I was still rubbing my shoulder, post-cortisone shot, when I asked the doctor, “So. Is it possible this whole fiasco could have been caused by a weight machine?”
The doc swiveled his chair away from the MRI image. He looked straight at me with a deadpan face. At least it seemed deadpan in my ’roid fog. He nodded. No words, just a subtle nonverbal “yep” heard ’round my world.
I wanted to make sure the swelling and the tear or nick or whatever it was didn’t happen for some other reason. (Hint: Age.) Deep down, all the way to the epicenter of my rotator cuff, I suspected this injury could be traced to that brief month I was trying to look like a Rosie the Riveter poster.
Hindsight: It was a mistake to entangle myself with weight machines — those wacky things with pulleys and blocks of iron stacked like giant, tempting Pez candies. This gadgetry was in my basement, beckoning me for years. My sons and husband have used it all quite deftly and regularly.
Back when I was smarter, I stuck with just jogging and walking, letting my beanpole arms swing in the wind. I avoided the body sculpting and strengthening scene. Until I didn’t.
Maybe it was subliminal pressure from seeing so many chiseled female news anchors/CEO types/TV meteorologists wearing sleeveless dresses even in winter. That’s right. Over the past several years it’s been perfectly normal for professional women to sport 100 percent wool houndstooth dresses or sweaters without sleeves. This bare-armed look is everywhere, because somehow trendsetters decided women’s biceps should be exposed even during ice storms.
Though I shiver like a whippet year ’round, I was affected. I thought it was time to do something about the Olive Oyl appendages. I had the cardio stuff down, but the arms were dangling like broken minute hands on cartoon clocks.
So just before spring, I became a basement warrior. I set the equipment to the lightest weight — just one Pez — because I didn’t want to be injured. Ten repetitions of this or that every other day. Nothing crazy. Or so I thought.
By March, the ol’ shoulder kinda hurt. I couldn’t peg it to one moment or incident, but it seemed I pulled something. No problem. It would get better with time and ibuprofen.
But then, while on a spring vacation, a red flag. I was standing in a vast swimming pool, shivering, of course. Some idiot splashed too close to me. The water went right in my eye. I flinched. Pain. Pain-pain-pain. My real shoulder tapped my brain on its shoulder to remind me something was wrong.
How could a flinch feel like childbirth?
But I waited some more. I thought, well, I’m middle-aged. Stuff takes longer to heal. Months went by.
Then, at last, I found myself in an MRI tube, cursing the weight machines between the konk-konk-konk-konk-konks.
The good news is the cartilage tear is small. A need for surgery is unlikely. The remedy has been physical therapy, which I have been doing with vigor. In fact, the PT seems to be sculpting my arms. And we all know what this means: I can be a Weather Channel meteorologist!
The bad news is I haven’t reached the pesky health insurance deductible. Imagine the countless sleeveless dresses I could have bought with all the co-pays.
Freelancer Denise Snodell writes alternate weeks.