One year ago today, I took pitchfork in hand, sauntered out to the back yard and began to turn over the soil in the first of six terraces, each between 75 and 90 feet long. Having spent the previous four months indoors, manicuring cannabis, I was desperate to get back outside.
Honestly? I never thought I would make it out the gate due to a lame right shoulder, one that was surgically reconstructed twelve years ago, when I damaged the labrum due to overwork. To my surprise, I found that because the labor with the pitchfork did not require that I raise my right arm any higher than my waist, I was good to go.
I actually went a decade after the surgery, before I encountered technical difficulties, two years ago taking down the Christmas decorations. In reaching up to remove the star at the top of the tree, my right shoulder went into its act.
|The Big Iron and then my fork...|
It didn’t actually come all the way out of the labrum; it maintained a position on the rim of the socket, before settling back into place. No discomfort I have ever felt, compares with this sensation. After having it x-rayed, I was informed that because of the amount of scar tissue that had built up, surgery was no longer an option: Deal with it, I was told.
Deal with it, I did, inadvertently discovering possibly the most effective means of not only being able to do a job I thought impossible, but rebuilding my shoulder at the same time, a twofer of monumental proportions.
Allow me to elaborate. Regardless of the many ways one can injure a shoulder, I accomplished the task by overusing it. I was hauling rounds of madrone out of the creek-bed over a three-day period, and I simply stretched the muscles of my non-dominant shoulder, to the extent that they no longer performed the task of keeping the arm securely in place.
As the muscles wore down and elongated, all it took was me carrying one extremely heavy chunk of wood, to complete the task. In having my arm pop out of the socket and ride the rim of the labrum, some small chips of bone were broken off and floated around in there, creating more chaos.
In extreme discomfort, I sought pain relief from my doctor, a guy who came up from San Francisco two days a week, and he refused. He carefully explained about the dangers of addiction to opiates, how he had much experience dealing with sports figures who got addicted, and prescribed to me, the equivalent of aspirin.
A month later, after he had performed the surgery, he was profusely apologetic, explaining that after he got into the procedure, he realized I must have been in great pain for the past several weeks. He was speaking to the back of my head because I was facing the wall, too livid to even trust myself to speak.
Now I let my forward progress do the talking, as I shake my noggin in wonder at the mysteries of the universe. Instead of driving an hour to participate in physical therapy to build up the muscles in my right shoulder, I have found the perfect remedy right here on the mountain.
Rather than existing in a world of chronic pain, at times even fastening my right arm to my right side with a belt, to prevent accidentally jostling it, I have found a way to overcome this injury.
Of course, now March 1st has rolled around and I have to take pitchfork in hand, and start all over again out back.
Hmmmmmm. I may have to rethink my strategy.