Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Where do I begin...

On Dec 30th 2016 I had my shoulder scoped. This is that story.

Our scene opens at River North Same Day Surgery. It's like the quick service restaurant of the surgery world.  In fact the experience is much the same. They ask for your order, take your money and before you know it you're on your way out the door feeling far worse than when you arrived.  I was a little cranky and nervous. Not so much about the procedure but because I wasn't allowed my morning espresso. Anyway. We filled out all the paper work, I took a number and ran to the bathroom, twice...because I have a wicked streak of paranoia and actually had the thought...I wonder if anyone has ever wet the bed during surgery...damned if I'm going to be the first.

We were only there a few minutes before they called my name.

So how did we arrive at this point? Let me esplain....no there is too much, let me sum up.
Look ma, a fluid cyst (posterior view) 
My shoulder hurts when I run (when you run? Yeah, that's right, when I run). And when I sleep. Lots of waking up at night. For over a year (yes, that's a long time of stoopid). An MRI in late October reveals I have a fluid cyst in my rotator cuff. And not like, "we think there's a fluid cyst"...more like, "holy mother of pearl I've never seen a fluid cyst with it's own zip code."
So going in they know there's an problem as evidence of my leaky, incontinent shoulder. Most likely a torn labrum but it wasn't clear. I was showing none of the typical labrum tear signs (so says my doc...I have no idea what they are). I never had an issue swimming. In fact I swam a 2800 meter workout the morning before the surgery.  
Walking though the doors I immediately felt out of place. One, I was the only guy patient (hello ladies, how do you like my open back smock and grey footies?) and two, everyone else was visibly injured. Like bad-ass, athlete injured. A couple of runners, a high school lacrosse player. I looked like I had wondered in off the street. Like one of the redshirts from Star Trek - I was along to fill out the search party but also expendable since I clearly served no other purpose to the plot.

So there I am nervously hanging out in my surgery day finest getting a lot of mileage out of telling the nurses that I was there because I lost a bet (Schmitty, masking real feelings with humor since 1972). After plugging me into the IV they let Jen come back to make fun of  sit with me. Next up was the anesthesiologist who wrote directly on my shoulder with his sharpie (I guess because they ran out of post it notes) and explained the nerve blocker and what that was going to feel like before and after. And finally, rounding out our pre-op line up was the arrival of my surgeon Dr. Gordon Nuber who stopped by to leave me with, "well, we'll see what we can find...who knows, if this goes well, you could be back running in a week." (Cool side note: Dr Nuber is the team surgeon for the Chicago Bears. Take that nugget however you wish but he's guy when you say stuff like..."if there's one guy you want doing this surgery"...yeah, he's that guy.)

Finally it was cuttin time. Jen kissed me goodbye (and was a little too happy to see me off for my taste) and off I went. By the time I was rolled through the doors I was well on my way to dream town. But sleepy or not, I was keenly aware that the room was far too white for the urban hip-hop they were spinning. The place was thumping. I half expected my gurney to have hydraulics. I lifted my self onto the operating table, bobbed my head to the beat and was out cold.

4th incision not shown
So here is what they found. Some fraying of the labrum. Natch. That's what they thought. Shaved that down. Easy peasy. Smoothed the bone to give me more clearance. And then -- surprise! -- doc had to go into overtime re-attaching the labrum. Re-attaching. That means it had become completely un-attached. So, that's fun.

Remember what I told you about Dr. Nuber talking all best outcome and junk...well this was pretty close to the worst outcome. In a sling for 4 weeks (at least). No running for 7/8 weeks. No swimming until June.

So here we are at week 8.

If raising my hand straight up over my head is 180 degrees I can get to about 140 unassisted anterior flexion (in front). Maybe 60 degrees laterally. I'm still not really supposed to be lifting anything (but I am - I am an impatient patient). I've been riding my bike on the trainer for the last two weeks. It will be a few weeks until I can get into aero. I've been on the elliptical a few times using the static bars. Going to try to run this weekend finally on the treadmill.

Chester Copperpot
I'm thankful for Jen. I really suck at being an invalid. She was so patient with me and was a solo doggie parent until I was freed from my sling. I'm thankful for all the cards, the get well gifts and the get well beer :). And I am thankful for my co-workers who had Chester Copperpot sit in for me while I was out.

So what's the one thing that the Triathlife does while on the sidelines? The Triathlife signs up for a duathlon and a marathon as training carrots to get back at it as soon as possible.

Just don't ask for a high five quite yet.


Monday, January 25, 2016

More Shallow Thoughts

Off-season training.


Lots of time to ruminate in shallow waters.

Are you talking to me?
The latest generation of amateur runner's have lost their manners. It takes Schmitty back to a time of VCR's and New Coke when SNL was still funny and relevant. Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz had this "Girl Watcher" bit -- and I think of that skit every time I get a cold, non-response to a cheerful greeting or wave --

"Hello?....and Goodbye"
"Howdy do?....and howdy don't".

See a runner. Say hi to a runner. The real world version of The Facebook like.

Swimming Upstream
I scored two seconds on my swim threshold pace last week. This will mean little to anyone else. I don't know how much it even means to me. However, in this sport, if my age is going up and my times are coming down, that is a good thing.

You know what grinds my gears? 
TV comedies and their teachable moments -- Hey there court jester, dance around and make funny but leave the preaching to NBC's "The More You Know."

Speaking of manners
I've noticed a steep fall off when it comes to folks saying "excuse me." Wanna test my theory? Go to a Whole Foods on a Saturday morning and park yourself in front of some produce.

Stop children, what's that sound
With the manner in which some guys talk and act in locker rooms, it truly is a miracle that any of us are married.

I heart coffee
The barista made a heart in my latte today. As opposed to the usual leaf. Should I read anything into this?

I get to triathlon today!
I use "I have to" far too often when referring to my training. I think it comes from searching for some sort of empathy. Which is silly. If triathlon was my livelihood then, yes, I should be allowed to say "I have to." But I don't have to. I get to. I get to swim this morning. I get to run today. I get to ride my bike. Because it's fun. Because I have the good fortune, my health and the time, place and opportunity to do so.  I get to live The Triathlife.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Shallow thoughts

Free Willy
With each passing year I move closer to the "Age of Enlightenment" -- The day when I drop the towel, and all sense of public decency, to prance around the gym locker room unfettered and free. All the evidence points to this being age thing. Or possibly a common side effect from high blood pressure medication.

All the Swims
Smack in the middle of Swimuary. Which was preceded by Swimcember. These are the clever names used by coach Liz to make the pain of highly emphasized swim training more palatable. But clever monikers aside, heading to the pool four days a week at dark and wicked cold thirty in the morning takes some steel will on Schmitty's part. Which is why I've only mostly been getting in three of the four scheduled swims. But I'm seeing training gains so there's a positive to all this. I just hope there's no such thing as swim-ebruary.

Making a Murderer
Indeed. It killed two days out of my three-day weekend (ahthankyou).