It woke me up at 2:30 in the morning two Saturdays ago. I shot up in bed, tears instantly spilling out of my eyes, and stared down at my right shoulder where a sudden, burning, debilitating pain emanated out of some deep dark place. In the core of it. Or the heart. Or something. I half-expected to see a spear pierced thought it. Or a hot curling iron. Or Eric from True Blood biting me, which would be…you know…the good kind of hot.
It was not Eric.
It was, however, like no sensation I’d ever felt before (and I’d had two babies naturally…though…um…not by choice). It was constant. It was angry. And, no matter how I moved, or didn’t move, it would not subside. I woke up husband Thad. (I’m a firm believer that, if I can’t sleep from agonizing shoulder pain, no one should sleep).
Thad fed me Advil. It didn’t work. He massaged my shoulder. It didn’t work. He grabbed the laptop and began diagnosing me from Web MD—a pinched nerve, we decided.
The next morning, pre-coffee, I’d speed to the chiropractor. And he’d tell me that I was too stressed. That I’d finally pushed it over the edge. That the stress had no place left to go but into my shoulder and lodge there, like a tick. Or, maybe, eventually, shoot down my right arm. Maybe make my hand numb. And limp. And useless. The chiropractor would give me a neck brace to wear, which would elicit much sympathy from Thad, my mother, and the four houseguests from France who were arriving that afternoon. (Because of course you have houseguests from a foreign country coming the day you get a pinched nerve in your shoulder and have a freaking lasagna to make, else everyone will starve and you’ll never get invited on a reciprocal visit, which you already planned on taking advantage of in the spring, without kids…and maybe, just maybe, with husband.)
But, at 2:30 in the morning, that appointment was still many hours away.
I spent the night lying on my stomach in bed, wide awake and crying in that sobby way you see in war movies and think “no one really cries like that," with a heating pad duct-taped around my shoulder and--because where I really needed to be was on a massage table--my head, face-down, in the hole of my daughter’s Dora the Explorer potty seat.