Too Young For Sciatic Pain and Grey Hair

Well hello there, y’all! It’s been some time. So much to update you all on and where to begin… Hmmm. Well, lately I’ve been feeling stagnant and ready for some next steps. Although I still have some issues with my back, I’m generally in good health these days, so I’m finally ready to move out of my parents’ house again. I gave myself a deadline, which is great, however, when I make a decision to do something, I tend to dive-in to things full force and arms swinging. Which is what I did recently, and it ended in burnout.

Basically, I decided to activate my real estate license. Great! But I also decided to start working with renters at the same time that I was in the training program. (Not great.) By the end of three weeks, I was completely and utterly exhausted from driving all around creation after eight-hour class days, managed to suffer a panic attack, and then while washing my hands in the bathroom one day I looked up in the mirror and gasped. The light had hit my hairline just right… “Are those grey hairs?!?” Yep. “But I’m too young to be greying!!” Welp, apparently not. My Dad started going grey at age 25… same age as my baby brother, who is now starting to also see signs of the silver stuff.

Sigh. I didn’t really care about the greys though. (Silver hair is in, after all.) What I cared most about was the fact that I had a panic attack. The last time I had had a panic attack was less than two years ago, right before my surgery. And I felt like I had come such a long way with my health and managing my anxiety and stress levels. Why the F was I taking steps backwards?! Well, Caroline. Because it’s life and you are a human being. Deep breath. Sigh. Yeah… you’re right. And everything is a learning experience. And in this situation, I needed to take a step back and re-learn to listen to my body. Your gut is a very powerful thing and if you don’t listen to it, it will eventually build up inside you and MAKE you listen… cue the anxiety and panic.

So lets get down to the why of it. My co-workers keep asking me why I don’t like Real Estate. I explained it over and over again with each person, until finally I got tired of giving all of the excuses. Finally, one day, to one friend and coworker in particular, I explained something… “Scoliosis takes place in the nerves. Meaning that my nervous system is constantly on the fritz and automatically wants to twist and curve in different directions, on a normal basis. So I have to make a conscious effort to stand or sit straighter, on an every-day basis. So when outside people and events start pulling me in different directions, I have to work harder than most people to remain focused and stay the right course. (Very similar to ADD.) Add some renters, buyers or sellers to the mix, constantly pulling you in different directions, well it’s basically my recipe for disaster. (Again, I said “MY“. Someone else might be perfect for this! No judgement. Do you boos, and let me, do me.)

Most of my co-workers say that that is how it goes in the beginning and that eventually you learn how to curtail that and create a consistent schedule for yourself. But frankly, at this point in my life, I know myself pretty well and I have more respect for myself and my quality of life. Life’s too short. And we’re allot cut out for the same things. I can find another side job that I will actually enjoy. The Entertainment Industry already has a lot of ups and downs and sides to side… I don’t need another one leading me around in circles. And my body was trying to tell me that.

However, I don’t regret any of it. Everything is a learning experience and one more step in a new direction. That step was my push to take the bull by the horns and take a hold of my life and career again. It pushed me to reach out and ask for help. I know a lot of things about myself… I’m pretty conscious of the type of person I am. I know my flaws and my attributes. Now, with a little direction and help from a friend, it’s time to curtail them, with some guidance, and create a better plan to move forward. I’m going to start working with a coach and friend. This has reminded me that everyone needs a coach, from time to time, to get them re-focused and back in the game. It also reminded me to just take a step. It’s about the journey. And when you dive-in and start running too quickly, you’re heading in the direction of burnout, and that’s no good either.

In terms of my physical process with my Scoliosis, that too is also a work in progress. But I am doing sooooo much better than I was a few days, months and years ago. This I am fully aware of, however I still have my moments. As I’ve said before, yoga has been my blessing. It has helped my stiffness immensely and has made me more aware of the muscles and areas in my back and sides that are tight and need to be stretched out. Again, Scoliosis takes place in the nerves. So my muscles and other bones (ribs, hips, etc.) want to go back to the way they were prior to my surgery. The rods in my spine hold my spine in place, but I’m still working on strengthening and stretching the muscles into a position that will support them. So again, yoga really helps with this.

