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What You Can Ignore And What You Cannot, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:39am

Yesterday I woke up with a shoulder so sore I said “Ow!” out loud, repeatedly, even when I wasn’t moving. I had injured it 3-4 years ago by, get this, trying to shrug on a tight leather jacket. And now the pain was back. It really hurt.

Adding ridiculousness to injury, I think I re-irritated it by lying in bed in the morning, holding my phone to read it/type. (Also I just looked up “ridiculousness” because I thought there must be a better word that I couldn’t remember, but there isn’t.)

Who gets injured by their clothes and their information devices?

I could wander off into a consideration of aging at 61, and small but painful hiccups – are they a Scroogian “blot of mustard” or a glimpse of mortality and all we do not know –but let’s not! Let’s take a determined optimistic approach to ignoring what we cannot answer! Let’s listen to the dishwasher humming and the heater blowing and be so happy it’s Saturday morning! It’s a skill, cheerfulness.

But if we are lucky, and we have the capacity to put our personal Dickensian fragments of undigested potatoes aside, maybe we should rededicate ourselves to a better world. Those things no one can ignore.

Have a good weekend everyone – good’s going to have to mean everything from clean dishes to peace on earth.

34 Responses

  1. Be careful with that shoulder! I did the same thing a few years ago and lived with off and on pain until one day I stopped at the drive through atm and reached my arm out and my shoulder hurt so badly I needed to pull into the parking lot and cry! When I realized I was washing my hair with one hand to avoid the shoulder pain I finally went to the doctor who said it was frozen shoulder (I had never heard of this before!). I went to 6 months of physical therapy and saw a lot of improvement but it took another 6 months of doing the exercises on my own before it was totally gone.

    1. @MarlaD, Thank you! This is a tendenosis of the deltoid and upper head of the bicep. Body parts I didn’t use to know existed:). Glad you are all the way recovered.

  2. Gosh I hope that you do not have a frozen shoulder like I did two years ago and do now on the opposite side…there is considerable pain and movement is restricted…the pain is more acute at night in bed…there are good exercises for it and massage and physio really help. Fingers crossed it is not frozen…
    Good luck.

    1. @Bungalow Hostess, I remember when you had that first, so sorry it’s on the other side now. This is a tendenosis – it’s a tad better today and I am doing some light yoga hopes of fairly speedy recovery.

  3. I think I had frozen shoulder that, as hostess said, was especially sore at night. I just thought it was muscle soreness from pulling my covers on & off all night due to night sweats. Little did I know it was a real thing! But just as I was ready to make an appointment with my doctor, it went away on its own. When reading of the strange cause of your injury I think of my mom who had to go to the emergency room one Thanksgiving. She pulled a muscle in her leg from chasing a slick turkey sliding down our long kitchen counters as she was trying to stuff it. Needless to say she was the talk of the ER that year. I hope you feel better soon.

  4. Not a frozen shoulder here but instead a tear in the rotator cuff. I felt like a bird with a broken wing. When I couldn’t even bring a glass of wine to my mouth, I realized it was time to see the doctor! After months of physical therapy, I returned to normal activities and was thankful not to have needed surgery. I am now more aware of better body mechanics. No more lifting heavy objects above my head. Hope you get relief and heal.

    1. @Jane, Thank you. Great you could avoid surgery.

      I’ve also realized that typing on the computer irritates my injury. I just can’t let it stop me from writing, that would be too sad.

  5. Hello Lisa, There are many painful shoulder syndromes, so it is important to get a diagnosis. I am going through it myself, and as the people above indicated, several months of therapy and most important the right exercises really result in an improvement.

    In Taiwan they call it the “50-year shoulder”, so by their standards you have been keeping quite fit.

    Good luck, and by the way, Happy Chinese New Year!

    1. @Parnassus, Sorry you are going through this too!

      I have a diagnosis, tendonosis, good thing, but there’s no simple solution as you know:(.

      Gong xi fa cai to you too!

  6. Lisa, I’m really sorry you are in pain. I am the same age as you and notice the number of chronic problems creeping up.
    I have been meaning to tell you that you write beautifully.


    1. @luci short, Thank you very much.

      And I know it’s related to aging but I just can’t seem to understand just what the mental space to accept that is like…

  7. Oooh. Sorry! Husband has a bad rotator cuff. Needs surgery but he’ll have none of that (yet). He did buy a Tens machine and gets some relief from that.

