Saturday, 27 August 2011

Learning to deal with pain

A few years ago, I fell. I didn't go to the doctor even though I knew the fall was bad. I injured a shoulder muscle and tendon. Over time, it developed into what doctors call calcific tendonitis. There are calcium deposits in the deltoid muscle overlying the rotator cuff. A tendon was also damaged and complex calcification developed. 

Calcific tendonitis is actually something that doctors consider predictable. It has been proven that it almost always resolves (eventually) without surgery. There are three phases of calcific tendonitis. The first phase is called the pre-calcification stage. During this phase, calcium deposits develop. There are no symptoms at this point. The second phase is called the calcific phase. Calcium deposits become significant and look chalky - they are not solid. In the second phase, when calcification is formed, a resting period begins that is not painful. It lasts a varied length of time. Once the resting period is over, the resorptive period starts. This is the most painful phase of calcific tendonitis. The calcium deposits then look like toothpaste. The third phase is the post-calcific stage when the calcium deposits disappear and are replaced by a more normal appearing rotator cuff tendon. 

Calcific tendonitis can be treated. In my case, suffering is prolonged. I've been to the doctor so many times and the medication doesn't help at all. I usually go for treatment when the pain has radiated to my elbow and wrist. It is unbearable and I am left with a frozen shoulder. The treatment is always the same. It starts with anti-inflammatory injections, which are not pain-relieving in any way. In fact, they induce more pain. After three or four days, the pain subsides and I go for physiotherapy. Acupuncture,  exercises, and heat help a lot.

The doctor has considered surgery because there are degenerative changes in my shoulder and the longer I wait, the greater the chances are for a shoulder transplant. Before it's too late, they can do arthroscopic surgery and just remove the calcium deposits and calcified tendon. 

I am certain that I don't need surgery simply because the results from the ultra-sound scan show that the rotator cuff in my shoulder is not torn. This gives me hope.


I believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe I am in control of my body and, as far as possible, I will fight against surgery. At my age, I believe I am allowed to make these choices.

Pain is a symptom. My brain can handle it, as long as it isn't acute. Depending on my moods, attitude, and beliefs I have been able to cope with migraines effectively, without taking medication on a regular basis or sleeping it off. The more I worry about the shoulder, the worse the pain becomes.

Being negative all the time has a devastating spiral effect on my health. Therefore, I choose to be positive. When I'm positive, I can conquer the world. 

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