The Perversity of Doing Something You Know Is Going to Hurt

13 May 2018

Who worries about waking up with a sore rotator cuff? That hinge of muscles and tendons that hold my shoulder in place is not foremost in my thoughts. I wouldn’t mind, if it were a worry of mine because I was under contract to throw a baseball 90+ miles an hour, a hundred times every five days for an unseemly amount of money. But, alas, my rotator cuffs aren’t monetized that way. So I take them for granted.

It might seem like I’m short-changing gratitude,┬ásince I don’t wake up thinking about all the medical problems that didn’t accompany my awakening…that would, fortunately, be a major morning recitation. Sure, there’s an unspoken gratitude for not waking up with aches and pains and palpitations, etc. But not saying so should not offend the author of my well-being.

So why do I mention rotator cuffs in the first place? I was asked to take my nine-year-old grandson to his baseball game this past week. And, by the way, I was told he’d like to get to the ball field early, so he could have a catch…with me. Awards at the Kennedy Center are thin gruel by comparison. If something is better than that, I can’t think of what it is. And that’s the clue about where rotator cuffs come in.

For 20 years (up to about 15 years ago) I woke up every summer Sunday morning, buttoned and belted myself into uniform, laced up my cleats and played the American pastime. And for most of my life, I’ve played tennis…serving, overheads, ground strokes…never to waken the next morning with a murmur from my shoulder. But it’s not 15 years ago and I haven’t played tennis for four years.

But, I said to myself, he’s only a wisp of a nine-year-old. I can throw it easy…but not too easy. He’s got to know I was a credible athlete once. So we’ll soft toss the ball for a few minutes, I thought, and then pick up the pace. By that time the rest of the team will show up and he’ll go warm up with them. Well, soft toss was a fantasy. He put a sting on it from the first throw. So that’s the way you want it, I said to myself, and threw it back. But 15 years had softened my velocity a tad. And instead of a thud into his mitt, it landed like a butterfly. We threw for about 20 minutes…low throws, high throws, grounders, popups. I managed to get a bit of velocity back, nothing he couldn’t handle with ease. The rest if the team finally did show up and off he went to practice with them.

I dreaded the shoulder pain I’d have in the morning. No doubt, I wouldn’t be able to lift my arm high enough to get the wallet out of my pocket. But, hey, it was worth it, throwing with my grandson. By the middle of the next afternoon, telling a friend about our catch, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t even aware of my shoulder…not even a twinge. So pain-free activities now include throwing a baseball. I might have to dust off my tennis racquet.