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slick's shoulder surgery blog

The last straw

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by , September 26th, 2012 at 07:29 PM (426 Views)
We started our taper the week before our LCM meet. I wasn’t in that good of shape yet after coming back from a two week vacation at the end of July, so I wasn’t really in tapering condition….but what swimmer would pass up some taper workouts given the opportunity? So of course we did a lot of sprints and race-pace sets, and lo and behold, my shoulder decides to pop out in practice two days before the meet.

All I did was push off the wall. I always hang onto the wall with my right/good arm. When I push off the wall, my left arm drops down and ‘leads’ my left side off the wall, and I bring my right arm over my head as I push off into a streamline position. Well, apparently I was pushed off the wall “too hard”. I felt my shoulder crunch and pop as I thrust my left arm down and out underneath the water as my right arm was coming over my head. I cursed the gods and continued to swim the rest of the workout. This time there wasn’t any anger, sadness, or even frustration. It all just felt completely REDICULOUS at that point.

The next day I was greeted with the familiar feelings of weakness, dead arm, and pins and needles. And I didn’t care. I had only signed up for 4 sprints at the meet anyway, two events each day. I went out and bought some of those “instant” ice packs and packed them in my swim bag. I loaded up on ibuprofen, sucked it up, and swam my events. Whatever! I just made sure to use caution around the walls, which made for some crappy finishes (was happy with my :32.5 in the 50m fly however).

The next week, I scaled back to doing half swim/half kick workouts again. Well, it was more like ¼ swim, ¼ kick, get out, go home, and ice. I avoided strokes for a week or two and just swam easy. Swimming with this injury has never been unbearably painful; it just feels sore as hell. In the few weeks after I re-injured it, I found that if I pushed the pace too hard my arm would just go numb. I didn’t feel any clicking this time around, so that’s good I guess (I hope there is still some cartilage left!). But I felt like frickin’ Nemo….swimming along with a gimpy, useless fin and everything.

Throughout all this, my coach kept suggesting that I see a physiatrist to possibly help me sort things out. So, I finally went to my general practitioner and basically demanded a referral to the physiatrist. I took the first appointment available, which was during the second week of September 2012. I don’t think I got even five sentences in when he interrupted me and said “You should have had the surgery a long time ago.” Oh, fantastic! He proceeded to tell me that he recommends surgery for people of my demographic after the 2nd or 3rd instability events. “After you re-dislocate once, the chances that you will continue to do so are about 99%.” He was frank in telling me that there were no exercises that I could do to help my situation, and that even if I lived in a bubble, I could still injure myself from sneezing (which I had already done in the past).

I mean, I guess I knew all this. I knew my injury never did nor would ever fully heal. Maybe I just needed someone to flat-out say these things aloud to me for it all to really sink in.

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