Health & ME/CFS

Not Simple At All

My mother has written the words, “Life can be very complicated…”  several times on my blog as a comment. Yes, Mom, life can indeed be very complicated, as I’ve learned throughout the years.

Some things seem simple, or like they should be simple, but then they turn out to be very complicated.

It seemed simple, at the time, loaded with migraine meds & pain meds, to move, without having Rhiannon with me, a bag (a big bag) of dog food into the car.  The outstretched arm reached into the basket only to find… gee, you’ve lost a lot of weight, and with it strength & muscle. You can’t do that anymore.

It seemed simple, in the days afterward, to guess that I’d torn the rotator cuff, and it either would or would not heal on it’s own, depending on how badly I’d done it. I said, “Okay, Universe, I understand the lessons here!”

My orthopedist, my knee doc, seemed to think it was simple when he blew me off without much of an exam.

It seemed simple, when I first told my PCP, who did a more thorough exam, and diagnosed it as a partial-thickness rotator cuff tear. Three weeks in a sling,then start using it slowly,   and hopefully it will heal.

It’s not simple.

Ten long & painful weeks since Pride, Pain & A Reality Check, it’s getting worse, not better. My PCP, who I trust about 1,000% more than my ortho, saw me yesterday, and after listening to me complain, gave me an even more thorough shoulder exam,  & said she thinks it’s a SLAP tear combined with partial rotator cuff tear. I had never heard of a SLAP tear. I said sure, go ahead with a cortisone/lidocaine injection, figuring I’d look it up later. And she gave me a referral for an MRI.

It’s not simple. SLAP tears almost always require surgery, and several (3 – 4) weeks immobilized, and extensive PT. Do you see those initials? Physical Therapy. The words I dread most in the world (at least at this moment). How does a person with CFS/FMS do PT?

To make matters even more complicated, a SLAP tear is not an easy repair. It takes a shoulder specialist.

In the simplest terms, a SLAP tear works like this: the shoulder is the most flexible joint in the body. It’s a ball & socket joint, but the socket is very small. The body compensates by having a ring of cartilage-like material that makes it bigger. The whole thing is held together by muscles, tendons, & ligaments. A rotator cuff tear is the most common tear – a tear of the tendon(s). A SLAP tear is a tear of the cartilage-like ring  that makes the socket larger. Cartilage does not re-grow, or heal on it’s own. Therefore, a SLAP tear involves trimming the loose bits, drilling a hole into the bone, and suturing it back down to anchors placed in the bone. Hopefully, but not always, accomplished with a ‘scope so you don’t have to cut  lots of things that would otherwise be in the way.

The ortho who did my knee is getting nowhere near it. I need a shoulder specialist. Who accepts my crap  insurance. And will listen to me when I list all my meds, my limitations, etc.

Left untreated, it almost always gets worse as it frays. Been there, done that, with my knee, which is almost as bad as it can get (word like “bone on bone” are used to describe my knee, which has had 4 rounds of surgery).

A very minimal amount of poking around the ‘net yesterday found people saying they were 6 – 12 months after the injury before surgery was scheduled, so difficult is this, and good surgeons are hard to find.

I won’t even get into the whole “I don’t heal well” universe except to say that my PCP ordered a full round of labs to see what the Valcyte (which causes slow healing) is doing to my system.


No, not simple at all. I can’t even schedule the MRI, really, until I find a shoulder specialist, so I have the MRI done where the specialist is located.

Not simple at all…

2 thoughts on “Not Simple At All”

  1. I know, and I feel awful for talking about what I know that you dread, but my first thoughts were exactly that, “How does a person with CFS/FMS do PT?” As I know from being a nurse, and from the experience of a vast array of people and peers, that this is one of the hardest areas to PT/rehabilitate. But I do want to say one thing, and I mean this-I will come out and stay with you for at least a few days after your surgery-and whenever else you need a nurse. Because I am, or I was, a damn fine nurse. Nursing is one place that OCD is a plus to have. It’s selfish of me, as you know that I need a break as well, but you have been there for me, and now it is my turn to repay-I’ll be there, just say when.


    1. Dawn, you are one of the sweetest people I know. I mean that!
      Thank you so much for your offer – I may very well take you up on that!
      I’m trying to decide if I should look in the Fairfax area for a surgeon, or Winchester. If I have it done in Fairfax, my mom lives there & can take me in for the surgery, which will hopefully be outpatient, and then I can stay with her a couple days afterward. But then I’d have a long drive in for every appointment, and they always push local PT places & sometimes have a hard time arranging it out this way.
      Sometimes I feel as if the Universe thinks I need to be “hit up-side the head with a 2 X 4,” as my dad used to say, in order to learn the lesson. Really, a rotator cuff tear alone would have been enough!
      Such is my life… anything I do, I seem to really do well – or at least to the extreme!
      You be careful lifting, too – you’ve lost a lot of muscle as well. We can both learn from my lesson. But then, with all your nursing experience, you likely are already aware of this problem.
      *hugs* & *thanks*


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