Friday, April 27, 2007

All your sanity and wits they will all vanish (I promise).

The start-wearing-purple sweater is off the needles--all that is left is the sewing (bleh). I should have realized that such a chunky yarn would make a WARM sweater. I suppose that will be a good thing in sweater season, but I hope I have not accidentally made a sweater too warm for SC.

But this means I need to find a new project. How exciting! I have gotten a good bit of self-pity yarn lately, and the PP even made a trek to a yarn store that is a little ways from town with me last week, before the shoulder went ultimate haywire. The ladies at the yarn store (like pretty much everyone who meets him) were so amazed by him: he was actually interested in the yarns (I had set him on a mission to find some specific things, and the PP loves new things anyway) and he was looking at a book called something like Knitting for Men, and picking out prospective sweaters (all of which, of course, involve cables that I do not know how to do yet--but soon!). They were amazed that he was not just itching to get out of there. "He's a keeper!" they kept saying.

Don't I know it. And none of us knew then how incredibly kind he would be to me the entire time of the weekend of doom.

Anyway, today is a big day!

This morning I go to see the shoulder specialist who comes highly recommended from another swimmer and my coach. I have my x-rays and my MRI pictures in a little envelope for him, along with some paperwork. If I do not document him to death, I hope he will be able to come up with something.

Then this afternoon is my first appointment in a while with the physical therapist. While I do not expect us to make any immediate progress on the actual shoulder problem, he should be able to help me get the joint loosened up and re-strengthened after the arthrogramathon.

I'll post a report after my appointments, but keep your fingers crossed for me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Confusion: my mistake.

Dear Readers,

A couple of folks have expressed confusion at what sent my weekend south.

The real answer is that we don't know. But the going hypothesis is that about 5% of the population has a severe pain reaction to the "dye" (not really a dye, but a chemical whose name I do not remember) that they use in an arthrogram. That could explain why the pain in my shoulder began on Friday and increased so dramatically. Or, it could have been a little bit of that, exacerbated by the "palpating" in Friday's appointment. Or it could have been the 15 cc of fluid that was injected into my already tender shoulder. Or some combination of the three. Or there could be an infection in the joint, but that does not look likely, since my temperature is remaining very steady at normal, and the pain is going away instead of increasing.

What I do know is that the pain that came on this weekend was not caused by sports, since I have not done any since the needlefest on Thursday.

And what else I know is that this pain makes me nostalgic for the soreness I had before the test. You know, the pain that led me to get the test? Won't it be grand to get back to that point?

Again, sorry for the confusion.

Yours truly,

It's all just a matter of time-uh.

I may not yet be able to drive my manual-transmission car, but that does not mean I am not making progress.

For instance, as of today, I can use my left hand to pull up my pants! And I can touch my face with my left hand! Perhaps even wash said face!

The secret to my success? I am glad you asked: it is a combination of pill consumption that even an old person would envy and many hot baths, where I practice moving my left arm around in a low gravity warm water context. Oh yeah, and the passing of time.

Today I am more sore than yesterday, but it is no longer the joint hurting anymore but instead the muscles. Muscles that have been clenched into leetle tight wads and have recently been getting bits and pieces of workouts as I try to lift my arm (much exhaling of breath).

And, thanks be, I CAN KNIT AGAIN.

I am working on the world's simplest, chunkiest, start-wearing-purplest sweater. I have now finished the front and the back, and I have knitted the shoulders together using that cool move where you knit them together and bind the stitches off all in one slick move. (Good thing that move is slick, because there is nothing slick about the series of moves it presently requires to pour myself a cup of coffee.) Now I have started on Sleeve #1, making notes about mistakes as I go, so I can replicated them on Sleeve #2. Exciting news on the sleeve front is that I have learned the "make 1" increase. Watch me go!

Stay tuned as tomorrow I try to leave the house!

Monday, April 23, 2007

What a weekend.

You may not find this as exciting as I do, but I am typing with two hands!

This is exciting, because for pretty much the entire weekend, I had no use of left arm. And what moving it did, felt like someone was ripping it out of my shoulder socket.

