Physical therapy with peanut butter

All of this made me wonder how we deal with  pain, because we all do.

Our responses to that pain  vary: We stew in it, carry it around and use it as a weapon, deny it, put on the bold face, pass blame, accept blame, deny blame.

But mostly we live with it, burrowed inside. It takes but one uncertain glance – Is that you? — a sound, the mention of a place or person, and then the memories wake, the mind works, the heart churns and it all begins again.

 

I’ve been living  with  a bad left shoulder for five or six months now.
I strained it somehow, and then while cleaning the refrigerator, I slammed it into the frame and dislocated it. (I know).

That would make it the second housekeeping accident I have had in about 10 years. The last was when I strained my lower back cleaning the bathroom floor and was laid up  five days.

With my shoulder, after feeling miserable for several weeks, I went to the doctor, who was sympathetic and put me on prednisone for six days.

The pain came back after six days.

The next time I saw him, he called for physical therapy, and so for the past month Becky at Hunterdon Medical Center’s Clinton physical therapy shop has been having me pull and stretch and lean and grimace in  order to heal the shoulder.

Which is where the peanut butter comes in: My home assignment is to perform a variety of lifting exercises with a 2-pound weight, and the closest thing I have to that description is a large jar of peanut butter.

Sometimes it seems to be working.

And sometimes, like after I mowed the lawn, it felt like someone cut open my arm with a large knife, or last night when I rolled over and someone shived my shoulder with an ice pick.

Today, just sitting and typing hurts.

All of this made me wonder how we deal with  pain, because we all do.

Physical pain, broken hearts, loss of family or loved ones, pets, loneliness – however it is expressed or manifests itself.

Our responses to that pain also vary: We stew in it, carry it around and use it as a weapon, deny it, put on the bold face, pass blame, accept blame, deny blame.

There are a million online memes to tell us how to move past it and if they work for you, great.

But mostly we live with it, burrowed inside. It takes but one uncertain glance – Is that you? — a sound, the mention of a place or person, and then the memories wake, the mind works, the heart churns and it all begins again.

I also thought about how as a writer I use pain on the stories I write.

If  you have read any of the Frank Nagler mysteries, you know that Detective Frank Nagler is a man in pain, mostly stemming from the loss,  early in his adult life, of his wife Martha. His loneliness defines his life and his police work, no matter any amount of tugging at him done by other characters like Lauren Fox or Leonard, his blind book-selling friend.

Nagler does not fall into self-pity, but dwells in a simmering anger/frustration  that his wife died so young and that his city,  Ironton, N.J. is in such sad shape.

Frank Nagler is not me, but I understand him, especially his loss and periodic emptiness. That makes him, me, and all of you who have experienced the same things, human.

I recently wrote two scenes that most likely will close out the current Nagler book, a prequel to the other three. It covers the years of the Charlie Adams serial killings, the beginning of his police career and the death of Martha (It’s not a secret).

I wrote them while my shoulder was screaming in pain, and the frustration that it would not stop hurting was ever-present. (Here is one: https://wp.me/p1mc2c-Ab)

In those scenes, Nagler is angry, in pain and seeking an outlet.

My shoulder pain is not the existential, soul-deep pain Nagler expresses, but the frustration is real.

Writers use the real and imaginary parts of their lives and others craft works. So why not a sore shoulder?

 

 

About michaelstephendaigle

I have been writing most of my life. I am the author of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. "The Swamps of Jersey (2014); "A Game Called Dead" (2016) -- a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Author Contest; and "The Weight of Living" (2017) -- First Place winner for Mysteries in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Contest.
This entry was posted in Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, www.michaelstephendaigle.com and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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