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June 23, 2012 Comments (0) Journey To A First Ultra

Post-Surgery Update

<— See those feet? There are no running shoes on them.

I’m 6 weeks post-surgery (I had a torn labrum repaired on 5/9), and just saw my orthopedic surgeon for a checkup. He says everything looks great, which is good news…except my shoulder still aches SO MUCH! I’m out of the sling, finally, and am supposed to spend the next 9 weeks working on “functional motion,” which basically means I can go about my business sling-free, but am not supposed to engage in any shoulder-heavy activities. He also gave me the go-ahead to run…if I can stand it.

As of today, I haven’t worked out in 8.5 weeks. I don’t mean I haven’t run, I mean I haven’t done anything. For two weeks before the surgery, I had a terrible sinus infection. While I got the OK to start working out on an elliptical at my 2 week post-surgery appointment, I was still in too much discomfort to want to do so. This is the laziest I’ve ever felt. I literally think that if I watched my calves long enough, I’d be able to see them shrinking. Like kudzu. But in reverse.

The hardest times of day for me are first thing in the morning and late in the evening. I wake up with my shoulder joint feeling tight and arthritic. My muscles are all very twitchy and irritable around the socket, and while I desperately want to stretch them out, I instinctively know it will hurt the shoulder capsule to do so. I’ve been taking a Tylenol #3 (the only pain medication I’m taking all day anymore) and doing some easy stretches while I drink my coffee. That gives me about 4 pain-free hours…and then the joint becomes progressively more sore with use through the rest of the day.

My body wants to run. My legs grumble at me constantly. I’m irritable and anxious, and I’m pretty sure that sometimes I pace the room like a zoo creature. But I’m scared. I’ve come to a tenuous accommodation with my shoulder; I know what really pisses it off and avoid doing those things, and it more or less behaves, stays in the joint, and doesn’t go above a 4 or so on that stupid pain scale that doctors love so much and that I hate.* I’m afraid that running will really upset it, and I also know that — like sugar and cocaine — running is a drug. I want to run now, but I don’t NEED to. I’ve been away from it for long enough that it’s a desire, but not a necessity. When I start running again, though, I’ll open up that addiction like a bottomless chasm of need. If it hurts my shoulder, it won’t matter; I won’t be able to stop myself. And I don’t want to end up in that place — in having to choose between comfort and feeding the need — just yet. But soon, I think. Soon.

*Why do I hate the pain scale? Because I have a really good imagination. The doc says, “A 0 means ‘no pain,’ and a 10 means ‘the worst pain you can imagine,’ like having a baby.” Ok, I think to myself, I’ve had a baby. It hurt. But it didn’t hurt as much as…well…I don’t want to get graphic, but have you watched The Tudors? You know all that stuff they used to do to people in public squares? Having a baby didn’t hurt that much. So…all I can say is that compared to that kind of stuff, having a baby was about a 3. Even though it hurt like hell. The damn pain scale makes no sense to me.


What do you do to stay sane when you can’t run?

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