People also recommend pilates and core strengthening, which I have been doing. However, I’ve been made more aware, recently, of how tight, and even sore, my hip flexers are. But that is just me. Maybe you’ve had the surgery and yours are fine (or your going to, and yours will be). Everyone’s bodies, minds and spirits are different and I’ve learned to listen to what other people recommend, and take from it what will be beneficial and work for me.

The other thing yoga has done is make me super aware of my pattern. Patterns exist in our body and then we replicate them in our lives. I’ve realized, through exercises that a ‘Yoga for Scoliosis” Instructor gave me, that I constantly clench my left butt cheek muscle. My right leg is a bit longer than the other, so my left side has to work harder, in order to keep up. I’ve also been working more on my Root Chakra in my morning meditations, and noticed that, on those days that I concentrate more on this chakra, my sciatic pain is a lot more intense. I’m not sure if it’s a mental thing or a combo of the both, but for the past few months I’ve had the worst pain in my lower, left back side, butt and shooting pains down my left leg. It SUCKS! It’s almost like a gnawing pain – incase you’ve never experienced Sciatica. And if you’re around my age, there’s a very high likelihood that you have not. (Grrrrr…) Finally, one morning I had had enough and texted my Chiropractor. She is awesome and squeezed me in right away.

“Yeah, wow, you’re super tight. How long has it been this way?” I replied, “Oh, I don’t know… A couple months maybe?” “MONTHS!! Carolineeeee,” she half laughed, half scolded. I know, I know. But the thing is, I’ve also kind of prided myself recently on being able to work out a lot of my issues through yoga and on my own. But now I know not to wait that long again. Sometimes, yes, it’s good to work things out on your own. And other times… it’s okay to ask for help 😉 She could tell I was really upset, though, and getting down on myself. She soothed me, “I know, I know, you’re right. You’re too young for Sciatica and I’m sure you are frustrated. But the good news is, just a few sessions with me and you’ll be back to being right on track again.” Sigh. I was still frustrated but I felt better. It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself from time to time. You still have to go through the motions in order to reach an end goal. And the goal was to feel better again. SO, I needed to feel sad and release that emotion, in order to start feeling happy again. So… so be it. Deep breath. Cry. Let goooooo….


My friend sent me this image on Insta while he is touring through India. This is just a breath of fresh air at the foothills of the Himalayas, bordering China, that can remind you that there is always light out there. So take a breath and ~ L E T  G O ~

There’s a few other things I want to try for my rehabilitation still, but I’m taking baby steps with them all now… A friend gave me the name of a great Acupuncturist and my Hair Stylist gave me the name of a Chakra Healer. I also know I should be working occasionally with a personal trainer or doing a one-on-one yoga session to help me with concentrating more on, and strengthening, the left side of my body. BUT, with all of that, you need money. So the way to get there is tooooo… (buda-bum-bum) MAKE MORE MONEY! So that’s my new concentration. Which will lead me to the next, and then to the next, and then to the next. So that’s sort of where I’m at right now. I’ll give you more of an update as things progress. In the meantime, I’d advise all of you to start asking yourself more questions and tapping into areas of your bodies and guts more. Maybe you’ll learn something 😉 Oh and if you know anyone looking for a fabulously, talented actor, writer or print model for hire, let them know about me 😉

‘Til next time, my friends! Have an amazing week.

 

Exes and Oh’s,

Your Little Fighter

 

PS. For those of you with hip issues or experiencing Sciatic pain, one of my yoga instructors from Surya Yoga Jersey City (they're amazing and if you're local, definitely check them out) taught me to do forward folds, but with your entire backside pressed against the wall. Stand in front of a wall and bend over. Walk your hands in, all the way to your toes so that you're literally folded in half. Make sure your hips are open and your inner legs are working harder and your hips are pulling up. This has helped me immenselyyyy. Try it!

 

Time

Time. Time is probably the most valuable thing on this planet. Probably because no one has figured out how to control it. And we don’t have much of it.

