PT Aftermath & Revelations

•January 20, 2012 • 2 Comments

williamfuentes.comSo many people have asked me about my shoulder. I’m really amazed at the thoughtfulness of the pool community. At this weekend’s Predator event, I was overwhelmed by how many people noticed I was gone the last two months and actually knew why.  Big mouth Tony I suppose. 

The two questions I get asked most are, “How’s your shoulder?” & “Did you think the PT was worth it?”

So, the shoulder is doing phenomenally well.  At this weekend’s Predator Pro/Am tournament I played well.  I was quite happy with my performance considering the rendezvous I had.  Mentally, it was like riding a bicycle.  After the first rack of my first match, I went into the zone of focus and didn’t look back.  And what was best, I didn’t have my shoulder nagging on my thoughts.  In fact, at 8pm on Saturday I skipped to Tony at the TD desk and said, Ask me if it hurts.  Ask me?”  partial subscapularis tear web

TR, “Does it hurt?”  …

GG, “Does what hurt? .. HA HA!” 

I was so thankful to not have pain.  In fact the only pain I felt was during my last match of the night and it was my back and neck.  Clearly this was out of shape pain, not injury pain. 

As for PT.  Let me debunk some misconceptions I had about PT….

The massage:  WHAT MASSAGE? No seriously.  I heard about these great massages on the insurance company’s dime.  Well, maybe a tug or stretch here or there felt good but my armpit saw most of the action. 

Yeah, the ARMPIT! You’ll never see Qi Gong Armpit Special listed at massage parlor because the armpit is NOT a pleasure point.  It frickin hurts, is uncomfortable, and trust me, ticklish is the least of your worries.  The thumb up my armpit and digging into the infraspinatus muscle.  OOOOWWWW!  Oh, then the rolling across the torn tendon & bicep muscle, yeah, that was fun.  And lifting up under the shoulder blade and digging deep into that too, what the #$@?  Then there’s the stretching, the rowing, moving parts that haven’t moved in a year, and coming home and doing it again. 

GailRainbow-2012-1For the record, PT is work and pain.  But it appears it’s been successful for me.  I will have to do these exercises the rest of my life.  I have a weak left shoulder and tendons don’t like to heal quickly.  I injured other muscles and joints around my shoulder like my bicep, neck and lower back as my body compensated for the injury.  Those areas must now be strengthened to take the workload off my weak shoulder & help prevent future problems. 

And then there’s my core.  So anyone that’s seen me in person knows, I’m more of a pear shaped girl rather than an apple.  Love me or hate me, I’ve never gained weight in my stomach but rather my butt and thighs take the cake …  literally! 

So since my stomach has never needed much work I NEVER work it out.  No sit-ups, no core training at all.  I’m a squats, steps, and boxing kind of girl. dead bugWell, turns out the core is like REALLY important to body’s maintenance and injury prevention.  So they started me on a dead bug move … HA!  I suck at it because my core is HORRIBLE! I surely didn’t miss my career as a pilates instructor, balancing act artist, or anything involving grace!  I’m a pear-shaped klutz!  I’m improving but core training is a goal of mine for 2012.

The shoulder aches more on cold, raining days, but the majority of the time, it feels really good.

All in all, thank you for the shout outs of encouragement and here’s to all of us having a healthy 2012!

Oh and Go Giants!

Resurrection

•January 18, 2012 • 1 Comment

Table9and10At-ABC-1-7-2012---26For 2 1/2 months, I’ve been benched.  With that time I have gotten so much work done, I’ve redirected my goals in life, I’ve begun a work out routine through physical therapy & more importantly, I’ve reconnected with my family and friends.

While this wasn’t a self-induced hiatus, it has put a number of areas of my life into perspective.  It was an unknowingly healthy retreat.

I have a love/hate relationship with pool and after the break up in November, the last 10 weeks of distance allowed me to remember so much of what my life was before pool.  I’m not gonna lie, it’s been kinda nice to NOT play pool.  It’s helped me put pool into a healthier compartment mentally.  While improving in pool is an important hobby in my life, it’s NOT a priority.  Just writing that feels, traitorous, but healthy. 

Like all relationships, I’m happier in life when pool is a part of my life, not my entire life.

I love this sport.  I want desperately for it to be respected as a sport and it’s elite applauded and admired.  Will this happen in my lifetime?  I don’t know if it will happen at all, ever, but I do hope.