You see, that shoulder pain I was feeling on Friday got even worse, and I realized that it was important that when I described the arthrogram itself as sucking beyond most sucking--well, now I knew what some more sucking felt like.


As Friday went on the pain got worse and worse, and finally we convinced the doctor's office that I was not just being whiney, but really hurting, and they gave me vicodin. Cool: that helped some, and it definitely mellowed me out, but what they did not tell me and should have (and indeed the directions from the pharmacy even contradicted this) was TAKE WITH FOOD. I had taken the first dose right at dinner time, but I kept taking it every four hours as prescribed, so by the early morning my stomach was getting empty. And then, when I tried to eat, I could not eat more than one bite without being sick.

Four times of that later, and still in excruciating pain (this is early Saturday morning), we were trying to contact the on-call doctor again and again. Having started this rigamarole around 5:30 a.m., we finally reached a nurse around 10:30, and then around 1:30, I was back at the doctor's office, where I got stronger drugs. (The car ride, though, was no fun.) The new meds had anti-nausea stuff in them, too, thanks be.

Yesterday things kept improving and by evening I could be up and around. Even getting to the bathroom was no big deal! And solid food! And, can you believe it, I was able to knit again.

This morning feels like a whole new day. Thanks to super-meds, I got good sleep, and at one point I even managed to turn onto my right side (away from the sore arm).

Does this blog sound like I am charting the accomplishments of an infant?

No work for me today, which is dicey, given the time of the semester. But my goal is to able to drive by tomorrow.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The so-called results.

Just back from my appointment with the orthopaedist.

The OUTSTANDING news is that there is no rotator-cuff muscle tear, and no serious degradation of the biceps tendon. And all that means NO SURGERY. HUGE sigh of relief.

The bad news is that they cannot really tell why I am experiencing this pain, so it is back to physical therapy, which may or may not do anything. Apparently my labrum, which is a part of the shoulder that the ball of joint touches, I THINK, is stretched, but this probably is not the source of pain but rather a symptom of swimming.

The doc had a student with him today, so they did a lot of "palpating," which in regular human speech means touching the places where the pain is and moving my shoulder all around to see what hurts. All that, plus the leftovers from yesterday's arthrogram fun, mean that my entire left arm fucking hurts. I am wondering what the repercussions of an entire afternoon of bourbon drinking might be..... Probably would not put me in the best frame of mind for this evening's swim team banquet, which includes masters + kids team.

So I am really happy not to be looking at surgery, but profoundly frustrated not to know what to do. I do have an appt with a special shoulder doc for next Friday, so maybe he will have some more detailed or specific sense of things.

Oh, and no swimming for now, of course--but you had guessed that, hadn't you?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ow ow ow.

One thing is certain: I would not be able to stand up to tortune.

I did successfully get my arthrogram + MRI done today, and, 4 hours later, I am home to tell the tale. The MRI was no big deal: as I explained to the tech who was giving me the earplugs, the PP's snoring pretty much sounds like that, so I sleep in earplugs all the time. And they do wrap you up pretty well before they send you into the magnetic tube, so it is pretty easy to hold still. And they give you a nice blanket, since the room is about 45 F. So all in all, not bad.

But the same cannot be said of the arthrogram. If you have never had such a test, it goes like this: they take an X-ray, then they use some kind of fancy camera to look at your shoulder (or whatever) while they try to figure out where to stick a needle, then they mark you with a sharpie, then they inject you with numbing solution, then they stick in the needle, inject dye (to magnify the contrast of various kinds of tissue) into the joint, take another picture, and presto you are done.

Well, presto, that is, if they can quickliy find the right spot to shoot in the dye. The doctor did mention that sometimes that is not so easy, but I figured I would not be such a case. I am sorry to have to tell that I was indeed such a case. I was not allowed to wear a watch during the procedure, and if I were I am sure I would not have been allowed to consult it, but I can tell you that however long it took, of moving the spinal needle around while it was stuck in my shoulder, and trying to get it readjusted, and all amidst tissue that has not been feeling the best lately, seemed like an eternity. Even with the numbing, you still of course feel quite a bit, and it is that horrible metal on tissue feeling, combined with the fun probing feeling. Combined with eternity.

