i am braver now

A few years ago, I had an issue with my shoulder. I had some vague problems with pain, inflammation, and range of motion, that progressed (regressed?) into adhesive capsulitis. Otherwise known as frozen shoulder.

Sounds fancy. It meant I couldn’t move my arm much. I couldn’t do up a bra behind me. I couldn’t raise my left arm over my head. I couldn’t put my arm around my husband. (I am reminded of this whenever I see that arm cradled in front of me in our wedding photos.)

Nana had similar symptoms after a bad fall. But she was in her 80s. I didn’t think my shoulder should be acting this way when I had only just turned 40. And I hadn’t had a bad fall.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I was having symptoms already. Then Ed and I went cross-country skiing at Snoqualmie. I took a spill in the turn at the bottom of a wee hill, right before the rail-less bridge over the creek.

I landed hard, plunging my left pole into the snow, feeling the shock travel up my arm into my shoulder. What had been annoying before became a bigger problem.

Without a clear solution. If you followed the links above, you learned that with treatment, frozen shoulder resolves in about a year. Without treatment, it resolves in about two years.

I know, right?

And it’s tricky to diagnose.

I went through the physical therapy, I ate naproxen like it was candy, I did the home exercises. I was still in a lot of pain.

My doctor ordered an MRI.

For me.

The claustrophobic one. The one who doesn’t even like to wear a belt. Or a short necklace. (They call them “chokers” for a reason.)

I was terrified.

Ed came into the room with me. He talked to me. He kept his hand on my leg. When the radiology tech started wrapping me in constricting layers – belts, straps, earmuffs, eye cover – he saw the panic rising in my face.

We worked out a way to simplify things. I wore ear plugs. I skipped the cloth over my face. (A compassionate radiology tech is a treasure.)

I was still terrified. I panicked the first time in the tube. The tech pulled me out. We talked. We tried again.

Later, I had a steroid injection under fluoroscopy. A few months later, another.

In between, a new physical therapist, one who specialized in shoulders. We basically ripped open scar tissue (that’s the adhesive part of adhesive capsulitis) every week, and I did an hour of exercises every day to keep it from re-attaching, to maintain my range of motion.

I got better.

Now my knees are a problem. They have been for years. Especially the right one – the one I injured and spent six months on crutches rehabilitating when I was in college.

When I climb stairs, the sounds coming from my right knee are just not natural.

I’ve put off seeing anyone about it. Because I have this tendency to head to the worst-case scenario.

Yes, this grateful girl, the one who can always see the upside… is afraid, especially of anything like surgery. So I figured if I went to an orthopedic surgeon, they would want to do total joint replacement on the knee. Which didn’t scare me nearly as much as the idea of going under for the procedure.

After Kaylah’s injury and our decision to do her knee surgery, Ed and Kristina put their respective feet down: I had to go see someone and learn about what could be done for my ageing knees.

I did it.

The good news is that I am nowhere near needing joint replacement. It turns out, medical technology has come a long way.

Who knew? *ducks*

There are many things that can be done, in between nothing and joint replacement. I am scheduled for an MRI to get a more detailed look.

Ed asked me if I’d like him to be there for it.

There was a quiet moment, while I thought about it. And realised that I’ll be fine. For one thing, my head isn’t likely to be in the tube for a knee image, so the claustrophobia part feels less scary. For another, I’ve done this before, so I know what I’m getting into.

And I am braver now.

I am brave now.

What a wonderful thing to learn about myself.


*Wondering why there are photos of Ed catching snowflakes to accompany this post? I figured photos of my shoulder or knee would be boring. And I want to play in the snow with him again. We have some snowshoes to use.


    • Um… you did.

      And when I told Ed about the things you said (including the talk about recent stresses), he looked puzzled, and said that he had been telling me the same things. I think I needed to hear it from multiple sources, to confirm and re-affirm the message. I’ve got it now. I’m taking care of myself. Thank you, both.

  • I totally got the meaning of the pictures—Ed catching snowflakes is as much fun as being bundled up and shoved into an MRI to listen to that wonderful sound of clunking magnets. Oh wait—no that’s not it. Snowcatching is to husband as knee injury is to magnetic clunking—no not quite—Oh yeah here it is, right where I left it—Courage: the ability to face an MRI machine alone or allowing someone to post pictures of you catching snowflakes with your mouth <(")

    • If that is the definition of courage, then I definitely have some photos of the faces he made when he didn’t catch the snowflakes he wanted. Those are awesome.

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