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9:41am on Saturday, 11th February, 2006:



To fix my bad shoulder, the physiotherapist has given me a set of increasingly bizarre exercises I have to do every day.

The easiest one involves going into the kitchen and putting my hands on the work surface, then shuffling backwards until I'm in a stretch. I hold this for 10 seconds, then shuffle fowards. I do this 5 times, 3 times a day.

Next easiest is standing next to the door where I have rigged up the large piece of blue latex she gave me. I have to hold my elbow against my waist and pull the elastic slowly on front of me. I then have to put it back where it was equally slowly. I used to have to do this 10 times, quickly, but after a couple of sessions she made it 5 times slowly. Again, it's 3 times a day.

The next one involves lying on my back, so I do it on the bed. I hold my arm outstretched 45 degrees from my body, palm down. Then, I rotate it so it's palm up. I endure the pain for 5 seconds, then put it palm down again. This is another one which is 5 times, 3 times a day.

The next one used to be easy, but not any more. I have to lie on my face in what physiotherapists call the "woe is me" position, which means I get to rest on my good forearm so as not to suffocate. Thus set up, I raise my bad shoulder a finger's width off the bed. When that was all I had to do, it wasn't so bad. However, I now have to raise my wrist off the bed while my shoudler is still up. This is easy with my left arm, but my right arm starts shaking with the effort and it hurts like crazy. Fortunately, I only have to hold it for 3 seconds, but I still have to do it all 5 times, 3 times a day.

The last exercise was given to me on Wednesday. It seems to be based on some form of medieval torture. I have to take a towel (although I use an old jumper), roll it up so it's about a foot long and four inches in diameter (physiotherapists don't do metric) and lie it in the middle of the bed. I take a pillow and bend it in half. I rest my head on the pillow and align the home-made bolster with my spine, placed between my shoulder blades. I hold both my arms out at 45 degrees from my body, palms down, and hold it for 3 minutes. I do this twice a day. I don't quite know why this is called an exercise, as the only thing that gets exercised is my patience. It's painless in itself, but the problem comes when the 3 minutes are up. I have yet to find a way of terminating it that doesn't bring tears to my eyes — it's absolute agony. Also, my shoulder is so stiff afterwards that my main concern as I'm waiting out my 3 minutes is whether it's going to lock into place and I'll we wandering around for the rest of the day with my arm 45 degrees from my body.

And yet, while I was watching the school play the other day, I felt something click in my shoulder and I had almost full movement. That was for about 10 minutes, then it clicked back. Still, it shows that the physiotherapist's tactic of bullying my shoulder into submission must be having an effect.

Referenced by Lying in the Sun.

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).