I’m having surgery on my shoulder this week on August 2nd. The most often asked question I get is “how did you injure yourself?” So I finally decided to tell the story here. In reality, it is equal parts funny and sad.
It all started last year when I was on a worship team. I sang backup and played tambourine. I confess I was trying to avoid hitting my hand because I have arthritis in my thumb and didn’t want to make it worse. I didn’t want to hit my thigh because it inevitably ends with a bruise. So all the action for that tambourine was done with my elbow. The result was tendonitis in that joint. I had to wait a few months to get therapy for that due to insurance changes. By then scar tissue had developed. Ugh. But it was getting better.
Until a different physical therapist cared for me one day. He decided to test my rotator cuff. Now, this is not a bad thing as a shoulder issue could have contributed to my injury. This guy was stronger than he realized, and when he jerked my arm up into the air, I had instant pain that was new. And it didn’t go away. A cortisone shot and 28 physical therapy appointments and almost a year later: no improvement. The good news is my tendonitis resolved. I had so wanted to avoid surgery but I returned to my doctor.
When I was on the table to have a needle stuck in for the contrast part of the X-rays and MRI – I told the radiologist my story. He said “Tambourines are dangerous. We get that a lot.” He was joking. “If you get this fixed then you can play tambourine again!” Hmmm. Not sure about that but it is fun to do.
An MRI showed a labrum tear and possible torn rotator cuff. The surgeon won’t know until he gets in there, but that is the only cure at this point. My clavicle needs some shortening too as it is impinging on a joint. Wow, such a mess.
So, surgery and an unknown recovery. I am allergic to most pain meds too. Maybe I’ll just have to study this video as Tim Kubart (aka Tambourine Man) seems to have a good grasp on how to play the instrument with panache. Are there lessons I can take on safely playing this instrument?
So I offer this all to you as a cautionary tale. Don’t be like Susan. Play the tambourine responsibly.