Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Old Shoulder

My left shoulder has been hurting recently. I can't remember injuring it, and it doesn't hurt a lot, but for several months it hasn't shown any sign of getting better, so I go to see my doctor.

The doctor makes me move my arms in various directions. I can do all of the movements with various amounts of pain, until she finally asks me to put my arms down straight then lift them both up in a big circle. I am surprised to find that I can lift my right arm OK, but not my left - it sticks out as though I can't get a mobile phone signal and am trying to send someone the letter 'J' in semaphore.

Perhaps if I were leading some kind of music and movement class I might need to make a big circle with my arms on a regular basis, but my usual activities don't include making a big circle with my arms. I suppose I assumed that I would be able to make a big circle with my arms should the need arise, and it is slightly disconcerting to find out that I can't make a big circle with my arms, that I probably haven't been able to make a big circle with my arms for months, and that I never realised that I couldn't make a big circle with my arms.

I sometimes feel a twinge in my shoulder when driving if I change gear from fourth to fifth, but living in London this doesn't happen often. The only times I really notice that it hurts is at night when I often wake up to find I've raised my arms up on to the pillow in my sleep. Perhaps I was dreaming of making a big circle with my arms, and my subconscious is telling me to give up the writing and instead become a leader of music and movement classes.

The doctor tells me that it is probably a torn rotator cuff. I like the sound of a torn rotator cuff. It is the sort of manly injury that a young sportsman or rock climber might get. Maybe in physio I will get to meet Roger Federer, and I will point to my shoulder and say "This? Torn rotator cuff. You know what it's like", and he will nod knowingly: "Ah yes - nearly had to pull out of Wimbledon with one of those" and we will both think ourselves lucky that we don't lead music and movement classes for a living. The torn rotator cuff must be the music and movement class leader's biggest enemy.

The doctor has one more suggestion though: apparently it might instead be a frozen shoulder. I have not heard of this, so after I have made an appointment with the physiotherapist and picked up my anti-inflammatories I go home and Google it. I am dismayed to learn from the NHS website that "Most cases of frozen shoulder occur in people between the ages of 40 and 60".

I'm not a medical man, but I'm going to have to write to the General Medical Council and have my doctor struck off for making such a ludicrous suggestion. Clearly I must have a torn rotator cuff, like all those fit and virile young sportsmen, not some old man's disease, which surely I can't get as I'm still 39 for a few more months.

If you disagree, raise your left arm.