Aging Athlete | Rod Kleiss

In this last quadrant of our lives, we all have issues to deal with. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t. So as I began my physical rejuvenation and fitness work, some of my old issues started to take stage front and center so to speak. The first of these was the rotator-cuff pain in my right shoulder. The Mayo Clinic doctors had identified the root cause and although they thought at my age I didn’t need to have it fixed (aargh!) they agreed to do it. So I had the surgery done. The procedure was more intense than I expected.
When I awakened after the surgery, I really couldn’t stand up and my right arm was immobilized. I’ve only had one other surgery 30 years ago. The very first thing I discovered about orthopedic surgery at my age is that things take a long time to get better.
My arm stayed unmovable for two weeks and then unworkable for another month and finally as I started physical therapy, the progress of returning to normal just seemed to take forever. It was a full two years before I felt that my arm was fully functional. On the one hand, the surgery worked. In the end my shoulder issues went away. Today I have complete use of both shoulders, but getting to that point took two years.
There is the lesson learned. At this age nothing happens quickly. I will consider very carefully the expected road to recovery before I consider any more corrective actions. I’m glad I did it because now I can throw a ball, play tennis and racquetball and throw kids around with both arms. But in the process, I lost a complete year of physical training and I missed the 2017 Grantsburg Triathlon. The surgery also led to another problem. While my arm was in traction, the attached hand suddenly developed carpal-tunnel syndrome. No one could ever tell me why that happened, but it did and it hurt. Six months after my first surgery, I had to go back for carpal-tunnel surgery on my hand. Yes, that hurt a lot too, and it also took two years to get better. In fact, I am still working on full motion and strength in my right hand. So surgery can be very helpful, but it will be a test of will and endurance to outlast the recovery period.
When I was able to resume my training, we modified the workout to accommodate the recovery. It didn’t actually take that long to get back into a good training regimen. For that, I was grateful. Things started to get back to normal and then the fitness center was sold. The new owners started working on it. But they also cut back on workout classes. I still had Natalie as my trainer, but everything else I would have to start doing on my own. And then my fitness world imploded when they let Natalie go, and I had no trainer. Why do these kinds of things have to happen? I did have a number of workout routines that Natalie had written down for me, so I kept rotating my workouts with those for guidance. It worked but I sorely missed her attention to my form and progress. I also missed the aerobics of the group sessions. On top of that, the fitness center didn’t seem to be doing so well and it might well close down before long. I did sign up for another triathlon but, without a coach and with my poor preparation, I didn’t beat my first-year showing. I was 10 minutes slower. The question was now whether I could get back into the swing of things or just fail in my effort to regain fitness.

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