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slick's shoulder surgery blog

The acceptance phase

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by , September 28th, 2012 at 08:53 PM (765 Views)
After my visit to the physiatrist, I knew that surgery was in my future. The damage to my shoulder was un-modifiable, meaning that the structural instability of my shoulder would be ever-present no matter how strong I could get my surrounding muscles to protect it. I could strengthen my rotator and deltoid until the cows came home, but it is obviously not enough to make up for the damage in my cartilage and tendons.

I suppose I could continue to live with the subluxations periodically interrupting my training plans. But what kind of pool life would that be? I imagine I would just continue a cycle of injury and would only ever be able to train up to 95% given my situation. And even then, how long would those periods of 95% last before I re-injure myself and have to take several months to work my way back up from 10%? I want to be able to give 100%, ALL THE TIME. And based on what I had experienced over the past 4 years, I could pretty much count on my shoulder popping out 2-3 times per year. Maybe this wasn't a big deal for me when I was only fluttering around and swimming once per week. But with the level of swimming I hope to be at for the next few DECADES, its now just unacceptable - I have to think about the long term.

I know some people would much rather live with the above scenario rather than undergo surgery. In fact, one of my teammates said to me that he’d rather take 2 years away from the pool instead of having shoulder surgery (he has a different shoulder situation injury, however). Fair enough, but that isn’t me.

So, since I knew that I would be having surgery at some point, the question soon became, “Now or later?” It took me about 2 weeks before I truly made it to the acceptance phase, and then I decided that “now” was the time. Mostly because there never is a good time for this kind of thing anyway. Right now I am healthy and younger(ish). I have health insurance and plenty of sick leave. And I am motivated as hell to do everything I need to do in order to ensure that I can reach and maintain as close to 100% as I can get after this. In addition, if I prolong the surgery I am risking more injury to my shoulder, which would further increase my risk of developing early arthritis and other problems down the road. And, more importantly, the surgery is much more effective if the damage is less severe in the first place.

So, I called and set a date with the surgeon for November 12th. I must say, after I finally scheduled the surgery, it felt like a huge weight was taken off my shoulder (no pun intended, lol). It’s good to know that in time, and if everything goes as smooth as it should, I will no longer have to deal with the ridiculousness of my stupid, unstable shoulder. I am really looking forward to having a shoulder that stays in its socket, lol. Most of all I am looking forward to being able to feel 'normal' in the pool and to be able to push myself to the best of my abilities.

Until the surgery, I plan on getting in the best shape possible. I will continue to keep up my PT routine and keep a schedule of 4 practices a week. Right now, I’m probably back up to about 80% since my last injury back in August. I am able to do full workouts right now even though my shoulder definitely feels it during the last 500 or so yards (ice is my BFF!). In mid-October I plan on swimming at our Zone meet up in Federal Way, which I’m super stoked about since that’s the pool of my glory days. I haven't swam there since 1999! I hope to be back near 90% by then, and I plan on just having some fun. It will be my ‘swan song’ so to speak before I head down the long road to recovery. Two days after the meet I have my pre-op appointment with the surgeon. I know it will be rough and feel hopeless at times, but I also know that it will be completely worth it in the end. I am in it for the long haul!!

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Updated September 29th, 2012 at 04:37 PM by swimslick



  1. Medicine Woman's Avatar
    Best wishes for a quick recovery. I too am dealing with shoulder (and elbow) issues so it has been quite interesting reading the blog. Thanks for taking us on your journey.
  2. swimslick's Avatar
    Thanks for reading! Glad to help (or at least provide entertainment for) others who may be facing similar issues