Think about it in the grande scheme of things, we really don’t have a lot of time. I was watching a movie a few weeks ago and he did some crazy math that explained that a human’s life is really only 5 seconds long, when compared to a universe that has been around for billions of years. 🌌🌠🎆

People say things like, “Time is of the essence,” “Time flies when you’re having fun,” “Timing is everything,” and “You have the same amount of hours in your day as Beyoncé”- Oh hey girl heyyyy! (Side note, I’m not a huge Beyoncé fan. But I do like her music and anything that inspires other women to be strong. So if she does it for you, then let the “fierce” be with you 🦁💪🏻😆 See what I did there? 🤓) Anyways, I bring this all up because I have been non-stop lately, and super stressed, because there is just not enough hours in the day for what my mind has on the itinerary. My body however, feels otherwise.

I started two new jobs last week (which is great), but also within the same week that I was booked for a hair modeling show. (Also great!) But starting all of those at the same time when you are still a commuter and have to add that travel time on top of it all?? Yeah, that’s what I thought… not so great anymore. But I took a deep breath and told myself that I could handle this… as I prepped my lesson plan for my new Film School students. Then the next day I said, “You got this girl” as I sat at my desk in Jersey City and scheduled my first Social Media Coordinating appointment. Then last Thursday, when my alarm started screaming at 4:00 a.m., 4:05 a.m., 4:10 a.m. and again at 4:15 a.m. 🚨 (Okay, I was a little nervous that I wasn’t going to wake up. Don’t judge me), I said to myself, “But first coffee…”

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I also managed to squeeze in not one, but two birthday celebrations for my bestie. Because one, I adore her, and two, I’ve never been to a hockey game and I wanted to pop my cherry 🍒… aaaaand also conquer a small fear I had. I once watched a show where they were in the stands of a hockey game and the puck came whizzing out and hit the person square in the nose. Or maybe it was the mouth? 🤔 I don’t remember, but regardless I felt that actor’s pain!! I legit could not get that scene out of my head for weeks. I mean, think about it! Think about how heavy that puck is. And how fast that thing would be coming at you! How could anyone survive that?! Well don’t worry, I didn’t get hit with a hockey puck, guys 🙃 But I did see one go flying into the second row! Thank God I wasn’t in that row or I would’ve freaked.

Here’s a Snapchat clip (👻: carolineheinle) of my experience from that night:

 

Anyways, this week’s load wasn’t AS extensive… No, I’m lying. Because on top of the teaching and social media coordinating, I’m also working on some material of my own and decided to add that to the equation 😬 I don’t want to give anything away, but I’ve been doing a good job about moving my Acting career forward. Some of it is marketing and administrative stuff, some of it is creative stuff, but I’m slowly starting to see my career moving forward and I have a really good feeling that great things are just around the corner 🤗 But the best part is, is that I’m enjoying all of it.

But here’s where my frustration comes in… I’ve finally gotten myself to a place where I’m honestly and truly enjoying the process and then??! I get another f*#!in sinus infection! Like seriously?? Really? Really, God?! Grrr!! 😡 I had one after I graduated Real Estate School.

(Oh yeah, before I started these new jobs, I was in Real Estate School. And it was hard. Like, really hard. Try going back to school and learning something you know nothing about. Most of the people in my class were either doing something in a related field or already flipping houses or doing something similar “under the books”… And were homeowners. And then there was me. Whatever, I still passed but it was super stressful and I ate a lot of f*%#in chocolate 🍫🍫🍫. Which I then stressed about after.)  *Disclaimer: I’m not saying chocolate is what put the few extra pounds on me. Dark chocolate is healthy and a great source of magnesium and antioxidants when eaten in moderation. There were several other factors that I won’t bore you with, but I just wanted to be clear about that 😉

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Sigh, why do we do that to ourselves, by the way? I mean, I don’t feel guilty about eating badly all the time, but when I’m in a vulnerable place and not feeling very good or the best about myself, I go there. I get really hard on myself! I said to my Mom a couple weeks after I graduated, “Ugh, school made me gain weight! And I’m trying so hard, but I just can’t seem to drop these couple extra pounds.” First she said she didn’t know what I was talking about and then she said, “Well, maybe your body needs that extra weight right now. You are doing a lot.”

