I Think I Tore My Shoulder

The tail-end of this television week is light. Last night had almost nothing on and tonight is equally light. I had big plans for these two nights and was hoping to catch up on some other things to reduce my large work-load.

Unfortunately something happened last night. I still have no idea what, but the result was a massive, horrible, shooting, throbbing pain in my right shoulder. At first, I barely noticed it and thought it was just a bit of momentary pain from sitting badly (for example, a pinched nerve in my arm caused by pressing it against the chair’s arm-“rest”). However the pain continued to shoot and throb and eventually I came to the realization that this was not a regular, fleeting pain, but something new, something serious.

Having no other choice, I just ignored it (as best I could). However, this quickly turned out to be nigh on impossible. The pain increased to the point that I could not ignore and became the overarching feature of the night. It eventually plateaued and leveled out (I guess it had reached the maximum possible), so again, having no recourse, I chose to just continue working and watching.

After a while, having a continuous ache in my shoulder was too much to bear and I could not concentrate on what I was doing anymore. I gave in and took the laptop up so that I could continue watching my Supernatural marathon in bed. However even that soon proved too much and I could not concentrate on the show. I noticed that every time I would doze off for a moment, I didn’t feel the pain (as much), so I shut down and tried to just sleep.

Sadly, sleep would not come. This is painfully typical; I doze off when trying to stay awake to watch something, but when I give up and turn it off, as the Persian saying says, “the sleep/drowsiness jumps from my head”. Sleep was made all the more elusive due to the pain.

I tried tossing and turning, pulling my arm, pushing it, twisting it, and generally looking for a position in which it would not hurt so that I could just hold it like that from then on. Unfortunately there was no such position; my shoulder always hurt. I found that moving it was the closest thing to a restful position; that is, whenever I moved it into a new position, it wouldn’t hurt as much during the move, but once it came to a stop, the pain would resurge. I even tried sleeping on my arm in an attempt to cut off the circulation and put it to sleep, but even that didn’t help (mostly because the pain was in my shoulder, not my arm).

Then I tried something else. (This part gets a little wonky because trying to describe such abstract things for which humans generally have no words is a Herculean task, even for wordsmiths.) I figured I would give mind-over-matter a shot and attempted to just think the pain away. Whenever it would shoot, I would try to mentally absorb the pain. This actually, nearly worked. It’s hard to describe it, but the normal pain had a sort of texture/color/vibration/feel to it. Whenever I would “meditate the pain”, it would change in a way and the closest that I can come to describing it is to say that it “turned blue”.

It really did dull the pain a little, but like trying to trim your waistline by holding in your stomach or strengthening the groin by doing Kegle excercises, it only works if you continually do it without stopping. This requires constantly focusing on the task and that is just impossible, especially when you are trying to sleep. I quickly found that it was untenable and I could not keep doing it for every throb every few seconds.

I did manage to fall asleep, but I kept waking up every 30 or so minutes. Over the seven hours, I woke up in pain at least a dozen times. They say that you don’t feel pain when you are asleep, but then why did I keep dreaming that I was in pain and had a broken arm and such? Every time I woke up, I would wish to fall asleep and stay asleep until the morning and for the night to be over so that I can go to the hospital.

The last time that I woke up was at 4:26am. The next time I dozed off, I stayed asleep until 7am when I had to get up to give my cat her insulin. At that point, I was afraid of getting up and moving my arm because it didn’t seem to be hurting. I hesitatingly got up and went about the day. While my shoulder did throb a slight bit and I could feel the pain gurgling under the surface, it never actually flared up again.

I always thought that I could take pain if I had to and could use my mind to ignore it if I had no other choice. I still think that if it is a pain due to external damage like a cut or stab, then I could. However an internal pain like this one is the kind that “aches to your bones” like nausea from a cold or “withdrawl pain”; and that is a pain that nobody can tolerate.

I still don’t know what happened or what caused it. My best guess is that it happened after taking the garbage out that night (about an hour before the pain started). This makes sense because I held the 20LB+ bag of used kitty-litter in my right hand, so it could have stretched my arm and torn a muscle or pinched a nerve or something. Of course I have taken out the garbage and carried heavy things countless times before (including last week), so why it would all of a sudden do so much damage is a mystery. I’m just glad that it got better so fast.

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