This is a very brief reflection on pain.
As of 10 AM this morning when I received my official diagnosis, I am a person with a 'frozen shoulder'. Left one. I fit the profile - a woman, age 40-60 with an endocrine disorder (Thyroiditis).
I'm very fortunate. The pain has already subsided and the prognosis is good for a complete recovery.
There are people who live with intractable pain who have to learn how to manage their pain in order to make it through the day.
God only knows how they make it through the night.
I'm not one of those people.
My range of motion is seriously inhibited by pain. Sharp, white-hot, stabbing pain that feels as if my shoulder is about to separate from my body when it doesn't feel as if my arm is going to melt and pour right out my fingers in molten lava.
I went to see a 'shoulder specialist' today. Mind you, he's an orthopedic surgeon for disorders of the shoulder, elbow and wrist. This is different from an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in disorders of hips, knees and ankles.
Such is life in this brave new world.
I think he is 12, if he is a day, my fancy orthopedic specialist. Handsome. Very handsome. Blond. Blue Eyes. Highly educated. Board certified. Very sincere. Compassionate.
"My wife says my fan club consists of females who are either eight or eighty."
And, cute. Very cute.
He said, "If you were alone on a deserted island, you would be completely healed in two years. With therapy, we can shorten that to 6-8 months."
"Six to eight months??" I said, trying not to raise my voice - or curse.
"Baseball players get sidelined for a season with this."
"Last time I checked, baseball players were not women aged 40-60 with an endocrine disorder."
My handsome young doctor chortled. Out loud. Right in front of me.
"We can manage the pain with a cortisone shot into the joint."
"No thank you," I said.
"It will help you do your PT more efficiently and effectively," said my handsome, 12 year old MD.
"No thank you," I said.
"Naproxin, then, twice a day, on a full stomach will work well," he said, "I'll call it into your pharmacy. Start on it tonight. You still won't be able to sleep on your left side, but you'll sleep better."
"Sounds doable," I said.
"You can always call the office and just set it up to come in for a shot."
"Not going to happen."
"It just feels like a bee sting. Then, your shoulder will curse at you a bit that night. Ice it and, after that, you'll be fine."
"And, that will last . . . how long?"
"Oh, sometimes two days, sometimes, two weeks, sometimes two months, sometimes, the pain never comes back."
"No thank you."
"Okay. Apply heat. As often as you can apply it."
"I will," I said. And, I do. It helps. A lot.
"You'll come back in two months and we'll evaluate the need for surgery."
"Oh, there won't be surgery," said I.
"Okay, then," he said, smiling, "I'll see you in two months."
I think what pains me most is the pain that comes from out of left field.
Like, when I go to reach for the cup of tea at my bedside and the pain is so excruciating I drop it. I've broken two mugs in the past two weeks in just this manner.
Like, when I make a sharp right turn and can't negotiate the wheel as I once did and for a few seconds, wonder if I'm going to cause an accident.
Like, when I try to elevate the elements at the Eucharist and can only get so far.
I'm trying not to be a baby about this. I know lots of people suffer this and much worse pain.
As I've begun to talk about it, I'm absolutely amazed at how many people have had this. How many manage to get through it "for a season".
I have no patience for this "season of pain".
I suspect that's why it has come. Because pain has much to teach me about patience. These are the lessons I need most to learn.
I suppose, stubborn and willful as I am, I couldn't these lessons bout patience any other way.
The Princess Bride."
My kids and I have seen this so many times we can actually do the different parts - like Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I had forgotten about this scene, which is, in an of itself, a whole brilliant meditation about the nature of pain.
Prince Humperdinck: First things first, to the death.
Westley: No. To the pain.
Prince Humperdinck: I don't think I'm quite familiar with that phrase.
Westley: I'll explain and I'll use small words so that you'll be sure to understand, you warthog faced buffoon.
Prince Humperdinck: That may be the first time in my life a man has dared insult me.
Westley: It won't be the last. To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my tongue I suppose, I killed you too quickly the last time. A mistake I don't mean to duplicate tonight.
Westley: I wasn't finished. The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my ears, I understand let's get on with it.
Westley: WRONG. Your ears you keep and I'll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, "Dear God! What is that thing," will echo in your perfect ears.
That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.
I'll take a frozen shoulder any day - and twice on Sundays.
Six times before breakfast.
I'll take that with a side order of patience, please.
Make that a double.