IMG_0103For now, I can only focus on what I can do to expand pool’s reach and I’m quite proud of how I’ve handled this responsibility.  I feel through the tour and the league in particular, Tony & I are making a positive impact on pool in our area.  Too many people only drink from the fountain and never think of ways to replenish it. 

You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love. ~ Henry Drummond

A Healthy Dose of Thanks

•November 15, 2011 • 4 Comments

poolsynergy4The beautiful, talented and always clever Trigger asked us PoolSynergy bloggers to let the pool world know what we are thankful for.  Given my current pool hiatus due to major shoulder malfunction, I’m gonna be uber cliché and say, my health.  While technically I’m not at 100%, I remind myself that it could be worse and to be thankful for what I’ve got. 

NY-Subway-photo-co-nycsubwaynews-comAnyone that rides the subway here in NYC has gotten close to the edge of the platform and thought,

‘god it would REALLY suck to fall down there.”  “Oh god, what if someone pushed me!”  “I could die, be electrocuted or eaten by the gorilla rats!!” Tony reminds me all the time to always step away from the edge if someone walks close by JUST IN CASE they get the urge to go all ‘Manson’ on me .. 

So in my usual paranoid fashion, I was jamming to my IPOD last week when this guy just wouldn’t stop staring at me. 

No seriously I’m talking about that REALLY inappropriate ‘yes he’s mentally undressing me RIGHT NOW’ stare but with that hint of serial killer mixed in.  My girls know what I’m talking about. 

Well that triggered a whole slew of bad thoughts and one was, ‘oh god what if he pushes me RIGHT as the train’s coming?  What would happen?  OMG, if I didn’t die, what if the train ripped off a limb?  Oh god, what if I lost my arm.  I couldn’t play pool!’ 

Aside from my RIDICULOUS imagination, I also noted my near death psychosis didn’t fail to weighed in the ‘I couldn’t play pool’ thought analysis. 

Because of crazy thoughts like these, I guess I can put into perspective my current ‘benched’ status.  So in the spirit of Melinda’s beautiful PoolSynergy topic, I’d like to give thanks for my health and ability to play this game.  I’m thankful for the agility to play.  I’m thankful for the mental capacity to play.  I’m thankful overall that I only face minor obstacles in my pool player life. 

Challenges will come up that test us in life and it’s up to us if we allow them to hold us back or fight off that adversity.

Love this scene from ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance.’

“You’re daddy is out sweeping streets because he took every last dime he had, and used it to pay up every man and woman he owed and every business who worked for him, instead of declaring bankruptcy like everyone else in town, including your best friend Wilbur Charles’ dad, Raymond, which is why <your dad> is able to sit around all day long on his dignity! You’re daddy stared adversity in the eye, Hardy. And he beat it back with a broom. “

Tips for Surviving the Big Bad World

•November 12, 2011 • 4 Comments

TR<-Sketchy DudeBeing in the pool world means sometimes traveling to competitions, tournaments, maybe even leagues that may or may not be in some sketchy areas …

My dad sent me the below email and I thought it had some clever ideas for survival and may just save my life one day so I thought I’d pass it on to you too! Enjoy!

Written by a Cop for Our Own Safety

Everyone should take 5 minutes to read this. It may save your life or a loved one’s life.

Put this where you will read it once a year—EVERY year!  This is for you, and for you to share with your wife, your children, & everyone you know.  It never hurts to be too careful.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do :

The elbow is the strongest point on your body.  If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tourist guide.  If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse,  DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM.  Toss it away from you….Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse.  RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy..The driver won’t see you, but everybody else will.  This has saved lives.

GG Update:  Newer cars have installed RELEASE handles inside of trunks to prevent people from being trapped inside so look for these just in case.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON’T DO THIS!)  The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go.

AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE. If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF,

Repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF!

Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the carYour Air Bag will save you.  If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run.

It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:

A.) Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor , and in the back seat.

B.) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

C.) Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side.. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out.

IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!)

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator may not shoot or may only hit you in a non vital area. RUN, preferably in a zig -zag pattern!

Killa Padilla8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked ‘for help’ into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted
his next victim.

9. Another Safety Point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird.. The police told her

‘Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door..’

The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, ‘We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.’

