mild covid for Gretchen, rotator cuff trouble for me
Friday, December 1 2023
Gretchen hadn't been feeling great last night, and I thought by this morning she'd have full-blown covid. But her condition hadn't much worsened and when she took a test it was negative. By now she'd have little coughing fits, but she didn't have a fever or a sore throat. By this evening she was pretty sure that her condition had stabilized at what was a very mild illness. It likely was covid, but, as I put it to her, "Your immune system is like, 'I got this.'" She almost certainly got the covid from me, since we've been back from Portugal too long for her exposure to have happened there. But we've been so careful to isolate from each other that she never received a high dose of viral particles. She's had a few symptoms, but those are mostly just her immune system repelling the invader before it can develop a beachhead. This is great, because she will now how immunity to the latest version of covid without having to have suffered much at all. For that matter, my illness hadn't been all that bad either. Being bedridden for three days is pretty much how I usually experience, say, the flu.
But I have another health issue that has recently progressed to a bad enough state for me to start worrying about it. It's a skeletomuscular issue that affects the range of motion of my left arm, though it doesn't yet have an impact on my physical capabilities. As you may recall, back in July I accidentally walked into the basement stairway at the cabin in pitch darkness, and the resulting fall caused some trauma, mostly to my arms. Since then everything has healed completely except for my left thumb (which experiences pain when I flex it in certain directions) and my left shoulder. At first it had seemed like the shoulder was healing on its own. But then I slipped going down the front steps at the cabin and caught my fall with my arms, which seemed to have reversed some of that healing. Most recently, something happened when Gretchen and I were in bed and she lay down next to my bad left arm and torqued it in a way that set it back even further. Now I'm at the point where it's painful to put on a coat because getting my left arm through a sleeve forces the shoulder joint into angles it would rather not take. Today I compared the range of motion of my good right arm to that of my left arm and found that I can stick my right arm straight up without pain, but when I try that with my left arm, it really can't go up to more than about a 70 degree angle (where vertical is 90 degrees). I did some research on this and learned the problem was likely with the rotator cuff, a set of four small muscles (and their associated tendons) that stabilize the ball of the humerus inside the shoulder socket. It makes sense that when I fell down the stairs, I overextended one or more of those muscles. And it also makes sense that increasingly minor insults to that shoulder result in surprisingly big setbacks. At some point I'll reach to pick up a coffee cup with my left hand and the arm will dislocate from its socket and seem to be coming out of the middle of my chest like a chestbursting alien. Hopefully there are measures I can take to combat this, although I read somewhere that actual rotator cuff tears (which I may or may not have) will not heal on their own without surgical intervention.
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