Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I've Often Been Called Unstable, But...

My shoulder is actually glowing blue, but I assume that's bad, too.
Today I made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to have my shoulders examined.  One reason I got into triathlon six years ago is that I found myself suddenly picking up some serious injuries playing indoor soccer.  In fact, I partially dislocated both of my shoulders in a six-week span.  In the first instance, a big dude took offense to my existence and body-checked me into a wall as hard as he could.  I landed awkwardly, heard multiple pops in my shoulder, and after going to the ER, spent a couple of weeks with my arm in a sling.  Then, in my first game back, an opposing player shoulder-charged me head-on when we were contesting a 50/50 ball, and popped my other shoulder out of place momentarily.

This was the only picture that ESPN had of the collision that injured me.  I never realized how similar soccer and baseball look at the margins.

Since then, I've struggled with instability in my shoulders on-and-off.  Once every couple of months, I'll roll over in my sleep and tweak my shoulder socket, and it'll be sore for days.  Even hard coughing triggers the pain sometimes.  Throwing a ball over-hand is out of the question, as is a hard tennis serve.  Even holding an overhead grip on the Metro is dicey, as a sudden acceleration or deceleration can yank things out of place.

I've resisted getting my shoulders examined for years because I'm somewhat certain that I'll eventually need two surgeries, but rotator-cuff repair is no joke, with months of no training and painful rehab.  Having both of them done is really more than I can bear to contemplate, and I think that swimming has helped to strengthen my shoulder enough to get me by.  However, after going rock climbing on Saturday, my right rotator cuff has felt like it was fed thorough a meat grinder.  I've had to take painkillers to sleep, and it's so sensitive that it hurts just swinging my arm when I walk. 

I figure that I might as well be mature enough to admit I have a problem.  (Isn't that the first step?)  So, next Thursday, I'm going to figure out what my damage is, so to speak, and see whether continuing on my current non-invasive-treatment path is tenable or whether it will simply lead me to arthritis down the road.  If something has to be done, hopefully I can find a time to schedule the surgeries when it will have the least detrimental impact on my endurance pursuits.

Sigh.