The Shoulder is Back

About a month ago, my physical therapist ended my bi-weekly therapy appointments just before my final doctor’s appointment. At my final doctor’s appointment, my doctor said, “Still stiff up here at 12 o’clock but it’ll stretch out within the next 6-8 weeks. Don’t go back to physical therapy. It’s been a pleasure,” before sticking his hand out.

I’ve learned a lot from my shoulder injury. To refresh everyone’s memory, it was found that the entire front half of my labrum (cartilage which goes around and attaches your entire humerus/arm bone to your shoulder socket) was torn from dislocating my shoulder while snowboarding. In total, I dislocated it about 5 times from activities varying from changing, hot yoga, bouldering (that was stupid) to snowboarding (again). I subsequently had an arthroscopic SLAP repair performed. Three titanium anchors hold the front part of my labrum to my shoulder socket, now.

From physical therapy, I learned about the importance of strengthening the muscles around my scapula (shoulder blade) so that I stabilize my shoulder from the back while it’s engaged, since the hardware is in the front. With the go-ahead from the doctor and holding a few PT sessions in reserve with my health insurance, I knew I had to move on and keep active, to keep working on it.

For one, I was not going back to Bikram Yoga since during practice once upon a time pre-surgery, my shoulder actually came out while only preparing for locust (Salabhasana). When I told a studio live-in yogi about it, he said, “Your shoulder is weak; you need to do more yoga.” Well, yeah–at $20 per pop I can see why you’d say that. Other than the fact that I’m not crazy about the idea of risking dislocating my shoulder every time I practice, I knew I needed something that was more strengthening and more gentle without pushing even more flexibility with 110-degree heat. I can still do the forehead to shins with my knees locked out–but there has to be more meaning to yoga than being able to perform a bunch of circus acts.

There is such thing as too much flexibility. Strength stabilizes it.

Anusara Yoga is popular on my side of Los Angeles. It’s a newer form and incorporates more props and it really looks to the intention and proper execution of each posture; it’s a lot more careful than flow. Friday evening at City Yoga is yoga for gimps the Therapeutics class. It’s nice because she knows what injury you have and coaches and adjusts you, accordingly.

You can’t even tell that my yoga teacher has Multiple Sclerosis. So when she says that injuries and conditions are “gifts,” you’re more inclined to stifle that roll of the eyes. A gift? C’mon, give me a break. Without breaking something, though, you wouldn’t have thought to heal yourself. Everyone needs to heal themselves. Man, though, I’m not so sure about snowboarding injuries, sometimes.

When I’m doing poses focusing on my shoulders, she notes that it’s not my uninjured shoulder which is more integrated into the pose, but my injured shoulder. It is there, in that joint, that I’ve been made more aware of since I’ve been working on it. More effort has been stressed in the injured shoulder and so it has made more progress.

There’s this coworker of mine. He has this habit of asking me about my violin playing. I haven’t really played in a long time, so he certainly hasn’t heard me play–but he’s convinced that I’m good. Along with a third coworker (a drummer in a performing, touring band), the inquisitor will insist that we two need to “get together with his band and jam.” He wrote music and really wants us to play it for him. Especially interesting is that he’ll never think to set up a date or time, however. And, he has talked about it in intended future tense pretty much for about three years now.

Maybe he just needs something to say. Like a form cubicle passers-by conversation.

I had a post-op sling for about a week and a half. He genuinely seemed disappointed that it would be a few months before we could get together and play his music. Today, when I said my shoulder was almost ready to go, he said, “Now we can really get together and jam.”

Okay, so I’m “jamming” in other areas. Everything’s always a work in progress and a learning process, right?

Love,
*e