#SpoilerAlert: I got the shot two Mondays ago. I went into the exam room with no idea which option I was going to choose: shot now, shot later, or no shot. I think in the end I chose the shot now because it was something to do, it was definitive action toward a solution. With me, that usually wins out 98% of the time. But as much as it was a decision irrevocably made and options irrevocably lost, it also opened me up to a lot more decisions that would need to be made.
As I've been navigating those, I am reminded, again as ever, of the need for athlete-as-human sport psychology. Of course, physical pain impacts my athletic performance and plays on my athlete-and-athletic-based-fears, but I am a human too and physical ailments play on those fears as well. Anyone who tries to extricate the two halves of the whole is attempting conversion therapy. And we know how that goes over.
So salient is that I am swimming not out of fear, but in fear: of pain, of losing swimming and that identity, of losing my team, of losing my shoulder health forever, of dooming my future self to pain and limitations. This expansive undercurrent of fear is something that stereotypical sport psychologists don't touch, at least beyond the impact on immediate physical and athletic performance. It's perceived as an even bigger myopia in revenue-generating sports; athletic departments chew up and spit out their money-makers, the next 50-60 years of their lives be damned. Yet these athletes are humans first (and longer), athletes second. They deserve to be treated within the context of that hierarchy.
Anyway, I am just waiting and wondering "is this the workout that makes my shoulder hurt again?" Wondering both what I should do and what I would counsel someone else to do and how to cope, how I would treat them as a human, with human fears, as I wear through a few more superspinatus tendon fibers each day, probably, ostensibly preparing for the day that I have to turn the therapist's chair to face myself.
Another facet of injury and career termination that sport psychologists often neglect is the simultaneous loss of interpersonal relationships. You lose your identity, your notion of self, and your friends with it. I am self-aware enough at this point to realize that the swimming alone is worth less, far less, to me in a vacuum. Still, the kids may mean a lot to me, but not enough, and I am dreading the day that I have to irrevocably choose myself and the long-term health of my shoulder over them.
Testing on animals should definitely be illegal.