Thursday, February 14, 2013


Well, here I said I was going to try and write more often, and then I take a 3-week break! I have a somewhat good excuse though. I've had tendonitis for years - it seemed to start after my first child was born, and then it got better.

Then after my second child was born, it got worse again. Then it got better.

Then my third child was born, and it got worse again.

This time, it never really went away. I complained to my doctor, had an x-ray which showed some calcification of my tendon, and got sent to physical therapy for a few months. It got better. That was about 2 years ago.

Then last summer/early fall, it got worse again - worse than it had ever been before. I started getting sudden jolts of pain when I moved my arm too quickly. Another x-ray showed more calcification, and I went to physical therapy again. The therapists were surprised by my limited range of motion, and while the pain disappeared and I slowly improved, it was very slow, and at least one of the therapists wondered if I might have a "frozen shoulder" - where the tendons or muscles have "locked up" and take a while (1-2 years) to go back to normal. But I learned all the exercises and starting in January of this year, I just did my exercise routine once or even twice a day on my own. I think it was still slowly getting better.

But then, about 2 weeks ago, I noticed a marked increase in soreness during the day, and by that night, I woke up in extreme pain and was just sure I had torn my rotator cuff or something. I called an orthopedic specialist the next day and got an appointment (not until a whole week later), but the pain became excruciating, especially at night. I couldn't move my arm at all, and even touching my shoulder hurt terribly. There was no position I could put my arm in that would lessen the pain. I think it was worse than childbirth, even before I got an epidural! When my husband got home from work that day, I was just in tears with the pain. I had to cancel going to our music co-op (I couldn't really drive), and I had to find a substitute to play the piano for me in church that weekend. I could do absolutely nothing with that arm. Taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen helped take the edge off the pain some, but I couldn't sleep at night laying down on the bed more than an hour or so at a time. The recliner, with a heating pad, was the best I could do.

Fortunately, I was able to get in to see the doctor a few days early, and they x-rayed me, gave me a cortisone shot, and 2 prescriptions for an anti-inflammatory and stronger pain medicine. By that night, I was much, much happier. The x-ray showed a rather large spot of calcification on my shoulder - right where it was the most painful to touch. From what the doctor said, and from my own internet research, I think what happened is that the calcification went into a re-absorption phase, where the calcium starts to break up and get absorbed into the body. Apparently, that is the most painful phase, and I can attest to that! The calcification can be growing for quite some time - 6-18 months, I think I read on one site, and then spontaneously starts to break up. So I don't know if the previous times I had x-rays that showed calcification, perhaps the spots never got too large and I never really noticed the re-absorption part? Or maybe this one place on my shoulder has been forming for a really long time, and just now started to break up?

In any case, the pain disappeared almost completely about 4-5 days later, though my strength and range of motion in that arm is still really bad. It's possible something is still blocking my range of motion, and that's why my earlier progress in physical therapy was so slow - perhaps a bone spur or something? I go back to the orthopedic doctor on Monday, so maybe he'll have some ideas then. I do hope I don't have to have surgery. I am re-starting physical therapy, at least for a few sessions, so we'll see what happens.

Anyway, that's my excuse for not writing much the past 2-3 weeks. It's pretty hard to type with just one hand, and for a week or so there, I wasn't feeling up to doing much typing (or even thinking straight) anyway.

On the bright side, my 4-year-old son learned how to dress himself much better (even the buttons!), and my 7-year-old daughter learned how to wash at least some of the dishes (the plastic ones ;-). And my sweet 5-year-old daughter prays for my shoulder every single night.