Shoulder Season

Shoulder season, for our purposes today, is two things. It’s the transitional times between spring and summer, and then summer and fall, and it’s also this strange purgatory I find myself in, still recovering from the broken collarbone I gifted myself in April.

Yesterday, Dr. Endo flickered and popped on my phone’s cracked screen, his audio breaking up and echoing. This is the state of play in medical care now. It took me a little while to understand, but finally he said, “Shoulder Impingement Syndrome.”

What he confirmed was both that my collarbone is not broken again, AND that one-hundred-percent of my physical issues begin in my brain. The brain is a neither/nor sort of place that is somehow both a physical organ and a chimeric, non-physical organ, the fount of all mental illness.

At some stage, maybe I’ll make you a list of all the issues I have, just so you can have that chuckle. It’s a compendium of new injuries, lingering damage, and the mental trauma that underlies all of it, a list that gets additions more than it gets subtractions in accordance with the Law of Entropy.

Systems tend toward disorder. Bodies. Minds. Souls.

The shoulder is a busy place, it seems. Three bones come together in a complicated way with a group of muscles and their tendons, and when you break that system in some way, like by fracturing the end of your collarbone, healing can be complicated. Possibly there’s a bone spur from my re-fused clavicle that’s irritating the bursa, a sac of stuff that keeps it all from rubbing against each other too much, and causing the whole system to seize up.

That’s what I’m experiencing, a sudden seizing with a side order of pain, when I move my arm a certain way. I can do a lot with that arm, but the things I can’t do let me know they’re off limits in an intolerably rude way. That no-go jolt of nerve messaging leaves me holding my breath and waiting for the high keen of pain to subside. It sucks.

Dr. Endo felt strongly that I had not rebroken my collarbone, and that highlighted how my primary problem is mental, because I’ve spent the last couple weeks worried that I was running around with a cracked clavicle and that every step I took was making that situation worse. To be honest, I have not actually been running around. I’ve been on the couch, freaking out, which is worse, because inactivity exacerbates the churn in my anxietal cortex (that’s not a thing really).

I like Dr. Endo. He related a story about his own shoulder injury and the time it took to heal. He told me I just needed to be patient (HA!!!). And then he implied that I needed to be extra patient, because I’m not young anymore. I liked Dr. Endo.

Here is the good news. It’s shoulder season. Tomorrow, the humidity will be gone, the air will be crisp, and I will run on rested legs down trails that are beginning to pile with leaves. I’ll feel a little less crazy, because I’m not as broken as I thought, and I’ll want to get as much of that refreshingly cool air in my lungs as I can before we tip over into ice and snow.

I have a fresh referral for physical therapy and a new opportunity to learn patience. What could possibly go wrong?

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