Greetings from the Albion Grill at Alta Ski Area. I’m golf blogging today from a ski resort, waiting for the lifts to open. Had an hour to kill so thought it would be a good time to do a shoulder update.
Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, was the one year anniversary of my surgery for torn rotator cuff, torn bicep tendon, torn labrum and bone spurs in my right shoulder. My recovery has gone slower than I’d hoped, and it has now been about one month that I’ve not had nagging pain or soreness. I was in pain for a solid year and a half including pre-surgery. During my rehab I developed “frozen shoulder” which was a total pain in the ass. Scar tissue and inflammation built up, restricting my range of motion and increasing the pain. It took about six months to shake that.
It has now been a year and three months since I last played golf. My last round was at TPC Danzante Bay, and I have the fond memory of making birdie on the stunning par-3 17th hole. Picture below for fun.
My shoulder is about 85% I would say at this point. I don’t get sore when I do regular activities, or even do heavy skiing. I can now do some shoulder exercises in the gym and it doesn’t get mad at me. I’m not pushing it though. I’ve tested out a golf swing without a club, just to see how the shoulder reacts. The backswing is probably 90% but the followthrough is probably only 75%. That’s the killer. I don’t think I’ll really be able to generate much swing speed yet because of lack of flexibility and fear of pain at the end of the swing. No high finishes for me. I may have to develop a 100% punch shot game if I’m going to play any serious golf. I’m sure the shoulder still has more healing to go as some say the frozen shoulder can take years to completely go away.
For now I’m in ski mode here in northern Utah. Spring is around the corner and it is going to be interesting to see not only how my shoulder situation unfolds, but how my mental situation unfolds as well. I haven’t missed playing like I thought I would. I’ve used my time to pursue other interests, like building and flying drones, skiing, hiking and so forth. I wonder how I had the time, the money, and the patience to golf in the first place. Perhaps that part of my psyche will come around when the snow melts and I see green grass and hear some birds chirping.
What I miss the most about not playing golf isn’t the game itself or the golf courses or anything like that. I miss competing. I miss my buddies…. I miss taking money from my buddies. That’s probably what I miss most… LOL.
As of tomorrow, I’ll be 10 months removed from shoulder surgery for a torn bicep tendon, torn rotator cuff, torn labrum and bone spur removal. I was in a sling for about six weeks following the surgery, and did rehab for about six months. During the course of my recovery I developed “frozen shoulder,” a condition where scar tissue and inflammation builds up causing extreme soreness and stiffness. That condition can take up to several years to subside.
The majority of the injury happened in the summer of 2018, but there seemed to be damage occurring in the previous year or two before that. I’d experienced shoulder pain dating back to early 2018 and through until November 2019. Having been in pain for so long, I’m happy to report that as of about 2-3 weeks ago I haven’t been noticing any. It can still be stiff if I push it working out or doing activities which stretch the limits of my arm’s mobility.
It has now been 13 months since I played golf. If I try the motions of a golf swing I can tell that I don’t have much in terms of release. Release meaning the extension of the golf swing following impact. Once my arms get about 1/3 of the way to the finish I can feel that frozen shoulder tightness. That’s not great, but a few months ago I could not have gotten to that position.
I also had a little boo boo this summer while hiking. I fell and dislocated my other shoulder. That one has a torn labrum and an indented ball, the ball part of the ball and socket. That means it will likely dislocate easier. I could have chosen surgery to fix the damage, but I’ve opted to try and build up strength first and see how that goes.
Winter is here in northern Utah, so I wouldn’t be playing any golf this time of year anyway unless I traveled south. So not a huge loss in terms of golf at this point. I’m hoping that after the 5-6 month winter my flexibility will have improved enough to start trying to make some golf swings. I doubt I could hit a ball farther than 40-50 yards at this point.
That’s all fine. I’m in full on SKI mode now. Bring on the powder. I’m working on a new site for skiing (and other mountain sports). It’s under construction, but the site “Hike.Ski” is somewhat up and running. It’s an interesting domain. Not a “dot com.” Just type in Hike.Ski into the browser URL. The full site is https://hike.ski.
I’ll report again when there are new developments on the shoulder. Thanks for your patronage.
I’m now at the 17 day mark since I dislocated my left shoulder. I saw the shoulder doc last week with some minor pain and we decided to wait and see how that unfolded. Unfortunately a week later I’m in some pretty notable pain. The pain is waking me up at night, and it is severe enough that I can’t steer my car with the left arm, or do other basic things left-handed.
The wait and see period resulted in my having to schedule an MRI, which I got today.
If you’ve never had an MRI, it is quite an experience. You can’t move, at all. You are put inside this tube that I’m sure would freak out claustrophobic people. Once inside the tube, it makes all sorts of loud, crazy, godawful noises. My scan took about 30 minutes.
