Saturday, July 6, 2013

"How's the Shoulder Feel?"


One of the manifold frustrations of having shoulder surgery is that it is so difficult describing how it feels to someone, especially your physical therapist. He will be in the middle of contorting the thing into some sort of pretzel torture and will ask you, “how’s that feel, tight, any pain, or just uncomfortable?”

How does one answer that question while maintaining one’s composure? I usually try to hide any hint of a grimace and answer, “ok”, when what I really want to say is, “How does that FEEL, you say? How about all three! It’s an uncomfortably tight pain!”

It’s high time I developed a better answer to the question I get all the time, “How’s the shoulder feeling?” But it won’t be easy, because honestly I’ve never felt anything like it before, but here goes:

When I wake up in the morning, after a long night where the shoulder has been immobile, it feels like there’s an army of fire ants, each with a tiny ball-peen hammer in one appendage and a chisel in the other, hammering away at what’s left of my rotator cuff. Then I get up, go downstairs, brew some coffee and let my arm hang down and move it in small circles, round and round until the coffee’s ready. Then I take a pain pill. I picture hydrocodone warriors in war ships flowing through my bloodstream until they reach the fire ants at which point a blessed massacre takes place, the bodies of a million fire ants strewn across the battlefield of my supraspinatus tendon, (and yes, I had to Google that). This triumph is short lived however, for roughly 5 and a half hours later the pesky fire ants return for a counter offensive. More hydrocodone, more ant carnage.

Then bedtime comes around and an entirely different enemy visits this blood soaked battlefield. Gone are the fire ants, replaced by legions of microscopic worms playing tubas and other low register musical instruments, creating a dull throbbing ache, which can only be overcome by the application of ice. Once my shoulder is nice and blue, I crawl into bed and wait for the blessed relief of sleep.

And, THAT is what my shoulder feels like.

The good news is, that each morning there seem to be fewer ants, their ranks decimated as they have been by the mighty Hydro-warriors, and each evening one or two fewer tuba playing worms. This is progress and I am grateful for it!