Surgery Success!

shoulderpainSurgery success! It was still dark on Monday when I left for my surgical appointment to decompress and debride my left shoulder. It was nearly a year ago I had to have my left bicep tendon reattached, as it was torn and shredded due to repetitive movement, yet the origin of the injury is still unknown. I was the first patient to arrive at the surgical pavilion, as instructed by the surgery scheduler and the first to be operated on.

After the initial paperwork was filled out, it was a short wait before I was being prepped for surgery. Yet I don’t remember a damn thing after the anesthesiologist hooked me up with his “cocktail” fed through my I.V. The next thing I know I am waking up in the recovery room. As expected I was a bit groggy to come around, but was given some juice and crackers as I came around. Bandages covered my left shoulder and I couldn’t feel anything because of the nerve block that was in place. I did however feel my pinky and ring finger, as well as the outside of my forearm. It would about 20 hours before feeling had returned to my arm;.

Talking to the nurses and the surgeon, the procedure when as expected, cleaning up the shoulder joint, which was limited due to inflammation. Much like the original injury, I am not quite sure what caused this relapse, especially after making great progress the few 2 months after the bicep tendon repair last October. This time around, there was no actual repair in the shoulder, only cleaning and recovery was expected to be quick. I could point to the fact I might have done too much too soon, as I was working on the haunted house just days after my surgery. Still I don’t think that accounts for the good progress I made early on.

This time around, I laid around the remainder of Monday but got up early on Tuesday and ready to go. I had to leave the bandages on for 2 days and was told not to shower for 7 days. Really? 7 days, I would smell terrible, so my wife helped me cover the shoulder in plastic and I showered. Very little pain even after the nerve block wore off and I was busy working around the house. However I did use the sling much of Tuesday, but shed it on Wednesday, as the only pain I experienced was the actual incision points (3) in my shoulder.

Once the bandages were removed I appeared to have full motion in my shoulder, there was no more pain when I brought my shoulders together. I could get my left hand/arm behind my back and there was no pain when I lifted items with my left hand. It feels great to be on the road to recovery. Thankfully this recovery won’t hamper my running. Physical therapy begins on Monday with the therapist I was working with previously who already knows the state of my shoulder. I suspect it will be 2-4 weeks and I will be able to start lifting weights again.

Shoulder Hell

shoulder_painFirst I turned 40, then I had my first knee surgery to replace a torn ACL after landing wrong my right foot and hyper-extending the knee during an indoor soccer game. Three years later, almost to the day, I had my second knee surgery, after another soccer incident, tearing my meniscus in my left knee. Last year at age 44 it was my left shoulder. Why the cause of the shredded bicep tendon is still unknown to to point, I can only assume it was from lifting weights. That soreness I experienced in my shoulder that was mistaken as “tightness” was probably tendonitis and stretching the shoulder out and continuing to lift only aggravated the injury. I feel as if I have been in shoulder hell the last year or so.

On Tuesday I returned to physical therapy to receive treatment for my left shoulder. The pain I had prior to surgery has return with no decrease of intensity (7-8 on pain scale of 10) on a daily basis. I know I did too much, too soon last year after the initial surgery in October and caused added pain at times, but I don’t believe that accounts for the pain I am experiencing now.

The physician assistant I met a few weeks back opened with, “So what do you want me to do?” That statement allowed cause frustration and concern that I was just going through the motions. She offered up Cortisone, which I refuse to have injected into my shoulder a second time. While it can relieve the inflammation, I don’t believe it had any positive results on relieving the pain I have been in. She countered with ultrasound and while not as involved as an MRI, it did give her a look inside my shoulder to see if there was anything going on. It did reveal some tendonitis, in the shoulder joint, as well as inflammation of the shoulder capsule.

She provided a single exercise and nothing more for my $15 office visit and “call our office again, if the pain persists.” Wow! It wasn’t but 2 days later I was frustrated and called and requested a referral for physical therapy. The othropedic’s office still believes there is nothing going on in my shoulder. They believe the original problem was the only problem, a shredded bicep tendon, which has been reattched and is now problem free. The ongoing pain they cannot account for.

Talking to the therapist, a gal I had for my first knee surgery sees the shoulder pain in a completely different light than the orthopedic’s office. After the initial session, she was not going to rule out a tear in the labrum, which could result in surgery. In the meantime, she is giving me 3 weeks (6 therapy session) to see if the pain and inflammation can be reduced. Motion of the left arm is very limited, not being able to scratch my back bring it across my chest.

