The seeds of dissension had been sown in Dave’s shoulder long ago. There had been murmurings of discontent. Yet still it came as something of a shock when the whole crew of muscles and ligaments on the upper right went on strike last year, sat down and refused to move. On the left side, everything was still laboring away, but on the right, there was a mass mutiny of operating musculature. Dave’s shoulder was locked up.

A “frozen shoulder,” according to the medical lights consulted, is a very common event. It is idiopathic in nature. This doesn’t mean there’s no cause; it just means the doctors don’t know what the hell it is. But, they agreed, it is very painful and very stubborn and in most cases it just goes away by itself in about a year, also for no reason at all.

However, they pointed out cheerfully, if Dave didn’t want to just hang out for a year waiting for the day the crew stood up and went back to work, there were a number of things he could occupy himself with in the meantime, none of which were promised to speed things up at all. My own inclination, upon hearing such a prognosis, would be to park my fanny in a recliner for a year and suck up unemployment compensation and potent narcotics until things improved, or I could no longer tell. That’s just how I’m wired. I do not expect to get through life without some sort of medical complication, and if I can just manage to avoid the conditions that would knock beer off my diet, I will consider it a life well lived.

But Dave is more of a do-something kind of guy. So he signed up for the whole works, beginning with physical therapy presided over by one of the mandatory sturdy German women who seem to go in for that kind of work. He doubled down with an equally sturdy massage technician who was capable of taking him right to the floor any day of the week. She was freakishly strong and competent and furthermore was not at all troubled by shrieking or weeping. Then she tag-teamed with an acupuncturist, even though Dave had always been unusually leery of needles. He returned for several more sessions, and the shoulder began to grind around a bit. A penitent seeking mortification could not have been more faithful.

The next stop was our remarkable nephew Damon, who has several years of study in Chinese medicine and massage therapy and a dozen other things and a mental map to the body’s energy flow and his own set of acupuncture needles and numerous other more mysterious paraphernalia. What he had his heart set on was “cupping.” I’m not a jealous girl but this struck me as a most inappropriate activity for family members, and yet Dave submitted to it. It involved some odd equipment that we shall be calling “do-hickeys.” And now he is emblazoned with giant polka-dots. It’s festive, I must say. But we could do with some leeches, and something tells me Damon would know where to get some.

It’s been nine months now; in another three, Dave should be all better.