Huh??? My first reaction was, “No Ma.” 🙄 But inwardly it was, “Yes, you’re right Ma.” And, “Hmmm so interesting”. 🤔🤔🤔 Welp, fast forward to me finally shedding those extra pounds I picked up and sick in bed with a sinus infection. Go figure!! #MamaKnowsBest

***Now listen, I’m not telling you this to complain about my weight. I know I’m thin and fit and I’ve even gotten to a self-loving place and am happy with my body- flaws and all! 🤗💃🏼❤️ I’m telling you this, because we all do it. We all can be really hard on ourselves and it usually comes during a time when we need to be kindest to ourselves. I’m working on stopping that. ✋🏻 #WorkInProgress

The other thing I’m working on… time management. My Dad’s employees all have a running joke where they mock him saying, “I don’t have time for that.” My Mom always says I’m like my Father, and I know I get really stressed about time. I’m currently stressing about getting something to my manager before the year ends, but one, I’m having a bit of writer’s block and two, I needed help! So I hired someone for one of the things and I’m so happy I did 😌

Sometimes it’s okay to ask for help. I’m excited to move out of my parent’s home and happy to have a goal in mind, but at the same time, I don’t know what I’m going to do without my Mom. She asked if she could help me with anything this week… she even offered to take over my Dating Ap accounts and schedule dates for me 😳 (Yeah… I started dating again. That’s a whole other can of worms which I’ll save for another post.) Anyways, I actually stopped and considered it 🤔 And then we laughed about how she’d be calling me up, “Okay, so you have a date with ‘Jeff’ at 6:00pm. Don’t be late, he’s cute!” And then I’d later yell at her because he wasn’t cute at all. (We have different taste 😝)

In terms of the back stuff… I’m a little frustrated right now. I notice that when I’m stressed my muscles are the stiffest. And when I’m doing a lot of computer work. I also notice that when I’m stressed, I clench my jaw in my sleep, which then causes neck, shoulder and trap stiffness, soreness and even some tingling, to get a bit out of hand. I’ve taken a little break from the back strengthening exercises to releave the stiffness because it’s been so bad. But I am making notes of all of these things and the first step is always awareness, so progress there.

I’ve had a lot of talks with my physical therapist about my condition and he says that yes, some of this stuff is related to my surgery, but some of my muscle tension was there before the surgery. So, I’m going to try something new. I’m going to aim to get back into a Yoga Practice. I haven’t done yoga since before my surgery but I’m going to give it a try and think it will do me a lot of good… mainly because I need some “flow” back in my life. (Ha!) But I am thankful for how far I have come. I’m knowledgeable that last year around this time, I was recording videos such as the one below, 👇🏻 and healing from a very extensive surgery. One year later, I’m tackling three jobs and have a plan to get a place of my own soon. Considering how sick I was for years before my surgery, I’d say that all of this is definite progress 💪🏻

I like to look back at these videos and see how far I've come. Today, I write this post one year and one month, post-op. This video was taken 3 WEEKS post-op. Yes, it's not the most attractive version of me. But as I sat here debating about whether or not I should post it, I brought myself back to my objective. Which was, and continues to be, to educate and tell my story from the most honest and truthful light possible. So yes, I am complaining about muscle stiffness, aches, sinus infections and acknowledging my perfectionism and workaholic tendencies, but I'm grateful for these awarenesses and how far I've come. I'm grateful that I never became addicted to my medication- something that is a very serious problem in America today. Especially with our youth. Someone recently opened up to me about his battle with this problem and a applaud him for overcoming it! ;) I'm also grateful for my journey. Yes, I'm still figuring out why I have flare ups and what causes what, but I'm not perfect and never will be. I'm happy and proud of the strong Warrior of a Woman I have become and happy to share it all with you :) #GirlPower

So… I’m glad I’m getting back to posting and hoping that someone out there has gotten something from this. If not, this has been very helpful to ME, so thank you for reading. Maybe it also helped with that writer’s block 🙏🏻

‘Til next time kittens 😽 Onward, forward, Olé! 💃🏼 and don’t forget to value your time this week 💗

“Time is free but it’s priceless. You can’t own it but you can lose it. You can’t keep it but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” ~ Harvey Mackay
❤️,

Your little fighter ✨

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P.S. I found these shots in my camera roll that I took while I wandered away aimlessly from my Mother in Home Goods the day I recorded the YouTube video in this post... clearly I was searching for some inspiration :P (If you can't tell by now, I ad<3re inspirational quotes... You should see my Pinterest Board - HAHA! ;)

My Pre-Surgical Appointment and Realizing It’s Okay to be Scared!

