Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Cold Shoulder Treatment

I've mentioned a sore shoulder occasionally over the past few months. It's actually been a bit more serious than that, but that's not the kind of detail I usually share. Plus, my mother reads this, and I didn't want to get nagged or make her worry. I'd reached the point where I had some serious range of motion issues, plus constant pain, and then my ballet teacher noticed the fact that my shoulder couldn't rotate properly, which meant my arms did some weird things and didn't line up right. For an easy way to describe what I couldn't do, I wouldn't have been able to play "I'm a Little Teapot," if for some strange reason that became necessary. I couldn't put my hand on my hip with my elbow out to the side, and I couldn't move my arm out to the side with my hand facing out and my elbow bent to make the spout. And there were a few other things I couldn't do. It wasn't even a case of it hurting to do those things. I really couldn't make my arm do those things.

My ballet teacher said I had to see a doctor, and one of my classmates recommended one. They were all suspecting a problem with the rotator cuff, which would mean surgery. I managed to get an appointment yesterday, and it turns out that what I have is something called frozen shoulder. There was a lot of inflammation in the joint, which made it hard to move, and then tissue forms around it, making it impossible to move. I got a big steroid shot in the shoulder yesterday and a referral to physical therapy. Apparently the therapy will be pretty brutal because I got a prescription for Vicodin to go with it.

This is one of those strange situations where the things you do instinctively to protect yourself when you hurt end up causing more damage. When something's sore, you let it rest, but then that rest is what allows the joint to freeze. The odd thing is, I didn't do much resting. I quit sleeping on that side, and I was careful about heavy lifting, but I was still using that arm normally in dance class, and I don't remember ever not moving my arm in a particular way because it hurt. I only stopped moving it because it wouldn't move, and I was even trying to force it a bit. Another thing that probably didn't help matters is my dislike for taking painkillers. I generally prefer to tough it out rather than take drugs, but when you're in pain, you tense, creating more pain, and then you don't move, which allows the freezing to happen.

I'd been kind of worried that I was suffering from book karma. I seem to have this weird life imitating art thing that occasionally happens, where something I write will end up happening in my life. No, I haven't yet run into any talking gargoyles or super-hot wizards, but when I was writing romance novels, I had a few things happen, like getting recruited for a job that was pretty much exactly the job I'd written for a character. In this case, in the book I'm currently working on, one of my characters has an arm in a sling through the whole book. I was afraid that would end up happening to me at the rate I was going. I have noticed that the pain started soon after I started putting as many hours a day into writing as I have been lately. I don't think it's the writing's fault. It's probably more my posture and the fact that I haven't balanced my activities better. I'll definitely need to stick with the dancing and I'll need to make good use of that new swimsuit.

It's already doing a lot better, thanks in part to the shot and in part, inadvertently, to my choir director. After rehearsal last night, we did a prayer circle where we all held hands around the room, and the director was next to me. He was goofing around a bit and suddenly raised my arm like what they do when they declare a winner in a boxing match. I then demonstrated the top end of my vocal range by shrieking bloody murder (one of the choir members said I sounded like a wounded animal). The poor choir director went stark white because I think he thought he'd killed me. I guess it serves me right for not mentioning it during prayer request time (as I said, I'm not big on the sharing of personal details) so he'd have known not to do that. Though it did hurt like hell, it actually felt a lot looser after that, and I can even almost get my hand on my hip again. If that's what the therapy is going to be like, I can see why I might need the Vicodin.

I'm taking an extra-long early weekend because my dad's birthday is a national holiday. Plus, I have to come back home early because I have a concert on Monday, with a rehearsal in the afternoon. Maybe I'll also avail myself of my parents' Jacuzzi. Now, I need to pack. Have a great Memorial Day and Shanna's Dad's Birthday weekend!


Anonymous said...

Wow, I actually know what frozen shoulder is, because my dad just went through that. He didn't talk about the physical therapy hurting in particular (although I can see that he might not want to worry me), but he was actually quite proud of himself. He impressed the heck out of his therapist by working really hard and getting the full range of motion back significantly faster than she thought he would. He's already done the therapy and his shoulder is basically fine again. So maybe yours will go well, too! At least, we can hope. Don't want anything to distract you from writing, after all. :)

Chicory said...

I hope you feel better soon.