PSA: “Boy this pain sure hurts; but if I don’t go to the doctor and get it diagnosed, then it doesn’t exist.”

At some point, I injured my left shoulder. I don’t remember it happening; but I tore something, then ignored it, then the pain increased, then there was calcium build-up.

I told Baird, the night before my appointment with Dr. Hummel, that I assumed there was some kind of training in medical school where doctors learn that the answer to the question, “How long has this been going on?” is going to be a lie and that they should conservatively add about 3 months to whatever answer the patient gives.

“About 6 months”, I answered.

Research says that ‘Impingement’ often happens in young athletes like swimmers or tennis players. It also occurs in professions where there is a lot of heavy lifting over the head, like wallpaper hangers or construction workers. It also happens in middle-aged people.

Whatever. I’m going with it being an old sports injury. I’ve never played sports; but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The moral of this blog entry is this:
If something hurts, go find out what it is.


Instead, I (of the I-hate-going-to-the-doctors-office clan) ignored it for as long as I could and therefore had to sit through the “If only we had caught this earlier” speech from the doctor on Tuesday.

“If we had caught this earlier, we could have treated it with a cortisone shot to reduce the inflammation and manage the pain…”

“If we had caught this earlier, we could have treated it with exercises to avoid the (and I quote) build-up you allowed to occur (end of quote)…”

It all boils down to the fact that now, to put my arm behind my back and touch my wrist to the middle of my back requires an act of God and two very strong Percocet pills.

I go back next week for an MRI to see if there’s a tear in the shoulder tendon – meaning surgery – or if it is just the calcium build-up which we will then try to break down with exercises.

Dr. Hummel demonstrated the exercises, pausing long enough to raise his index finger and say, “Remember!just because something hurts doesn’t mean it’s bad for you.”

Clearly, Dr. Hummel has never met me.

I have very successfully navigated through life with the adage, “If something hurts – run! Go the other way!!” But this is different. I now stand in my kitchen with my little brochure of exercise steps and teary-eyed, trudge my way through them; hoping some magical something will snap and my arm will move freely again. He also gave me Celebrex to reduce the swelling.

Anyone who wants to do surgery on me says the same thing, “You’ll have to go off your heart medication for a week before the surgery.” Um, no. Not happening if at all possible.

So avoiding surgery is my highest priority; horrid shoulder exercises included.

My public service announcement to my dear, aging (but hey, let’s just call it sports-related) friends is: watch out for stupid pains and go see your doctor before he wags his finger and spouts dumb adages about keeping a stiff upper lip.

Which coincidentally, could be a impingement impairment as well.


One thought on “PSA: “Boy this pain sure hurts; but if I don’t go to the doctor and get it diagnosed, then it doesn’t exist.”

  1. thanks for the reminder . . . put calling my GI doc on my Google task list for Monday. I am afraid of lab work (not of getting stuck, just of the results) . . . That I can quit blowing off my mom if she asks if I’ve made the appointment because of new symptoms.

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