A Very Long Needle Inserted A Very Long Time

Six weeks of impatience, little sleep, and no small amount of pain have passed.  Ninety eternal minutes in the orthopedic surgeon’s waiting room prior to being seen culminated in an eight minute appointment and a road, only somewhat twisted, to recovery.

Confident upon arrival after having sat on the sidelines for almost two months, my bravado faded proportionate to my time elapsing in the waiting room.  Injuries associated with age and overuse can suck it.  I was one of the younger patients waiting, and people, let me tell you, getting old, like elderly old?  It is slow.  And loud,  And confusing.  I hate myself for seeking comfort through humor, but I felt anxious, so I began texting my friends (you wish they were your friends too)  a waiting room narrative.  I’ll share but a few highlights here.  Let’s just say that being a smart ass and falling out with nervous, inappropriate laughter seems to be the way I’m going to ride off into the sunset. Or hell if such a place exists.    

I just ached for the elderly woman so confused and upset over the foamy hand sanitizer. And the man who so loudly commandeered the rest room? Not funny at all now, really. Age and pain can strip one of one’s dignity right quick.  It’s rare that I’m the young’un anywhere anymore, and pain makes you do stupid things.  Me?  I laugh.  We’re hilarious, just ask us.  We are. 

The surgeon entered my examination room, and opened with, “I can’t tell you how much money is saved by my having a busy schedule.  You’re healing already, and I didn’t have to order an MRI to assist in the diagnosis.”  I was feeling more like, “Hi, I’m Wendy, pleasure to meet you, and my shoulder fucking hurts, man” but a surgeon’s instinct is to cut, literally and figuratively it seems, so there was no time for chit chat.  He cranked my shoulder around, I cried just a little because pain, and within minutes of making our acquaintance, he injected cortisone into my rotator cuff, and sent me off with a prescription for physical therapy.  Voila!  Au revoir!

I’d heard others sing of their miracle cortisone injections, so I too thought I’d be healed instantly as if Christ himself had laid hands.  Somehow even after almost five whole decades, I remain a total rube.  The needle covered the length of my pinky finger, but I’m tough, and the ninety minutes in the waiting room sapped me of any resolve I strode in with.  Just bring it on.  Immediately prior to and during its insertion was the time period in which Dr. Cortisone revealed his bedside manner, cracked wise a bit, and confirmed for me that I am in fact, pretty tough.  Injecting the drug, the actual push of the needle, felt minutes long instead of the probably forty seconds it was in real time, but a few days out, I do have increased range of motion.  I’m not back to normal (save your “normal” joke, thank you very much), but the trajectory is arcing up.

A new single titled Lookin’ Up was released this week, and I can’t help but feel buoyed by the Barenaked Ladies’ timing.  I am lookin’ up.  Even though I’m lookin’ down the barrel of a very large, very round birthday, there’s something positive on the horizon.  For example, now that I can attach my bra and apply deodorant without that familiar wince and accompanying tears, I could probably try to scrub the kitchen floor.   Oh yeah, that’s lookin’ up right there, y’all.



I Couldn’t Stand Being Left Out

I mentioned last week that I didn’t believe I had substantively much to offer here these days.  I’m saving my blogself for “The Road Trip” which is to commence in T-minus three days.  After rerouting no fewer than fifty-three times, at last our hotels are booked, activities planned and purchased where that could be done prior to arrival, and Caleb the Wonderdog has visited his day care provider, AKA my husband’s brother and his family, to acclimate.  *pleasedon’twreckalltheirshitpleasedon’twreckalltheirshitpleasedon’twreckalltheirshit* 

I’m 82.4% certain that this adventure is going to be pretty cool, and only 17.6% (but often it feels exactly like 100%) that my failure will go down in the annals of family history as epic.

I’ve dubbed 2017’s summer The Summer of Appointments.  I cannot recall two consecutive days where I haven’t trotted one or both children to a symphony of piano lessons, a dentist, orthodontist, orthopedic surgeon, pediatrician, emergency room, physical therapist, imaging department, or sports medicine specialist appointment.  And that doesn’t even include baseball practice or games, and my children do NOT maintain freakishly overscheduled lives.  Despite having been fitted for an orthodontic retainer of my very own at MY AGE, I must have been feeling neglected, left out.  I wanted my very own orthopedic injury.  Kid #1 has a broken collarbone and Kid #2 has that separation in his bone growth plate, but what about me??  I want to be like the cool kids.  Daddy, I want an Oompa Loompa, I want an Oompa Loompa right now!

Somehow I’ve destroyed my rotator cuff.

