Back at the dawn of the Covid Era in early 2020, Barnie and I were out for a midday walk when suddenly she collapsed and could not get up. We had been just walking along the path to Black Creek Landing and her legs gave out. She was alert and responsive to my voice and touch, but it was as if she were paralyzed from the neck down. Because it was a Sunday, none of our workers were around to give me hand getting Barnie back to the house. Dennis and I retrieved one of the wheelbarrows with the idea that we would get her to the house in that. You may recall that Barnie is A BIG DOG. With the wheelbarrow positioned beside her, Dennis picked up her hind end and I picked up her front end, and on the count of three we heaved her up, over, and in. Except not quite that smoothly. As I lifted, I heard and felt 3 distinct pops from my right shoulder and a rush of pain down my arm. I sagged, but didn't drop her, and we completed the up and over part. I was so worried about the dog that I ignored my shoulder and arm pain. Dennis rolled the wheelbarrow into the shade near the house as we considered the next steps. I stayed with Barnie, hoping she would rally, but she sort of faded out of alertness. We wound up getting 2 of our workers to come over and carry the wheelbarrow up the flight of stairs onto the front veranda where we decanted her onto a blanket-covered piece of foam.
In the meantime, right arm tied against my side, I contacted the vet on Whatsapp. Long story short, the vet couldn't say for sure what the issue might be and he, being on service in the northern part of the country, was not able to come check on her. We were on our own. I noticed her ears and paws were getting cool, so we dragged the foam with her on it into the sun and covered her with a blanket. I figured she was in shock, possibly from an insect bite, and that if we could keep alive over the next 24 hours, she would probably survive.
I sat with Barnie, sang to her, petted her, told her she was good girl. She would sometimes open her eyes, but mostly kept them closed. We dragged the foam back inside as the sun set. I stayed with her most of the night before trying to catch a few hours of sleep in bed. Next morning, she was still alive! Over the next days she slowly improved - eating, drinking, walking, peeing, pooping at a very slow pace. It was 4 months before she was going on a full walk with me and 6 months before she could run with me.
Once Barnie was out of immediate danger, I took a look at my arm and shoulder. I could no longer deny that I done some serious damage. The bulging biceps muscle and deep bruise over the front of my upper arm told part of the story - I had torn the tendon attaching the long head of my biceps to my shoulder. It's called a "Popeye" injury because the unattached biceps bunches up like Popeye's arm after he eats a can of spinach. And from the feel of things a couple of those loud pops came from rotator cuff ligaments. I don't want to go into it too much except to say that the next months were very pain filled. And with international travel restricted, I couldn't get to the US for evaluation and was not going to risk traveling inside Belize either. I moved my arm enough to keep from getting a frozen shoulder and otherwise used my left arm for most things, even brushing my teeth or picking up a fork to eat. Dennis (my hero!) took over all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, everything for 6 months while I lazed around and moaned. At 12 months, I had pretty much full range of motion back, but still a lot pain. Finally after 18 months, I got to an orthopedist at UT SouthWestern Medical School in Dallas. An MRI revealed that yes, the biceps tendon was fully torn and there were partial tears and lots of inflammation in 5 other ligaments and tendons. Surgery is rarely recommended for the biceps tendon tear, and certainly not 18 months after the fact. I got started on some heavy duty NSAIDS and a plan of physical therapy to see if the other tears could heal on their own. I have faithfully done the PT for almost 4 months now and what a difference it has made! I feel almost back to normal and if this is my new normal, I can live, even thrive, with it. The weight I gained while being less active is gradually disappearing, another 8 pounds to go. I can kayak again! The NSAIDs are wonderful, even though I have to refrain from drinking alcohol while I take them. A couple of pictures of the PT:
I found a use for the wine I can no longer drink!