April 10, 2008
During my fellowship training in Boston, I lived out in the outer suburban peninsula of Winthrop, a large “near island,” south of Logan airport. I simply couldn’t afford the rents in the City of Boston on a fellow’s salary. And all the affordable apartments in town were long gone by the time we arrived, due to the enormous number of students in the city, attending Harvard, BU, MIT, U Mass, etc. There are more high end institutions of higher learning in Boston than most anywhere else I know. New York has quite a few too, but there, they’re a side act; in Boston they’re the main event.
Anyway, Winthrop had a kind of desolate beauty to it, and the apartment we got was on the lower level of an apartment complex. A short drive away was a beach, which was a hot spot in summer, but deserted the rest of the year. There’s something serene about a beach in
winter, or so I’ve always thought.
Every day, I’d drive our only car to work, past the airport, through the Sumner Tunnel, up the Charles River Drive, up to Parker Hill Avenue, where I reached my destination, The New England Baptist Hospital. This was a “boutique hospital,” sandwiched between the august Robert Breck Brigham Hospital, right next door, and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, down the street, at the base of Parker Hill. My poor wife was stuck in the apartment, trying to maintain her sanity, while I learned at the figurative feet of master joint surgeons, to become one of them.
Once a month, the fellow was expected to be “on call,” remaining at the hospital for a night, to look after the postop patients who had undergone surgery during the day. Now, this annoyed me, no end. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal, you must remember that I had
already done years and years of call, as an intern, surgical resident, and orthopaedic resident. This was an extra postgraduate year in my chosen specialty of joint reconstruction, and I had about had it with “call.”
I called the professor who was in charge (a truly great guy and terrific surgeon) and said, “Hey. I’m a fellow now. I shouldn’t have to do this anymore. No fellow should.”
“But, Bill, it’s only one night a month,” he replied.
” Yeah, but it’s not a matter of that; it’s a matter of rank. I’m a fellow, now, not a resident. If it’s no big deal, why don’t YOU take a night of
call? ” I said (I had far more nerve than brains in those days.)
…Silence, for a few beats….
“OK. I see your point,” he said. And he did.
True to the professor’s word, from that time on, fellows no longer had to take that night of call, as one of the perks of the rank of fellow. I’ll bet that none of them knew they had me to thank for that.
Anyway, since I had very little time to myself, staying in shape was a challenge. The apartment complex in Winthrop had its own little gym, with nautilus-type machines and some free weights, barbells and dumbbells, for the residents. I had always been into weights and bodybuilding and one of my favorites was the old favorite, the bench press. One day, trying to push a really heavy weight up in the bench press, I was using a “cheating” move by bouncing the barbell off my chest. POP! Suddenly, I felt a painful ripping sensation and felt a pop in the front of my shoulder. Boy, that hurt! I worked around it, and, typical for most doctors, got no treatment. The pain eventually went away. hey, eventually everything goes away, right? But the snapping stayed, and remains today.
Years later, I found out that I had torn the fibrous “roof,” covering the groove in the head of the humerus that holds the long head of the biceps tendon. If I knew then what I know now, I would NOT have been doing extreme bench presses. I’d be doing bodyweight exercises
like those in Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning, instead http://drbillsclinic.com/combat_conditioning.html
But if I did injure any part of me, I’d use the principles of treating acute inflammation that I cover in my LITTLE GREEN BOOK (although that’s mainly for knees) http://drbillsclinic.com/eliminate_knee_pain.html Luckily, the same regimen works wherever it’s tried. And, today, every time I feel that little pop in my shoulder, I’m reminded of another folly of my youth. Ah well, it could have been worse, right? That’s it for today. Til next time, my friend, be well.
Yours for a pain-free tomorrow,
P.S. For DR. BILL’S LITTLE GREEN BOOK ON ELIMINATING KNEE PAIN, a concise, but complete handbook on the root causes and the various options for treating knee pain, go to http://drbillsclinic.com/eliminate_knee_pain.html
P.P.S. For DR. BILL’S PAIN-FREE PROGRAM: EXERCISES TO PREVENT OR ELIMINATE KNEE PAIN, please go to
P.P.P.S. For the giant, comprehensive ADVANCED MASTERS’ COURSE: HOW TO ELIMINATE KNEE PAIN–ONCE & FOR ALL!, everything you need to know on causes and solutions for knee pain and the complete exercise program, too, go to
FREE BONUS CD with any order: THE HEALING POWER OF POSITIVE PAIN PERCEPTION
Copyright, 2008 by William Thomas Stillwell, MD
All rights reserved