Shouldering On

I haven’t been around in … weeks. And my activities of the past five weeks or so inspire this post, the subtitle of which is:

Authors, do not give your hero a shoulder wound. Ever.

I had rotator cuff surgery at the end of March following an injury in January. In layperson’s terms, this means patching up the various bits and pieces–as my husband likes to call it, the gristle–back onto the bone so the shoulder functions. Well, one day it will, after months and months of physical therapy which includes professionals being mean to you. What your shoulder wants to do is be left alone and form scar tissue, something that should be avoided at all costs.

Shoulders are very complex arrangements and it’s only fairly recently that surgery can fix them–maybe. If you don’t have surgery it will heal up to a limited extent and then give you excruciating arthritis later. Do not inflict this on your hero (or heroine).

If he’s unlucky enough, as I was, to have injured the dominant arm, let me say that personal hygiene will suffer. You know, you use that arm for a lot of useful intimate stuff. Cleaning your teeth is the least of it. If your hero is really unlucky, he’ll develop a yeast infection in his armpit. (I didn’t. I was warned by a nurse.)

Why are shoulder injuries such a staple of fiction? Because it avoids the bedpan business? Slings are heroic somehow? (They’re not. They mess up your neck. You have to carry pillows around.)

The only advantage of having an arm immobilized for two weeks in a sling the size of NJ and thereafter in a lightweight sling to stop you doing anything stupid (mine is a little black number, very Chanel)–is that your nails are great. The other hand, nails not so great. A romance hero might not be that impressed.

So, hmmm. Smelly hero with great fingernails, doped up on laudanum, carrying his own pillow around, and asking heroine to cut up his dinner, scratch his back, and worse.

Don’t do it.

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8 years ago

Poor you! I do hope that the recovery continues to go well. It’s amazing what we take for granted until we lose the ability to do something, isn’t it. And of course the heroes in books heal so quickly, with minimum effort on their part.

Try to keep doing what you have to, and not doing what you mustn’t. Short term sacrifice for long term gain.

Have you tried using dictation to get your work done? My Mac has it inbuilt. And audiobooks to dave holding a book, and to pass the time while you’re doing your PT. You’ll be so engrossed you’ll barely notice the work!

Elena Greene
8 years ago

So sorry you’re having to go through this. Since my husband worked with physical therapists for over a year, I know they are a mean bunch. And when they discharged him, they taught me to carry on being mean.