I Take It Back

My “passive PT” has been increased to three days a week because Tuesday it appeared I was on my way to a phenomenon known as “frozen shoulder.” Frozen sounds innocuous enough. I mean, so you can’t move your shoulder, right? Okay, so not terrible, right? A little PT will fix that baby right up.


Read my lips. NO.  

The passive PT I had on Tuesday was excruciating (though yesterday was far worse) and I was practicing meditative breathing while he attempted to remove my arm from its socket. For 4o minutes. A morphine drip would have been nice, or tequila.

Yesterday when I arrived he looked me over. Just checking you for weapons, he said. He doesn’t know – yet – that I carry my weapon on my face. But the pain he inflicted upon me rendered it useless, since it requires actual breathing to exercise it.

So he explained to me what was happening to my shoulder and for the last two days has come at me with statements like, “this is not going to be the best part of your day.” And he’s not wrong.

A short Google of frozen shoulder will tell you that having to keep the shoulder still for long periods of time, like after surgery, can cause it. Treatment is ROM exercises – like what I’m currently voluntarily enduring. There are three stages – freezing, frozen, thawing – that overall will last between 1 and 3 YEARS.  Oh – and people over 40, mostly women, are more likely to have this condition. Yay me.

So, friend of the “shoulder surgery is the most painful surgery you can have” is only half right. The surgery itself is not painful – you get a nerve block that renders your entire arm essentially “dead” for roughly 12-24 hours (a coworker of mine was numb for over 48 hours and mine lasted 32 hours) – which is really fun. Fun – because you look at your hand and will it to move and guess what? It won’t. Not even the middle finger.

It’s the recovery that is painful – but only once your PT starts showing you that you have a shoulder and that you have to use it again. I didn’t ask enough questions at the pre-op appointment. I know.  Look – I knew I was getting the surgery and I figured what’s done is done. So you could say I’m learning about the pros and cons as we go. And yesterday when Todd got home from work and asked me how my day was – I told him that 9 months or a year from now, remind me why I don’t want to have surgery on my dominant arm.

So I have stretching to do at home that alternately feels good and then leaves me momentarily breathless as the muscles in the arm contract like a Charlie horse and the pain slowly bleeds out. BUT – I can lift my arm almost level with my shoulder (stiffly and terribly sore) and THAT is a positive thing. I think.

He did tell me yesterday that my shoulder was way better than the previous day and I certainly hope so because it was difficult not to scream Holy Mary Mother of Jesus effing Christ! out loud. It’s okay, he said, he was a drill sergeant for 20 years or something and he’s heard it all. Really? Challenge accepted. A friend mentioned her husband had a safe word and now I’m thinking I’ll suggest that tomorrow.

It’s raining again. Rain has always been a nuisance, you know, for canceling outdoor plans or – when I lived in New York – literally ruining a normal day walking to class or work. It’s where I learned the fine art of holding an umbrella during wind gusts, and if you don’t know what I mean you’ve never lived in the city. If there was an umbrella wielding contest in the parking lot at work during a torrential storm, I guarantee you mine would be the only umbrella not inverted. I’m that good. Just like killing flies. It’s an art form.

I’m learning that de-mudding dogs with one arm is also an art form. Shuggie, for all the things she is, is perfect with the come-in-the-door-and-stand-still-on-the-rug-to-be-dried-off routine. Bee runs in the door and bolts for the other side of the house, all while I’m yelling “Bee! Bee! Bee!” – a mile of dirty paw prints in her wake. I’ve given up on clean floors. I just can’t with this anymore. A person can only wash an acre of floors with one hand so often without entertaining the thought of never letting them outside again.

It is fun to watch them run, though. Have you ever seen a Standard Poodle run? My mom used to marvel at how Pi and Sabra would sail across the lawn like deer. Similarly, Bee is like a gazelle – she is fast and lean and graceful. Shuggie – runs like a wild boar.

I’m sparing ya’ll from further complaints and sorrows and so we’ll move on to good things. Got my teeth cleaned and had to remind the hygienist that I could not bear to be inverted that low (“shoulder”) and then when she asked me if I’ve been flossing I just raised my wing in a sling and said, well, not lately. I mean really.

I had a 2-1/2 hour lunch with a friend last Friday and, as always, we had a lot of catching up to do and I always come away feeling like I didn’t finish a sentence or we missed something. We didn’t rake anyone over the coals this time but did establish a few truths about cleaning out houses and a certain person’s “retirement,” and enjoyed some killer Mexican food.

I rode up to bowling with Todd later and went through the woods and over the river to my mother’s “house,” to surprise her and D – which I already mentioned in the previous post. But, in case you missed it, I pranked D in the ladies’ room from the stall next to hers, horking and hacking, and she ran out of there thinking someone was puking and was all afluster.

Like many people who see January as a jumping off point to setting goals and making changes – besides regaining the use of my left arm and not screaming the F-bomb at my physical therapist – I’ve been thinking about friends and family I don’t see enough. Which is pretty much everybody.

Todd forgot some paperwork he needed to drop off at the bank on Tuesday and so I had to take it in. I stayed off 95 because I don’t know if I’ve mentioned how much I hate 95, and took the alternative – which is long and full of lights and traffic but I practiced driving with my left hand on the steering wheel and it was okay.

About halfway home I started feeling the early tremors of hypoglycemia and – since V hasn’t ridden in my car in almost two years – there’s no sugar in my car or bag so I knew I had to stop and soon. (The hypos are not news but they are rare.) Neph called as I was pulling into Wawa, offering to come up WITH dinner and someone he wanted us to meet. Who could say no to that?

So he brought us dinner and a lovely girl he wanted us to meet. Very easy to talk to, very comfortable in her own skin, and she seems to really like him too. If I’ve not said it before, I am so grateful for Neph. He is warm and kind and he has been here during the most turbulent time in my life.

I’ve always been the kid surrounded by grownups and then one day I became the mom and the grownup to all these kids – and I never really thought about how much I love all having all “my” kids around until some of them dropped out. I feel honored that Neph wanted us to meet her, the same way I felt honored by another “kid” who sat in my dining room with me a couple of weeks ago, in no hurry to leave, who told me she likes being here. The kids who have stepped up and into our lives in the last two years have been a blessing.

You know what’s also a blessing? Coloring your hair with BOTH hands. I did it this morning. Snap.

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