Friday, November 12, 2010

Woulda, coulda, shoulder

I have been struggling for almost a week with a sore right shoulder. I woke up Saturday morning with a dull ache. Didn't think much about it, the whole right side of my neck has been tight for months, and the muscles on the right side of my upper back have several knots. As I went about my day (got a mani/pedi, helped a friend paint her living room, ran errands, bought groceries), the pain increased and the range of motion decreased. When driving, I found myself needing two hands to push the stickshift into reverse. I massaged some Inflamyar into the shoulder and took some ProTrauma, figured it was just a strain.

Woke up the next day with even more pain and less range of motion, and as the day progressed, so did the symptoms. By Sunday night, the pain was so intense, I couldn't sleep and several times thought about walking a few blocks to the Emergency Department. By Tuesday, I lost the ability to raise my arm to the side (abduct) more than 10°, couldn't externally or internally rotate the humerus (upper arm), or touch my opposite shoulder. Miraculously, I got an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for the next day. Three x-rays were taken and after reviewing them and performing a physical exam, the doctor told me I had a torn rotator cuff, and probable labrum tear. Yikes.

Did I recently hear a "pop" or feel a click in my shoulder, the surgeon asked. My joints often click, and I didn't recall hearing any "pop" or feeling a sudden onset of pain. I figured it happened Friday night, when I was trying to manage the dog at First Friday. But thinking back, my shoulder hurt when I went to Chicago a few weeks ago. And it was kind of achy when I hauled pieces of a tree fallen by a tornado a week or so before that. Then there all those times the ginormous 'potamus has pulled on her leash really hard to meet another dog. Multiply that by seven years.

It's easy for me to blame the dog, but it's not her fault. If I ever felt a twinge in my shoulder after a dog walk, I most likely worked through it. This past Saturday, my arm was achy and I still painted a wall, just limited my movement. Not going to let a little soreness get in my way. I am woman, hear me roar. Owwww. Multiply that by 30 or so years (I'm guessing as a little kid I was pretty intolerant of pain).

Won't know what's going on until the MRI arthrogram this Thursday. I'll meet with the surgeon the following Monday and we'll discuss my options. Surgery scares me, not because it's surgery, but because I will be limited in what I can do. Because I will be dependent on other people (it's happening already). Scary. Oh, the things on the internet about how painful recovery can be...yeah, that's scary, too. I warned the nurse that I'm one of "those" patients, who looks everything up on the internet. She didn't seem to mind.

We'll see what the next few weeks bring. I have been using naturopathic protocols so I can use less prescription and over-the-counter pain meds. Am about to walk to the Farmers' Market to get soup bones to make yummy, healing mineral broth. I just accepted a neighbor's offer to help with walking the dog. I'll be updating this blog with my experiences (OMG, MRI!), hopefully it will be more humor than whine.

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