What doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work.


Question: How do we know when we are old?

Answer: We know we are old when we wake and find that almost everything hurts – and what doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work anymore.

About 15 years ago I recall laughing my head off when I had read this somewhere. It isn’t so funny anymore now, I assure you.

About a week ago, I woke up to my usual aches and pains: nothing spectacular, just the usual burning sensation in every decrepit joint of my even more decrepit body. Then, when I reached for my Winstons on the nightstand – POW! – it hit me like a KL Metro bus. It was as if everyone who had ever wished me any harm had all worked together and wrenched my entire left arm out of its socket – and were gleefully jumping up and down on the pain-stricken joint.

It was – how shall I say this? – not a very pleasant experience at all.

So, off I went to see my good friend, Dr N (of Clubman swimming-trunk fame). As usual, there was a big smile on his face. Somehow, his smiles are always bigger when he knows I’m in pain.

His diagnosis? I’ve got what common people call a frozen shoulder – or what doctors call Adhesive Capsulitis.

Dr N: The good news is that recovery usually takes12 months – and don’t forget to double that for an old fart like you.

Bangkai: (Sarcastically) Spare me the good news, OK? What’s the bad news?

Dr N: Have you had a good look at you life lately?

That’s Dr N for you – he’s got the knack for making me feel good. Maybe I need to widen my circle of friends, eh?

In any case, life with a bum left-shoulder isn’t a stroll down Oxford Street. The simplest of things, like slipping on a T-shirt or towelling yourself dry after a shower seems like walking through a wall of fire. And let’s not even talk about manipulating a non-power steering car into a tight parking spot; or even something as simple as changing gears on a non-automatic transmission, pre-war Proton Iswara. It makes your eyes water.

After about a week of living with this condition, I’ve come to the realisation of how I’ve taken so many things for granted for such a long time. I used to go to sleep thinking that whatever I’ve been blessed with will still be here when I wake up. Not necessarily so, my friends. Just because we are healthy today doesn’t mean we will still be healthy tomorrow. Just because we have tons of money in the bank today doesn’t mean it will still be there tomorrow. Just because we are on the top of the world today doesn’t we will still be there tomorrow.

And the upside of all this is? In a weird kind of way, I am thankful for the pain I get when I try to turn the steering wheel of my car. This means at least I still have a car so that I can go to work and feed my family. Just how bad can that be?

And so what if the recovery process is likely to take 24 months? I still have one good shoulder that I can get up to all sorts of mischief with. After all, I still can reach for my Winstons first thing in the morning with my right hand, can’t I?

Life is more fragile than we think. So let’s not stop to smell the dog-shit while we’re at it. Dog-shit will always be there. We can choose not to take any notice of them.


13 thoughts on “What doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work.

  1. Salam MB,

    Welcome to the club! I’ve been having this for the past 4 months now. Give my regards to Dr N

    Salam to you,too,my friend

    Is this why you haven’t been blogging? No! Not THAT blog. The OTHER one – the one that matter 🙂

    So, what are you doing about the frozen shoulder? Care to share any remedies with me?

  2. Mat-san,

    Cheer up, my friend.All is not lost yet.

    There`ll be the usual creaks and rattles in the joints as we travel on that extended journey in life,or even suffer some other maladies perhaps a tard worse than those, but as long as we keep that fire burning in the belly,and live each day as if there will be no tomorrow, we should be all right, warts and all.

    A very good business mentor of mine, who was really hale, hearty and sprightly right up to his late 70`s then, and really a very savvy dresser(he`s moved on, poor chap, to the next realm), told me this…”it`s not the age, my young friend.It`s the mind.Keep that mind active and don`t believe there is such a thing as retirement.
    Retirement will only hasten your death.You must wake up every morning with a mission to perform ahead of you,whatever it is…work, writing a book, travelling somewhere,doing some charity or welfare service, whatever.Stop that, and you`re dead!”

    And a retired old Army General, who played golf with me not too long ago ,had this to offer to me, by way of a good-natured comment somewhere betwen the greens,”You say you`re reaching middle-age, young man?In my book, you`re young, my friend.I`m a good 20-years older than you are.The difference between you and I is basically this:- at your age, you wonder how many times you can get it up at night; at my age, I wonder every night whether I can ever get it up”. He! he!



