Shoulder surgery: Post-op report

It’s been almost four weeks since the surgery on my left shoulder, and I saw the doctor yesterday. The surgery went well. The prognosis is mixed.

BTW: Look at what he pulled out of the joint!

Symptoms before the surgery

The torn labrum was repaired in 2002, and since then I’ve been rocking the:

– Pain.

– Stiffness.

– Limited range of motion.

– Noisy notchiness.

– Did I mention pain?

What the doctor did

– Cleaned up the labrum. My useless, weak-willed, lilly-livered labrum.

– Removed numerous loose bodies from the joint capsule. These are bits of bone, cartilage and scar tissue, and they were wearing the inside of the joint “like sandpaper.” The more fragments you get, the more your shoulder wears, and the more your shoulder wears, the more fragments you get. Sweet huh?

– Removed a HUGE piece of bone from the front of the joint. He said it started as a smaller fragment, then the body built it up like a pearl in an oyster. Isn’t that precious? I have half a mind to drill a hole in it and wear it around my neck! Or glue it to the stem on my

– Thanks to all this grinding, the cartilage is wearing away, and there is plenty of bone-on-bone action. The doc perforated the exposed bone with an awl (this stuff is Medieval!) to let some marrow tissue seep out. This tissue has “plural potential,” kind of like a stem cell, so it can become bone or cartilage. We hope it will coat the exposed bone and become cartilage.

Symptoms now

– The shoulder is still sore, tight and semi-weak, but it works fine for everyday activities. Overall, I think it hurts less than before. But I’m still taking it easy. We’ll see how it likes 100 Laps of Pump.

– I’ve been super consistent with range of motion exercises, and I’ve been gently pushing the strength. Two days ago I did 15 clean, easy pushups. Yesterday I did 10 divebomber pushups. Bent rows are as strong as always. Upright rows and overhead presses are still tender. I’m back to lifting the “airbells” — James Wilson’s term for the kind of weights I use!

– I’ve been riding the trainer like a fool. It’s time to get back outside.


– The doctor is stoked with my strength, but he says I need to work harder on flexibility. Check.

– The shoulder will continue to self destruct. How long until the next cleanup, and the eventual replacement, remains to be seen. It could be a year, three years, 10 years …

– The doc says the best way to preserve the shoulder is to keep it strong and flexible. Check and check.

Next: The right shoulder still has a non-unified clavicle, a severely torn labrum and at least one loose body that measured 15mm on the MRI. With Spring, two book deadlines and lots of coaching around the corner, I might wait until Fall.

Also: I’m jonesing for a road/commute/cross bike with fenders and a rack. I feel like turning some miles without my backpack. Stay tuned for that adventure.

Orthopedically Challenged Braaap!!!

— Lee

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