Thursday, September 27, 2007


I decided yesterday, while I was stretching cords above my head and watching a woman use a rolly chair to scoot circles around a room, that I need to write more. Lucky you!

Last Friday I saw my orthopaedist again. He said we would try physical therapy until November. Then if the shoulder is not better (are you tired of the shoulder stories yet? I am.), we consider (a) surgery or (b) quitting swimming.

So starting this week, I am putting everything I have into physical therapy. And after a month of only kicking, I am beginning in a gradual way to bring arm strokes with my left arm back into the pool.

This is my documentation. You don't have to read it, because frankly I would rather not write it. Heraclitus is telling me, though, that it is something I should do as I come to terms with the fact that The Whole Shoulder Thing is not something that happened, but something that is happening.

This has been my first week of restarted therapy. I saw my PT twice--Monday and Wednesday. On the days I do not work with him, I do the usual rotator-cuff and core exercises at home.

When I work with him, I:

* Try to hold my arm up and still while he pushes on it in different directions. This is to reteach the musculature and nerves how to be stable. (He asked me to imagine my shoulder as a clock. Some people, he said, especially people who have suffered a shoulder dislocation in the past, have instablity at, say, 6 o'clock or 3 o'clock. I have it 24 hours a day.) So far we have done this exercise while I lie flat on my back with my arm up at 90 degrees; with me on my back with my elbow on a pad and my forearm at 90 degrees; with me on my back with my arm at a different angle relative to my body, my elbow on a pad, and my forearm at 90 degrees; with me standing, holding my arm down, my forearm at 90 degrees, and in my hand the handle of an outstretched cable. He says I have very little strength in my shoulder. Our ultimate goal is to do these exercises with my arm raised above my head in a typical freestyle-swimming position.

* Do plank-position core exercises, facing down, and then on each side. These are painfully difficult to do right now, and it makes me realize how much core strength I have lost since I was in shape for nationals.

* Kneel on a pad and throw a weighted ball at a trampoline, and when I catch it, try to hold my core stable. I do this facing the tramp, and then with my side to it (both directions).

* Use stretch cords to make small presses with my hands above my head, at my sides, and then again at my sides but pulling backwards rather than forwards.

* Lie on my face and raise my arms above my head for 30 seconds, then rest for 30. (I do this exercise with my arms in a variety of positions.)

It is strange to be in a PT room with a bunch of other people. We each have our own maladies. One guy is doing strange things with his knees. Another perches on the rolly chair (it is more like a rolly stool) and uses his arms to move himself around the floor. One woman steps on and off a step. One man talks incessantly while he walks on a treadmill. We are all there try to bring our bodies back. Keep us in your thoughts.


Joe said...

Yuck. I'm sorry to hear that your shoulder is still bugging you. PT is no fun at all. I'm my swim club, there are a few people who have had shoulder surgery, all with great results.

Have you tried any ultrasound therapy? It seemed to make a huge difference when I tore my rotator cuff a few months ago. But I'm sure it won't work for everyone.

Anonymous said...

You know you are in my thoughts.

Scott said...

Like Joe I'm sorry to hear your shoulder hasn't come around. Last month when you wrote about swimming things seemed to be getting better. At this point let's just forget about the pool and aim to get the shoulder back to normal use. Perhaps later on you can start thinking about swimming. Best of luck.

weight loss said...

I threw my shoulder out recently too. Sucks man, wish you the best.