He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby’s cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby.. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby’s cries outside their doors when they’re home alone at night.

10. Water scam!

If you wake up in the middle of the night to hear all your taps outside running or what you think is a burst pipe, DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE! These people turn on all your outside taps full blast so that you will go out to investigate and then attack.
Stay alert, keep safe, and look out for your neighbors!

Please pass this on….

Im(Patient)

•November 6, 2011 • 8 Comments

Williamfuentes.comAfter fainting from the shock of PRP treatments pricing ($2,000!) which is still considered experimental to the Ins. company and so are NOT covered, my doctor prescribed a month of Physical Therapy.  Hmm .. I kind of don’t believe in this form of medicine.  (Sorry PT friends,) but the whole idea of stretching, massaging, electrical stimulation, ultrasound wave relief, blah, blah … well it goes against my black and white “cut open & cut out problem/stitch up problem OR Give medicine, feel better” ideals.  But with the incentive of full ins coverage & my doctor’s belief in it, I’m inclined to be persuaded.

I live in NY so there must be an open-minded girl chained & muzzled somewhere inside of me.

I had my first round of PT on Friday.  It was predictable BUT, I’m going to give it the respect of a full month as my doctor has prescribed.  I’m a VERY impatient person.  VERY IMPATIENT.  My fear is this is all wasting time & that I should have spent the $2K, gone straight to the PRP treatments & saved a month of recovery.  I guess time will tell. 

Insurance … let’s vent about health care for a second without getting too political into Universal Health care, ObamaCare, or anything like that.  That’s a different blog.  I just want to bitch how STUPID MY insurance is… So I went to my shoulder doctor because, I had a problem.  He figured out the problem and prescribed a solution.  My insurance however found NO VALUE in this.  NONE.  What DO they find value in, you may ask?  Turns out I would only be covered for Physical Therapy IF:

  • I had already had surgery.  *Which would cost them a BUTTLOAD and I’m TRYING to avoid OR
  • If I’d gone to the ER for my shoulder. *huh?

IF neither of these occurs, I’m not covered.  The agent said…

Halloween 2011“Go to the ER today, sign in for your shoulder, they’ll record that you’ve been to the ER for your shoulder, THEN we’ll cover you.”

The agent and I both agreed that I’d taken ALL LOGICAL steps to be covered for the PT and we BOTH laughed in that

‘is-this-really-the-world-we-live-in’

way at the ILLOGIC of my need for the ER visit.  So it probably cost my insurance a couple grand, but I went to the ER this week, paid a $50 Co-Pay, told the ER doc my situation, she belittled me & then my ins company for wasting her time, the ER’s time, and the insurance company’s money, BUT now I’m covered.  STUPID!

(For the record, I am COMPLETELY aware I didn’t waste the insurance company’s money.  I will eventually PAY for this unnecessary ER visit and all unnecessary red tape they impose on patients, when they raise my insurance premium next year to keep their profits consistent.) 

A few interesting observations from the PT doc.  My posture is hurting me.  I hunch my shoulders forward and this weakens my shoulders.  So she had me squeeze my shoulder blades together and TAPED them like that!  This feels Weird.  I walk around like a drill sergeant.  I guess that’s good.  Smile

I’m unconsciously changing my left arm’s natural functions.  For example….Unbeknownst to me I hold it in close to my body as if it were in a sling.  (The doc pointed it out to me in the mirror as I did it.)  My left shoulder is sagging lower than my right shoulder.  Also, instinctual I grab for things with my right arm now that are in reach of only my left one.  So part of my PT is to begin incorporating my left shoulder in life again.  Regain it’s strength and normalcy. 

So far, PT grade:  A questionable C-

WilliamFuentes.comNow for the good news.  I am allowed to play 2 hours of pool per week!  HOORAY!!  I know this isn’t a lot but it’s better than no pool at all.  This was the best news EVER!  I missed the Predator Tour this weekend since tourneys are too long and strenuous but it’s only for a month I’m out of competition. I’m just thankful I can play a little. 

Off to league for my little dose of <3. 

Happy Halloween!

•October 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This Halloween was the best yet!  Everyone was in good ‘spirits’ and the creative/spooky/sexy/fun side of NYC pool was awesome! 

Enjoy the slide show!  Smile

F(Rust)ration

•October 19, 2011 • 6 Comments

William Fuentes

Hi, my name is Gail, and I’m a pool addict.