But now the procedures are done and I am off to my massage appointment, which I have been anticipating all day, although she'll have to avoid all the little bandages and injection points. And tonight may be one of those nights that requires its share of scotch.

Results tomorrow, gods and goddesses willing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Trying again.

I went to swim practice last night, for the first time since March 21.

You see, the alternative exercise thing has not been going as well as I would like.

Here is an exchange I had with my coach last night during a set of vertical kicks:

COACH: So, how is it going, being back?


COACH: But isn't it better than sitting home by yourself?

ME: Yeah, that sucks more.

That about sums it up. Sure, I had been doing some spinning classes, which I really enjoy, but getting signed up for them requires surrendering your first-born, and I am all out of first-borns. And although I can sometimes muster the energy and dedication to get out for a run on my own or a cycle in the basement, sometimes I cannot.

So I had to face the swimming demons and get back in the pool.

Here, for the sake of testimony and bandwagons, is last night's practice:

900 kick warm-up (was supposed to be 1000, but I did not have time once I took off my short fins)
450 designated kick set (3 x 150: 50 easy, 25 fast, 25 easy, 50 fast)
50 random extra
300 kick (while the others were doing some kind of drill-swim thing)
~900 combination vertical kicking and lap-kicking in the diving well
300 kick (3 x 100 descend BR kick @ 2:00: 1:10, 1:04, :57)
200 kick easy
TOTAL: ~3100 yards

I realized in the course of this that whatever streamlining I was doing back when I was just kicking may have been the aggravating factor, keeping the shoulder from healing. Coach says I am not allowed to beat myself up for this, so I am working on LIVE AND LEARN. Or in this case, probably LIVE, GET SURGERY, AND THEN MAYBE LEARN.

MRI got postponed yesterday because of stupid scheduling snafu (though not until after I spent over an hour sitting in the Dr.-Phil-infused waiting room trying to get work done), so now that happens Thursday. Maybe I can still get my results Friday--we shall see.

Chin up.

Monday, April 16, 2007


My heart is breaking for the Hokies. I cannot quite wrap my head around this, but I suppose I try by thinking about one of my very favorite people in the world, one of the very sweetest people you could ever hope to know. He went to Va Tech, introduced me to the campus after the fact, and although I have no idea where he is now, he is always and forever a part of my soul, and so, by extension, is the college town he fell in love with.

My breaking heart goes out to everyone there.

Have a nice day.

How exactly are we to express our minute rage at those small injustices life gives us?

I am not talking about the real, big ones, the substantial affronts or serious injustices, the times when everyone agrees we have a right to our fury. But what I mean are the small things--the scheduling mishaps, the cuttings in line, the feelings badly expressed, the unintended insults, or perhaps bad climate conditions that do not lead to any real disasters. Because these things, too, generate their own small angers, the kind that leaves us not righteously indignant, but embarrassed at the smallness of our world-view. These are the times we feel like children, but unaccountably inhabiting overtall, overweight bodies, perhaps with less hair than we’d like, or more hips, but still wanting to let loose one of those completely-unaware-that-there-is-a-world-there wails, the kind where fresh tears come leaping out of your eyes, almost like in cartoons, and everyone around you, whether in our home or in an airport waiting area, has to feel our pain and just deal with it. But no, big person in your increasingly saggy and wrinkled skin, such an outburst is not something you can indulge.

Instead we must smile that furious smile we reserve for the people we cannot speak to, for fear of upsetting our karmic balance or getting ourselves in real trouble. These are the times we hope we are scoring real points, accumulating a case against someone who told us we have the tools to deal with life. We might imagine a courtroom scene with that person, where we lay out all our exhibits, each lettered in an alphabetic order that cannot really conceal our indignation. Because we have our positions ready: we can go forward with our opening arguments, our evidence, our peroration. Our case is irrefutable, really, and they should have made a deal with us before the jury marched in. But it is too late for that now, and we know we have victory locked up.

Assuming that there is any justice, really.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I know all there is to know about the waiting game.

Going for an arthroscopic MRI (where they squirt dye into the shoulder to better see what's going on with soft tissue) on Monday morning, and on Friday I discuss the results with the doc.

All that to say the cortisone shot did not really do the trick.

So we'll see....