Shoulder Bursitis; Part 6

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Prescribing rest almost always affects the quality of a patient’s life.

The definition of quality of life for you is different than for me. It’s different for a child than for an adult and it’s different for a skilled athlete than for a weekend warrior. For me, right now, in order to be able to have what I define as a good quality of life, I’ve got to be able to do surgery and ride horses. Both of those activities require physical and mental abilities. If I lost a hand, I couldn’t do either to the extent that I do now. Oh sure, I could see patients and I could ride horses if someone else could saddle my horses and operate on my patients, but I couldn’t do those things like I do now.

But my quality of life also depends on my ability to read, write and spend quality time with my family and friends. I could still do all those things if I lost my hand. But would I want to? Would I feel the same about those things if I lost my hand? If I couldn’t work or couldn’t ride horses, would I feel the same about everything else? That’s a question I can’t answer for myself, never mind answering it for my patients.

Sometimes a patient loses all perspective on the other parts of their life, just because they can’t run a marathon. They might still be able to run a 10K, but if they can’t run a marathon, then nothing else matters. You and I might sit back and say that’s not that important, but to them it is, and it’s the kind of problem I have to deal with every day in my practice.

And it’s what makes dealing with REST so difficult. To each individual person, dealing with rest is the hardest thing to define and to accomplish. Rest…to one person, might mean not being able to work. That’s different than not being able to participate in a weekend sporting activity. Yet these restrictions might seem equal in their individual minds. The ability to read, write and spend quality time with your family gives absolutely no solace to a high school football player who has injured his knee and can’t play in the last 3 games of his senior year. To you and me, with all of our perspective on life, this is just a minor setback. To that senior, it is everything.

But in 90% of the cases I see, rest is a key part, if not THE ONLY PART of getting well. Rest can come in the form of a cast at one extreme, or simply in the form of limiting some routine, mundane activity you do every day.

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