analyze it.
  5. Open your mind, take off your biased filters and focus on how the speaker is connecting, delivering and making their point.
  6. Ask yourself: Was the speaker able to motivate, educate, influence or inspire?
  7. The purpose of your evaluation is to encourage and help club member improve and develop strong communication skills, not to impose your views, values and opinions about the subject matter.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Fear of Needles: No

Sick of Shots: Yes

Skeptical about Public Health Officials’ Guidance:  Definitely

After receiving four injections in my arm in 2021, I wasn’t too excited to get a fifth shot in my shoulder this past week.

I experienced a good bit of trepidation as I entered my doctor’s office in Phoenix, Arizona.  The plan was to get a corticosteroid injected into my shoulder capsule  (bursa) to help with the pain and immobility I have been suffering with since the beginning of 2022.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Like millions of people around the world, I received three doses of the mRNA vaccine in 2021.  My frozen shoulder started shortly after 12/28/21, when the Wal-Green’s pharmacist administered a flu shot and a COVID booster shot in the same arm.   While I don’t know if these shots were the direct cause of my shoulder issue, the location and the timing are awfully coincidental.   At this point, I am in no hurry to get another mRNA vaccine in any arm until there are longer-term, controlled, randomized studies conducted.

So now, after seven months of physical therapy, yoga, massage, chiropractic adjustments, healthy eating and oral medication, I am giving corticosteroids injections into my shoulder a shot. 

Healing from frozen shoulder is a long and frustrating mind game and I hope that this latest treatment helps me get past the plateau I have hit. 

The Best Medicine

It’s so good to be sitting on the porch of a cute, cozy cabin and reflect on what is important in life. Health, family and friends top the list of most valued gifts.

Spending time in the greenery of nature is soothing to my soul and my morning walk did me good. This fun sign below caught my eye and got me thinking. What do I want and how do I plan to get it? Where should I go and why? So many questions are swirling in my mind.

The cabin I’m staying in is small and quaint. There is no Wi-Fi or Internet and uploading the photo above took over 5 minutes. During the time I waited, I thought more about what I wanted to share here with you. It slowed me down even more to reflect and creatively choose my words.

Here are some of my answers to the questions:

Who: Me

What: Calm my mind and heal my shoulder

When: Now

Where: In the woods of Arizona

Why: Life is short and I want to alleviate the pain

How: Appreciating the beauty of the verdant trees and the sounds of the birds.

Getting away from the day-to-day grind of work and chores is a wonderful treat. Strong and simple – just the way I like it!

So many of us are hurting right now, physically and emotionally, and my wish is that you can take a moment for yourself and ask- Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

The honest answers may be your best sign post to get you moving in the right direction.

Strange and Independent Things

“Freedom lies in being bold.”

– Robert Frost

I have chosen Independence Day 2022 to write about Stranger Things Season 4 for a number of reasons. 

First, the finale was big and bold, colorful and dark, intense and touching- much like our 4th of July fireworks.

Second, the themes of standing up and fighting back against bullies, tyrants and evil forces resonated with me.

Third, it reminded me of the kick-ass American spirit, strength and courage of the 1980s.

Lastly, brave heroes are important and should be recognized and respected.

I’ve written about the prior three seasons of Netflix’s popular series Stranger Things in my blog and book and I continue to enjoy the fond memories of my childhood. Being a class of 1985 graduate made me connect even more with the story and the characters of Hawkins High School class of 86. I was taken back to Friday nights spent with my girlfriends at Skateway 9 near my hometown in New Jersey. The lights, music and action of the roller rink were perfectly captured in the show and it brought back vivid memories of being bullied by the mean-girls at school who didn’t like me for some reason or another. I still had great fun with my good friends and loved the energy of disco music.

