My Shoulder Needs Fixing: The Long Road To Surgery!

At the time I started writing this I was 3 weeks out from shoulder surgery and what a road it has been. Find out what happened in my long road to surgery...
At the time I started writing this I was 3 weeks out from shoulder surgery and what a road it has been. It all started about a year ago or at least the pain started about a year ago. I have had shoulder pain before and have been able to rehab it on my own but this time was different.

Always before through my rehab I was able to get my strength back, get my range of motion back, and eliminate the pain. Things did not work out that way this time.

Not This Time...

In one years time I went from curling 55 LB dumbbells to curling 15 LB dumbbells; benching 220 to not even being able to bench the bar; incline press with 70 LB dumbbells to barely pushing 15 LB dumbbells. So, needless to say, I definitely knew something was torn.

I trained with my pain for 7 months doing 3 bench press only powerlifting meets and getting an IPA world record in the sub-masters 148's. I was not able to do full meets, as I could not get enough range of motion in my shoulder in order to get a bar behind my back. I do have to say that I have competed in many sports over the years and NEVER has it entered my mind while preparing for the event that I would get seriously injured.

Well, while preparing for my last 2 meets it was on my mind every time I was not in the gym that I was probably going to totally blow out my shoulder at the meet. But, I must say I never thought about it on the day of either meet and luckily I did not blow it out at either meet.

Well now on to my epiphany. The pain that I was enduring was immense at times, but nothing that as an athlete I have not endured before. However, the frustration of not being able to move my arm in certain directions, just because it would not go, and continually getting weaker week by week was more than I could take. I knew something was torn and my only option left was surgery.

The Surgery

I thought that getting in for surgery was going to be quick and easy. Wow, was I ever wrong. My only experience with something similar to this was with my husband when he blew out his quads at a powerlifting meet, detaching all four quads and the patella tendon.

We took him to the emergency room, within two days had him in to see an orthopedic surgeon, and the day after that he had surgery. So, I thought that was how things worked, not for me. I started my journey towards surgery in January 2004 and did not have surgery until the end of May 2004, five months for me, and guess what I actually speeded up the whole process.

My first step started with my A.R.T. provider requesting me to get x-rays. This did not take to long as I did not have to make an appointment; I simply went in and had them done. After my A.R.T. Dr. looked at my x-rays he could see there was something wrong beyond what just the physical tests were indicating, so he told me I need to make an appointment with my regular physician in order to get a referral for an orthopedic.

Now is when the long road begins. It took me 3.5 weeks just to get in to see my regular physician, once I saw him he agreed that something was wrong and gave me his clearance to see an orthopedic surgeon. The orthopedic surgeon that was recommended to me was supposed to be very good. I called to make an appointment and the earliest they would put me in was in 3 months.

I cold not believe they were going to make me wait for three months just to see him. I went ahead and made the appointment while expressing my dissatisfaction. I started inquiring around about other orthopedics that handled athletes and found another one who also came highly recommended. This one however was much better.

When I called I immediately got to talk with someone not a series of recordings. I explained my situation and with being a little pushy had an appointment for one week later. I saw the Dr. and he agreed something was probably tore, but wanted me to get a MRI and then schedule another appointment with him.

So, again more time goes by, at this point I am desperate to get this over with. Well guess what the MRI shows nothing and the individual at the imaging place reads it as acute tendenitis. I see my orthopedic and he does not come out and say that he agrees or disagrees but now wants me to get a second opinion and see another Dr. that he works closely with.

At this point I drive away in tears as I truly feel that this will never get fixed so I can rehab it. I see this other Dr. and he agrees that something is torn. Now as I go back to see my orthopedic he gives me a cortisone shot, to one last time make sure it is not tendenitis.

At this point I am going nuts, because I know it is not tendenitis, and 20 minutes later after the shot guess what, my shoulder is not better, it actually hurts worse. The Dr.'s assistant comes in right after that and finally a date for surgery is set in two weeks.

The Day Of The Surgery

The day of surgery is finally here, I have gone fifteen hours with no food, per their request and I am starving. Surprisingly I was not sick, as I am used to eating about every 3 hours and will often get sick if I do not. I start waking up about an hour and a half later and the very first words out of my mouth to my husband are "I feel like it is leg day and I need to throw-up."

The Dr. says, "unfortunately you are just going to have to ride it out." My thought was, yeah at least if it was leg day I could make myself throw-up to feel better, I knew this was not going to be the case now since I had nothing in me. The worst thing about the first week after surgery was trying to get food back in me and not being able to shower. I expected the pain to be much worse but all I have had to take since the surgery is 800mg Motrin.

Dumbbell Snob

My orthopedic surgeon recommended a physical therapist and stated I could start therapy. One week after surgery I started my physical therapy. My therapist did some testing to start with and then she sat down with my husband and I and we had a talk.

I explained to her that I did not want to be treated like some normal non-athletic individual and that I wanted to be pushed. She explained things very well and then showed me some exercises to start off with.

At this point I am sure you are wondering why I have titled this section "Dumbbell Snob." Well, at first, my exercises started out with mere stretches, and have now been modified, which I am still doing now. However, after a few days of stretching only, my therapist started incorporating other exercises.

The first two of the series of exercises were supported dumbbell curls and bent over dumbbell rows. At first I was just going through the range of motion with no weights at all. In between sets I was joking with my husband about how funny it would be that I will have to use those little pink, blue, and chrome dumbbells.

Sure enough the next physical therapy day I am handed a small 1 LB pink dumbbell to do curls and rows with, my husband and I start laughing. My therapist asks what is so funny and I explain that using these weights are embarrassing. I go on to say that I realize these types of weight are used for rehabilitative purposes.

However, too often do I see ignorant women, wanting to use these "pretty" small weights, because they don't want to get "big and bulky." I go on to tell my therapist that I can't stand those types of people. My therapist laughs and dubs me to those standing and seated near me as "The Dumbbell Snob."

From that point forward if I needed the lighter weights, which were vinyl coated, she tried to find me the dirty ones. Or when I got a little heavier in the weights, which put me into chrome dumbbells (which is worse - I feel like I'm training at Bally's), she would try to find me the most nicked up ones.

I like being titled "The Dumbbell Snob," and I am proud to be one.

There will be a follow up to this as soon as I can get my self back into training full go in the weight room. I can't wait to get back to my cast iron, dirty, sweaty, chalk covered weights.