Monday, December 17, 2012

If it hurts, see the doc!

About a year and half ago, I took a fall while ice climbing in some crevasses in the Elliot Gracier on Mt. Hood. As I fell I tried to arrest with my right hand axe, which caught, seriously yanking my right shoulder. The pain was not too bad and after a few days it seemed all was well. Last spring I started getting some serious aches in that shoulder and had a couple of steroid injections which helped temporarily. With the summer running season in full swing I was more worried about recurring calf and hip pains. Meanwhile I could no longer hold a carry bottle in my right hand for more than a couple of miles. Finally, a week before the USATF Trail Marathon Championships, I went in for an MRI. When I returned and saw the doctor, the news was not good. A massive grade II rotator cuff tear. I had surgery on November 30th. Because of the extent of the damage, it was an open surgery rather than arthroscopic  After repairing three tendons, reattaching one to the bone and using what looked like a dremel tool (luckily I was asleep) to clear out scar tissue, they detached my bicep tendon and rerouted posterior to its normal position. Here I thought I was tough, but after coming out of surgery, I cried like a baby. Anyway, 8 weeks in a sling with NO RUNNING. I should be able to start running again on March 1st. Meanwhile I can start riding my rollers (with a great fork stand attachment from the folks at Kreitler) on the 24th.

Moral of this story, if it hurts for more than a coupe of days, see the doctor! Had I heeded my wife's advice to do so sooner, the surgery would have been much less invasive as there would have been little scar tissue. I have always hesitated to go to the doctor for sport related issues. I started running in the early 70s back in the day when it seemed like doctors told their running patients to stop running whenever there was an injury. I've torn my ACL, and more, over the years and got tired of hearing the doctor tell me to stop running. Fortunately sports medicine has come a long way and most of us have access to doctors and physical therapists who have much better understanding of endurance athletes.

I want to thank George Eichen, my PT at SportsCare for getting me on the road to recovery. If you live in the Portland area and need a good PT who understands runners, see George at SportsCare!

Now that I can type again, I'll be posting updates on the upcoming USSSA Snowshoe Nationals as well as the 2013 Oregon Mountain Running Season.

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