Wear and Tear

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“The old saw about old dogs and new tricks only applies to certain people.”  Daniel Pinkwater

All hairdressers at all salons break down, sooner or later. Some hairdressers break down earlier than others, but it’s taken me more than thirty years to break down, for the work to take its toll.

I have bursitis and tendinitis in both shoulders. When you’re working your arms are always up around your shoulders. It hurts. I wake up dreaming that somebody is twisting my arm off. Sometimes I dream they’re twisting both arms off.

I got pain shots, since it started running up my neck, but my doctor was just guessing.

“Am I hitting your bursa?”

“I don’t know.”

“How does that feel?”

“Yow!”

I got shots twice until my doctor said, “I think you need to see a pain specialist.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“OK”

“Did you bring records?” the pain specialist at the Cleveland Clinic asked.

“No.”

“That’s all right, you’ll get your shots anyway.”

He was definitely not the shot Nazi.

But it freaked me out a little. I thought I was just going to pull my shirt down and they were going to put a shot in me. Instead they gave me two gowns, told me to take everything off, and get into the gowns. I had to wear the blue hat.

“I’m just getting s shot in my shoulder, right?”

“Right.”

“So why am I getting naked?”

“Well, you are going into surgery to get the shot,” the nurse said.

I was a little paranoid going in. I had to get an IV stuck into my arm.  They told me I wouldn’t remember anything. But I remembered everything. I sat up and talked the whole time. I remember watching the video screen. I remember him hitting my nerve. I jumped.

“No, no, no,” he said. “Sit still.”

“OK, but I need more juice.”

They gave me more the second time I went, and I definitely don’t remember much about that time.

After he stuck the needle in me, and did the procedure, I thought, are you kidding me? The preparation took much longer than the shot itself.

“You freaked me out for a couple of minutes of shooting?”

I had my right shoulder done first, and my left shoulder done two weeks later. It worked, although I think the second shot worked better. I was more relaxed. There were some side effects, though.

I’m the kind of person, if there are going to be side effects, I’m going to have them. For two weeks after the shots I had horrible side effects. They’re shooting in cortisone. It’s a steroid. Whenever you get steroids injected, you risk getting hungry, getting ‘roid rage. I got hungry and got ‘roid rage. I got heat sensitivity, too.

I was flushed all the time. I was crazy emotional all the time, whenever I wasn’t eating all the time. What the hell is wrong with me, I wondered.

At the same time, I started sleeping in positions I hadn’t slept in for years. I used to always sleep with my arms up over my head, but I hadn’t been able to for a long time because of the pain in my shoulders. I couldn’t sleep on my face because my shoulders hurt. I would wake up wimpering. The pain was so bad, rolling over didn’t help, nothing helped. My arms would go numb. The pinkies on both my hands would go numb. Laying in a beach chair, whenever Brian and I went to Mexico, nothing was comfortable, even though it was the most comfortable place in the world.

For a long time, there were no comfortable spots. Time goes by, you forget about it. After the shots, I’m sleeping with my arms up again. Everything is a comfortable spot.

The pain starts to come back after a month-or-so, but you can’t get a shot every month. You can’t have more than four of them a year. It’s not good for you, even though they’re good for me. Too many shots will deteriorate the muscles around where the steroids are going. The big question is how long will the cortisone stay in the nerve and block the pain?

When the pain comes back, I start having a hard time turning my neck. When I’m driving, and I try looking behind me, ouch! I already am having a hard time turning to the right. Don’t be coming at me that way! I would like to not feel anything from the neck up, I told my pain specialist doctor. That would be wonderful. He just laughed.

Hairdressers always have lower back and hip and foot problems. They’re always on their feet, leaning over their clients, twisting a little one way and the other way.

Everybody laughs at my platform flip flops, but I’ve never had any foot problems. Walking in them is like standing on my rubber mat. When I walk in them, it’s like I have a platform mat for shoes. When I first started, I used to wear high heels. I learned very quickly that was a dumb idea. A woman I worked for, for a few years, who also cut hair, always wore high heels, twelve hours a day. She destroyed her feet. She can never wear high heels again, even though she’s twenty years younger than me.

I don’t have any lower back or hip problems. I don’t have varicose veins. Francie has plantar fasciitis. Mel has bad varicose veins. I don’t have corns or bunions or gross looking feet. I have nice looking feet, not like many hairdressers, at all. The feet on some of them get all gnarled up, pinched, ugly.

Anybody can say anything they want, make fun of my platform flip flops, I can take it. I’ve been wearing them for twenty-seven of my thirty-two years on salon floors, and I‘ve made it this far without breaking down too much. Although, I might fall off of them and break my neck someday.

If only there were platform flip flop things for my shoulders. That would be a new trick.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

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