Sunday, October 14, 2012

Burdening A Shoulder

Later this afternoon they'll they will play game two of the ALCS between the Tigers and the Yankees.  Had the experience in the last twenty four hours been the usual for playoff baseball, the announcers would be talking about the fact that the Yankees starter, Hiroki Kuroda, will be pitching on just three days rest instead of the usual four.  But events have actually been freakish, particularly the play at shortstop in extra innings where Derek Jeter, the Yankees Captain, broke his ankle.  Surely that will take center stage and everything else will become background noise.  But, if the Yankees are to fare well under the circumstances, Kuroda will have to perform at a high level, the three days rest notwithstanding.

It is now more than three weeks since I had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder.  With more than enough time to think about the heeling process, I have latched onto some sidebar issues.  One of those is to marvel at the adhesiveness of the surgical tape.  There are two pretty small incisions, one at the top of the shoulder, the other on my back but near the first one.  The tape on the second one has been peeling off, but the tape on the first one is like new and for the last week or two I've been taking regular showers.  I wish I had near as much stick-to-it-ness. 

Another, perhaps this is a bit more than a sidebar, is to see how awkward and confused I am on the issue of accepting help when it's offered, maybe even asking for help, or doing it myself even if that entails a lot of fumbling around.  The first week or so of post-op, I was extremely dependent on my wife to accomplish even the most mundane task.   Yet she's been extraordinarily busy with her work, so I felt guilty about taking up too much of her time and I know I was feeling frustrated then because I did have some needs that required attention.  As I've become more proficient doing ordinary tasks, much of the frustration has dissipated.  Interacting with others, it's different.  The help is a one-shot deal rather than a part of an ongoing relationship.  Not accepting the help is from fear of showing weakness - deny the problem rather than deal with it.  I will return to that point in a bit.

Another big concern is whether I should be winding down the pain meds.  It is possible to develop a dependency on them.    On the other hand, I think that as I make milestones in terms of improved functionality of the arm, that will come at the price of some pain, at least initially.  I was very proud of myself after I finally was able to put on a long sleeve shirt myself.  But it hurt doing so, no doubt about it.  So there is the question of whether I can make further progress and yet still cool it on the meds.  Physical therapy starts Tuesday.  That's the main question I'll bring to the first session.

Now let me extend the metaphor beyond baseball and beyond my own physical situation and consider the students I'm teaching this semester.  Compared to last spring or the year before that we are doing much better on students coming to class, though it was required in the spring and it is not required now.  So that is a plus.  But in a different dimension I'm still not satisfied.  While some students have something on the ball too many seem to not be bringing enough to the table.  Assuming that's right, the question is: what should be done about it?

I don't think it's an easy question to answer.  It becomes even harder to answer when in some way the students themselves show they are aware of the predicament and then ask for help.  Doing that they are more mature about their learning needs than I am about my physical needs, yet it doesn't seem to occur to them that the must burden themselves to find a way out.  Perhaps we can end up teaching each other by sharing some of the burden.

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