Bad shoulders, worse news

Hi all. I got the results of my shoulder MRIs, and I’m in store for two surgeries. The first is next Wednesday. My shoulders have been hurting for a long time, and it turns out there’s no prize for being tough.

Left shoulder
I had the labrum repaired in 2002. The shoulder has felt tight, notchy and painful since then, but I’ve been pushing through tons of racing, riding, feats of strength and everything else. But for what benefit?

– Dozens of particles are floating around the joint capsule, “acting like sandpaper.” The doctor says they could be bone, cartilage, who knows, but they are tearing things up. These must be removed.

– There’s a huge bone spur on the head of my humerus, caused by all the grit. That must be ground off. Doc says this will hurt.

– The “socket” bone is starting to crumble. Crumble! Nothing can be done about this. I heard the doctor say “blah blah blah eventually need a shoulder replacement.”

Good news: The muscles are all in great shape. I’d feel better about that, but all that activity has apparently torn my shoulder to pieces.

The doc operates next Wednesday. He says I’ll regain my range and strength as quickly as pain allows. I’ll try not to push it too hard.

Right shoulder
I broke the clavicle in 2003. Three months later, the doc tugged on my arm and said the bone was healed but crooked. Turned out it never healed at all, and the only thing holding the arm on is muscle. Yeah, it hurts. Yeah, I do stuff anyway. The MRI revealed:

– The non-unified clavicle. The ends must ground down, pinned together and encouraged to heal.

– A severely torn labrum (the cup that holds the head of your humerus). It’s torn off the bone. The doctor seemed impressed in a horrified way; he looked the same when I re-located my own dislocated thumb by pulling on it and slamming it on my moto handlebar. The labrum must be pinned back in place.

– “A loose body” that is 15mm in diameter. That’s big. It must be trapped and removed.

Oh yeah: The muscles are in great shape.

The right shoulder will get fixed when the left shoulder is ready to take over. I’ll be completely immobilized or four weeks, then it’ll take months to regain pseudo-normal function. Next summer’s riding is in serious jeopardy. It’s time to rock the Rollerblades!

The lesson
I frankly feel pretty dumb.

Yeah, I’ve been training consistently, and I’m good at working through pain, but to what effect? I’ve damaged myself even more over the years, and I’ve created serious long term issues.

It’s time to admit that, somewhere way down there, I believe I deserve pain, and the only way to redeem myself is to suffer. Looks like I’ll have plenty of time to mull this over — while I’m laying down base miles on my recumbent!!!

Be kind to yourselves.

— Lee

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