Being a fan of the band Metallica, I was especially delighted by the scene with Eddie Munson (my new favorite character) playing “Master of Puppets” on top of the trailer in the Upside Down. This character was also the Dungeon Master in the D&D games played with Dustin, Will, Lucas and Mike. In the end it was a brilliant and masterful performance by the misfit teenager who partly reminded me of Eddie Van Halen and some of the guitar-playing boys I went to high school with ( Joe Argese, Scott Janis, Craig Boschetti, John Horvath and Mike Gardner).

Speaking of music in the 1980s, I have great memories of being in the Spotswood High School Marching Band/ Color Guard. Just like in Stranger Things, we had dorky, hot and uncomfortable polyester uniforms and it didn’t stop us from having fun at the football games, local parades and other events. We even took cool bus trips to exotic places like Montreal thanks to our amazing music teachers Mr. Cohen and Mr. Milstein. I’m still in touch with many of my friends from band on Facebook and during trips back home including Ed Dougherty, Charles Kolbasowski, Steve and Carol Varga, Rose Fairchild Neliden, Stacy Remantas, and Janet Warley.

The amazing cast of strong female characters on Stranger Things continued to inspire and impress me. These women didn’t give up and gave it their all in the face of extreme pain and malevolence. I especially liked the intense powers of Eleven, the courage of Max, the ferociousness of Nancy, and the witty intelligence of Erica. These strengths and personal attributes are sorely needed in 2022. Watching Nancy expertly handle the shotgun to fight off the monsters reminded me of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2.

Pure, unadulterated, bad-ass courage and skill by nerves of steel women- that’s what I’m talking about!

And so, these are my random, strange and independent thoughts on July 4th about Season 4 of the sci-fi hit Stranger Things.

Here are the strong and simple messages I was left with:

Keep fighting for your friends and don’t give up. 

Good will conquer evil.

Letting Go to Unfreeze my Shoulder

It’s 102 degrees today in Phoenix, Arizona and my left shoulder is still frozen.  It all started six months ago when I noticed that it hurt to move or lift my left arm.  I chronicled my experience and action plan in my last blog titled:  Frozen Shoulder, Autoimmune Diseases and COVID-19 Vaccines.

In the last two months I’ve made some progress toward healing my arm and shoulder and am happy to report that the stabbing pains are mostly gone and I can put on my shirt with relative ease.  My range of motion, however, is not much better than it was four weeks ago. 

I am not a patient person by nature and it’s been very hard for me to slow down and accept the fact that my left arm can’t move or function like it used to.

Five years ago this summer, I wrote an article titled Mighty Gumby and the Importance of Flexible Strength where I reiterated some great advice I received in my Austin yoga class : “Flexibility needs to be supported by strength and stability”. 

As I look back on the 2017 photo of my back, shoulder and arms, I can’t help but feel a bit sad and dejected at my current state in 2022.  At this point, I can barely raise my left arm to be parallel to the ground much less flex my bicep. 

Me in June 2022
Me in July 2017

My friend and Yoga Therapist, Nancy Martch recently asked me,  “What is your arm injury telling you?”.  In my mind I rephrased the question to – What have I learned from this painful and physically limiting condition?

Here are my thoughts about recovering from an illness or injury:

  1. Be patient with your body.
  2. Slow down and appreciate the small, micro-improvements you see or feel.
  3. Be flexible and adaptable with what you can and cannot do.
  4. Be accepting of the situation and have gratitude for the strong and healthy parts of your body.  (I have new respect and appreciation for my legs and back).
  5. Do not compare the injured area or side of your body to its healthy counterpart (in my case my left arm to my right arm). 
  6. Do not compare yourself to anyone else.
  7. Let go of any expectations.
  8. Continually observe, analysis, research and explore new possibilities for healing and recovery.
  9. Listen closely to your body for it will tell you what it needs.
  10. Be kind to yourself.

These past six months have been a humbling experience for me as I come to accept that my recovery could take over a year.  I am doing all that I can to keep moving and positively support my body’s immune system.  The systems, habits and actions I employ include:

  • Yoga therapy
  • Physical therapy and weight lifting
  • Swimming
  • Massage
  • Anti-Inflammatory diet

A slow healing process is never easy but I’m optimistic that I will be able to lift my left over my head some day.  I have put the Mighty Gumby back on my desk so I can be reminded of the importance of flexibility and a positive attitude.

