Today was a big event. No, not the first round of the 2019 Masters Tournament. The big event was the eight week anniversary of my shoulder surgery for torn rotator cuff, torn bicep tendon, and torn labrum. My last report at the six week mark was not good. My physical therapy was not going as fast as I’d hoped because I have what is called “frozen shoulder.”
This report is a little better than the six week mark. My pain level, which is and has mostly been in the area of the bicep work, is slowly decreasing. It has been constantly painful, extremely enflamed, knotted, and sore 24/7. That’s going away, ever so slowly. But at least it is going.
I’ve found that my range of motion is, very slowly, improving. I could not reach up much higher than waist height two weeks ago. Now I can reach up to about shoulder height before I can’t go any farther. I’m now able to do some of the basics like putting my socks on without too much effort and with little to no pain. I can reach the steering wheel in the car now. Still can’t reach the radio. Can’t brush my teeth with the right hand or for that matter, pick my nose. Can’t dry my back off or pull my pants up with the right arm yet.
Today at the rehab facility I reached one of the mini-goals that I’ve been wanting to reach. This is drill they tried to get me to do several weeks ago but due to the bicep scar tissue and damage, I failed. Today I was finally able to do the arm pulley drill. This is a drill where I sit in a chair and pull my bad arm up via pulley with my good arm (photo below). Being able to do this today meant that I was at least progressing.
I expected the drill to be a relief. I’ve been aching to fold my arms or put my arms behind my head etc. It was not a relief though, it was very still and painful. But I would call it a “good kind of pain.”
At this point in my rehab I’m going to get to start doing more strength building and more mobility building, which I’m looking forward to. During my treatment today we felt several “pops” in the shoulder tissue. The therapist said that was scar tissue breaking. This is good. The scar tissue is what’s making the shoulder sore and impossible to move.
I’m still fairly gimpy with the right arm. I feel like a T-Rex. But it is improving. Given the extent of my surgery and the resulting scar tissue and damage, I fear the 2019 golf season will be completely lost. I hope I’m wrong. I’m religiously doing two rehab sessions per week and daily rehab exercises.
I sill have yet to sleep in my bed. Can’t be horizontal without it hurting. I hope to be over that soon because I’m not getting very much sleep at all in a sitting position.
Today marks the sixth week since my shoulder surgery for torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, torn bicep tendon. I’ve been religiously doing my physical therapy and home exercises. Which has been going slowly in terms of gaining mobility. The area where the doctor did the bicep tenodesis (cut the torn tendon away and screwed the end into the bone) has been extremely sore and very tight. Yesterday I consulted with the shoulder doctor in my six-week checkup on the shoulder.
Arthroscopic photo of some of my shoulder repairs
The good news is the doc has released me from having to wear the sling. This is huge. I’ve been sleeping sitting up, with the sling on. I had to shower in a sling. Do everything in the sling. You can imagine how much of a pain doing things one handed with your weak hand is.
As I mentioned, the area where they worked on my bicep tendon is not happy. The doc informed me I have “frozen shoulder,” also known as “adhesive capsulitis.” Adhesive capsulitis is a painful and disabling disorder in which the connective tissue surrounding the joint of the shoulder becomes inflamed and stiff, greatly restricting motion and causing chronic pain.
Chronic pain: check.
Restricted motion: check.
I’m really irritated about it: check.
This will increase my recovery time by an unknown amount. I may end up having to get a steroid injection to assist in the healing, but have to wait until the surgery is healed before that can happen. If I get the shot, it would be in another six weeks.
I have some basic use of my right arm now. I can type a bit. I can put my socks on, just barely. I can’t reach much higher than my waist however. So reaching the steering wheel of the car is a no go. Can’t reach the radio buttons in the car either.
I’m not thrilled at this point. For now I’m just hoping to be ready for next ski season. I’m unsure I’ll get any golf rounds in for the 2019 calendar year.
I hope to prove myself wrong and that I can get some golf in before 2020. I’m working hard on the rehab and doing whatever I can.
