How does it feel to not be able to hold your handbag in your left hand? What is it like to feel that your shoulder may drop out of its socket if you pick up your water bottle?
It feels scary. It feels foreign. It feels unstable, like your shoulder might drop out of your socket. It feel embarrassing, a little humiliating and, most of all, it just feels fucking frustrating.
For two and a half years I have paid $50 twice a week. I have invested in gym gear, for the first time in my life. I have sweated, sworn, ached, felt proud, risked a lot, and trusted my very movement to a personal trainer. I have invested all of this to strengthen my somewhat unstable shoulders to make sure that, unlike my mother from whom I inherited them, I would prevent them from dislocating rather than having to rehab after the fact.
But today, merely half an hour ago, my left shoulder slipped. It didn’t dislocate, to be fair, but it slipped enough to make a popping feeling, to feel my muscles twinge, to leave my left arm feeling vulnerable and helpless. I wasn’t doing anything that I’d classify as risky- I was pulling a rope, bringing a reasonably heavy sled towards me. But I got enthusiastic, sped up, and forgot to brace my shoulder. A reminder that no matter how long I train for, no matter how strong I get or how much I achieve in the gym, my shoulders will always be vulnerable. A reminder that no matter how many times I’ve done a movement, no matter how practiced I am, no movement can ever be routine. I must always be alert, concentrating, aware of every muscle in my back and shoulders- how they’re placed, how they feel, how they’re working.
And now I’m left sitting in my manual car, wondering how the hell I’m going to drive home when my arm feels too vulnerable to pick up even my handbag.