visiting a long lost friend

Tomorrow morning, I will take off for Arizona, to visit a man I have known for the past 10 years.  And boy am I not excited to see him.  Let me step back, this “long lost friend” is also known as Dr. Z; the doctor whom I saw for three shoulder surgeries during high school and the beginning of college.

In high school, when I started competitively playing lacrosse, I began having pain in my right shoulder.  It started out bearable, but the more I practiced, the worse it got.  After several visits with the team nurse and several orthopods,  I ended up in Dr. Z’s incredibly capable hands, with a diagnosis of an acromion bone that hadn’t fused when I was born.  It turns out that the fix for that is a screw.  You just pop a screw in the shoulder and then the bone fuses itself.  Easy, right?  Well, this was 2001 and by 2003, my body had done the work of fusing the bone.  I decided that I really wanted to visit Dr. Z again (because, really, another surgery? yes, please!) so I took a dive in a soccer game in 2003, which ended up knocking the screw loose.  <side note: I would like to point out that the dive was (partly) responsible for us winning the game. And yes, I’ve heard all the jokes about “we always knew you had a screw loose.”>  So Dr. Z went in again and took the screw out.  Two years later, the scar tissue had built up to the point it was affecting my game, so he went in arthroscopically and shaved that away.

My shoulder has been great to this day (thanks in large part to my favorite physical therapist, T, with whom I worked on and off for my entire high school career).  However, I have a propensity toward injuring myself, and about four weeks ago, I managed to wreck my bicycle and injure my left shoulder.  After an MRI with contrast (a medical first for me!), I learned that I had what is known as a SLAP tear in my labrum.  The fix: surgery.  After discussing with several physical therapists and orthopedic doctors, it became clear that the best thing really was surgery.  So you can guess who I called.  <to be clear, it’s not that I don’t think the surgeon where I currently am wouldn’t do a fantastic job.  I do, I really do.  It’s that I have a history with Dr. Z.  I’ve been in his office countless times before, he’s known me for over 10 years, and he did an incredible job on my right shoulder.>

I struggled with whether I wanted to blog about this or not, since the whole thing has had me rather down in the dumps for the past month.  Today, I was supposed to be racing Lake Stevens 70.3.  Tomorrow, I was supposed to take an awesome trip with a good friend of mine to San Diego to relax on the beach.  Right now, I was supposed to be training for my first (and second) marathon(s) in October.  Last month, I was supposed to be enjoying the amazing Wyoming countryside on my bike.  Instead, I’ve been walking and hiking, the two activities that don’t make me contort my face into such strange positions that anyone who sees me starts crying and yelling for their mother.  However, injuries are a part of life/training, and everyone has to deal with them to some extent at some point in their “athletic career.”  Mine could have been much worse, and I’m thankful that the surgery will (hopefully) offer a full recovery.  It will take some time, but I will be ready to go when full IM training begins in December.

It’s also been a good talking point as I talk with various coaches – it allows us to have a frank discussion on how much do you push yourself and when do you really need to take full rest.  I’ve learned a lot about with whom I do and don’t want to train.  I’ve also been able to work on mental toughness (because climbing the same. freaking. hill. every morning (sometimes twice) is, well, let’s just say booooor-ing).  And my core.  Well, let’s not talk about that, but it’s something I should be working on.

I might be MIA for the next few days (or maybe I’ll be doped up on painkillers and write some really entertaining posts), but I’ll be back at it soon.  And in the meantime, if anyone has any advice on workouts that don’t involve the upper body (I’m particularly interested in pool running tips), I’m all ears!


2 Comments to “visiting a long lost friend”

  1. Yikes! Sorry about your shoulder and I hope you’re feeling better soon!

  2. Good luck with the surgery! I have lots to say on pool running, but it can definitely get you near-marathon ready. I promise!

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