Shoulderscapes, with Good yet Dismaying News


Today was the day of the Orthopedic Consult. In true 21st-century fashion, the patient was weighed, vital-signed and questioned by a personable, computer-entry-savvy assistant, then left to stare at walls for a while. At not-bad length there was hearable conversation outside the door of the assistant bringing the orthopedist up to speed. Swish of chart folder, quick tok=tok knock, and in comes the personable, orthopedics-savvy Orthopedist, M.D., Ph.D. A few more questions for the patient. The good news that the X-Rays look good, with circumstantial evidence indicating no rotator cuff tearing, The dismaying news is that there is age-related stiffness, bursitis, and degeneration typical of a patient the patient’s age.


Two long-needled shots of cortisone will loosen the shoulder in a couple of days. “It may be a little worse at first.” But the very good news is there doesn’t seem to be any need for an MRI, nor surgery, nor physical therapy. “Just use it a lot.” An appointment is made for four weeks hence, and the orthopedist suggests it be cancelled if the shoulder feels good. The patient admires and appreciates this cost-containment attitude.


On the way out the patient is given a PIN for his Patient Portal online access–another 21st-century step in the right direction. Information such as this is available with a few mouse clicks:


(The patient made an image of the document, opened it in Paint, and used a nifty desizing-resizing trick to efface some identifying information.)


Best of all, the X-ray shoulder views are available, and simple photo-editing software–Paint and Microsoft Office Picture Manager–may be used on the images. Andy Warhol did stuff like this the hard way, back in the day. Longer ago, Robert Rauschenberg had to content himself with light-reactive paper and bright, bright light for some white-on-blue skinscapes of him and his companion. But now–colorizing, brightness&contrast, data compression and many other image-manipulative techniques are easy as pie, funfunfun, and available with the latest operating systems!

So here are four shoulderscapes. If time were not of the essence I would have happily spent another several hours playing with the image; alas, time is scarce. These four, though, demonstrate how color, contrast and cropping of the same subject matter might yield four quite different visual payoffs.

“Shoulder and shoulder and bolder and bolder we grow as we go to the fore.” Give me some Peeps who are Stout-Hearted Peeps! [smiles. fade to white]

  1. This has just a little to do with worn down bones, but I’ve just noticed I’m getting more and more targeted publicity with people with gray hair in them…
    If I say you’re a bona fides artist, does it qualify as a genuinely bad pun?

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