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Live Life Fully: What happens when you get a zero on the dismount?

By Linda Arnold
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- No doubt it was the enthusiasm around the Olympics that propelled me to great heights (and depths) last week.Obviously, I didn't realize the degree of difficulty involved with mounting the stepstool to organize some things in a closet. Quicker than a vault "stick," I tumbled off the stool and onto the floor. And then the scores came in. It was a unanimous decision: zero on the dismount.After my husband, John, picked me up from the floor -- and following some supportive tail wags and affection from the furry children -- I began to contemplate my plight. The pain was excruciating.I landed on my shoulder, the same one in which I experienced a rotator cuff tear several years ago (ouch). Only this hurt much worse. I thought I'd broken something. "Dr. John" put me through a range of motion exercises, gleaned from his years of competitive and leisure sports, along with lots of bumps and bruises along the way.We waited until the next day to go for X-rays. Fortunately, nothing was broken. And I was outfitted with a new fashion accessory in the form of a sling. And did I mention the pain was excruciating?The doctor gave me a prescription for pain medication, although I used it sparingly. For some reason, it always makes me dizzy and nauseous. And then it's a question of which pain is worse.It took awhile to get used to the sling, but it did a good job of immobilizing my arm. And I was able to function pretty well. Advil did its job too, when I weaned myself off the pain meds.I still watched the Olympics every night. And marveled at the champions who undergo things like this all the time in the name of sacrifice for their sport. As for me, I was more challenged by everyday things like:
  • Sitting down and rising up from the commode.
  • Bending over to pick anything up.
  • Washing my hair.
  • Doing everything with my other arm (fortunately, it was my nondominant arm that was injured).
  • Not lifting anything.
  • Reaching for the seat belt.
  • Taking twice as long to do anything.
  • You get the picture. It was a big day when I graduated to driving. Dr. John followed me to work to make sure everything would be all right. I have to admit I'd gotten rather comfortable with the "Driving Miss Daisy" look. Alas, it was time for more independence. I made it just fine.In fact, I was more vigilant than ever. No distractions. I didn't turn on the radio -- and I couldn't have maneuvered a cellphone, even if I'd wanted to. All senses needed to be on the task at hand -- driving. I've even carried some of these habits over, and that's a healthy thing!I only missed a couple of days of work, and I was able to negotiate the keyboard of my computer -- even with the sling -- pretty quickly.Next challenge: the grocery store. Once I got my buggy into four-wheel-drive mode, I was fine to negotiate the aisles. I had to think ahead though. Things aren't as easy and automatic when one has full range of motion and can spin around at will.My brain went into overdrive: "Group congregated in Aisle 4. Take the next one and loop back around." "Wait until there aren't any other cars -- or people -- around before pulling out of the parking spot."There have definitely been some bright moments though. People have been very helpful and considerate. I've had lots of positive energy directed toward me by friends, relatives, co-workers -- and even strangers.I'm blessed to have such wonderful people in my life -- and to be able to put things into perspective through this experience. Slowing down and taking my time with everything -- because I had no choice -- makes me think about continuing these behaviors even when I do have a choice.Although I'm not ready to ask for the theme song of "Rocky" to be cued, I have to say I'm getting stronger every day. And that's a good thing. The injury is likely a further aggravation of the rotator cuff tear, and that's something that can be handled with physical therapy. Unless it's so serious that I need surgery on down the road. I'm not ready to think about that though.For now, I just want to take it a day at a time. Looking ahead to the next Winter Olympics, I think I'll focus on ice skating. I'd be a shoo-in for the "triple klutz"!Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications company specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to
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