|My left hand - in happier times!|
I am in pain. I have somehow torn a ligament in my left shoulder. Well, not 'somehow', I know exactly when and where it happened, just not 'why?'. On Saturday night, as I was undressing for bed I pulled my top off over my head - as I do every night. But on Saturday, for some reason I suddenly experienced a stabbing pain in my shoulder. I assumed I had just twisted it in some awkward way and by morning it would be feeling better. But by morning it was no better, and the pain was so severe when I tried to use my arm that I realised it was more than just a simple twist.
IB was lovely and took very good care of me - he took me to the cinema and out for a Chinese meal to cheer me up. I must admit that sitting motionless in the cinema for a couple of hours and being so scared by all the zombies in 'World War Z' my shoulder didn't hurt a bit (I made sure IB was sitting on my right so I could grab his arm during the scary bits!).
On Monday I downed some painkillers and set off to work, but even mostly working one-handed, by the afternoon the injured shoulder was so painful I had to cancel my afternoon job. I just about managed to work again on Tuesday morning (praise be to Paracetamol!) and luckily had Tuesday afternoon free anyway. But once the painkillers wore off, it became clear that the injury was becoming more, not less painful, and I began to worry that in trying to mute the pain and use my arm in even a limited way, I was compounding the injury. Furthermore it was getting harder and harder to drive the car to work (or anywhere!) as changing gear was excruciatingly painful.
I rang my Wednesday morning job and explained the situation, and to my relief they said to take the day off. That afternoon my Dad very kindly drove me to the doctor's surgery. My GP gave me a thorough examination during which she eliminated the possibility of a pinched/trapped nerve (I retain full feeling in my hands/arms/shoulders, my grip is unaffected and I can move my arm normally - or I could if it didn't hurt so damn much). She is unable to say definitively if it's a torn muscle or a torn ligament, but my money is on the second. I've torn a muscle in the past, but while that was painful enough, I have never known joint pain like I am currently experiencing. If it is a ligament, it will take months to fully heal.
So I now have painkilling gel to rub into the affected area - well, I say 'rub' but it's more like 'dab on extremely gingerly' as even the lightest touch on my shoulder is currently enough to make me yelp. I also have some prescription painkillers, and I have put my arm in a sling which helps to support it and also acts as a reminder NOT TO USE IT even if the painkillers have dulled down the pain level. I have had to cancel the rest of my work week, which is a worry as things are pretty hand-to-mouth around here at the moment (I have lost a couple of clients since their own working hours were cut due to the recession). T though, has been kind enough to offer financial assistance if I need it.
The good news is that after doing virtually nothing yesterday except seeing the doctor, for the first time since Saturday, my shoulder feels a little better. It is still too painful to use my left arm for anything much, but the pain now seems less intense and more localised - initially my whole shoulder was jangling with pain and the ache extended from my jaw down my arm to my pinky finger. So I am hopeful that with a few more days' rest, I will be able to resume work as usual on Monday.
But isn't it strange how you take things for granted until they are not available to you any more? Left arm, as a right-handed person I have probably taken you for granted a lot of the time. I now realise that even if my right arm takes the lead most of the time, you are always there to lend support and stability, help with the heavy lifting, contribute to the alchemy of left and right co-creating together. Without you, I can't drive, or knit, or tie my hair back off my face; I can't use shears, or drain a heavy saucepan, or carry the basket of laundry to the washing machine. Precious shoulder joints, I never before fully appreciated the range of motion afforded to my arms by your flexibility and strength. I never really thought about the strain I put on you by carrying, lifting, digging, climbing, waving, swimming, painting a ceiling...
Our bodies are wondrous, complex things. All too often we focus on the things we don't like about them (wobbly tummy, frizzy hair, clicky knees, crooked nose, lack of sporting prowess, short sightedness, long sightedness, allergies...) instead of appreciating all the wonderful things they allow us to do and see and hear and taste and touch and smell and access, every day. Every. Day. While I take time out to recuperate, I am also taking time out to contemplate and appreciate and thank my wonderful body. It has served me well over the years. Thank you, thank you, thank you.