    You are absolutely right, sir. Life goes on – albeit with a slight limp. But that’s OK. At least it is still moving along. And things aren’t that bad. Although everything on my body hurts like the blazes – especially the left shoulder – I am consoled that my (ahem!) is doing fine – it doesn’t hurt at all!

    Hang on a minute… what doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work anymore!


  3. Hi Matt,

    You still gotta look out for the dog shit, else u step on them & stink your whole place up. Ever hear of the Irish guy that says, “look like shit, smell like shit & it even taste like shit”.

    Higashi-san; bet u heard this before: ‘Old Generals don’t die only their privates’!

    POETS day today, so don’t work too hard & drop dead.

    You people have a safe & good weekend will ya. Me, I’ll bore myself shitty watching the 3rd Ashes test, sad huh?


    n.b, fyi – POETS – Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday!


    Your Irish joke got me ROTFLOL.

    You cruel, cruel man, Tommy! ROTFLOL

    BTW I have an aunt who is Irish. Better not let her read this. ROTFLOL

  4. I like your Dr. N (and not because of the Clubman thingie). So, where is his clinic so that I can register as a patient?


    Unfortunately Dr N doesn’t practice medicine, he has chosen to dedicate his life to an NGO.

    I like him, too (not in THAT way, OK?). I caught him enthusiastically checking out a big, shiny cannon on display outside an army camp once and asked him what could be so interesting about a cannon. His reply: “I was just wondering how far I could shove it up your rear-end.”

    He likes likes being friends with me, you think?

  5. I had that frozen shoulder sometimes ago. Yes, you are right, can turn the body. Reversing a car is so uncomfortable and sometimes painful. If you miss a step at pavement or staircase, it will send some kind of electric-like shooting pain to the whole body. Suffered many months until I went to a gym. The trainer taught me some exercise, simple ones actually, it went off after a month.

    I can show you the drill.


    Thanks, man! Must make it a point to meet up with you to learn the drill.

  6. Salam MatB,

    Welcome to the pain club. The fact that we can feel the pain means that we are still alive, right?

    Take care bro. Make sure your legs are in good condition, otherwise you can’t step on the gas and brake pedals, heheheh.


    Sure will, my friend. I’ll take good care of my legs – all three of them 🙂

  7. guys,

    speaking of shoulder, i have to tell you this shoulder joke a cabbie here once shared with me:

    a passenger in a taxi leaned over and tapped the driver to ask him a question. the driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove up over the curb, and stopped just inches from a large plate glass window on 57th & madison.

    everything was silent in the cab for a few moments. then the still shaking driver said, “i’m sorry, but you scared the shits out of me.”

    the frightened passenger apologized to the driver and said he didn’t realize a mere tap on the shoulder could frighten him so much.

    the driver replied, “oh no, no, I’M sorry! it’s entirely my fault. today is my first day driving a cab… i’ve been driving a hearse for the last 25 years.”

    i know this won’t ease the pain in your shoulder, matb, but hopefully it’ll make the pain more bearable when you do syedzul’s drill. 😀


    You crack me up, ma’am!

  8. ..how can you be old??..you never stop laughing..you’re old only when you stop laughing..so, keep that humor going..


    I guess you’re right, sir.

  9. Bro, if that Dr N(o good) is not good friend, get other friend lah. But then new friend also can run away. How the shoulder ha? Mau masat ah? Sorry about broken English. Maybe come from broken mind… sigh…

    Malay boy

    You no understand-lah, Dr N is good friend – very good friend: only good friend can say things like that. But good friend also can run away, meh!

    Shoulder got many, many pain. No, no masat – wait MAIS, JAWI etc catch, lor!

    Confucius says, “Broken mind sometimes symptom of broken heart.” True or not?

  10. Wah.. Confucious say like that ah? I agree with the learned man that “Broken mind SOMETIMES symptom of broken heart” but I think in many instances, broken mind is symptom of ….errrr…broken mind la.. Anyway as a very good friend of mine would say : Don’t talk to me about broken heart boy!!!

    Malay boy

    Yeah! Don’t talk to me about a broken heart, (Malay) boy!

  11. Eh MB, when want to invite Dr N go swimming? If you come along, he no need to bring pelampung, can use your spare tyre ho.. hehehe

    Malay Boy

    I wonder if Dr N still has his yellow Clubman swim trunks…

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