This isn’t something I tell myself to quell my desire. It’s just fact.
Inside my right superior trapezius I have an intramuscular hemangioma.
On this MRI with contrast it shows up as a little white mass:
(for context, I’m laying facing the left and these are vertical slices of my body.)
My “bump”, as I’ve always called it, sits on the top of my right shoulder.
In a doctor’s dumbed down words, it’s a “conglomeration of blood vessels” that lays inside my shoulder muscle.
My parents first noticed it, colored blue near the top of my shoulder, when I was about 3. Once I was old enough to sort-of understand, the doctor was clear to illustrate that I did not have an alien growing inside my shoulder. Thanks doc…
During my sophomore year of high school I joined the swim team. Irritation, created by rotating my trapezius to complete a swim stroke, causes the blood vessels to fill, expand, and press against the muscle and my skin. At it’s worst the bump can grow to be the size of a lacrosse ball.
Surgical removal is, theoretically, an option. But the location - deep inside a large and important muscle - means risk for motor control, strength, and muscle mass loss is high. Every doctor I’ve talked to said they wouldn’t operate if it was their own shoulder. If you ask me, that’s a telling statement!
At 23, It occasionally bothers me. Sometimes forget and lay on my back for longer than a minute or so and blood pools and the mass grows in size and stretches my skin uncomfortably. Simply rubbing the irritated spot and urging the blood to flow elsewhere eases the discomfort in just a few minutes. Generally speaking, it’s just inconvenient.
My most recent visit with a surgeon (in which I acquired that pretty rad series of images) was the first time I was competent enough to ask the questions and really understand what the doctor had to say. Here are the basics:
(a) there is no possible chance that it is cancerous,
(b) there is no possibility that physical activity or massage could permanently damage my shoulder muscle, BUT
(c) the mass could theoretically ‘burst’ due to physical exertion or pressure. It would appear as though I’d gotten a large bruise. and would heal with time and the mass would find the same equilibrium it currently sits at.
I’ll never be able to complete the swim leg of any triathlon. But you know what? I can (and will) do SO MANY other awesome things. Just watch me, bitches.