This summer was my best summer of pool ever.  I played in a lot of events, leagues, tournaments and got to actually practice some too.  I really enjoyed my summer.  I placed well in tournaments, did well in my leagues and my confidence was so strong that I was  surprised when I missed balls.

With so much momentum going my way, you’d think I’d be at the table nonstop to revel in my pool success right? 

Wrong! Over the last month, I haven’t seen a table more than a few times and the forecast is damning. 

MRI - TendonosisI spent this summer running, bicycling, playing softball, throwing the football, but I think it came at a serious cost. My left shoulder is shot.  It hurts in the morning, it hurts after an hour of play, it hurts to pull a shirt over my head, unsnap my bra, blow drying my hair, and even sleep is painful.  I’m on 8-10 Ibuprofen a day.  The cortisone shot from May is spent.

I first started having problems with my shoulder in March of 2010. An MRI revealed Rotator Cuff Tendonitis.  I’ve had a few cortisone shots & they provided temporary relief but they masked the problem.  I actually feel these temporary fixes have allowed me to further exacerbate the issue and now I’m paying the price for my steroid use.

MRI Interstitial TearAfter feeling the first diagnosis was wadding in the shallow end of the cure pool, I ditched the old docs, swallowed a $420 non-covered consult fee, and met Dr. Brian Halpern, Sports Medicine Doc Extraordinaire!  Reviewing my first MRI, he immediately found a tear the 1st doc missed.  A year and a half of misdiagnosis basically eliminates the physical therapy.  The four major issues in my shoulder now?  Tendinosis, and interstitial tear, bursitis, and another slap tear.  I get mad just typing all of it.  My best option is a new plasma procedure.  UGH.  That means needles.

MRI - BursitisIt also means 2 months sans strenuous sports, and 1 month sans pool.  No pool for a month.  I cried when I left the hospital.  

It’s not like I’m at an age where injury is to be expected. I’m young. I’m healthy. I stay fit and exercise regularly. I feel like I’ve done what I’m suppose to do and it  just isn’t fair.

MRI Slap TearI’ve gone through the stages of mourning it. Depression, Pity, Anger and Isolation. But I lay in bed daydreaming about the summer that was and I fight the urge to get another shot of the ‘feel-good’ juice.

I’m scared.  I love this game.  I’m passionate about it, I want to continue improvement.  But of late, I avoid even walking in the pool room.  I can’t stomach the thought of knowing what I could do if I didn’t ache so.  It’s so frustrating.  I played a match the first week of league and coming back from behind I felt a rhythm ensue and I was dominating my opponent when an awkward rail shot came up and CLICK.  Yup, it’s that first click of the day my shoulder pulls the torn ailment and then the pain begins its’ onslaught.  I get down on shots and I find I focus on how much more or less a position hurts, rather than focusing on making the ball.

Left ShoulderI’m just a silly amateur pool player and I’m feeling these emotions of loss, regret, angst and depression.  I now better understand how professional athletes turn to drugs to fight pain or enhance their performance. 

Athletes inherently are addicts in their own right.  Addicted to their sport, gluttons for success, slaves to improvement.   And their sport is their livelihood, their bread on the table, their family’s future.  A ‘quick shot of this ‘or the ‘pop of that pill’ must be so tempting in short sight.  The long-term is hard to see in the fast-paced impatient world we live in today. 

The pushers of sport drugs aren’t drug dealers, they’re the opponents, the rivals, the trophy, the glory & past memories of all the above.  They’re the family, the paycheck, the house, a future.  These enticements for an athlete are stronger than the pushiest drug dealer in the world. I better understand the dilemma.  It’s a slippery slope. 

I’m scheduled for the Platelet-Rich Plasma Procdure (PRP) in the coming weeks… we’ll see.  It’s got an 80% success rate for the tendinosis & burstitis and has shown positive effects on slap tears too … they take your blood, spin it, separate the red blood cells from the plasma and inject the plasma directly to the injured areas so the concentrated healing components of plasma can more quickly repair the damaged areas.  All that medical jargon means little to me.  I just know there are a lot of needles involved, needles and pain.  Sad smile

The thought of walking into Amsterdam and not worrying when the shoulder will surrender … that’s motivates me.     

Hi, my name is Gail, and I’m a pool addict.