Lots of things have gone down since my last blog. One of the most significant things being my shoulder surgery. After two years of dealing with aches & pains, I finally sought help…and finally had corrective surgery to fix what had been ailing me all along. The injury itself began to negatively impact my own workouts and sleeping patterns as well as how I train clients…so it definitely needed to be done.
How It Happened – In June 2014, I participated in the ROC race. You’ve seen it – the race that mimics the TV show, Wipeout?? I trained hard for months and focused a lot of time on building my upper body strength – something that has long been a weak spot for me. The day arrived and things were going great…until I got to the monkey bars. Now, I’ve never been able to do monkey bars without assistance but I was determined. I made it halfway across when suddenly I felt a pop and instant burning in my shoulder. I immediately dropped down. Even though I felt some pain, I wanted to complete the race so I pushed through and finished all smiles. All good, right? Nope.
In the weeks and months that followed, I noticed that I wasn’t able to raise my right arm properly or lift has heavy as usual. In fact, most of the exercises that I was accustomed to doing at the gym were becoming impossible. I decided to take a couple of months off in the hopes of healing and rehabbing the injured arm myself. What I thought would be temporary actually never got better at all…in fact it got worse. This year, I began noticing that my right arm wasn’t developing muscles like the left was. It looked as though I had only been using one dumbbell. Any exercise involving my shoulder or overhead ROM was completely out of the question. My sleeping patterns were also thrown totally off. I’m typically a side to stomach sleeper…my right side. I tried to adjust to sleeping on the opposite side but noticed quickly that was easier said than done. If I happened to roll over in my sleep and end up on that right side, my right shoulder would be as big as a balloon when I woke up. It got to the point where if I felt myself rolling over, I’d actually wake up out of a dead sleep to make sure that I didn’t end up on that right side. It was becoming a nightmare. Enough was enough – is was time to see a doctor.
MRI – Over the summer, I sought help from a local surgeon who instructed me to get an arthogram (MRI with contrast) of my shoulder. Upon review of this test, it revealed my worst fear – I had a tear in my shoulder after all. My labrum was completely torn off and since I had waited so long, part of my rotator cuff was beginning to fray as well. The only way to rectify this problem was to get surgery.
Surgery – After some scheduling conflicts, my surgery date was finally set for October 7. Things with my clients have been slowing down a bit so I decided that it would be best to go under the knife now, rather than have it drag through the holidays. I did just that and while the day didn’t start out so smooth, the surgery itself went very well. They were able to successfully repair the labrum and clean up the frayed edges of my rotator cuff without any further complications.
One Week Follow-Up and Beginning of PT – About a week after my surgery, I went back to check on the wounds and to receive my physical therapy prescription. Since the surgery was an arthoscopy, there were 3 small incisions where they were able to repair the tear. This is what it looked like:
My doctor instructed me to attend physical therapy 3x per week for the next 12 weeks. They also changed my bandages and gave me a new sling with a detachable pillow piece to help support my arm. It was a very cumbersome device and I was less than thrilled with it:
I signed up that same day for PT and was given an appointment for a few days later. That first day I was very excited to get things started and finally begin my road to recovery.
The therapist who did my initial evaluation and first session wasn’t a great fit for me so I requested a different therapist…and I’ve been with him ever since. I was allotted 20 sessions by my insurance, which does not cover the amount of sessions that my doctor wants me to have. I had to obtain a letter from my doctor in order to gain more sessions from my insurance. For the first three weeks, we did PT just once a week so as not to waste the sessions so early on. We worked on passive ROM & stretches and I was given one exercise called shoulder pendulums, to do twice a day at-home. As excited as I was to get moving, I quickly learned that the best and most exciting part of a physical therapy session is the last 10 minutes…when the pillow-sized ice pack comes out!
As of today, I began a slightly more active PT session. I was given several exercises to do mostly on my own, with minimal help from the therapist. I also increased my sessions to 2x per week and was told to stop my at-home exercises altogether for now.
Going Forward: Since this is my 4th week post-op, I am now able to wear the sling part-time and slowly get back to normalcy. I will continue to sleep with it, as I had a rude awakening when I attempted to sleep without it this past weekend. I woke up in the middle of the night in so much pain that I decided it’s not worth the effort right now. My shoulder feels like it’s being weighed down without the sling so I will be keeping it with me and switching between having it off & on.
This whole situation has definitely done a number on me mentally. Being out of commission for this long as caused me to gain some weight and lose a good chunk of muscle. Not only have I been unable to exercise…my diet hasn’t been that great either. Once I’m actually cleared for some type of cardio, I intend on following a very strict diet to lose the excess weight and get back on track once & for all. I will keep you all posted on my progress and once I’m able, I will definitely share my light workouts and new diet plan. For now, I will just try to remain positive and pray that with my continued PT efforts & some more time to heal I’ll be back to doing what I love sooner rather than later…and be even stronger than ever before!
Stay strong & stay in the fight!