Chapter 20

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Josh was sitting in the doctor's office when someone knocked, and a middle-aged man in a sweater vest peeked in.

"Mr. Malvern." he said and offered his hand, which Josh shook. "I'm Doctor Kilborne. I've had a look at the images from your file."

Josh stiffened. He hadn't wasted time, just launched into it. Most of the doctors on retention by the league were quite busy and to the point, so this wasn't unusual. But he was on edge. The ultrasound technician had made some odd noises at his appointment, and sent him for x-rays. The x-ray technician sent him for an MRI, and all that had been sent to the organization doctor on retainer. He had been shuttled from one lab to another in quick succession.

"OK, so what's going on in there?" Josh asked.

The doctor sat and pursed his lips, crossing his legs. He looked Josh in the eye. That was never a good sign.

"You have degeneration in both shoulder joints, as well as what looks to be bursitis in the right one. Not severe, but it is stiffening your joint. Both shoulders have mild calcification, but your right is moreso."

"I know they've been stiff, and there's the usual soreness from working out but I'm not in a lot of pain." he countered, rolling his right shoulder. It was as stiff as it normally was, but maybe that was why they were locking. The bursitis would lead to swelling, which would lead to less range of motion. Which meant a shitty swing with a bat in his hand. Ah huh.

"Do you have a history of arthritis in your family?"

Josh shook his head. "Nope. But it explains why my swing has been weak as shit lately."

The doctor chuckled and then held out his hands, sobering. "I'll level with you. The degeneration is early signs of arthritis. I won't lie and tell you we can fix it, because we can't. The bursitis is inflammation that we can reduce with anti-inflammatories, but you can't cheat time and it will come back if you stress the joint. Thankfully your rotator cuff is in pristine shape, which, if you keep to a good fitness routine, will help immensely to help you from losing basic mobility. We can do cortisone shots, but that is truly a bandaid, and not a road you want to go down if you can help it."

"But would it improve performance?" Josh asked. Anything at this point was under consideration.

"Well, given your track record, and fitness, yes. One to three weeks of relief per injection, but we don't like injecting more often than every six to eight weeks."

"So I would be getting a few good games then-"

"Slow decline until your next injection." the doctor finished for him.

"Your bursitis would be helped by this too, since you have a fairly normal impingement. But I would be cautious because any irritation can lead to further impingements down the road."

"So what are you saying?" Josh asked quietly, lacing his fingers together, leaning on his thighs. "Am I done?"

"No, not necessarily. But this will affect your performance more and more over time. You might want to think about your plans for retirement."

Retirement. There is was. The R word. He looked down at his hands. He could keep going, take the pills and injections, push his body, but then where would he be? He didn't want to be the guy who was forced to retire with the words 'Mendoza Line' attached to his profile. He wanted to be remembered as a good all-round player. One who could do his job well.

"Ok. So what's the plan for right now?" he finally said. "I assume I am going to be DLed with this?"

"I will recommend that, yes. The bursitis will get worse if you don't treat it now. I'll put in the recc for physio, and we'll get you started on some NSAIDs. Think about the injections and discuss with the coaching team. Have you taken Celebrex before?"

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