Hey! How’ve you been? Personally, I’ve been better, but we’ll get onto that in the next paragraph. My husband, with his intimate knowledge of blog-writing, insists one mustn’t start a post apologising for not writing a post for so long, but when you’ve been AWOL for 329 days (God, that’s nearly a year), I feel you need to at least give a passing nod to your absence. Anyway, passing nod duly done, I’m back (!) but slightly less mobile than when we last spoke.
On Mother’s Day, 14th March – British Standard Time – I broke my shoulder. It should have been a simple and pleasant day, filled with love and treats for the hardest working woman in the building, but it turned into a bit of a nightmare. We were still in the middle of Lockdown 3.0; coffee shops and cafes were still closed (my fave lazy-day Mother’s Day haunts), so I innocently agreed to a country walk. We’d be back in time for a soup and sandwich lunch (the lunch of choice for all old people…like me), then roast dinner was on the menu for dinner. And no cooking for me. Result. However, the three-ish mile country stroll turned into a military exercise when my husband decided to tack on a surprise extra four-mile detour. Isn’t Mother’s Day all about doing exactly what the mother in the scenario chooses? Yes. Was this freak accident at least partially his fault? Well…I’m saying nothing.
It was because of my husband we found ourselves in a completely flooded country lane. We would never have been there if we’d followed the route I’d originally agreed to. But there we were, observing other walkers navigate the blockage by climbing up on a bank to circumnavigate the flood water. I guessed the middle was so deep, that was the only way. Ah, if only I’d thought, ‘sod it’ and marched right through the middle, but I wasn’t in wellies – merely low walking shoes. My socks would have undoubtedly been soaked through, and we had another three miles before we reached home – I mean, blisters, people! So following the crowd, I scrambled up the bank and held myself steady with my left arm hyperextended above my head to grip onto a drystone wall. Which would have worked remarkably well if my feet hadn’t slipped and my entire body weight was taken through my shoulder (if only I’d let go – damn my arm strength!). A pop/click was heard by all, a wave of pain shot through my shoulder and I found myself doubled over, groaning in pain and fighting the overwhelming need to throw up. But I didn’t lose my footing and my feet were dry. Worth it.
I knew it was serious because my husband (oddly) didn’t tell me to pull myself together and he and my eldest daughter frantically whispered about ambulances and taxis. Whilst my youngest daughter stood a good fifty feet away since she suffers with ametaphobia (Google it), and I had mentioned the ‘being sick’ phrase. Yes, that girl is going to come in handy in a crisis one of these days. A dislocated shoulder was suspected by my husband, who set about circling the offending shoulder whilst I tried not to pass out. Walking the final three miles home was soon deemed impossible and a taxi or an ambulance getting to this remote flooded lane anytime soon seemed unlikely. Luckily, a passing couple in a car kindly took myself and my eldest daughter (all masked-up in the back seats) home. Once my husband and daughter arrived back on foot, a super-fun Mother’s Day trip to Accident & Emergency ensued.
The dislocated shoulder turned out to be a hairline break instead (a fracture of the greater trochanter of the humerus – in layman’s terms). So that meant an arm in a sling for six weeks, painful nights, and hospital and physiotherapist appointments a-plenty. But here I am in July, and the broken shoulder which was going on great-guns has become a frozen shoulder to add to the fun (adhesive capsulitis – in layman’s terms). Sometimes frozen shoulders are a spontaneous affair, but sometimes they result after an injury when the arm is left immobile too long. I’d like to admit to that, but things were going so well (before they weren’t) that I wonder if my frozen shoulder has resulted from doing too much too soon; lifting heavier at the gym than was probably wise, carrying heavy bags of shopping from the car because I was bored of being incapable.
I don’t know if any of you dear readers have experienced a frozen shoulder, but if you have, you’ll know all about the pain, the sleepless nights, the limited range of movement, relying largely on your unaffected arm. Lateral movements are off limits (I could probably hold a partially deflated football under my arm, but a beachball is completely out of the question – which is a shame because I love to carry beachballs). Frontally my arm cannot and will not lift above shoulder height. I’ve attended the hospital and the physiotherapist’s office so many times I really ought to be on their Christmas card list. I’ve had steroid injections and acupuncture, but I still live my life walking around with my left arm glued to my side like a T-Rex. It honestly feels like little ropes are tying my shoulder in place, like in Gulliver’s Travels (ooh, awesome literary reference); I feel the little ropes pull whenever I reach beyond my limited range. The ropes reach their limit and my arm stops short. But I’m pretty sure I’m well and truly in ‘frozen’ stage now (I skipped quickly through the ‘freezing’) and am impatiently awaiting the ‘thaw’. This may just be a waiting game as a FS is a self-limiting condition and can thaw by itself in a year or so, or it may mean surgery to speed up the process – medical opinions are mixed. The last Consultant I saw at Fracture Clinic, Mr Foote (you couldn’t make it up), laughingly insisted in his South African accent that he was a ‘hip and knee guy’ (not feet), so wasn’t really qualified to offer an opinion. So I’m now awaiting a ‘shoulder guy’ referral. Well, I didn’t like to say…
So here I am, awaiting the shoulder guy to cast his exacting eye over the sorry situation. The doctors I work with say leave the shoulder alone, the NHS physio says leave the shoulder alone, the private physio and my GP say surgery (an arthroscopic release, in layman’s terms) is the way to go. But the Shoulder Guy is King. Roll on the Shoulder Guy. I will be led by the Shoulder Guy – unless his name is Mr Leg, then I’ll have my concerns. The thing is, I have learned to muddle along. I can drive – albeit with uncomfortable gear changes. I can do my job. I can sleep – after a fashion – if the pillow configuration is just right. I can even do arm days at the gym – my biceps and triceps still work. But a plank or a shoulder press is a distant memory. Being like this for up to year is a depressing thought. I’m still asking my daughters to put my hair up in a ponytail, putting on a bra behind my back ain’t happening, I dread hair-wash days, and high shelves can f*** right off.
So, this is the state of things. I’ll keep you updated. Perhaps when I write my next blog in 329 days’ time, things will be totally different. I’ll be swinging my arm around my head in Pete Townsend-esque guitar circles. Just for funzies. We shall see, dear readers, we shall see. 🤞