Wednesday, May 11, 2016


The diagnosis was shoulder impingement, which, from what I gather online, is usually caused by throwing a baseball or serving a tennis ball. Or maybe by too much wall-paper hanging. But in my case, it seems to have been set off by SOFA syndrome: Sedentary, Old-age, Fat Ass. Check. Check Check.

In this, the winter of my discontent, I sat around too much. A three to five mile walk every day became a two to three mile walk every few days. Three times a week at the gym became twice a week. Maybe.

Now that I think of it, strike discontent. What we’re really talking about is too much content. Content to sit around reading. Content to sit around spending reading crazy “news” on Content to take an afternoon nap if the day were cold, grey, dreary. Check. Check. Check.

It doesn’t take a shrink – and I just play one in the privacy of my own home – to figure out the source of my contented discontent.

For a few years, my focus, my project, my life’s work was my husband’s health. Then there was the year of living widowly, bringing bits of Jim’s ashes here and there, and shooting some of them off on his celestial journey into outer space – one of his final requests. Then there was The Reno: all absorbing, all consuming. All. All. All.

And then.

Well, and then, then.

So I let myself slack off, get slack, eat too much Talenti pistachio. Resulting in impingement, which translated into not being able to part my hair, brush my teeth, lift a plate of leftovers out of the microwave without quite a bit of pain. Nor could I comfortably rest on my right side during one of those slug-a-bed afternoon naps.

Off to PT for six weeks, three times a week. My right shoulder was bent. My right shoulder was stretched. The impingement was no longer quite so impinging.

PT ended. But my PT place isn’t just a PT place. It’s a ratty old gym where, for the past eight years, I’ve been going to the gym. When I do go. Which I did pretty religiously for a number of years. I signed up for the gym there after I’d spent a couple of months in PT for an earlier shoulder injury. After all, I was spending six hours there a week for PT, so I reasoned that I could easily spend three hours there a week working out.

This is not your standard gym we’re talking about here. There are no ripped guys showing off. No twenty-somethings in makeup and lululemon, in hopes of meeting a ripped show off. No, it’s mostly runners. Middle aged and older guys. A professional violinist or two. Some firefighters with knee replacements. Old ladies – including the 90 year old mother of the owner. Some nurses with sciatica. And a handful of SOFA Syndromers like me. The regular gym-goers all know each other. Two of them recommended the show Shameless to me, figuring I’d like it. Figuring just right. (Shameless is an uproarious – to me at any rate – sometimes heartbreaking, and completely over the top Showtime series about a wildly dysfunctional Irish-Catholic, working class family from Chicago.) In this, the winter of my discontent, I was content to binge watch all six seasons of Shameless.

The gym is nothing fancy. The equipment is mostly second hand cast-offs from real gyms.

Now that I’m done with PT, Jake – the PT guy who owns this unorthodox, miracle-working center – has set me up with a series of exercises to continue to strengthen the shoulder muscles so that they’ll stop impinging for once and for all. I have run through the new regime a couple of times now. It is more rigorous than anything he’s set me up with in the past. Those first times through have been as close to experiencing the Bataan Death March as I ever want to get. But the outcome should be a good one: a non-SOFA, fit new me who’ll be bending and stretching, any day now, without gasping for breath. Not really the new project that I’m looking for, but it’s something.

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