First, I’m still here! I’ve just been writing a lot of fiction lately, which has been so fulfilling. I’ve scribbled ideas here and there, written one short story, and am working on another.
So I thought I’d pop back in to give an update on my arm! If you want to read the whole sage, see this post. I’ll pick up where that one left off.
The cortisone shot that I got back in February was pretty good. For the first two weeks, I still felt some pinching and discomfort in my arm, but the pain was 90% improved. Weeks 2-4 post shot were the best. For the first time in months, I felt like I had a normal arm! I had a setback around week four. I was opening a sleeve of crackers- how innocent, right?- and my shoulder cramped up. It was the most intense cramp I’ve ever had in my life, worse than middle-of-the-night charlie horses (and those suck!). I gently moved my arm around and stretched and massaged… but it wouldn’t go away. After ten minutes or so, I realized this was no cramp. I had injured myself again.
For a few days, I had a lot of trouble. I could hardly lift my arm to parallel with the floor, and couldn’t go any farther at all. I had trouble putting on deodorant, washing and styling my grown out buzzcut/baby pixie cut, getting my snacks from my cupboard at work. I was pissed, and sure that I was going to need surgery. As scared as I am of surgery, the certainty felt good. Finally I was out of purgatory and in a zone where I could confidently say “I definitely cannot live with this, so surgery is my only option.”
Luckily, the pain faded again after a week or so. All told, my arm had backslid to probably only about 75% better. It was back to being livable, but certainly not fun. But I was dreading calling the doctor back and asking for physical therapy, as he instructed me to do. I’ve been taking a decent amount of time off work to go to appointments for my arm and another issue I’d been dealing with (now resolved, thank goodness), and felt guilty. I’m not behind in my workload, but didn’t like feeling like I was imposing on my coworker by missing so much work. I called the doctor back and asked if we could do one more cortisone shot. I felt in my gut that one more would do the bursitis in for good.
He agreed, but with the condition that this was to be the last shot. There are some risks associated with continued shots into a joint. I certainly don’t want to end up worse off than I was before, so I agreed. If this didn’t work, I’d consent to missing an hour or so of work for however many weeks for physical therapy.
The second shot felt different. With the first shot, I was sure he got the needle directly into my shoulder bursa- a little fluid filled sac that acts as padding in your joint. I could feel it blowing up like a balloon as the liquid was pumped in from the syringe. It didn’t hurt, but it was a really unsettling feeling and I got woozy. The second shot burned, but I didn’t feel the balloon feeling, so I think it must have gone into muscle tissue.
Unfortunately, the second shot still hasn’t done much, and it’s been two and a half weeks. I am still feeling sticks and pokes and aches in my shoulder. All mild, in the grand scheme of things, but I’m still not sure I want to live with it for the rest of my life. I’m only 30, should daily aches and pains really be a thing for me at this age?
I’ve decided that I have to stop being scared of my arm. I’ve been living in this fantasy where I think if I just rest it one more day, then one more, maybe take a hot bath, use more muscle rub, stretch it more, that one day I’m going to wake up and it’ll magically be better and I can put it behind me. After 7 months, I don’t think that is going to happen. So I’m slowly getting back to doing what I want to do- lifting, kickboxing- and if the pain comes back, I’ll call for physical therapy. If that doesn’t help, I have to decide if I want to have surgery for a relatively minor but annoying problem, or wait until it gets worse (or maybe it won’t get worse, maybe this is my new normal). I have to just live my life and deal with the consequences, because I have decided I’m unwilling to modify my lifestyle around this issue.
So that’s that. We shall see what happens.
EDIT: after having some trouble with my other arm during a lower body workout, I’ve actually decided to call tomorrow and get into physical therapy. I am ready to put this behind me and get back to normal, and it clearly isn’t going to happen on its own. My left arm has been hurting because I sleep on it, and possibly because I’ve been using it differently since my right arm hurts. I have no good shoulders right now.
Overflowing with love,