I miss my shoulder from a time before I feared my guitar.

The widest point in my room is just over 4ft wide. If I were to stretch my arms out toward the width of my room, I would have to put my palm to both sides. The ceiling is lined with beams of scruffy, untreated lumber. There are two small sections of the room that are made from textured concrete wall forms. Where there is no wall, there are tall windows adorned with dark and faded woods. They rest on ledges made of rock with irregular slabs on the top. The floor is uneven and made with large, flat to semi-flat stones. There are two doors, one leading into the house and one leading out. They also have tall windows.

I’m either rather trendy, or I’m completely poor. I love thrift stores and hand-me-downs. My room is lined with memories of the past. The furnishings are meticulously placed to maximize mobility in a tiny space.The room is so small that my bed is a cot. It’s not too shabby, actually.

This is the second night I’ve spent in my room in about a month’s time. I can’t ever seem to get to sleep here. In my sleepy trance I grabbed my guitar from it’s case. Without thinking, I started to tune.

After the first re-injury to my shoulder, playing guitar became a very painful experience. I spent years only playing in sporadic episodes in desperation of the instrument.

Every year, for every holiday of my life, I asked for a guitar. It was never given to me. My brothers got guitars. They didn’t play. I would sneak into their room to rescue the neglected things on occasion. But when I was caught, it always ended badly. I desperately wanted my own.

I didn’t have access to a guitar until I was 18. There was a trailer- made tool shed in the driveway, and upon exploration one day, I found an old electric guitar. I guessed it was from the 80s- early 90s. One day I was found playing the guitar. I never saw it again after that.

A few months later I picked up a black acoustic Alvarez. I called it “Fez.” I spent a lot of time with Fez until I re-injured my shoulder while working for my family’s old construction business. My fingers twitched for days. I had almost no use of the hand, nor arm. It was awful.

Eventually, I thought the injury had healed. Every play following told me that it hadn’t. I would wait a week or two between strumming before I would pick it back up again. I was hoping I just hadn’t waited long enough. Months later I realized that was how my life was going to remain unless fixed. I was twenty at the time. The realization of a twenty year old, with a seemingly normal arm being barely functional, was not an easy one.

I’ve had bouts of refusing to acknowledge the limitations of my shoulder’s mobility. In the course of four years I learned to play in moderation. My eldest brother helped a lot with my musical ability. We would sit out on the front patio and smoke and play guitar until morning light. If I needed to rest my shoulder he would keep playing, and I would study him.I think I miss that most of all.

Just over a month ago, on a Wednesday, I made a limb-fatal error. The hot water faucet drips like mad. I’m kind of a tree-hugger, so it irritates me to no end. Usually when I turn the supply-line off, I’m sitting and using my left hand. This time, I was standing, reaching down, and using my right.

I felt the normal burning sensation rip through my bones from my neck to my fingers, as it does when I have motioned too far. If you’ve never experienced this sensation, you don’t know pain. It quickly went from normal to raving psychotic.

Every muscle on my right, from my head to my hips tightened from water to ice. The only thing I could move was my wrist. My fingers were somewhat clenched to the spicket. The pain was so intense that I went into a brief state of shock. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I didn’t stop.

When the water was off I just stayed there, hunched over with my fingers clenched. Even my face had tightened to the point that I could do no more than squeak. My eyes welled up with the pain radiating through such a large portion of my body.Even after my hand freed, I just stood there with my head literally tethered toward the floor. My arm didn’t move.

It’s been just over a month since that night and I have yet to receive medical attention. I’ve only played my electric since then, and I only did it twice. Both times, I spent the following days in the same horrible pain as that awful night.

Tonight, I picked my acoustic up for the first time in too long. I miss playing. As I was tuning I could feel the weakness in my shoulder that comes before the burning. It’s since been leaning against my cot, taunting and haunting me.

It would seem this is an entry of my woes; that I won’t be playing my guitar. But looks aren’t always what they seem. I’m going to play. I’m going to spend the next three days in agony, but by God, I’m going to play!


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