Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Reading Can Be Dangerous for Your Shoulder

While this is not a new event to me, perhaps I should fill you in on one of my latest mishaps.

To one side of our house lies a fenced area thick with hydrangea bushes and perennials. I had always fancied a secret garden carved into the foliage, some day. Some day came soon enough and my husband set to work to make my wish come true. Well, it became a bit of an extended project but eventually it all came together.

Last July, I was enjoying a warm, quiet afternoon reading in my newly finished Secret Garden. It was quite idyllic, actually. I imagined that I must have resembled a character in a Victorian-era novel. Sitting at the bistro table, sipping cold lemonade and holding my book in the other hand while a content doggy laid at my feet. The neighbourhood was quiet and drowsy. The sun warmed my skin and it felt delicious. This is Paradise, I thought ... almost. The only way it could have gotten any better was to read in the wicker swing chair, hidden deeper into the foliage.

I got up to walk the few steps to the chair. Wow, I can't put this book down, it's so engrossing. With my face stuck deep into the pages of the book, I continued walking. The problem was I had run out of deck and misjudged the step-off. As I took a tumble off the deck, I do remember quite clearly my inner dialogue. Being the true book-lover that I am, in the nano-seconds that it took me to crash land, all my brain could think was 'SAVE THE BOOK! SAVE THE BOOK!'

I must have landed harder than I first realized because I laid there, dazed for several minutes. I tried to get up but soon realized there was no need to hurry. The dog came around, sniffed me, sniffed the bushes and assessed the situation. Then she turned tail and sauntered off to lay down in the shade. What a big help you are! I said, wincing. What if I was hurt much worse? What if this was an emergency? You don't even care that I'm hurt, do you?  I called after the dog. She blinked at me and began licking herself. I pulled out the crumpled bookmark from underneath my bruised rump. At least I saved the book, I muttered.

I had fallen on my right side and my elbow and butt cheek took most of the impact. I  was scratched up and I felt dizzy and sore. I really could have done with some help in getting up but no one was available. I waited there until I felt too embarrassed to lie in the hydrangea bushes any longer. With a couple of grunts and some not so graceful manoeuvres, I managed to pull myself up by the wicker swing. I looked back at the hydrangeas. They had definitely sustained more damage than I had. Boy, they really took a flattening.

Yes, I was sore that night and for a few days after. But I healed. It wasn't until a month later that I started to experience 'unexplained' shoulder pain. I first noticed it when I was in bed, rolling over - a sharp stabbing pain in my shoulder and down into my arm. Before long it became uncomfortable to lie on my right side. I couldn't figure out what was wrong, what was the cause of the pain? It continued to worsen. It hurt during the daytime too ... when I lifted things, raised my arm and especially when I was driving the car. If I had to turn a corner - which tends to happen frequently while driving - the pain was excruciating. Soon, it hurt to do anything at all. So I stopped moving it. Makes sense, right? Wrong. I now have what is called frozen shoulder syndrome or adhesive capsulitis; a disorder in which the shoulder capsule, the connective tissue surrounding the joint of the shoulder becomes inflamed and stiff greatly restricting motion and causing chronic pain. I can attest to the chronic pain part.

Initially, I didn't connect the pain to the fall that I had a month earlier. I thought if I injured myself, the pain would instantly follow. But that's not always the case. When I fell, my elbow took a lot of the impact but in doing so it likely jarred something in my shoulder joint, too.

So what happens when you already have chronic pain and you suffer an injury that adds more chronic pain? You hurt. You hurt some more. And you cry. In my case it was obvious that my shoulder pain was a separate issue from the fibromyalgia. At other times, that line can be blurry so you should prepared to question a new symptom or pain. Don't assume it's always the fibromyalgia because sometimes, it isn't. Then, you get the appropriate help for the new pain or injury. No, it isn't fair but nothing in life rarely is. You just have to deal.

Currently, I'm waiting on results of an MRI that I had last week. I'm curious to see what will show up.  I don't think even MRI's can detect a bruised ego.



  1. Sorry to hear this. Hope you are ok. I had a simiar thing and tripped up a stair and landed somehow on my shoulder. Sorry to say my shoulder still hurts a year later! i however was not reading and have no excuse? Glad you are back on the blogosphere

  2. Hi Cathy. We'd like to add you to our online resource of wellness bloggers so our readers can find you. If you're interested, please email me at Thanks!

  3. Hi,

    I work with a doctor named Bill Rawls in North Carolina who has recently written a book about his struggle with fibromyalgia/CFS called "Suffered Long Enough." He is a traditionally trained physician, but found the medical community's treatments for his illness lacking, so he developed his own. Would you possibly be interested in writing something about the book on your blog? I'd love to give you an advanced copy if you're interested. It's out November 10.

    Thanks so much for your time.


    Alex Granados

  4. Hi there, I'm Lindsey! I have a question regarding your blog. Could you please email me when you have a moment? Thank you so much, looking forward to hearing from you!