Atrophy & Recovery – Part I by Janine M. Donoho

As physical therapy continues as a mainstay in my life, on a daily basis I confront the vagaries of atrophy. You might have guessed that this isn’t a funhouse by Pink’s or anyone else’s standards. Awakening withered muscles hurts. Rebuilding muscle hurts. For the first time in my adult life, I cannot distinguish between muscle pain and joint pain, which when you’re recovering from multiple screws in the rotator cuff, can really mess with your composure.

Nonetheless, once a week I’m driven like Miss Daisy to a physical therapist who first calms both sane and absurd fears, then manipulates the joint beyond what I’m capable of doing myself. The therapist also assigns new exercises. I tell myself these remedial tricks are more than deceptive smoke-and-mirror pranks. Despite the first six month marathon of supposed ‘recovery’, this one’s imminent, isn’t it? I’m simply in the fireweed stage of renewal after a devastating forest fire, right? Yet without drama, I make weekly, even daily, gains. Nonetheless, there’s often been half a painkiller at about 3 a.m. along with 1-2 icepacks each night.


So what are the corollaries to this if you’ve allowed your writing muscle to deteriorate? For I find myself in that odd space, too. As a lifelong writer, this feels unexpectedly distressing. Also, kind of geekishly interesting. The last time I dealt with this loss of gravity came after years as a primarily technical writer in test engineering. At that time, I faced the blank sheet of fiction with trepidation much like the wasted shoulder.

Now for the fascinating part of this process. You see, at that time, mentors and nonfiction helped me through the there-be-dragons phase. Ultimately, this route turned a ‘what-to-do-with-a-blank-page’ quandary into a vast shift from one career to another. The specifics on how this happened? Well, you’ll learn more in part deux. For your edification and mine, enjoy these views of my summer garden and new puppy. I mean, who doesn’t love a puppy? Now, it’s time for another ice pack.Manny Kartouche' & Nina Sophia, puppy

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