And yeah, I say “somehow” because I have not the slightest inkling how the injury occurred, aside from just being old(er).  Naturally I blame the dog for having pulled fiercely when I walked him, because he’s a total jerk on his purple leash, and only walks decently, OK, really, like a canine prince on his Weiss Walkie leash.  His misbehavior is the most likely culprit, legit.  In the runner-up spot for destroying my shoulder is yoga, but I do not believe that my centering has taken me this far off-center.  I don’t.  I don’t know how I wake up one day having lost the capacity to move, but who am I to argue with nature?  It hurts.  Like makes-me-cry hurts when I engage in certain angles of movement.  Getting old and overuse is Bachelor #3 for etiology, but I just don’t wanna go there. Crap. 

A short list of things rendered excruciating by a wrecked rotator cuff:

  1. Sleeping.  Holy shit you guys, what I wouldn’t do to sleep on my side or belly.  Or not wake up yelping in pain.
  2. Walking the Wonderdog, although with the Weiss Walkie leash, it’s mostly OK.  I feel like the Weiss people should flip me a couple bucks for my endorsement here.  Right?
  3. Putting on or removing a bra.  I have preparatory tears as I consider retiring to bed tonight.
  4. Sitting erect.
  5. Typing on my laptop.  I hate this computer, but until this week it hasn’t inflicted physical pain, just emotional.
  6. Hold the phone.  This is not figurative language.  It hurts to hold my cell phone in my hand at the position and angle needed to you know, see it.
  7. Washing my hair (and washing the floor, but let’s not fool around here–I’m no more likely to wash the floor now than I was before).  Most hygiene tasks are complicated–shaving my underarms or applying deodorant leap to mind–and if you think that’s too much information, clearly you are new here.  Welcome. How are ya?
  8. Cutting food with a knife and stirring.  Also, cutting pizza hurts like hell.
  9. Eating.  But I like to eat, so I suck it up.
  10. Pretty much extending my arm more than about 40 degrees in any direction, crossing midline, raising my arm, and moving my neck to the left.  Super for driving. And being.

I’m a quirky kind of ambidextrous.  I consider myself a lefty because I write and eat with my left hand; I also bat and play tennis left-handed.  But I throw with my right hand, cut food with my right when I eat (but when I prepare food, the chef’s knife is in my left), and I use a right-handed scissors.  What I do with one hand I absolutely cannot do with the other though. Drat my quirky.  It’s my left shoulder that’s jacked up, so my body is so confused.  And so, so tired.  I’d donate my spleen to sleep longer than three connected hours. Do you even need a spleen?  Like a lot?

Boo-hoo, Wendy, put on a brave face, load up with ibuprofen, and keep moving.  I am.  Like my firstborn, I am badass with pain.  At my husband’s insistence however, I made an appointment with my general practitioner yesterday.  I say my husband made me, but when I am willing to go see a medical professional for myself, you know I’m one step from the grave.  I don’t go to the doctor unless it’s categorically necessary.  Quirky one, right here.  But I went, was sent for x-rays, and referred to an orthopedic/sports med doc of my very own.  My appointment with the orthopedist?  September 14.  I’ll be paralyzed or have descended into madness from lack of sleep by then, so I’m gonna have to trust WebMD for all my physical therapy needs.  (Also, I’m gonna totally possibly hijack my son’s PT appointment this morning and inundate my ballplayer’s therapist with “hypotheticals” about rotator cuff injuries which are totally in line with pitcher’s rehabs, so my questions won’t sound completely out of left field. It’ll be our little secret though, OK?)

After a star-studded June and July, the Explanation of Benefits statements from our health insurance carrier have begun to roll in, and give it up for Wendy! I only snot-cried like once.  I don’t get paid again until mid-September, such is the life of a public educator, so I’m not all summer eager-beavery about all the checks I am going to have to write.  The Summer of Appointments price tag will run upwards of $4,000 out of pocket.  Maybe that’s not a king’s ransom for you, in which case, you’re quite fortunate.  It’s not going to bankrupt us, but I can’t say it doesn’t sting.  Oh, and I have “good” insurance.

As I checked into my imaging appointment yesterday, the receptionist informed me that they required a $50 co-pay prior to my admittance, and the facade cracked.  The guy next to me was yelling at the woman checking him in about not broadcasting his address (you know how they ask you questions just specific enough to confirm you’re who you purport to be? “And Mrs. Weir, you still live on South Sesame Street?” or “Your phone number ends in 7777?”), and I needed a moment.  Just a quick moment to collect myself.  My eyes prickled from pain, but also from that feeling of “Stop it, weird over-reacty guy! I just want to get out of here, stop yelling at her!” I stared intently into my purse, searching for please-don’t-cry-right-this-second.  Found it!

I’m down, but not out. Never out. I’m the mom, ain’t no time for pain. I got some great mail this week, and mail you can touch and hold from a friend who always seems to know just what you need never fails to buoy my spirits. And my shoulder. 

In my mind, my two sons and I are lined up รก la those see/hear/speak no evil monkeys, except we’re bandaged, casted, and splinted. I’m the short, hunched over one in the center.  A modern day visage of Larry, Moe, and Curly, us three.