Here’s to Letting Go and healing my frozen shoulder!

Frozen Shoulder, Autoimmune Diseases and the COVID-19 Vaccine

In December of 2020 I wrote an article titled “Risk and Reward: Why I Will Take the COVID-19 Vaccine”.  I even published it in the Health and Science chapter of my book Strong Words and Simple Truths.

I took my first Moderna mRNA vaccine in March of 2021 and had my booster administered at the end of December 2021.

I had done a large amount of reading and research on the safety and efficacy of the new mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 in late 2020 and made what I thought was the best decision for my family and me at the time.   Knowing what I know now in June 2022, I don’t think I would make the same decisions.  For one thing, I definitely would NOT get the flu shot and the booster shot in the same arm on the same day.  I’m not sure that the vaccines were cause of my current medical condition but it may have been the trigger.  Allow me to explain what has happened to me in the last five months.

In April 2022, four months after getting my booster shot, I was diagnosed with Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis).  I had never heard of this painful condition before and have since learned that people with thyroid autoimmune disease have a higher risk for getting it.  Autoimmune disease happens when the body’s natural defense system can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells, causing the body to mistakenly attack normal cells.   Frozen Shoulder is an inflammatory disease that takes many months to recover from.

My symptoms include severely limited movement of my left arm and shoulder and sharp, stabbing pains in my upper arm (due to nerve impingement).    These issues started a few weeks after the double injections in the same arm and progressively worsened over three months.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Over the last two months, I have taken extremely deliberate actions to try to lessen my pain and heal the underlying issue that is causing this illness.   

Here is what I have done or am doing:

  1. Got an MRI of my upper arm.  Consulted with Orthopedic Doctor who diagnosed the Adhesive Capsulitis. He prescribed an NSAID that I take daily.
  2. Visited Chiropractor, Peter Nemanic, who has helped release some of the main trigger points in my upper back and shoulder muscles.
  3. Received numerous therapeutic massages on back, arms and neck.
  4. Completed a 21-day purification and cleansing dietary program  (Standard Process products).
  5. Seeing Physical Therapist, Christine Anderson, who is helping to release the nerve impingement in my back and improve my range of motion.
  6. Working with Naturopathic Doctor, Todd Winton, who put me on a treatment protocol to decrease my inflammation and stabilize my immune system.
  7. Seeing Yoga Therapist, Nancy Martch, to increase body awareness and mindful movement in order to create more ease in the body and more efficient postural and movement patterns—all with the intention of alleviating pain and creating better health.
  8. Participating in Stretch Fit training classes at Mountainside Fitness gym.  This is for lower body flexibility.
  9. Daily stretching exercises for my arm and shoulder.  These are supported, passive movements since the shoulder joint is still restricted.
  10. Drinking more water and significantly limiting alcohol intake.
  11. Daily supplements:  Vitamin D3, Zinc, Fish Oil and Vitamin B Complex.
  12. Walking and/or easy jogging 4-5 times a week.
  13.  Keeping detailed logs and journals of my symptoms and treatment progress.
  14. Eating a healthier diet with less sugar, dairy and grains.

It is my hope that I can regain full range of motion of my left arm in the coming weeks and that my body’s immune system will reset and stabilize since taking the Moderna COVID-19 booster shot.

I strongly believe that it is important that we each understand our own risk factors and medical conditions that may impact our immune systems’ response to vaccines.   Our unique health profiles and risks should be well understood prior to taking any new medications.

With so many Americans having autoimmune diseases (an estimated 25 million), I feel it is critical to research and consider the risks versus rewards during our new age of COVID-19.

NOTE:  I am not a medical doctor and you should consult your own physician for medical advice on these issues.

Photo by Steve Smull