Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Moving On

I'll be honest...the original title of this post was going to be "I Give Up".  I didn't mean give up on my body, I meant give up on physical therapy for my shoulder.  But, the truth is I am not giving up per se.  I'm moving on.

This shoulder thing has been hanging around FAR TOO LONG.  But, at the same time I have to realize that even though I haven't been 100%, I was able to train for (and complete) an Iron Man race that some are calling the hardest WTC (Iron Man brand) race around.  It may have been "slow" but I finished standing up!  :D

To recap...I started feeling something was not quite right in September 2012.  At first I thought it was sympathy pains for a friend of mine (who has since had surgery for a torn rotator cuff), so I ignored it.  When it kept bothering me I decided I needed to work it more and added TRX and Hot Yoga to my swim/bike/run plans.  When it (shockingly) didn't get better, I went to see Dr Olsen.  After a couple of visits didn't bring relief, I went to see an orthopedic doc, Dr Tindall.  He put me on steroids and told me to back off workouts (which I did).  When the drugs and rest didn't work, I went back.  He did a shoulder MRI (no contrast) and gave me an injection.  When that didn't seem to help he did a neck MRI (thinking it might be a nerve issue) and referred me to another doctor for a nerve conduction study.  The nerve study showed some trouble in the left (upper) trap.  She said the neck MRI was "normal" but that wasn't a finding she would usually see with a "normal" MRI, so she looked at it herself and said there were some slight bulges in the cervical discs.  She said she thought it was a "pinched" nerve.  Dr Tindall said I would eventually need surgery but there was nothing to do except live with it until then.  I had some visits with Dr Olsen again and had some PT with Jay Austin.  I then went to get a second opinion from another orthopedic doc, Dr Layton.  He referred me to another nerve doc, Doctor Cosgrove who gave me some facet joint injections.  THAT seemed to give me relief so I had a Medial Branch Nerve Ablation (they burned the nerves in my neck).  After I came to realize that wasn't the answer I went back to the nerve doctor, but had to see a new guy, Dr Reto since Dr Cosgrove had moved away by then.  Dr Reto referred me to the Alabama Pain Management Clinic where I had facet joint injections, an injection in my trapezius and two injections in my shoulder (one in the front and one in the back).  About five weeks ago I went for yet another opinion from Dr Ortega at Andrews Sports Orthpedic Center in Birmingham who sent me for PT (which I've been getting from Todd Hayes at Johnson and Hayes).

In the beginning, I had very high hopes that PT was going to work.  I'm just a few weeks in but I am not seeing any measure of improvement.  The only time I can tolerate movement is when I'm taking two Aleve twice a day.  I could do that, but then I would end up needing treatment for a stomach ulcer!

So...I'm not giving up, I'm just moving on.  I made another appointment with Dr Ortega for Monday.  I'm going to ask for an MRI with contrast.  He didn't want to do that last time because I had not yet done a serious round of PT for my shoulder (when I went to Jay Austin, they were thinking it was a pinched nerve in my neck).  Dr Ortega didn't want to do anything before trying PT first.  There is a chance I haven't given it long enough to work, but at the same time, I don't think I'm seeing any improvement that might give me hope.

I watched a video on defeat today (see below).  Andy Potts (pro triathlete) says there are two things in life you can control-your attitude and your effort; when you're defeated you aren't able to give your best effort.  I am NOT defeated by this.  In fact, I'm going to say I'm even more inspired than ever to continue.  This shoulder thing will not stop me.
"Defeat meant reassess, rebuild, chase again...you learn more out of defeat than you do success because success makes you overlook things."  --Chris McCormack 
"I look at it as a chance to become a better athlete."  --Tim O'Donnell

Thanks for stopping in...I promise one day (really soon) I won't be whining about my shoulder any more!  :D

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

59th Street Bridge Song

I remember in 5th grade learning the 59th Street Bridge Song.  You know the one?  "Slow down you move too fast, you got to make the morning last.  Just kickin down the cobble stones.  Lookin for fun and feelin' groovy..."

Well...I'm fining myself on the 59th Street Bridge, being forced to, once again, SLOW DOWN.

After I went to the Andrew's Orthopedic Center a few weeks ago, I started doing PT at Johnson and Hayes.  Day one was GREAT.  I was given some home exercises to do twice a day, every day until I returned five days later.  I did them like a champ and got so excited I started penciling in races for 2014, including a tough 140.6, The Great Floridian.  Day 2 I was pushed and told I might need to take the next day off depending on how sore I was.  I did.  Day 3 I felt good, but still pretty sore.  Then I went out of town and was given some extra exercises to do at home but told to drop down to once a day and maybe only every other day.

By the time I went back for Day 4 I was hurting again just like I had been before.  At that point he backed off a little and rearranged the exercises.  Yesterday I was in a good bit of pain.  So today, Day 5, I was told we're going to have to slow down the process.

My back in 2011
Exaggerated winged scapulae
Possibly what is going on is this:  I started out with weak muscles
and what basically amounts to poor posture.  I added load to that and wound up injured.   In the last year I've done TONS of things in attempt to correct the symptom (pain)...but nothing to correct the underlying dysfunction (weakness and poor mechanics).  So, every time the pain went (mostly) away, I went back to working out and - BAM - more pain!  ((This is a theory, but it really makes sense to me and gives me some hope I won't need to have surgery so I like it a lot!))

So...the goal this week is to calm the pain down (most likely from tendonitis in that same pesky spot), then SLOWLY work on building all those little muscles up in the right way so that when I add some load to them, they will work the way they should and not cause pain.

I've decided to keep my 2014 race calendar open for now.  I'm not signing up for any races until I know my body can handle some intense training because in the words of Ricky Bobby, "I wanna go FAST"!!  I know I have it in me, I just have to start with a solid base of strength to build on.

I'm not going to lie.  When he told me today I needed to take a step back, I did start to cry a little bit.  But, all-in-all, this is great news.  If the theory is correct, this little step back is going to catapult me forward in the not too distant future.  You might see me on the sidelines for now...but you will find me on the podium later giving all the glory to Him to makes me strong.

"Life I love you.  All is groovy."  (FYI, in case you didn't know, that's the last line of the song...)

Thanks for stopping in.  Come again soon.