What most doctors, and in my imagination, women, want to do when they first meet me is to see me naked.
The new doctor I switched to in January was no exception. As I sat shirtless on the exam table, he stood in front of me staring intently at my scrawny physique for an uncomfortably long time.
Just before it got weird, he stepped back and said, "Your right shoulder is significantly lower than your left shoulder. It looks about one or two inches lower."
It felt like an accusation. I shrugged it off, saying it must have been from slogging Vera around in my left arm as I did other things with my dominant right hand.
But I was secretly horrified. Studying my unwelcome asymmetry that night in the mirror, I had a creeping suspicion that this was somehow a symptom of my sedentary lifestyle, hunched over a desk all day long for years with little exercise.
Would this continue to get worse over time? I had visions of myself in old age stumbling around like Igor, or the Elephant Man, all limp and contorted, right hand dragging on the ground until one day the arm finally just falls off.
A few weeks later I was in a meeting with an orthopedic surgeon who started talking about ergonomics for his new office space I was designing. He said that most people working on computers tend to push the mouse around by extending their right shoulder.
This can cause a repetitive strain injury that weakens and damages the tendons, ligaments, nerves, and muscles of the shoulder and upper back. This could even lead to subluxation, meaning partial dislocation of the shoulder. Think Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon.
20 years later, they're on his operating table getting pinned back together like Robocop.
The name for this condition is "mouse shoulder."
In a 2013 article in USA Today, Physiotherapist Maureen Dwight says it's caused by performing "repetitive movements in a fixed position with a limited range of movement."
Hmmm... repetitive movements... a fixed position... a limited range of movement. Perhaps the injury is not limited to my shoulder. This sounds like a summary of the last 12 years of my existence.
I don't just have mouse shoulder. I think I have mouse life.
The orthopedic surgeon's recommendation for avoiding mouse shoulder was to use a trackball instead of a mouse, to limit arm movement.
I have a better idea.
No trackball for me. The only ball I'm going to have my hand on is the one I'm throwing to Oliver. What better physical therapy than a few pitches to strengthen the shoulder, repeated several times throughout the day.
I will eliminate the root causes of mouse shoulder entirely. My rehabilitation will include spontaneous movements, from changing positions, with a broad range of movement.
Our life abroad is not just for our mental and emotional well-being, it could rejuvenate us physically as well. We need to take this trip before my body degenerates into some kind of medical curiosity.