Friday, January 13, 2012

Writers' arse? Try writers' back.

Voltaran. Ibuprofen. Muscle relaxants. Sling. Temazepan. Panadeine Forte. Ultrasounds. Ice. Naproxen. Cortisone injections. Anti-inflammatory gel. Tiger balm. Kenesio taping. Physiotherapy. Sports medicine. X-rays. Remedial massage. Chiropractor. Pilates. Massage.

These are all the treatments and medications I've used since I screwed up my shoulder in Greece last July. The technical term (though I like "screwed") is bursitis, which is a type of rotator cuff injury. It was due to bad posture exacerbated by dragging a suitcases on and off Greek islands.

It hurt a frackload. I cried in hotel rooms, alone. It was pathetic. I ignored "one to two tablets every four hours; do not exceed more than 6 in 24 hours" instructions on inadequate over-the-counter-medications. I could not lie flat on my back.

There were a few funny moments.  Like when I accidentally took a muscle relaxant (from the ER on Crete; at last some real drugs), a sleeping tablet and painkiller all at once one night. Visions of Heath Ledger and Marylin Monroe flashed through my head, along with the headline, "Soon-To-Be YA Novelist Dies Alone in Hotel Room of Presecription Drug Cocktail Overdose". I made myself a coffee and watched Greek news till I thought I was out of choking on my own vomit territory.

I had to sprint for the plane in Athens, and a thong [flip-flop] broke. The crappiest underwear ever threatened to fall down, and I couldn't pull them up with only one arm (busted one in a sling) and still hold onto my carry-on. I must have looked a total DINGBAT running through Athens airport barefoot and stopping every few metres to yank my knickers up. Would that I had worn shorts.

Somewhere over the Pacific my feet and ankles swell up to nearly twice their normal size. At this stage I haven't laid down flat on my back for a week and a half. Sleep happens in armchairs, air plane or ferry seats. Lymph drainage has all but ceased.

When I return home I see my GP, who takes me off the muscle relaxants and put me on Panadeine Forte. Two things: 1. Codeine, and 2. Wheeeeeeeeee. If you've had your wisdom teeth out you'll know what I mean. He also sends me for an ultrasound. The radiographer can find nothing wrong. The GP can find nothing wrong. More tears, and insistence that I'm not faking. Two weeks without having slept lying down.

A sports medicine doctor looks at my scans, takes me off everything except Epic Dose Voltaran and shoots me full of cortisone. (Literally. Straight into the shoulder, front and back. Motherfracking OW.) Third week of sleeping sitting up.

A week later I start remedial massage. I want to punch my physio in the face. She's incredibly sweet and apologetic. I hate her. I have the dubious pleasure of having one of the worst arms she's ever seen. All the muscles have either freezed up and feel like steel cables, or have shut down and withered to nothing. There's a hole where my trapezoid should be.

Finally, after a month of sleep in armchairs, I can lie down in a bed again. Much sleeping ensues.

I have gained back a lot of strength in my left arm. I can now lift a full bottle of red wine with my left hand and pour myself a glass. THANK GOD. IT'S THE IMPORTANT THINGS YOU MISS. My chiro has been fantastic. The x-rays were eye opening. My spine bends and curves in all these strange ways, probably due to being quite tall, growing fast as a teenager and a lot of waitressing in my early 20s.

I spend all my day at work at a computer, and a lot of my time at home on one too. All my energy is directed forward (at the keyboard) and my back is very weak. I slouch. I have uneven posture. My core "isn't engaged". It's getting better, but it's bloody hard to remember to work and tell your muscles how to behave all at once. I would also rather go home and write rather than go to pilates.





  1. Commiserations, I too spent most of 2011 at the massage therapist/acupuncturist/GP/physio with bursitis in m right shoulder that led to bursitis in the left one (from not being able to use the right!). In December, terrified that I'd have to be spoonfed my Christmas lunch, I succumbed to the lure of the cortisone injection. Now desperately trying to build up all the supporting shoulder muscles before it wears off. Hope your recovery continues at full steam! A

  2. Ohhhhhhhh SUCKS. Two shoulders? That's just awful. I hope you get a bit of muscle back soon! And treat yourself to a massage.

  3. Ouch! Hope it's better soon, for both of you. My worst so far was a sprained ankle falling over on my way to work one cold, dark, wet morning. I sat with my leg up for a week. At least I could write.

  4. Oh that sucks Sue :( Yes at least you could write.

  5. Try walking on a treadmill while you work. I know it sounds strange but I've been working at home now for 5 years or so. The first year I sat on my butt for the 8 hours I worked and then parked in front of the fire and read another 4 or so. I had SUCH back and hip pain. I got a tred desk (but you could use an upright buffet or create your own high desk out of plywood and crates.) I now walk five hours a day while I work. It dosen't have to be fast I only walk at 1.5 miles per hour which allows me to type, make calls, and do my other job duties all without panting or being in fear of falling over. I have no back or hip pain at all anymore and as a bonus I've lost 30 lbs. It was the best think I've ever done for my health.

  6. I get Writer's face...I have eczema and when I write I have this weird thing of rubbing my face, so I know when a session's gone well because I'll get up with itchy, dry skin :/