About three weeks ago I was in kung fu, business as usual, and something in my right shoulder spontaneously imploded. The pain wasn’t nearly as bad as how much it scared me. I had surgery in my right shoulder a little less than a year ago. The smallest creek and pop in that shoulder makes me nervous because shoulder surgery sucks so horrendously I never want to do it again.
And the surgeon promised. The surgery would fix everything. This wasn’t supposed to be happening.
I went to my GP and she wasn’t comfortable making any kind of diagnosis, so immediately referred me to my orthopedic surgeon. I think after someone’s artificially reconfigured a part of your body, it permanently becomes their baby. But getting an appointment in orthopedics takes some waiting time.
The pain slowly retreated to soreness, but that never completely went away. It’s been like a cloud that’s hung over my head, day and night. I was terrified something had gone wrong, I’d need more surgery, and that I’d also have to permanently quit kung fu. That this would be it, just out of the blue, when I’d been doing everything the physical therapist told me. It wasn’t fair. (Life isn’t, but pain turns anyone into a six-year-old in their head.)
Well, I had my orthopedic appointment today. They did an x-ray series and my surgeon looked them over. He had me do all the little tests – push my hands down, flex my arms apart, reach behind me. Everything was all right. He showed me my new x-rays, and my old ones. In the old ones there was no space between my clavicle and shoulder joint, the ghostly images of my bones apparently connected. In the new x-rays, the artificial gap he created is still there, just as it should be.
Everything was fine, he said. I hadn’t undone anything, or created a new horrible twist in my skeletal system. It was probably just a muscle strain.
I felt lightheaded. I almost started crying, that was how good it felt to have the surgeon tell me that it was okay. And then he said I should go to kung fu tonight, and just take some ibuprofen and ice my shoulder later if I needed to.
And that’s what I did. My shoulder’s a little sore now, but I know I don’t have to be scared.
Having someone take away a fear is a kind of magic.