Wednesday, December 21, 2011

relativity of pain

This was my week of answers. And if you ever doubt that worrying won't make things better, I like to think that my worrying about a worst-case scenario for the shoulder has paid off in a better diagnosis than expected. The wait for the MRI report was mentally excruiating and I promise I won't schedule a Friday test again.

When I saw Dr Mike on Tuesday, he went over the written report with its medical terms like acromiom, subacromial and supraspinatus. A few terms I'd heard before, but I'd have to look them up online to remember what they were. What we were looking for was whether the labrum was torn. We went to the computer to look at the images and he pointed out all the places things were injured, reminding me that most of his earlier diagnoses were confirmed (like the impingement and swollen bursa).

He showed me that I did indeed have the labral tear, albeit a small one. Not as bad as when he tore his a few years ago when he crashed doing 50 mph on his snowmachine. (I love active doctors who get what it's like to be a patient.) He recommended a consult with a surgeon to confirm that it wasn't bad enough for surgery and to start treatment with a cortisone shot - but only when I was ready to commit to his regimen which I'd need to stick with for seven days to get the best result from the shot. Okay, I scheduled it for the next day - today.

At noon today, I let him do the shot into the right shoulder. After the assistant applied my Hello Kitty bandage (nice touch) I moved the arm around and massaged from the area of the injection toward any area where I felt pain for about two or three minutes. Then it was the ice pack for 40 minutes. It was a piece of cake. The worst part was driving home in my manual-transmission car. It fact, that's been one of the most painful things I do, but I can't just switch hands.

Now, my regimen for seven days is this: Contrast therapy (5 min. ice; 15 min heat; repeat) then apply his special "Dr Mike's Sports Cream," followed by 5 or so minutes of neck & shoulder stretches. I must do these four times a day! As I write, I have a heating pad on my shoulder - tip: oversized fashion scarves are great at holding a heating pad in place.

There are a few things I find interesting about this week's experiences. First, after I learned the tear was not as bad as I'd thought, the pain diminished throughout the day so that by evening it was not too bad. I'm fascinated by how involved my brain has been in interpreting my pain. Second, after reading over the MRI report at home, something was missing; I confirmed it with Dr Mike today - the rotator cuff is not torn after all!

I'm newly optimistic about the treatment, hoping that the shot and the PT will help me avoid surgery, hoping I have a faster recovery and am on the bike when the pavement clears. After all, I have places to ride, things to see and do, candles to burn on both ends. Those are some great thoughts for this solstice. I'm on the upswing.

Before I sign out, I want to thank you - my friends, family and followers - for your words of support and encouragement. It really helps to have you share your experiences and kind words. Happy return of the sun; and Happy Holidays! Cheers!


Anonymous said...

Glad you got good news.

Alaska's Dirt said...

I am glad you are feeling better and that your shoulder is turning to a successful healing. Have a great holiday and see you next year Rose!

bikegirl said...

I liked last week's news, then this week I saw the specialist who said the only way to fix the shoulder is surgery. Bah-humbug! Emotional roller-coasters aren't my thing. We'll carry on and keep the energy focused on making it good as possible w/out going under.

Jianna Gonzalez said...

Keep blogging.

Jianna Gonzalez said...

Keep blogging.