A few weeks ago, I woke with a sharp pain in my shoulder. I couldn’t raise my arm perpendicular to the floor without pulling my hand back to my chest and grasping the top of my biceps and squeezing to get the nerves to stop firing. The pain came in waves, just to make a long, extended point that there was a problem here.
I had no idea how this had happened. I was sleeping. What the hell?
I have since been told by my chiropractor that I have an impingement. “How did you do it?” he asked.
“I was sleeping.”
“No, really. What happened?”
I made up a story about lifting up a heavy gate. It seemed to satisfy him.
My recent research into the problem of shoulder impingement has led to the following sophisticated discoveries:
- Impingement happens when the tendons swell and the space for the nerves is constricted.
- The swollen tendons push on the nerves.
- The nerves fire and you scream and grab your arm.
I thought a lot about the word “shoulder” and things such as “shouldering a burden” and “too much on your shoulders” and “the weight of the world is on your shoulders” and “soldier” which sounds a lot like “shoulder”, and I bet those words are somehow the same, but I haven’t looked it up. I thought about Atlas and that big old heavy globe sitting on his shoulders, probably causing double impingement, God help him. Puts a whole new light on Mr. Atlas, I just thought the globe he was hoisting was super heavy.
But “impingement” interests me more.
I find these days I need space. I don’t know if it’s a reaction to the many years of responding to demands in rapid succession, impinging on my time and my thoughts and my money and my possessions. I want my body to myself, I want to think my own thoughts, I don’t want to be invaded. I picture Atlas lifting a world that is fragmented by radio waves, advertisements, cell phones, constant interruptions, the latest global crisis, all impinging on extended thought, on fantasy, on the meditative state that allows new ideas. It’s even harder to hold that world up when it’s in tiny pieces.
Keep it to yourself, I want to scream. Keep it to yourself so I have time to think. Keep it to yourself so that I know where I stand, my shoulders square, lifting only my own burdens.
Keep it to yourself so I can raise both my arms to the fullest extend, if and when I choose to do so.
Don’t impinge on me.