I’m lying in bed, editing a couple of scheduled Loot Crate reviews, and Anakin jumps over the mountain that is my propped up legs, and lands directly on my face.
I’m not sure how much he weighs, but it’s not pleasant and he seems to be upset by my reaction. “What, you DON’T want me here?” So I open up my arm and he cosies into the hole I’ve made for him, and promptly goes to sleep.
So in lies the dilemma of carrying on typing around his limp body, putting my fingers at risk of his claws should I jostle him too much, and I readjust around him to better access the keyboard.
Twinge. Ouch. Not good. My shoulder wants to kill me.
Long story short, I tore my AC joint in my left shoulder. It healed, but now I’ve torn my external rotator cuff. In the same shoulder. I know.
Short story long, I love Pole Dancing. In fact, I teach it. But during a training session, I fell. In an attempt to not land face-first, my full weight on top of me, and potentially snapping my neck backwards, I mini-barrell-rolled and jutted out my shoulder – landing on it the same way a rugby player might go in for a tackle.
Immediately rolling away from the pain, I lay on the ground cradling the shoulder, feeling like a dick for failing something I’ve done 100s of times, and knowing the whole class is now looking at me. I was so confident at how many times I had done it, that there’s a video of me failing because I thought I’d nail it. Elanor (bless) forbids me from driving home, moves me to a couch with a blanket and an ice-pack, and says to wait for the shock to set in.
What? What shock? I’m fine. I drive an automatic. I’ll just go home and rest it and … why am I shivering?
So, a friend drives me to the hospital to check it’s not broken or chipped. It’s not, but I can barely move it. They give me a sling, some painkillers, and 3 days off work + physio.
So I book in physio, who thinks it’s probably bruised pretty badly, and when he pulls my shirt to the side and sees no bruising gets a little stumped. So I show him the video, he plays around with the shoulder for 30 minutes, and comes to the conclusion that it’s the AC joint. At which point I go around saying ACL because that’s an injury I’ve heard about and he’s telling me it’s pretty bad which I know ACL is, and I have a terrible memory. Then someone looks at me funny when I tell them, and I click when I look back at them that the ACL is NOT in your shoulder and google tells me I’ve added an additional letter and it is, in fact, called an AC joint.
The AC joint holds your clavicle (collarbone) and acromion (top of your shoulder blade/scapula) together, and moving cohesively. In layman’s terms, the seriousness is rated as Grade 1 being a strain, Grade 2 as a rip, and Grade 3 as a complete tear. A quick visit to the ultrasound got my hopes up that it wasn’t too bad , as he checked all the surrounding areas going “yep, that looks fine, yep that’s okay, yep, yep.” And just when I calmed down, “right! Onto the problem!” What!? He hadn’t even been looking at what was wrong!? (Shoulders are intricate, you do actually want to check nothing else is the matter, he knew what he was doing.)
- “Aaand, can you push down on the edge of the bed for me?”
- “No? I’m sorry, I need you to, so I can see how your AC joint is moving.”
- “Um.” *attempts, starts crying*
- “Okay, how about without pushing against anything, just push down like you would be if something was there.”
So I try, slowly, and the result from Mr. Ultrasound is: “Oh yep! There it is! There. It. Is.” Proceeded by playing me back the recording of my internal system failing to connect the clavicle with the acromion in a fluid movement, resulting in the acromion rotating downwards while the clavicle gets stabbed upwards and grinds over the top. Well, I suppose that’s why it hurts.
So off to physio twice a week I go. I’m lucky because it’s not so bad I need surgery. And ACC will cover most of the costs. But I’m banned from the studio.
For my own good, I might add. Not because I’m reckless and put a bad name against us or anything. But so I can’t be tempted. My pole at home goes lonely. And I get lonely.
A month and a half later I’m allowed to test some things out again, tentatively. I’ve put on a decent amount of weight, and lost a lot of strength, which is not a good combo. Though, it is my fault – I was comfort-eating and didn’t do anything to replace Pole. I try a few things that I can no longer do, and I’m gutted. I get home and have a cry, but I’m back, I can build up my strength again, and I’ll be stronger for it.
Physio drops me to once a week. I can aerial invert again but I’ve lost my grace doing it. I can only hold a butterfly for a couple of seconds. I’m not 100% comfortable spotting someone in a dangerous move. I start strengthening my shoulder at home with resistance bands. External and internal rotations, and the likes.
Then in early September, I try and succeed one of my favourite combos. It’s a little messy around the edges, and I’ve sneakily done it without an aerial invert. But I’m happy.
At the end of September, I get my nemesis move cupid, that in two years of training I haven’t once done successfully.
Early October, I want to try my favourite move. I try (and mostly fail) the brass monkey. I put the mostly fail down to a pulled hamstring thanks to split stretching a few days before, and therefore not being comfortable enough to hang on by the back of the knee. However, you can see in the video that my left shoulder gave out while holding myself up there, which I refused to acknowledge.
We carry on through October. I take it easy again after failing my brass monkey. I try to train up my layback again, because it’s absolutely terrifying and if you leave it too long in between, your nerves shit themselves out of your body never to be seen again. I play around with my students.
Then, on Wednesday the 19th, I grip the edge of my desk so I can turn around and roll to the other side of the room, and as I turn I hear a squelch. And then pain. And then tears. I was in the middle of a sentence I can’t remember what about, and my shoulder is in agony. I’ve twinged something, or pinched something, or strained my AC joint. Shit. I search around for some painkillers (good ones) and get back to what I was doing, and book myself in for physio that Friday.
Physio treats me like I’m a new patient. He tests me, fiddles with my shoulder, numbs it and sees what it can do.
“You’ve torn your external rotator cuff.”
The most important joint in a pole dancers body.
I’m devastated. I cry. I keep crying. Just tears, not big swelling heaves of gross, but a continuous flow of tears. He reschedules me for after the long weekend so I can let it sink in and discuss on Tuesday the plan of attack.
Keep it propped up on a pillow while you’re resting. Use a sling if you’re going out.
So, now, I’m heading out to the Priscilla Queen of the Desert stage show with Pete on tickets I bought for my mothers birthday (that’s a whole other story) with a sling and the knowledge that perhaps 2016 wasn’t anyones year. But it’ll be okay.