    Clean dishes and peace are wonderful


  8. I once pulled a muscle in my neck by trying to pull a tight turtleneck on over my big head. I guess fashion injuries are more common than we think. And painful… especially when exacerbated by information devices…:)
    Hope your shoulder feels better soon.

  9. So sorry that you are in pain. Let’s hope that this is nothing serious and that it will be better soon.
    As a young girl,I was training archery and once pulled muscle in my neck,watching the pose in the mirror-it was neither sport nor fashion but vanity injury :-)
    Take care

  10. Not going to talk injury or mortality (although I did break my fibula–in two spots! — way back when, out on a walk with my husband, no derring-do involved), but I relate very much to your resolute turn to optimism this morning. I was awake from 2:30 to 5 this morning with anxiety about all sorts, mortality folded intricately into the mix of concerns, and when I woke again just before 8 (a very late hour for me!), I was still feeling. . . well, stuff. Took me half an hour writing my three morning pages to get it sorted, and I’m looking for the good stuff this morning. Finding it, too. Knowing the other lurks, but that some of it I just can’t change. Helps to have company. xoxo

  11. As you know, I’ve recently had cause to spend time in physical therapy. To my good fortune, my physical therapist is trained in the mind-body connection. She’d even read Bessel van Der Kolk’s How the Body Keeps the Score. It has helped me, as I go through the process of healing, to work on what you describe here, which is finding the place where I respect my body’s injury but do not become it. At my lowest point, when pain was keeping me up nights, I went into a Monday morning physical therapy appointment exhausted and in pain, and told my therapist how I was. She suggested there might be an element of stress exacerbating my pain. I was both skeptical and hurt she doubted my report of my own physical feelings, but after we looked at the news stories raining down, and she directed me to an On Being piece on empathy fatigue, I realized she was right. I listened to the On Being piece, which I now recall writing about to you before—sorry, three concussions, I have blank spaces:)—and listened to the guided meditation at the conclusion. The next day I was in less pain because I relaxed my mental and physical muscles. So yes to, “Let’s take a determined optimistic approach to ignoring what we cannot answer!” I’ve been very lucky to have a strong physical body with no permanent injuries of any kind until this point. I decided I’ll bring my body back to that as much as I can, and I think that is 100%, though I’m still a work in progress. My dad was my role model for this kind of optimistic approach to life. He was smart, realistic, and optimistic, which I used to find a mismatched set of traits. Now I want to emulate him sans analysis. In injured-by-clothing stories? I got trapped in a sports bra alone in my house in SF. It was initially amusing and then became somewhat terrifying. I made it out with superficial wounds, and a new respect for sports bras. Gong xi fa cai. x.

    1. @Katherine C. James, I feel like we’re verging on the creation of a new horror genre. I’ve totally been attacked by sports bras, to the point where I am reluctant to wear them. I should throw them out, but, what if they then become vengeful?


    2. @Katherine C. James, I can relate, as I too was once trapped in a sports bra, with my arms above my head! Luckily my husband was home and able to free me. I have now taken to wearing only front closing sports bras.

      1. This is the best. I want the New Yorker to publish a short story with this as the premise. I put my sports bras in the dryer specifically to break down their iron grip of “stretch.”

  12. I swear I never knew that shoulders were such a big deal but everyone I know of a certain age has had shoulder issues. Good luck!

    1. @JC, Thank you!

      To be precise, mine is a deltoid pull and upper bicep tendenosis, but, hey, it’s all shoulder to me.

  13. One benefit of retiring from work is that I no longer was getting terrible pains ain the base of the thumbs from so much computer use.

    I was so surprised when it came back with a vengeance two weeks ago. But only in the left hand. I couldn’t figure it out until I caught myself gripping the phone all morning as I instagrammed and facebooked and …..

    How ridiculous is it to need your husband’s help to pick up the full coffee pot because of social media??

    1. @Loretta Marvel, Ha! So glad to hear I am not alone!

      Hope you heal fast. And glad you don’t have to go to work, where you would not have the option to lay off the thumb work:).

  14. Can totally relate – had a terrible bout of de Quervain’s tendonitis (thumb) from holding the cell phone….needed physio and a cortisone injection into the tendon sheath. Now I’m super careful about over-use injuries.
    Get well soon!

    1. Thank you – and if this doesn’t clear up quickly I will go in for a cortisone shot. Had one when I first injured it, definitely helped.

  15. I hope you are feeling better by now!

    A group of 10 of us are nursing sore calves of all things, from snowshoeing down a mountain over the weekend. Definitely an over 50 and in a couple of instances, over 60, injury.

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