This is the first video of many, in my series “My Journey with Scoliosis Surgery”. I have documented my feelings and healing process before, during and after my surgery, and decided to share it with the world in order to help others with similar issues.

I was diagnosed with Juvenile scoliosis at age 15. I wore the “Charleston Bending Brace” every night while I slept, up until age 18. My scoliosis was originally at a 42 degree angle. After wearing the brace, and performing special stretches instructed of me every morning, my curve was reduced to 32 degrees. My doctor told me that I could stop wearing the brace at age 18, since by then, most teenagers were done growing and my x-rays showed that my growth plates were closed. My doctor did warn, however; that I would most likely have to have surgery at some point in my life, but that that was up to me. This thought TERRIFIED me, so I did not allow myself to think about it. I continued my stretches every morning (especially since I noticed on the days that I would NOT perform the stretches, my spine would be really achy and would make cracking sounds throughout the day).

My brace looked just like this but I got to pick a pale baby blue color!

I was an active teen, taking part in competitive cheerleading and continued to cheer in college. I remained active throughout my post-college years, but around my twenty-seventh birthday, I noticed my health was slowly starting to slip away from me.

I was living in Los Angeles, California and working as a cocktail waitress anywhere from 3 – 5 days a week and auditioning, as an actress, on the regular. I was not taking care of myself and wore my spine and body out. I started getting awful headaches, neck and back pain, chronic fatigue, and eventually had a lot of stomach issues. (I later found out that I was dealing with IBS [Irritable Bowel Syndrome] due to stress and popping too many Advil. I was also diagnosed with amenorrhea [an abnormal absence of a woman’s menstruation], which doctors also related to my stress levels.) Needless to say, I had a lot going on. Oh! And I had a water drinking problem. I was drinking so much water (a habit I had formed) that I was literally causing my body to flush itself of all good nutrients, causing chronic illnesses and occasional edema. (Look back in my other posts if you are interested in reading more about this.) So basically I was running from doctor to doctor begging them to figure out what was wrong with me.

Anyways, I finally saw a spine doctor that ordered an X-ray and MRI of my spine. The X-ray showed that my curvature had progressed back to 45 degrees and the MRI found herniated discs in my c-spine and a small 2mm searing in my spinal chord. I finally decided it was time for me to tackle scoliosis surgery. So, I moved back home to live with my parents so that I could receive the physical and emotional support that I needed and get myself back to the healthy person I used to be. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made, for I write this, and post the video below, post-operative surgery and feeling like my old self again. This makes me smile, now, watching this video because I see how scared I was and realize I didn’t need to be. If my new self could tell my old self one thing, it would be to TRUST! I was in good hands and was making the best decision of my life… I probably should’ve done it sooner but I try not to live with regrets.

Below, I talk about how scared I was a week and-a-half out from surgery and talk about what they did that day, at my pre-surgical appointment. If you are thinking about having the surgery and are nervous about it, that is normal! If you weren’t scared then that WOULDN’T be normal. Just trust that you are in good hands with the surgeon you have chosen (it is a big surgery so I’m sure you have done your research). If you are only thinking about having the surgery, being scared and hesitant about it is, also, normal. I was too! (You can tell how nervous I am in the video below. And now I look back, while watching this, and think about how I should have done it sooner… I probably wouldn’t be dealing with all the degeneration and pinched nerves that I am now.) If you are in the Tri-State area, Dr. Thomas Errico is an AMAZING surgeon, very knowledgeable about scoliosis, spinal fusion and just an all-around nice guy. I HIGHLY recommend him- he practically invented the surgery, so you’d be in good hands 😉

Hope this helps! And keep an eye out for my next videos. I wish I had some more guidance while on my journey, which is why I’m posting these- to help people like YOU! So enjoy! And comment below if you have any questions. Peace and love! Namaste 0:)

My First Surgery Freak Out!!!

