Had a somewhat painful, yet invigorating and strengthening hour and a half.
I am a week out from a moment when muscles, ligaments, tendon, skin and bone were put down rather hard onto solid, rocky ground resulting in prolonged pain and minimized ability to move freely in my right shoulder.
Confounded by pain in my upper ribcage just dissecting my right armpit, I guarded, babied, that arm and shoulder.
Might sound pretty bad, maybe melodramatic… but it wasn't all that bad… yet it still hurts and has kept me from doing something so simple as raising my right arm to nipple-height without pain and sometimes with total loss of muscle control such that my arm would drop partially or all the way. Sort of like a switch being swung from the contacts, resulting in a flash of electrical arc and subsequent power loss, the machine dependent on that power swinging down into a state of rest no longer able to complete it's task.
So here I am, day 2 of my personal rehabilitation, rotating my arm through it's various planes of movement, testing, seeking a path around and/or through the pain.
The movements I make are slow and deliberate, allowing me to gauge the ease or difficulty of my ability to make my arm move through the line I have chosen, but ready to alter it slightly or stop all together if the pain becomes too much, or that switch is thrown and the muscle(s) I am using fail completely.
This is physical therapy… albeit… Do-It-Yourself, style.
This is a focused concentration on every voluntary movement my body makes during this time.
This is an awakening to the complexity in my body which, in what generally appears to be simple movements, allows numerous structures and pathways to work together creating movement in physical space, what my mind originally pictures in virtual space.
I may be a bit of a Nerd in this regards!
Over my lifetime, I have always held a certain fascination regarding my body healing from injury.
Once I have gotten over the fact that I have been injured, compiled a list of such injuries and attempted to categorize all the consequences derived from them, when I finally feel able or am told to start a physical rehab plan, things get really interesting for me.
Through a combination of common stretches, certain yoga movements and postures, and physical exercise, I learn about the damage done, I explore my abilities still intact, and I push-and-prod my body in order to regain my range-of-motion, my physical strength, my ability to go back out and push my limits once again.
That's the physical aspect of it all.
The mental element is equally fascinating if not more intriguing because I cannot 'feel' the movements of thought in my brain.
I cannot 'feel' the messages coursing through my nervous system sending commands to muscle, and feedback to brain.
Now comes the question of, "What is pain?".
This is a question I have spent a fare amount of time trying to understand.
Most of my knowledge has been derived from Anatomy & Physiology courses, other scientific readings, as well as anecdotal stories about Monks sitting in snow almost naked yet controlling their body temperature such that the snow about them melts away, and stories of so-called primitive people engaging in body piercing and modifications without the aid of modern medicine and chemistry.
To date… I have no clear understanding of my own physical pain.
I have been told by laymen and physicians (to include my Orthopaedic Surgeon) that I have a 'high tolerance' for pain. I take their word for it because I have no way of measuring my tolerance against anyone else's… where is the true gauge of how much pain one should tolerate?
As I make my arm rotate upward in an arc aligned with the coronal plane of my body (out to the side from thigh up to my ear, basically), I feel the muscles tighten all around my shoulder. As the arm moves ever higher and the muscles tense further, I recognize a particular tension deep within my medial deltoid… or is it beneath? I know that if I push my arm further in that direction this tension will become pain… sharp pain… the kind of pain which shuts down the voluntary movement, perhaps even causing a reaction where I drop the whole shoulder, rotating downward at the hips as if I can move away from the pain like I would dodge a tree along the trail I was riding.
What I am learning through these exercises in motion, is control.
I am learning how much voluntary control I have in this area of my body.
I am learning to control my fear of pain, control my reaction to the signals telling me the pain is here and is growing.
I am learning to control the movements of my arm and shoulder as these signals flood my brain, and I am able to correct an angle, move a few degrees one direction, relax some muscles while bringing others into play in order to avert the impending pain and loss of control should I not make the correct choices.
It's a game… a mind game and a physical game, all played out within my body.
Each day I take the time to put myself through all this, I not only gain more range-of-motion, I gain strength of mind, strength of will over certain adversities that may come in my life.
…either that… or I just have deep masochistic tendencies!
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