I’m hurting in numerous ways right now. First, spring has sprung here in northern Utah. The courses have just opened. I live on a course, and the parking lot has been packed, with the temps going from snow to the 50’s and 60’s. Second, ski season is still in full swing. The resorts in Utah have gotten hammered with a massive amount of snow, and I’m not skiing it. Third, I’m now exactly five weeks removed from my shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, and torn bicep tendon.
I’m still in a sling. One more week to go. That’s extremely irritating, especially since I have to sleep in it. I’ve just barely started to be able to do some basic typing, but after a few minutes the bicep portion of the surgery really flares up and hurts like hell. I had a bicep tenodesis, where they cut an inch or two of the bicep tendon off, and screw the end into the bone. Yeah. Fun.
I’m attending rehab (a.k.a physical therapy) several times per week and doing daily exercises to strengthen and loosen up the shoulder. Earlier this week the therapist tried to introduce me to a new exercise, pulling my arm up with my other arm, via a pulley. Total fail.
The setup photo above looks like some kind of rig for sexual deviants. I wish it was. It’s the pulley chair. Three days ago they put me in it and asked me to reach up and grab the handle. I tried like hell, but couldn’t. So they lifted my arm up for me, which was a new experience in pain. I then tried to do the pulley action, using my left arm to lift my right arm up. After about two incredibly painful reps where I moved it maybe a quarter of an inch, the therapist stopped me. She said, “I can see your bicep twitching.” I wasn’t ready.
At today’s therapy session the therapist didn’t even bother with the S&M chair. That was a bit depressing, as I want to progress. But I know I can’t push it either. No point in going through this hell again.
So the goal for now is simple. Get to where I can do some reps in the S&M chair. Baby steps.
It has now been 24 days since I underwent shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff, torn bicep tendon, and torn labrum. It has been three+ weeks of very little sleep, quite a bit of pain, and just plain going nuts not being able to do much including typing. I am dictating this post and hoping for no embarrassing typos from the speech to text converter. I’ve now gotten my stitches out and bandages off. Fortunately I’m off the OxyContin and hopefully my digestive system will resume normal operation soon, as a result, if you know what I mean.
17 more days in the sling
I had my first physical therapy session a couple of days ago. That was the first time in weeks I’ve had the opportunity to move my arm in any direction. There are a few directions which are extremely painful and difficult to move, like reaching forward. I can barely move my arm an inch or two forward at this point. There are a couple of other directions which are better.
I’m now past the halfway point in terms of wearing a sling, which in total is six weeks. I’m greatly looking forward to losing the sling. Having one arm not usable makes things like driving, eating, showering, getting dressed, tying your shoes, sleeping, very difficult. Yes, I have to sleep in the sling. Perhaps I’ll publish the full list of irritating things to do one-handed later. Once the sling is off I won’t necessarily be able to do a lot with my arm, however. But that will be a big deal in terms of steps in the process of getting better.
Right now August or Septembers look to be when I’ll be able to start attempting to make golf swings again. At that point I don’t expect to have much in terms of power or flexibility, so I’ll be keeping my expectations low. I should be able to putt long before that and perhaps chip and work on short game shortly after that. Putting has never been an issue but my short game has been pretty bad the last few years. Perhaps one positive which will come out of this is a better short game, but I fear my long game may be forever gone.
I’m going to miss playing competitive amateur golf this season. Even if that’s just the $2 Nassau against my Wednesday buddies. I will not renew my local golf Association membership because there’ll be no point in tracking handicap if I’m not playing. I really like to compete In tournaments but I don’t do that a lot of due to sandbaggers, or as I like to call them cheaters. Still I’ll miss that adrenaline rush and the challenge of trying to keep myself composed under pressure in tournament situations.
Though I won’t be able to do much club testing for a while I will still strive to produce many great golf reviews and product features I can. I can certainly still review golf travel, golf resorts, golf apparel, golf accessories and so on, without having to swing a club. Always good to go on golf satire and humor.
That’s the plan.
The last 4 days have been rough. Here’s a shot of the shoulder and the 5 places the doc went in. They found more damage than they saw on the MRI. Torn rotator, torn bicep tendon, torn labrum, bone spurs. I won’t be playing any bad golf for quite some time.