For a few weeks now, I’ve been experiencing fluctuating levels of pain in my left shoulder/upper arm. I have no idea what I did to cause this, but as the pain was never so bad I couldn’t get to sleep at night, I didn’t bother doing more than taking a painkiller at night if I needed it so I could get to sleep. The pain never disturbed my sleep, and I usually awoke with it much dissipated. Some days were worse than others, but none were as bad as Saturday night this past weekend.

On that night, the pain kept me awake. I’d taken a half-dose of Nyquil (the berry flavored kind) because my sinuses were acting up too, so took no other painkillers. Then I went to bed. The 325mg of acetaminophen in the Nyquil did absolutely nothing to the pain. In fact, the pain only got worse. And, as this was the variety of Nyquil which doesn’t have any alcohol in it, I barely slept an hour, and then that was only half-sleep, where I felt the pain even in my vague dreams. No position I tried eased any of the pain, and I tried everything except sleeping propped up because I already knew from my hours awake with the pain it wouldn’t ease if I couldn’t prop it on something firm (and my pillows are hardly firm).

I finally got up at six on Sunday morning, and, near tears, managed to dress despite the incredible pain (yes, even my bra, and that was torture, even though I don’t hook it in the back and haven’t since I was in my early 20’s). I came out to my living room and made some coffee to wake me up, then, after sorting my medications into the pillbox sorter I have, I texted my friend who was supposed to drive me to grocery shopping that I was suffering excruciating pain in my shoulder. Through text, we arranged that if I didn’t text her that I didn’t want to go shopping, she’d contact me when she was on her way.

I didn’t text her refusing to go grocery shopping (I really needed food). It took me ten minutes to get my winter gear on after she texted she was on her way, and by the time I was done, she’d arrived. Usually, I’m downstairs outside waiting for her. The moment I got in the car and she had me buckled in (I had to ask for her help), I asked her if she’d be willing to drive me up to the VA Hosp after grocery shopping, and she stated she’d be happy to.

Did my grocery shopping despite the pain, and my friend took the lion’s share of my groceries to help me bring them upstairs in one trip (wasn’t as much as I thought it might be), then she drove me to the VA.

Now, going wisdom is that, at least on weekdays and Saturday, it’s best to arrive before 8:00-8:30 AM, or you’re likely to spend most of the day there waiting for care. It was almost 9:30 by the time I arrived on Sunday, so I expected there to be at least a few other people waiting. After arranging with my friend to keep her updated via text about my progress through the ER, I went in and discovered one person waiting—and she was waiting on someone who’d already gone in for care, not on care for herself.

I checked in. Five minutes later, they had my vitals and I was in an ER exam room waiting for the doc to come see me. About 50 mins later, the PA on duty came in and tested my range of movement and strength. She declared my arm not broken, but that I had likely pulled or strained muscles/ligaments in my shoulder somehow, even though I couldn’t recall doing anything to do so. All I could say was that I’d not fallen on my arm.

She showed me some exercises to do. 1. Bend at the waist and do circles with my arm as big as I can make them; she showed me only one direction, but I do both directions; and 2. gently swinging my arm side to side as far as I can—still bent over; I also do this the other way, backwards and forwards as far as I can. I figure the extra effort can’t hurt. I’m to do these exercises “several times a day” until I see physical therapy for their advice, and PT is to call me this coming week. These exercises are meant to keep my shoulder from freezing.

She also gave me a sling and prescribed Naproxen and Acetaminophen for pain. I’m to take the Naproxen every 12 hours for pain and reduce inflammation; and the Acetaminophen for pain in between. I fetched the meds (after a 15 min wait) at the pharmacy and texted my friend I was out, and she kindly picked me up and drove me home.