Fifteen years ago, I went skiing for the first time. It was just something a few guys at the dorm put together, crossing the border into Switzerland to get to some good hills. My friend Josh spent a good part of the morning teaching me how it was done, and I spent the rest of the afternoon refining my technique, flipping head-over-heels, losing gloves, retrieving skis, and learning the true, terrible meaning of the phrase, "Mogul city, dude!" ...I was having a blast, in other words.
It was near the end of the day that Mr. Hare called out that there was time for one more run, and Josh and I slipped off towards the lift to do just that. The snow dipped unexpectedly, and I fell on my right side. In a single instant, my arm went from being straight in front of me, to being straight in back of me. It hurt. Oh, it hurt. I took my last run with little enthusiasm, and climbed back into the dorm van, wondering just what I'd done.
Fifteen years later, I was still wondering. I was sure my friend's informal diagnosis of a dislocated shoulder and pulled rotator cuff was right on, and he said all I could really do was treat it gently, and control the swelling. I've been doing that, but I've been re-injuring it more and more often over the years, and I finally decided it was time to Do Something about it. I'd been saying that for several years, but this time actually got me as far as an appointment with the family doctor.
For once, I actually wished that my shoulder hurt more. Surely "Ow, ow, ow, that hurts, right there" would be easier to diagnose than what actually happened — "Does that hurt?" "No." Does that hurt?" "No." Does that hurt?" "Maybe a little..." I felt rather foolish to say the least. But in the end, the doctor gave virtually the same initial diagnosis my RA gave in high school: unstable shoulder due to dislocation and rotator cuff injury. "Are you insured?" he asked, "I'd like to order an MRI, but they're a bit pricey." I assured him I did have insurance, and the assistant made an appointment for me.
I felt apprehensive, but at the same time, pleased that I was finally doing something about it.