Saturday, February 20, 2010

MRI Results. There's good news, and bad news.

After some wrangling with the imaging office to get them to fax reports where I wanted them, phone rings yesterday around 1:30pm. Chiropractor on the phone. "I've got good news and some bad news." "The good news is there's nothing really that wrong with your shoulder. The bad news is that there's nothing really that wrong with your shoulder, so we're still a little stumped as to how to get you feeling better."

BUT, there was some excitement. MRI revealed I am the proud owner of a Buford Complex shoulder anatomical variance. What is Buford Complex you ask? Great question, as my chirporactor (and probably my GP as well) asked the same thing when he read the report. He had to look it up before calling me. Buford Complex is considered a rare but normal variance in shoulder structure, consisting of a small or often non-existent superior anterior shoulder labrum, along with a thick, cord-like middle glenohumeral ligament. To the untrained eye, it looks like an avulsed labrum, but turns out I was born with it. Interesting thing is that it looks (and in my case FEELS) like a SLAP lesion, as my shoulder anomaly is exactly in the spot where a SLAP lesion occurs. So it's not that I've torn any cartilage, I just don't have any there, and something I've done has irritated it. A lot. Since it's not an injury per se, my chiro and I are a bit stumped as to what I can do about it other than what I've been doing. Resting, NSAIDs, and possibly some cortisone injections, if that's what my GP thinks. Haven't talked to him yet.

In addition to the Buford Complex, I have some sub-deltoid buristis, a Type 1 AC joint separation that has already tightened back up, and some inflammation of my supraspinatus tendon (one of my rotator cuff muscles), which incidentally attaches in the same neighborhood as the missing labrum part of my Buford Complex.

Good news, surgery doesn't sound like it's successful or necessary with my shoulder conditions, and MRI report states explicitly that I have no tear. Bad news, there's not some simple, subject-verb-object "do this" kind of fix for it either. I had taken myself off the big guns NSAIDs my GP put me on, namely because I don't like the potential risks associated with that class of drugs. But now that I know that inflammation is a key part of my problem, I put myself back on. Now I have proof that those pills may help my shoulder rather than guessing at it.

All this aside, I'm thrilled to have a shoulder anatomy that only 1% of the world's population has, and I think it's fun being different. Plus, it's been an excellent learning opportunity to look up, research and study something that I would otherwise never have known even existed.

So that's the news that's fit to print here. I said I'd update when I heard results of MRI, so here I am. Buford in the house! Woot!

Til next time,
Nat D, LMT

As an LMT I am not able to diagnose nor treat any illness or physical condition, and I am not a replacement for medical care.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Do as I say, not as I do. Put another way, taking my own advice.

When embarking on a career such as massage therapy, you never suspect that you might become one of "those" therapists who gets hurt "in the line of duty" per se. Yet, here I am, lingering shoulder injury for over a month now, MRI scheduled for tomorrow. Hopeful to find answers, wary of diagnosis and recovery instructions. I've been in the self-diagnostic gerbil wheel that comes with having anatomical understanding-- I know a whole lot of what it's not, but not certain of what it is. In keeping with my somehow always being interesting and odd, both my chiropractor and GP are stumped. Though I haven't fallen, been blitzed or tackled, I somehow have a shoulder injury congruent with someone who has. Separation, AC strain, and/or possible labrum tear. Big question remains, HOW?!?

Diagnostic fisticuffs aside, it really hit me that I have not done a very good job of caring for myself or heeding the therapeutic protocols and advice I know I would dispense to my clients were they in this predicament. Rest, don't use it as much as possible, rest, rest, ice, anti-inflams, if it hurts don't do that, and did I mention REST? Somehow I've been telling myself that being a "professional" I somehow get a "get out of jail free" card in this regard. Turns out I am wrong.

There is that whole real-life thing about being self-employed and needing to earn a living, so necessity mitigates a precarious balance between rest and work requirements, but even with that, I could (and should) be doing a better job of caring for myself in the way that I care for my clients. It took a dear friend-- who bless him, has come over to my house *every* morning to tape and stabilize my AC joint before I go to work-- challenging me on the schedule I've insisted on maintaining. As he put it, "Nat, you need to step outside yourself and talk to you like you were one of your clients. And if MT you were dealing with CLIENT you, you'd say, 'I hate that client! She doesn't listen!'" Now, for the record, I don't hate any of my clients, but his point was well taken.

So, my homework is to treat me like I treat my clients, and take care of this insert-injury-diagnosis-here shoulder issue. I commit to spacing out my work hours appropriately, to rest whenever possible, and to trust that my clients will be understanding if I need to spread their sessions out. Reminding myself that it doesn't do them any good if I break myself further by working too much. They lose out in the long run too.

MRI scheduled for 10:30am tomorrow, will update as soon as I know more... Keep your fingers crossed for me that this isn't one of those nebulous injuries that hides from an MRI scan. Choosing to believe that will not be my luck!

Making today a "Practice what you preach" day. Yours in health....

-Nat D, LMT

Note: As a licensed massage therapist I cannot diagnose or treat any illness or physical condition, and am not a replacement for medical care.