My Shoulder Saga...

This has been a tough day, but I think I'm doing a little better tonight.

Last night I made a sudden movement when the phone rang and I was practically on the floor from the pain. It was the worst, sharpest pain I've had yet with my recent shoulder condition. And it really scared me. It felt like I had ripped something wide open. I don't say this lightly (because the worst pain I have ever experienced was childbirth), but that pain was right up there with labor (only it didn't last as long).

For the rest of the night I was literally afraid to move. I soaked in the tub twice because my shoulder pain was not responding to the pain medication. And at bedtime (10:30) I took my usual 5 mg. Lortab along with half a Soma (muscle relaxant). I slept comfortably and did not have to take another pain pill until 3:30. But psychologically I was still feeling a bit 'traumatized' by the severity of that pain the night before. (I hate the drama of that word, but can't think of another one that describes the fear I felt about the possibility of experiencing it again.)

I was stressed to the max about my doctor appt. John asked why I was so nervous. He thought I should be feeling great knowing I was going to get the problem fixed. But all I could think about was that the pain would probably be worse before it was better (if I had to have surgery). I don't have a lot of deep seeded fears, but I do literally fear intense pain and I am very honest about that. I don't pretend to be something I'm not (brave).

Anxiety makes me weepy. So, after weeks of chronic pain, taking anti-inflams, hydrocodone and prednisone, many nights of not sleeping well, capped off by my anticipatory anxiety about the possibility of a painful surgery just ahead, I was not in the best shape emotionally this morning. And when feeling frayed around the edges, it is not unusual for me to start crying (for no apparent reason) in the middle of a sentence. It is SO embarrassing and makes me feel SO fragile. But there is nothing I can do about it. This is who I am. And the harder I try to put on a game face, the more I fall apart. I think it just adds more stress and anxiety when I worry about looking like a baby and trying not to show emotion.

Dr. Elrod said he only had to watch the way I took my sweater off to see the condition I was in. And after a few questions and movements, he told me that it was obvious I had a "horrible" case of frozen shoulder and that the small labral tear would not cause me this much pain or restricted movement. He said I do have some spurs in there, but there isn't a lot to "clean out." The real problem is the frozen shoulder. I laughed when he said, "I'm surprised you can still shave your underarms." I assured him it was no easy task, but a high priority. LOL. Fortunately, I don't have much and it grows slow.

He told me he wanted me to go to physical therapy every day for a while and see if we can get me moving in the right direction. This is not a condition that goes away quickly. It often has to run its course (which I know from previous experience with my right shoulder). But therapy can help move the process along and hopefully give me increased movement. Since I've had PT for frozen shoulder, I knew it was going to be quite painful and it was hard to be as happy as I should have been over not needing immediate surgery because I was focused on the pain of PT.

I so want to be brave and stoic. I can't begin to convey how badly I want to be that instead of what I am (cowardly). But my fear is deep. And I have no poker face. Most of the time I wear a huge smile and am very bubbly. But fear and dread show up just as visibly in my eyes (accompanied by tears).

I took a pain pill, but I was still so nervous when I arrived for PT that I started to cry just talking to the therapist about my pain. I told him my nerves were frayed and I was in a lot of pain and I knew he would have to hurt me to make me better, but he might as well just expect me to be in tears. A second therapist was approaching as I was explaining that I was going to cry and he said, "You're already in tears and we haven't even touched you." During the therapy (which was difficult), I felt so embarrassed about the tears running down my cheeks and said, "Do I now hold the record for the biggest baby you've ever had in here?" He said, "No (pause), but you might take second or third."

That made me laugh. And laughter helps tension. It was said as comic relief, not in a way to make me feel silly. And I am very good at laughing at myself when it's in fun.

They really were very kind, compassionate and gentle. And they assured me they weren't going to laugh at me after I left (yes, they will...how could they not? I was so pitiful.) I'm pretty sure they took it easy on me today. It could have been worse.

I go back for more tomorrow and I don't think I will have the same level of anxiety. I hope I can get through it without tears next time. I will be so proud of myself if I do

I feel like I should sign off on this one with:

Trying hard to be a big girl at fifty-two.
(Failing miserably so far...)


These photos taken through an arthroscope show a normal shoulder joint lining (left) and an inflamed joint lining damaged by frozen shoulder.
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00071
(Thanks for the link, Kathy!)

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