Since I’m much too old to marry Stephen Strasburg, I’m going to adopt him. I hope his parents don’t mind. In case you’ve been in outer space for the past couple of months, let me bring you up to date—Stephen Strasburg is the rookie ace pitcher for the Washington Nationals. He throws fastballs faster than the speed of light and he seems to be a charming young man, modest and delighted with his own success.
I’m feeling some kinship with big league pitchers in general ever since my doctor told me I have the shoulders of a big league pitcher. That’s not a good thing in this context. I said, “Doc, am I ever going to pitch again?” He chuckled as he moved my right arm around and I heard the crunching of my shoulder joint. I told him that once upon a time I was the arm wrestling champion of my high school. It’s true but I’m not sure he believed me. Oh, the glory days!
I’ve been from family doctor to chiropractor to orthopedic surgeon to physical therapist. The diagnosis ranged from bursitis to frozen shoulder to impingement of the shoulder. Whatever they call it, it’s a problem in my rotator cuff that has left the upper right side of my body weak and hurting. All a result of shoveling too much snow and I suppose not helped by playing too much banjo.
So today I had my second physical therapy session. Physical therapy hurts. They get me to do exercises to increase range of motion and regain strength. They put me on an electrical stimulation machine for 10 minutes allegedly to relax the muscles. But the pièce de résistance is when the physical therapist beats on my shoulder with a tire iron. It’s not really a tire iron but it might as well be. It’s the medical equivalent of a tire iron—a smooth piece of stainless steel that looks like a small boomerang—that the therapist uses to break up the adhesions in my shoulder muscles. No pain no gain? If that’s the case then I must be making some serious gains.
If one more person quotes to me the aphorism, “growing old is not for sissies,” I think I’ll vomit. Think about it. The saying implies that it is somehow brave or perhaps even noble to grow old and put up with aches and pains and the decline of the body. Do I have a choice?