You know those really terrible Hallmark Holiday Movies? The ones that you are COMPELLED to watch every holiday season, but all have the exact same plot, with the dead spouse, the unexpected blossoming romance, and the salvation of the holiday season for some little kid with a Canadian accent who lives in Arizona? Well, none of that has anything to do with things that embarrass me, except that I will/do watch them, and also the inevitable plot twist when there is a fateful miscommunication, or the snarky, competitive skank next door tells a lie, and the unexpected lovers quit speaking, totally unreasonably, because they won't have one little conversation to fix it all. My shoulders are like that right now. That one little conversation. And it's embarrassing.
Three years ago I hurt my right shoulder under questionable and somewhat disputed circumstances. I missed several weeks of work and lost use of my right arm, but being one of the uninsured seasonal working masses at the time, couldn't get an MRI, etc. So, more or less, I self diagnosed, ala internet, self treated, ala slow workouts and ultimately, mostly healed. Then this year, my left shoulder developed similar symptoms. Suddenly, with no documentable circumstances whatsoever, questionable, disputed or otherwise, other than MAYBE a car accident I was in back in February, where I reached back to save a small dog from Certain Death. Anyway, long story short, being mentally compromised by the basic ridiculousness of my life, I went to the shoulder doctor, and mistakenly explained to him the left shoulder injury as the return of the old right shoulder injury, since the pain was IDENTICAL. Turns out, when I got home, I realized that the old injury was my right shoulder, so I went back to the doctor and tried to explain that I am an idiot, which he obviously agreed with, and ordered an MRI to make sure I wasn't just totally making crap up. Before the MRI, but after the appointment, I took a silly little spill on some pretty rad ice outside of the Krispy Kreme Donut shop as I was moving a 40lb EMT jump kit (on my right shoulder) out of the way of 1300 fresh donuts. I was mostly concerned with an awesome looking bruise on my knee until I realized, three days later, that I couldn't sleep at night or lift my right arm without excructiating pain. Now I have to go BACK to the doctor who already thinks I am insane, tell him "just kidding!" actually my RIGHT shoulder hurts the worst now, and get an MRI on that one too. And I am too embarrassed to do it. Embarrassed, tired of driving to Spokane, doctors agreeing that I am crazy, and All of Those Things. So now I am rendered virtually armless. In fact, trying to erase wet-erase marker from a dry-erase board today at school moved me almost to tears. I can't even hold a wine glass very well. Or drive. Can I get a new doctor and tell him I hurt both shoulders saving a baby from a burning house? Or can someone else call my doctor and verify my semi-sanity, and also that I am not just attention seeking? Or am I?
And there is the Hallmark Crisis. I can't face him. I would rather lie awake at night in pain than try to explain it all. Because it sounds so ridiculous: right, left, right, Krispy Kremes, jump kits... So I won't have the one little conversation that could solve All of The Problems: i.e. MRI's on both shoulders, and then surgery. (Now accepting applications for spoon-feeding care givers when I have both shoulders operated on simultaneously) As it is, I am living moment to moment figuring out which arm to use for any given movement that will result in the least amount of pain.
What frustrates/embarrasses me the most is that otherwise, I feel pretty great. I want to go running. I want to lift weights. And I can, at certain angles/modifications. But just the gravity of my arm on my shoulder joint is jaw-clenching pain. And localized pain is just annoying and STUPID. I know most of you know exactly what I am talking about. You know who you are. The knees and the backs and the ankles out there. It's a waste of time and energy. And we just need it to be better. I don't want slings or surgeries or any more spontaneous dislocations. I need to just have the stupid Hallmark Revelational talk and find my holiday resolution. But that pride thing...
So here's to cheesy holiday movies like the one you are probably watching RIGHT NOW (Mom), and bodies that just don't bounce back like a 12 year old body would. And addled brains and fuzzy memories and just not being able to Fix Things. But also: Here's to having the one little talk. Here's to swallowing pride, acknowledging our brokenness, overcoming our sometime stupidity and being able to laugh at ourselves just like we laugh at Hallmark Movies, or at least find a new doctor.
PS: if someone wants to send this blog to my doctor, in a Hallmarkesque Santa Clausey fix-it gesture, I wouldn't mind.