Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Frozen Shoulder

Every week in our LiveStrong  alumni class, we have a theme: this week it is using rubber bands for strength exercises. The advantages of these are that they are cheap and portable. With all sorts of good intentions, I bring these things when I am travelling. Times I used these while travelling? Zero. I also resolved to do some sort of strength training on the weekend. Thanks to Josh, we have a whole set of weights plus I have the therabands left over from my physical therapy days. No excuses..but I did have the cold from hell last weekend. I am still not fully recovered with my froggy voice, cough and constantly draining nose.

While explaining the bands, our instructor asked how many of us have gone through physical therapy. Almost every hand shot up. We are all cancer survivors though it isn't clear that cancer treatment was responsible for every fellow student's need for PT. My oncologist recommended it for me when she noticed a year out from diagnosis, I still couldn't lift my arm on the bad side. I am not sure which of the unholy trilogy (slash, poison and burn) was responsible. I am guessing radiation because during that phase, I had to be able to put my hands behind my head. Afterwards I could not. A woman in my yoga class had to delay radiation because she could not put her hands behind her head so the culprit in that case seemed to be surgery. Anyway, I declined the PT. I had gone through it before and knew the drill. Mobility to my shoulder has been restored to about 95% with all my stretching exercises. There is still some pain though.

Adhesive Capsulitis  aka  Frozen Shoulder. When the shoulder is not moved regularly, adhesions form and the joint fluid needed for mobility disappears making it even more difficult to move. Soon any movement is painful. I had broken the head of my humerus a year before entering Cancerland. They could not set the bone but said if I limited movement, it should heal on its own. I was also given the conflicting info that I would have to move it a little or I would get frozen shoulder. It hurt like hell to move the arm even a little. Two months later, the fracture was gone but the pain remained. I had a very severe case of frozen shoulder ad was sent 3x/week to PT. I had to take Vicodin to make these trips somewhat tolerable. One of the treatments consisted of me lying on my back while they pushed my arm back. When I started therapy, the angle my arm made with the table was about 45 degrees: ideal would be 180. By the time I quit, the angle was more like 135 degrees. They would push my arm back to the point of pain and hold it there. One therapist decided that I must be a wimp and pushed it beyond that point ignoring my screams. After that, I told him that would not ever happen again. I would consider it assault. I was given a bunch of exercises and equipment to be used at home including the therabands. The bill for PT was astounding though at the time, I had good insurance. After 3 months, I decided, I would treat myself. Still on the day I raced 750 miles to see Oliver's birth, I could not stretch out my left arm to pay the many tolls. EZ Pass would have been welcome. (I did get it for my many other trips). My left arm, the formerly broken one, is now just fine. The cancer arm, the right, is not completely though I can do almost everything I used to be able to do.

It is beautiful out but cold. I am waiting for the sun to burn a path through the ice that reformed overnight so I can run.

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