While I had been lifting weights training for Tough Mudder, moving a barbell has been put on hold. No weight training until further notice. I can however do some modified rows, in order to strengthen back muscles to relieve some of the pain in the shoulder. I am still able to run, so there were no restrictions on staying active. Even if I am not lifting weights, working around the house is still a challenge. Lifting, pushing, pulling and moving things in my daily life cause varying levels of pain. One thing is for certain, I won’t miss Tough Mudder. It might mean I won’t be able to compete in all the obstacles, but I will be participating and supporting my team.

Shoulder Pain

shoulder-pain“No excuses!” That was the motto I was living by as I trained for 14 weeks while training to run my first half marathon. During that time I missed only one, midweek run and felt good about my accomplishment. It’s very easy to talk yourself out of exercise or say “I’ll do it tomorrow.” I have been struggling the last 3-4 week with ongoing shoulder pain. I underwent and MRI in August, but it took 2 weeks to get a follow up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon.

I finally had this appointment 2 weeks ago and in the 5 minutes he saw me, he referred me to an other orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulders. I met met with this specialist this week and he confirmed the finding. Aside from calling the shoulder a bit arthritic, there were indications of fluid in the joint, bone spurs and a tear in the labrum and bicep tendon. Chances are good it will be arthroscopic, but he said he would let me know more once I was contacted to make a date for the  surgery.

Life after 40 has been tough. First it was right right knee in 2009, then the left knee in 2012, now the left shoulder in 2013. What’s next? So this upcoming surgery has put a hold on much of the exercising I have been doing. I haven’t lifted but three times the last 2 weeks and have only put 6 miles in during that period.

On a positive note my wife persuaded me purchased a set of hanging abs straps for my Rogue Fitness power rack. I have decided to get a bit more serious on the core and strengthen my abs in order to make me a better runner. Chances are I will only be able to use these straps for about 2-3 weeks before my surgery occurs.

Talking to the orthopedic surgeon he said it was be about 2 weeks off from work because of the pain and medication, another 2 weeks with the arm in a sling, followed therapy and at least 8-10 weeks before strengthening the shoulder. Going to be another long road to recovery and plans I had to run in the Urbanathlon in November and my first marathon in Sacramento the following month are now on hold. Thankfully I will have time to recuperate and strengthen for challenges in 2014.

Strong Progess

Today marks the start of week 6 of my strength training program at Stronglifts as I make strong progress. I continue to increase the weights as I move towards my 12 week goals, which were established before starting the program. Since I had little experience with free weights prior to starting, I began most of the lifts with an empty bar (45 lbs.), but have seen some nice increases, especially in the squat and bench press. The key to this program is getting to the gym on a regular basis, for me that is 3 times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) and increasing the weight on each lift, every session.

The squat is the cornerstone behind Stronglifts and one that is of the utmost importance. It was an exercise I never did before starting this program. Starting with the empty bar, I have made a 105 lb. increase and can do a 1RM (1 rep max) of 150 lbs after 5 weeks. My 12-week goal for the squat is 240 lbs. There have been a few issues with my form that have been resolved, thanks to another SL member who provided guidance and insight. I now feel confident in my squat form and think 240 lbs. is well within reach.

The bench press been just as impressive in terms of weight added. Just like the squat I started with an empty bar (45 lbs.). At times I felt a bit ridiculous benching an empty bar, but progress was being made. While my current work weight (for my 5×5) is 115 lbs. I just achieved a new 1RM last Friday of 155 lbs! An increase of 110 lbs. in 5 weeks! The goal set for the 12-week program is 140, so I am ahead of the schedule on the bench press. Still have a few form issues to resolve on the bench press, such as pushing my chest up before I lift. My grip continues to baffle me from too narrow to possibly too wide.

The final number I am using as a target is the deadlift is 260 lbs. This is another lift that I had never done before learning of Stronglifts. I had seen it done by power lifters, but never considered myself in that category when lifting weights. Starting with 140 lbs. I have increased the weight 10 lbs. a week. Last week I was able to pull a 1RM of 200 lbs. It probably could have been 20-25 lbs heavier and still be considerable a good rep. This is another lift where form, especially with the back is important. I have scabs on my shins from literally dragging the barbell up my shins, which tells me the form is still not completely correct as my hips are too low when starting the lift.

Still with some minor issues in my form, progress is being made. I am gaining strength across the board in all 5 lifts I attempt, as well as in the dips I am able to accomplish. Right now the only thing holding me back is pain in my left shoulder. I am trying to decide if it’s an injury (pre-existing before I started lifting) or just tightness in my shoulders requiring mobility training. The twinge is more noticeable when I am pulling weight, as in the barbell rows or doing dips. Last night I want is an injury that will interfere with my work out schedule.