What hump?

Posted: July 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

My overhead press been bothering my husband for a while now. I’d watch him watching me with the pose he always takes when he’s problem-solving in his head: one finger cocked against the corner of his mouth and chewing the other cheek ever-so-slightly, eyebrows furrowed.

It made me nervous. I’d ask, not very nicely, “What?” He’d just shake his head and motion for me to continue.

One week he decided it was that I didn’t have the bar centered, so he measured the bar and put tape around the center. Since looking down I have a natural siting system, that was great. As long as I had that bar, I could look down, see I was all centered, grab the bar off the rack, and begin.

But that didn’t end the analysis. Whatever it was he was seeing, centering the bar didn’t help.

So then he decided I didn’t have my hands equally spaced from my shoulders. I was oh-so-charming about this.

“What do you mean my hands aren’t the same distance from my shoulders? They feel the same distance.”

“No,” he replies, “They aren’t.”

We go back and forth like this for a while, as the kids try to ignore that I’m being a bitch, and Gary speaks in a patient tone, which, I, of course, with my inborn talent for taking the wrong way, decide is patronizing. So I get an edge in my tone, asking which hand he’d like where. Luckily, he ignores me, and in the end, I get my hands where they’re supposed to be.

So then everytime I go to the press, I’m obsessed with getting the thing centered and my hands just so, to the point that if someone else is using my bar with the tape, I get cranky about it.

The next thing he critiques, a few days later, is that I have the bar too far back: “Right by your ears,” he says. I’m certain that it is by my ears, and say so, but I move the bar forward. The next suggestion is that I need to have more active shoulders.

While all this is going on, I’m well aware I have a much harder time getting my left arm to straighten completely at the top of the press, “locking out,” as they say, particularly at the end of the set on the last rounds.

So last week, he’s watching me (which makes me nervous, like a kid having a teacher over his shoulder), and he asks our daughter to stop and look while he has me stay in the full extension of the press over my head.  “Is it me, or is that crooked?” he asks the female offspring. She looks back and forth a couple of times, scrunches up her face in a “that’s frickin’ weird” look, and simply says, “Yeah, it is.”

So I lower the bar to where it hangs in front of my hips, but in that position, the bar is even.

So Gary, coach-husband, has me belly up to the wall and put my arms up straight over my head, takes a magic marker, and marks where each middle finger hits the wall. I back away, and even as stubborn as I am, I can see he’s right: they’re two different heights. Gary gets out the leveler to make sure he can get a straight line, measures the difference, and it is clear to all: I have a 3/4 inch discrepancy in my reach.

So he tells me I need to mention it to the doctor. Turns out I have to schedule an appointment with her the next day for the day after that because I start having symptoms of diverticulitis. I assure him I’ll talk to the good doctor about my arms being different lengths. “Shoulders,” he says. “It’s not your arms, it’s your shoulders.”

“Whatever,” I say, knowing that I’ll go through the whole spiel of describing it and let her come to a conclusion.

So, the next day, after poking me to check for diverticulitis (and giving the cure that I think is about as bad as the illness), she checks out this shoulder thing. I hear lots of “hmms” as she pokes all around the angel-wing part of the shoulder, asking regularly if it hurts. It doesn’t. She has me lean against the wall with my arms straight and pokes some more. When she asks if it hurts, I tell her that it actually feels pretty good.

Confirmed: asymptomatic, asymmetrical shoulder. But what to do about it? Not much, if it’s symmetrical. But, she warns, if I try to lift something too heavy, it could be a problem. But if I’m not having any problem with it, there’s no reason to bring the orthopedics guys into it.

It had never hurt up until then. By that evening, after all the poking and prodding, my right shoulder was sore as heck — but only the right one. Well, crap.

The diverticulitis (and the thrice-damned Flagyl I have to take for it) had me too queasy and rather tied to the bathroom, so I didn’t work out for several days. I tried one day, and it was a complete disaster (oh, did I mention that I got whacked with a super dose of hormones at the same time, so anything and everything was reducing me to a crying lump of self-pity? No? Yeah, well, it’s pretty embarrassing, but any woman who’s had it happen knows what I mean: Your brain is yelling “What the hell is wrong with you? Get a grip!” and the rest of you is sobbing like a kid with a skinned knee). I didn’t even consider doing it again until today.

I’m not done with the Flagyl (although taking MythBuster’s approved ginger root with it is easing the side effects somewhat), but things seem to quieting down a bit, and I’ve started obsessing over something else every time I put on clothes or look in the mirror: Damn! I’m I losing muscle tone already? So I managed today to get through my workout, albeit with several bathroom breaks. No pukey, though.

And as I sit, for the first time, my hump is bothering me: right shoulder, below the blade. Having knee and achilles tendon problems doesn’t particularly surprise me: all that weight’s a lot of impact on a daily basis, so asking anything additional of them is always a risk. But having always been a pear, most of my weight is below shoulder-level. What the heck is this all about?

So, yes, gentle reader, I turn to research. I first tried the public library databases and struck out. The first few Internet searches were pretty useless, too. Imagine my surprise that the first piece of useful advice comes from the website of a plastic surgeon. Apparently, after a boob job, women start noticing if the girls aren’t even. Relax, says the plastic surgeon, it’s not the boobs that are the problem:

As you glance at the many before and after breast enlargement photos, you will notice that often one shoulder is naturally higher than the other, causing the same sided breast to appear higher. Shoulder asymmetry can be due to a variety of causes, such as carrying a pack on one side all the time, handbag, holding a baby, or in some cases, scoliosis (curvature of the spine). The imbalance may cause neck and back discomfort with advancing years, and should, therefore, be corrected if possible. Standing in front of the mirror, with the shoulders properly balanced, and squeezing the shoulder blades together and down (hold 10-20 seconds once or twice a day) will help restore balance and often alleviate neck discomfort. Alternate the shoulders when carrying any weight. If needed, see a physical therapist. The spine does not like imbalance, and early attention to this will save many years of potential discomfort.

Well, in a way, it does make sense. Women have been known to get breast reductions because of back pain. So I’ll try his fix and see if it evens me up a bit. Until then, I maintain, “What hump?”

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