Monday, January 16, 2012

Off the Cuff

For the past 6 weeks, I’ve been having trouble with my left shoulder. It probably stems from one of my many bike crashes, and chances are, it’s a partially torn rotator cuff.  I know I should have seen a doctor sooner, but since I was right handed, it didn’t seem like HUGE problem, so I decided to take a wait and see approach. And during that time, it didn’t get better, or worse. It stayed the same, which basically amounted to me not being able to lift anything higher than my chest – and I do mean anything.  For example, since our refrigerator opens to the right, I reach in with my left hand, and if I have to get a half-gallon of milk, I can’t lift it. Unless it’s half-full.

So rather than see a doctor, I resigned myself to purchasing milk in quarts. Sure, it cost a little more, and we ran out more often, but better that than meeting with a medical professional, right?  And so what if I couldn’t raise my arms to properly put on a sweater – it’s been a mild winter anyway.  Not to mention that there are people out there with no arms who manage to get by. Surely I could manage with one and a half.

But then came dinner at the Outback. They were on an hour wait, so we (me, my wife, and two-year old son) were hanging out in the crowded waiting area. I went over to the bar to get us some drinks while she entertained Eli, and came back to find them seated at a skinny counter-type table in the middle of the room. I handed Sarah her wine and took a sip off my 22-ounce beer before resting it on a narrow shelf in order to help Eli color a picture.

Time flew as the people waiting for a table made a fuss over Eli, who is rather charming, and before we knew it, our buzzer was going off to be seated. I scooped up Eli in my right arm and reached with my left to grab my beer…and couldn’t do it! I could not lift my arm high enough to reach the mug.

Now you can mess with my milk. And you can screw with my outfits. But you can not come between me and my beer!  Which is why 24 hours later, I had an appointment with an orthopedist.

It’s not that I’m afraid of doctors. In fact, unlike most of the guys I know, I’m up to date on all my physicals and have no problem making appointments when I’m sick for prolonged periods of time. But when it comes to certain things, like pain and discomfort, doctors can be sort of useless.

I’ll never forget going to a urologist. It took all my nerve to make that call and explain that I was having trouble peeing. One of the most basic of human functions, and I was having issues. But I swallowed my pride and went to see a specialist.

I nervously told him how I was an avid bike rider, and that after long bike rides, I was having difficulty  “starting” to pee. Fearing some sort of tumor or worse, I was more than annoyed with his expert advice, which was, and I quote, “To wait awhile after your ride before peeing.”

Seriously. His solution to my embarrassing problem was to wait an hour after riding before peeing. 8 years of medical school and that was the best he could do? I’m pretty sure I could have come up with that treatment plan on my own. Which is why I half expected the orthopedist to tell me that if it hurt when I raised my left arm, not to do it. 

But, I’m happy to report, that was not the case. I went in expecting to hear I needed surgery, and was relieved to learn that he was not overly concerned. He took some x-rays, gave me a prescription for some sort of anti-inflammatory gel, and had a trainer show me some exercises. If things don’t get better in a few weeks, then it’ll be MRI time.  

Granted, other than the prescription, he didn’t really do anything that me and WebMD couldn’t have handled, but it was still a relief to get an expert opinion. I know many people put off going to the doctor because they are afraid of getting bad news, but it’s better to get bad news now than terrible news later, so if you’re concerned about your health, make an appointment. The longer you wait, the worse it’ll get. Unless you’re having issues peeing, in which case, waiting apparently is the solution!

1 comment:

  1. Don't ever go to WebMD with symptoms! You'll have yourself convinced that you are dying of several dread diseases, and your doctor will want to slap you when you tell him about it all.