Risk factors: Repetitive arm motion

The whole left side of my body has been slowly deteriorating. I call it my left-wing conspiracy. Cute eh? I’ve got a bad left knee, pain in the left side of my neck, a fucked up elbow that I can pop graphically, and sometimes the little two fingers in my left hand get tingly. The latest thing is that the conspiracy is widening. It’s begun to creep into my shoulder. It’s been hurting for the past 3 months, more of a nagging thing than any real pain.

The culprit is undoubtedly drumming. I don’t warm up and I slam rim shots, not forcably, and my technique is good. But I’ve been hitting that backbeat for about 25 years now, sometimes professionally, which means many, many gigs and rehearsals.

So here I am in paradise, Langkawi island, just off the border of Thailand and Malaysia, and my shoulder decides that now is the time to give way. The past two days have been excruciating. Something’s changed. So I go to the doctor and after two hours of prodding and x-rays by cute veiled nurses and doctors I get the diagnosis: a torn rotator cuff.

And now, I’m faced with a decision.

The doctor said I should be getting physical therapy right here right now. But I have no travel insurance, I say. Then you should go home.

Actually she said it’s up to me what to do. I should get physical therapy. But she said if I don’t do it now, the next best thing is to take pain killers until I can return to Korea and start up then. Just in case, she prescribed two weeks worth for me, roughly the remaining time on my holiday. I asked her if I could damage it any more by delaying. She said no. I asked if it’s just about pain, not about damage. She said it’s only an issue of pain.

I don’t believe her. Sweet lady. But there’s this thing called the internet. I’ve been roaming it, looking for information. What I’ve found makes me think there is some risk of making things worse. It’s probably best to go home, where I have free health coverage.

But I do have options. I got insurance through Air Asia. I could go back to KL early and put my coverage to the test. Or, I could wait until I’m set to arrive in Singapore (5 days) and get treatment there. Singapore doctors are likely to be more thorough than resort island doctors. But hell, that would be expensive.

I’ll rest on it and decide tomorrow. Apparently rest is the best medicine anyway.

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2 Responses to “Risk factors: Repetitive arm motion”

  1. Check out the insurance, bro. And then get back to the veiled nurse.

    Seriously, hope all comes out ok.

  2. I’ve been there. It hurts like hell. Go home.

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