March 8th 2013
Going South: The forty-something frozen shoulder
August 8th 2014
After throwing herself in head first (literally), Imogen Edwards-Jones discovered it's not just muffin tops and drooping bosoms that come with old age
Like all good stories, it started with a cartwheel. And a sober cartwheel to boot. I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t think I was actually thinking at all. It was reflex. I couldn't help myself. It’s in the genes.
For whenever Sloanes gather together there are certain things that are guaranteed to pass. Food will be thrown. Pimm's will be drunk. And some sort of energetic form of competitive exercise will occur. I know you’re now thinking ‘Middleton'. But you’re wrong. Because good old Pip-cheeks is actually rather good at sport. Bicycling here, skiing there, running endless sodding marathons here and there. But true Sloanes, proper honkers, are not good a sport, they’re just keen and hearty and rush into things like flatulent Labradors running around a coffee table loaded with wine glasses, tail wagging, smashing into things.
And so it was at Easter I entered into a Sloane-off with a fellow ex-velvet hairband-er. There were handstands, attempts at the splits and then the fateful cartwheel. Ouch! It hurt but being brave and super I failed to mention it. Sloanes don’t complain. But boy did it hurt. And the pain? Well, the pain just wouldn’t go away. In fact it got worse. Considerably worse. I couldn’t close the car door, I couldn’t pick up my four year old, I couldn’t brush my teeth, tie my hair up, get dressed, undo my bra and worst of all I could barely raise a chilled vodka and tonic to my lips or indeed smoke a goddamn cigarette.
Eventually I concluded enough was enough. I booked myself into see Fabi Weisbort who is indeed a little bit, well, fabi. He has healing hands and specialises in cranial osteopathy in children and babies. He is a charming chap who, when I was nine months pregnant and bent over like an arthritic 80-year-old, had me in a pair of party heels that very evening. So he listened to my story and manipulated my shoulder and it was better, a little bit better. But then it got worse. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t move, I was knocking back more ibuprofen than a thrash guitarist on tour. Drastic moves were needed.
So Fabi recommended Peter Reilly, one of the country’s most eminent shoulder specialists. He was also a charming chap and dare I say it, a little bit of a dish. I slightly wished I’d worn my best bra as I sat there on the consulting rack while he moved my arm, very gingerly, around.
“Frozen Shoulder,” he suggested. “Exacerbated by a cartwheel.”
A frozen shoulder? Who knew they could freeze? But apparently this is not at all unique. It is a lady thing that occurs in middle age along with a muffin top, barcode lips and a bosom that seeps south. Oh the joys of falling off the fortysomething cliff! Apparently 72 per cent of patients who suffer from frozen shoulder are over the age of 50! Like old age, a frozen shoulder is a thing that creeps up on you. An inflammation of the joint and ligaments, your movement becomes progressively restricted until - bam! You can’t move the sodding thing at all.
There are, of course, exercises that prevent you getting to my extreme case. The moment you suspect that your shoulder is seizing, you should consult your doctor and get some physio ASAP. You should practise swinging and moving your shoulder gently about and sleep with two pillows, one for your head and the other to rest your arm on while you sleep. Frozen shoulders are preventable, apparently, if you catch them early enough. But the problem is most of us just think it’s a little bit of irritation that will go away, except, mark my words: it doesn’t.
After X-rays it was discovered that I also had a large lump of calcium in the joint. The result of too many cartwheels, apparently. So here I am six weeks later, after a failed extraction, one local anaesthetic and two corticosteroid injections in my shoulder joint later, and now I can just about put my hand up in class, almost undo my bra and thankfully raise a chilled vodka and tonic to my lips. My recovery is almost complete!