Monday, 17 July 2017

Left shoulder

Many of you will be aware that I have various problems going on with my left shoulder. These are longstanding and date back several years, although a few falls in the last two or three years have caused particular problems. The joint is very unstable and also pretty damn painful! It's caused and/or exacerbated weaknesses in my hand. Watching this video has been really weird - a lot of it was filmed on my webcam so it's a mirror image, which means I get to see what my left hand would look like if it worked properly (the fast forward speed neatly disguises my shaky hands!).

After two years of riding one-handed and letting the left arm flop about, we decided about a year ago that I needed to keep it as motionless as possible whilst riding, because having the arm yanking around was causing more and more damage to my shoulder. That's why I am now more diligent about holding the upper arm into my body with my shoulder support (which looks like this and is easily the most effective orthosis I own for any joint, although I do have to pull the white tape under my other arm to hold it tight enough) and why I also have a sling which holds my lower arm to my body. There's still a bit of room for the arm to jiggle about and because my back is twisted it can't make me completely straight, but it helps an awful lot!
First slung-up jumping competition last Christmas with Rolo
Anyway, the problems have stabilised a bit through limiting the movement when I'm riding. However, being a wheelchair user means that there isn't a realistic chance of it getting any better on its own and since I've now managed to injure multiple different parts of the whole shoulder area the instability has got even worse. This means that it is constantly really painful - which is fine, because it can be ignored - and also unable to take my weight. This is less fine because I need strong shoulders for vaulting, gymnastics and wheelchair racing, and for pushing my day chair along any surface that slopes down slightly to the left!
Another one cos he's so pretty!
I have seen a long string of medical professionals about this naughty shoulder over the past few years but it finally feels as if we may be getting somewhere. Most of the time people have been very unsure of what would be the best therapy for me. I've had endless physio and also some hydrotherapy. I've had occupational therapy to try and restore some function to the left arm and hand. I've had numerous surgical interventions rejected on the basis that the genetic defects in my tissue inhibit healing and any surgical changes would be less likely to last long. I thought we were getting somewhere when, at the beginning of this year, I was sent to somebody who would give me some steroid injections in the shoulder to try and ease the pain, but then this was contraindicated because of the steroids I take for my ticker!
Not what I'm aiming for...
Anyway, the most recent occasion of note has been my appointment last month with an orthopaedic surgeon. Nothing was decided, but I have an MRI booked and he has promised to try and think of something that can help. We had a nice chat about how the shoulder had come to be in its current state in which he informed me that, when he was little, he used to ride a pony called Bumble. How cute is that?!
Just as a quick heads-up to designers out there, nobody seems to have made a pony version of this yet...
The MRI was initially scheduled for a Thursday afternoon, but it just so happened that this was also the last RDA session of the year and therefore also the last session before going to Hartpury for Nationals (more on this another time!). Despite my mum's annoyance I refused to miss RDA so the scan is now later this week. I'm not a huge fan of MRIs as I'm pretty claustrophobic, but I've come a long way since my first scan as a kid when I cried all the way through it and my mum had to stick her arm in the end to tap my head so I knew she was there! Towards the end of next week I'll be seeing the surgeon again and I just really hope that he has something useful to suggest. Obviously I don't want him to do anything that would interrupt training/competing over the next few months (I have some big plans ahead) but with the speed of the NHS this probably won't be an issue!

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