Friday, July 13, 2018

Notes on Arthroscopic Surgery (Future Tense)

By the time anyone reads this, the main event will be over. A done deal. But in the present (now past) moment, it isn’t.

It refers to repairs on my wrecked right shoulder. Or partially wrecked. I described how it happened not long ago. At right is my before photo. There’s no after photo yet.

Turns out the injury is worse than I thought. A doctor looked at it. He poked and prodded. He made me move in painful ways. He suggested a month of physical therapy. When that didnt help, he ordered an MRI.

The MRI report said, in part:
Acromioclalvicular Region: Moderate degenerative change acromioclavicular joint ... mild subacromial fluid collection.

Rotator cuff: Mild abnormal signal intensity and attenuation in the distal supraspinatus tendon. Mild abnormal signal intensity in the infraspinatus tendon ...

Biceps tendon: The long head biceps tendon subluxes over the lesser tuberosity into the distal subscapularis tendon of the distal 1 cm deep ...
Translation: you got some problems. So hes going to cut me open. Arthroscopic surgery. What they call minimally invasive.

By the time its over I’ll have a hole in my shoulder the size of a – well, I dont know what. The surgeon, in his clinical detachment, calls this hole a “port.” As I understand it, a scope is snaked through the port, and the procedure, this repair work, is done robotically.

My date with the arthroscope is July 12. It’s outpatient stuff. From the time I arrive at the surgical center until the time I leave, approximately five hours will elapse. Or so I’m told.

This post is, in effect, future tense. In The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defined future as “that period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.”

At left is a hypothetical after photo. I expect to be wearing a sling much like this one for ten days or so.

Then comes the rehab!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Shoulder to Shoulder

About two years ago I hurt my left shoulder in a silly mishap involving my bicycle. I still won’t call it a crash; more a slow-motion fall. I described the aftermath in two posts here (in way too much detail), although I didn’t write those until about six months later.

Now I’ve damaged my right shoulder. It hurts like hell.

As before, the injury involved a bike. I volunteer at Community Cycles, the local bike co-op, where on Sunday afternoons they graciously allow me to pretend I’m a bike mechanic. Last week I bent over the top tube of a bike (much like in the photo at left, though that probably isn’t me) to tighten the bolt of the non-drive side crank arm I had just replaced.

I got it snug. Probably snug enough. But to make sure, I gave it a Superman yank. And something in my shoulder went sproing!

It hurt like hell. It still hurts like hell.

There is no moral to this story. No denouement. Only a shoulder that hurts when I move a certain way. When I move that certain way, it absolutely gets my attention. I have not been sleeping well.

So I try not to use it. I won’t keep my arm in a sling. Immobilizing it might actually help, but who wants to give up use of a limb, even for a little bit?

This is a total bummer. Ordinarily the hours I spend in the bike co-op are happy ones. I guess I’ll be okay in the weeks and months ahead, provided I don’t tighten any crank arms.

This injury is different than the one a few years ago. Not as bad, I hope. I’m supposed to see my massage therapist in a few hours. It probably won’t help much, but it won’t hurt, either.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Podcasts are essential listening when I do my daily workouts. Each morning, up before the birds, I do a series of stretches and a few other things (the plank, e.g.) for about half an hour. Then, Im ready for the day.

Been doing this for years. Always, there are headphones clamped about my noggin. But a fella can only listen to so many episodes of Fresh Air before it gets ... stale. (I had to say that. Had to.)

So about a year ago I began looking for new listening material. Where to begin? As a first step I googled “interesting podcasts,” or something equally vague. Came across a list of podcasts with titles that bored me – except for one, Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, or Beautiful/ Anonymous for short. Intrigued, I listened to an episode called “My Aussie Best Friend.” Got hooked.

Also began listening to Stay Tuned with Preet last summer, which I have described elsewhere. Still listen to that. A new one gets uploaded each Thursday. More recently I’ve become a convert to Pod Save America.

In a coffee shop the other day, I asked the woman behind the counter about her t-shirt, which read “Toxic Masculinity.” She said it had to do with a podcast called My Favorite Murder. I listened to an episode the next day. So far, so-so – but Ill listen again. And the t-shirt is cool.

You can find most, probably all, of these podcasts on your nearest smartphone, or on Podbay, among other places.

Even before all of the above, I was an occasional listener to This American Life, and its direct-to-podcast offspring Serial. These, in turn, led me to S-town.

S-town, or Shit Town if you prefer, turned out to be – pardon the cliché – haunting. It is, its website says, “about a man named John who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it.” He convinces a This American Life producer to investigate what John says is a murder/coverup in his shit little town.

S-town is a limited podcast spanning seven segments, or chapters, each one about an hour long. Midway through the second chapter it becomes clear there was, in fact, no murder or coverup. That should have been enough to send the producer packing. Then something else happened. If it hadn’t happened, there would have been no S-town podcast. But it did, and so there is.

No spoilers here. I shan’t spill any beans. I’ll only say that as I listened, I found myself recalling A Confederacy of Dunces, one of my favorite novels. Written in the early 1960s by John Kennedy Toole, and set in New Orleans, it is the story of Ignatius J. Reilly. “When a true genius appears in the world,” spake Jonathan Swift, “you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

Fictional genius Ignatius reminds me of S-town’s real-life genius John (above, with snake), known to most as John B. Among other things, John B created the maze seen below. The similarities between the two are superficial, Ill grant you that. Both of them way smart, both lonely and isolated southerners. Both with a grim worldview. That may be about it.

Anyway, I recommend it. All of these podcasts, even those I make only passing reference to, are recommended – even My Favorite Murder.

I forgot to mention RadioLab! And Criminal! And I still love Fresh Air!