I’ve Been Through This Before
As regular HOG readers are likely aware, I had shoulder surgery on the right shoulder back in February for a torn rotator cuff, torn bicep tendon, and torn labrum. I’m still recovering and it is looking like it will be sometime in 2020. So I know what the pain of those injuries “feels like.”
That said, I’m sorry to conclude that I’ve probably got a torn rotator cuff and torn bicep in the left arm. That’s not confirmed yet. I’ll see the doc soon. If my injuries do require surgery I’m going for it as soon as possible. The sooner I get it taken care of the sooner I can return to normal activity.
I saw my shoulder surgeon for the final time yesterday; final check following my surgery for torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, torn bicep tendon, and bone spurs. It is now exactly 18 weeks since my surgery. I’ve spent many weeks on the physical therapy table below, looking at a great photo of Arnold Palmer. He looks so calm and his grip is very solid. His glove hand is perfectly perpendicular to the shaft, which is interesting.
In today’s report there’s some good news and bad news. Seems like there’s never just good news in these reports. Someday.
I’ve made some progress in the last 2-3 weeks, following a cortisone shot. In physical therapy my range of motion is increasing quicker now than it was. That’s probably thanks to the shot and simply time to heal. The doc said I can cut down my physical therapy sessions from twice a week to once a week, and he suggested that I only need to go about 4-6 more times. He said I have good strength in my arm.
Though I’m only prescribed another 4-6 weeks of PT, that doesn’t mean I’ll be “done” by then. Not even close. Because of my frozen shoulder condition, the doc said it would probably be another year and a half before I have full motion in my right arm. He doesn’t see me playing golf at all in 2019.
What am I to do now? I’ve been playing multiple rounds of golf per week for decades (when there’s no snow). I’ve built up a popular, one-man golf blog based on mostly on-course testing and evaluation of golf gear. I could cover golf apparel, travel, and maybe a few accessories here and there without actually playing I suppose. I can’t swing a damn club so there go any club reviews, grip reviews, ball reviews and so on. Where’s the motivation going to come from?
I’m not mad and I’m not sad about the situation. I guess I’m just accepting it. The odd thing is that I haven’t missed playing golf. Not at all. Perhaps knowing I can’t play is why. Honestly, my frustration level and my bank account haven’t missed playing.
Prior to the 2018 season I had struggled with my game the previous two years. I fantasized about quitting. When 2018 hit I made some gear changes which re-sparked my game and enjoyment a bit so I stuck with it. But now it is looking like I won’t play until perhaps late 2020, and I’ve already gone seven months without playing. I’ll be starting over completely. Golf is hard enough as it is, to have to start over. And how much power will I have when I come back?
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions/issues at this point. I’m just taking it one tight-shoulder day at a time.
It has now been 15 weeks since I had surgery for a torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, torn bicep tendon, and bone spurs in the right shoulder. It has been a frustrating several weeks as I have developed what is known as “frozen shoulder.” This condition is where there is too much scar tissue and inflammation in the shoulder socket, causing it to literally lock up. I had not been able to move it beyond a certain amount for close to two months. I got a steroid injection about three weeks ago, and finally over the last week and a half I’m seeing some notable progress.
At rehab last week the therapist got my arm lifted (front) to about 160 degrees, a new record over 150 degrees. It had been at 150 for weeks. Last week she was able to get the arm to about 160 degrees in a more side motion, away from the body. That was a record as well. Today, with the therapist’s help, I got the first measurement to 170 degrees and the 2nd to 180. Major improvements.
I’ve also noticed that my pain level over the last week or so has subsided quite a bit. I’m going large portions of the day with no pain. I’m also sleeping in my own bed, and even sleeping on my left side with no pain or waking up due to pain in the night. Major win. I can lay on my bad shoulder side for awhile, but moving after that is painful and stiff.
I can finally see some decent progress, 20 degrees or so, in the last couple of weeks. Major breakthrough. I’m getting more exercises and stretches which I’m religiously doing at home daily.
Not Over Yet
I still have a long way to go. I can’t reach behind my back with my right arm, at all. Not even an inch or two. I can’t get anywhere near a throwing position, nor can I even reach across my body, say to dry my left shoulder off with a towel. It takes effort to shave right handed, or wash my hair right handed, but I can do it now.
Fortunately I’ve been able to keep my sanity, somewhat. I’ve taken up backcountry skiing and I’ve gone up into the wonderful mountains here in northern Utah for “skin” sessions. A few days ago I skinned up to over 10,000 feet. Great exercise, and a physical activity I can do, even with a limited right arm.
Today I grabbed a golf club out of curiosity. I could take it back gingerly to about 1/3 of a full swing before I felt pain. Worse than that was the followthrough. Once my right hand crossed about the center of my body it was big time no-go zone. So I bet the farthest I could hit a golf ball at this point, with any club, would be maybe 20-30 yards. And I’d have one swing in me before I’d have to bail.