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Wednesday, June 16, 2010


This morning I awoke with a sharp pain in my right shoulder. The body remembers.

Once and injury has healed and the pain has stopped I forget. When the pain returns, months or years later as arthritis, I am slow to remember. The scar tissue creates adhesions, gluing internal organs together. The body has held onto the assault, the harm it suffered, and the insult. Calcium deposits have encased it. The flexibility and the range of motion are reduced.

Gradually my brain remembers. It was June of 2007. The date of our move to Florida was approaching and I was packing belongings with a fury fired by fear. Moving away from the place I had been born, the place where I had spent the first fifty-eight years of my life, gripped me with anxiety. Would I find a hematologist who could treat my rare bleeding disorder? I thought about the range of other medical specialist in my address book: a gynecologist, an orthotist, a neurologist, a gastroenterologist, and a dentist. I had trained many of them to understand the ramifications of my lack of fibrinogen.

“Change is good,” I told myself. I worked at sorting, folding, loading and labeling boxes. Pounding away bit by bit, I stuffed my sentimentality into each crate.

The temperature was ninety-six two weeks before the moving van was scheduled to arrive. I had left the packing of books, most of which were on the third floor of our house, until that week because a friend had agreed to help me. At the last minute, my friend cancelled. With or without her, the job had to be completed.

The hot and muggy weather outside made the air in the small third-floor bedroom thick. Pearls of perspiration rolled down my nose. I lifted the books in stacks of four or five at a time, positioned them in the cardboard box in an arrangement that would maximize the load, yanked the packing tape tightly, closing the lids, and then lifted box upon box.

The next day my right shoulder ached. I self-diagnosed and thought, “I know this pain. It’s just like the frozen shoulder I had a few years ago on the other side.”

I got out an ice pack and went back to the task of packing. It took three days before the pain was so intense that I had to admit it was time to call a doctor. After the infusions of cryoprecipitate the doctor ordered a narcotic pain medication that my local pharmacy did not keep in stock. I went back to packing.

The moving van pulled up to the door as the last box was being taped shut. I could only drive a few hours at a time because extending the right arm forward to turn the steering wheel was excruciating. It took three days to reach Florida. On the day before the van arrived, I fell on a cement walkway and landed on the right side, shattering my glasses, bruising my face and knee. The right shoulder however took the brunt of the fall.
Until this morning I had forgotten those events. But the body remembers.