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shoulder progress

It definitely feels like the thaw of the shoulder is getting better, more consistent, more optimism inducing. For a long time now, I’ve been unable to put both my right and left hands on their respective hips. I don’t suppose in any way it’s a necessary function of life, but it’s a bit annoying sometimes to be standing someplace, waiting, and realize that I can’t put my hands on my hips. I have to settle for right hand on the hip and left hand in front pocket. For a long while, I genuinely couldn’t even put my fingers on the front of the left hip and the thumb behind. But now I’ve gotten to where I can do that. It still isn’t right and doesn’t look right because my arm can’t rotate enough to allow the elbow to stick out to the side, or if I do make the elbow stick to the side it’s by making the shoulder itself lurch forward.

But that is progress. I try to work on the shoulder some when I’m in the shower in the mornings. The heat and warmth give at least an illusion of greater pliability with the flesh and joint — although that may be a lie to myself. Still, it feels like I’m making progress with how much I can pull the left arm behind my back and across to the right side. I can hold it for longer periods of time too. When I first would try to do it, the discomfort would grow too great in about 10 to 15 seconds. Now I’m stretching it farther and can get it to the edge of the range of motion and hold it there for more than 30 seconds.

Am I finally reaching the home stretch for it? Am I reaching a point where the adhesions in the shoulder capsule are beginning to crumble, where the tissues have finally lost nearly all inflammation that there is no real pain anymore, just a more tolerable sort of discomfort? I hope so. I’m tired of not having full use of both arms.

I sometimes wonder why this one’s frozen stage has lasted longer. It’s not been for lack of trying to keep active with the arm. I have done a lot more to try to stay active with the left shoulder and arm than I ever did with the right side back in 2003 to 2005. That right shoulder took about 2 years. I first noticed twinges in it late in the summer of 2003 — in August of 2005 I started golfing and was pleased by how much range of motion I had — not full, but very close. This left one started in Feb. 2010 and now it’s August 2012. 2.5 years, and the shoulder is not nearly so thawed out. Why? Is it just because I’m older and my body can’t heal as fast as it once could? Is it just some sort of random variation? Is it because I try to stay active with this shoulder, unlike the right one? By that last question the thought I’ve sometimes had is what if using that shoulder caused a tougher sort of adhesion to fill in the capsule space? Is that possible? What if because I didn’t use my right shoulder so much in 2003 and 2004, the adhesions that developed weren’t so tough or dense or something? Then when the pain had subsided, the adhesions broke up more readily?

There is no evidence or definitive answer, and there never will be.

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I’m going to be in a bowling league starting next week. My brother suggested I might like to try it since I bowl fairly well whenever I get roped into going to a bowling alley. And if I play every week, I’ll probably see some improvement with the practice. I don’t think I’ll enjoy it as much as golfing though. Golf is more interesting in its variety of challenges.

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I’ve been working again on improving flexibility. For a while this summer, I had slacked off on the stretching: there was frustration about how I had seemingly gotten stuck, even though I felt rather sure I ought to be able to get more. Then I came across something about PNF stretching or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching, and it’s making a difference. It’s a cool idea. First you stretch a target muscle as far it can go passively, then you contract that muscle, hold it for some time, relax it and when you do that, you stretch it out some more. Go through a few cycles of that and bam, the muscle has been stretched farther than it ever has been before. It’s like playing a little trick on the nervous system. Of course, you still need to be careful about things, but it’s a useful tool in the toolbox and I wish I had known about it earlier.

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I had tried to start running again back in March, but that didn’t stick. Some frustration about how my blood sugars would drop very fast. I’m trying walking now. There’s still some trouble with blood sugars dropping too much. But I want to regain some aerobic fitness. But I may have to go back to bedtime Lantus shots if I want to be able to do extended cardio without huge drops in blood sugar. Which means I’ll have to go back again to bumping my blood sugar higher before bed and dealing with occasional nighttime hypos. If there’s one thing I’ve really liked about morning Lantus shots is that I didn’t have nearly the worry about nypos (nighttime hypos). But if I think about things and if I do decide at some point again that I want to do a marathon, I will have to switch back to nighttime Lantus.

That marathon idea is the idea with the walking. Back in the early part of the 20th century, a lot of the great Finnish distance runners did a lot of walking during the wintertime. That was their slowpaced cardio work. Then as it got warmed up, they’d start running. I’ve been thinking that. Get in the habit of walking briskly 4 or 5 times a week, then when we get to March next year, start running and build my way to a marathon.

I believe I can do the physical part of that. I’ve done it before. And I could probably do it better if I have a better cardio buildup with the walking over the winter to come. I worry some about the emotional challenge to it though. The marathon I got myself ready for in 2009 was fueled by an emotion which has been a rare occurrence in my life. One which I may never know again. There’ll be a lot of thinking to do if I’m running, a lot of memories to run with and run by and run through and run around and run for and run against.

Ça suffit.

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