I recorded this video a week before I was scheduled to have my scoliosis surgery with Dr. Thomas Errico at NYU Langone Hospital in New York City, and I was FREAKING OUT!!! (To say the least.) I know I seem calm in the video below, but I definitely was experiencing a TON of anxiety during it. Looking back at this and seeing how “calm” I appear to be, just makes so much sense as to why I was having anxiety and panic attacks. The textbook definition of anxiety is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” But what it doesn’t say, is that anxiety typically appears when a person isn’t allowing his or herself to fully feel their feelings.

I just finished an amazing book called, “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer. (If you didn’t read my last post, I made it a goal to finally finish this book. If you did read it, then you’ll be very proud of me because I DID IN FACT FINISHED IT!! YAYYY!!! 😀 😀 😀 ) I found it to be a particularly hard read because I basically was/am the epitome of the type of person the book is talking about… plus it has a lot of repetition in order to get through to people, but I found that particularly annoying. Buuuuut, it made me sit back and ask, “why?” “Why do I find it so annoying?” What am I avoiding?” Aha!

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Prior to all of this, I was living in California up until March of this year, and facing rejection after rejection after rejection, running from audition to audition and working SO hard on my acting career. I rarely rewarded myself or allowed myself time to have fun and was constantly being mean to myself (ie. reprimanding myself when I put on a pound or two or went out drinking for a night, didn’t get the part, etc… it was awful. I was awful.) I was tired of feeling loneliness, rejection and pain so I just started shutting it off every time a feeling came up… thus causing several anxiety attacks and constant panic. Basically, my adrenal glands were shot through the roof, my stomach hated me and I was so stressed I lost my period… all of this and chronic back, neck and head pain (because of my scoliosis).

So when I made the decision to have the surgery, it was April of 2015. August 11th sounded so far away! “Great!” I thought. “I have plenty of time to mentally prepare!” Welp, the date crept up on me and a week before I was about to have surgery, the anxiety attacks set in. (Hence the documentation of me in this video.) And side note, I was also filling in for my Dad’s secretary that day, so I also seem calm in the video because I was trying to keep it down in case one of his employees walked in.

Anyways, I’m really happy I documented my journey. Not only because I want to be able to give back to other people and provide informative videos to help others make the best decisions for themselves and their case, (I wish I had something as informative as this when I was on my journey) but also to have something to look back on that enables me to see how much I’ve grown. It’s crazy to me how calm I look in this video because I vividly remember how scared I was. Hell, I was SOBBING right before I recorded this video! And after it, I got into a fight with my Dad and walked out of the office. Yep! I was just SO stressed and didn’t know how to handle my feelings. After going through what I’ve gone through with my health, and then finishing “The Untethered Soul”, I feel like I’ve grown more in the last couple of months then I ever have in years! Life, my career, my aspirations, desires, relationships with family, friends, loved ones and God suddenly have come together and make so much more sense and are easier than before. Cuz now I know what is important in life. I’ve figured out my values and really have gotten a chance to truly BE. And be ME! I’m so proud of that and who I am 0:) I’m human though, and still have my “moments”, but that’s what life’s about after all… being human.

So, I post these videos only two months after my surgery and I am doing AWESOME! I’m recovering quickly and I’m already writing articles and web series and going out on auditions. In addition, my stomach issues have subsided, headaches are nowhere near as bad as they used to be, fatigue is nearly gone and I have so much more energy! ANDDD I even had some signs of a period again last week! (Sorry if that’s TMI for all the guys reading this but I want to be as detailed and honest as possible in these posts, and that just goes to show how stress-free my body has become! No more physicalmental or emotional imbalances 🙂 )

I do still have a ways to go with my healing (as you will see in my videos), but I am SO happy I made the decision I made. Please follow me on my journey and see how great it has been for my health all around, in future videos and posts. And please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have or comment below. I’ll be happy to answer anything 🙂 Cheers and namaste!