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.
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