One (Year) Down

I feel compelled to complete the One (x) Down theme I started to track my shoulder surgery recovery process which started on May 19, 2021 and has only ramped up since then.

Sometimes when I go for a walk in the last light after sunset after doing eight plus hours of computering I reflect on the last year and all the stretching and rehab and medical bills I endured. And I think to myself, damn, I really did throw away a huge chunk of my life and time and energy to not achieve anything. I'm still in pain, and I can't shoot a basketball, but now I can't lie on my right side either. I need a minimum of four pillows to sleep comfortably. This is how my spiral into death will be measured, in cushions. One night in my late eighties sixties forties I'll be propped up against some pillows in a hospital bed with an extra pillow under my knees, another one padding my spine, two supporting the weight of my arms, and a well-meaning nurse will put just one more small neck cushion behind my head and I'll literally cark it.

I have to try harder not to think about it.

In April 2021 I attended an orthopaedic surgeon and showed them an MRI of my shoulder which showed my AC joint was inflamed. I had come armed with an internet search and a chat with a physio and I believed an AC excision would be the solution to my oppressed desire to wear my new Vice City Duncan Robinson top. When the surgeon diagnosed me with a labrum tear I believed them because I'm not an orthopaedic surgeon so I'm not going to argue. I mean, the lesson here is to advocate for your own health when you have doubts, but you're often going to need hindsight to nail that.

After a gruelling, highly motivated recovery from the surgery (I really wanted to wear that top, hit a corner three on some suburban hoop, and like high five some buddies right after, and feel alive) I still had the same discomfort and limitations and after paying for a whole bunch of extra physio I was sent for a second MRI which showed that my labrum repair was looking super good, oh and my AC joint was even more inflamed than the images taken in 2021. Hmm. Somehow I had torn it since the surgery? Hmmm. Or both injuries had happened at the same time back in 2020 when I hurt it. Hmmmmm.

I declined to have any follow up surgery, as Omicron was making life a problem for Adelaide at the time and I was only just recovering my sick leave from the last surgery. My plan was to stop lifting weights and just enjoy life with pain by riding my bike and going bushwalking.

These all sounded like good ideas but I wish that my surgeon had advocated for my health and encouraged me to have surgery, instead of happily letting me walk away to be my own problem instead of his. If I'd been in a sling in February it would have been a lot harder for me to crash my bike and break my elbow and wrist. Now that those injuries are healing my shoulder pain is returning.

If there is some advice I will share with anyone in their mid to late thirties who is suffering from shoulder pain - which was the intent of the shoulder recovery series to begin with - it is this. Don't stop resistance training, no matter how bad your knee and shoulder or anything else is feeling. At least at the time of my last MRI I could pick up a barbell off the ground, hang from a bar, twist side to side. The loss of the limited power, flexibility and core strength that has occurred since I spat the dummy about health and fitness only four months ago has really cost me now that I've realised I'm going to need it back if I want to make it to that hospital bed in my late forties.


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