Quote Originally Posted by is304 View Post
I originally planned to have a different theme for my first public log. A few weeks from today I was going to start a six-week mass-building program and share my experience in it. Alas, "man plans, God laughs" - a few weeks ago I started having serious pains in my shoulders, and MRI results came as a shock - two severe tears on one side, one smaller, but still serious, on another. My first operation is Friday morning - fixing my torn labrum and rotator cuff (supraspinatus tendon).

Awaiting an operation is a scary experience. I don't know what to expect, except that it's going to hurt a lot once the anestesia wears off. I don't know how long I'll have to stay inactive and how long it will take me to recover fully. My doctor assures me that next year this time I'll be in perfect shape if everything goes right - but I don't know whether everything will go right either. At the same time I'm anxious to get it over with and start recovering.

I found a number of medical sites that talk about my injury and have some statistics - most of them very encouraging. I found very little of personal stories, so I decided to close that gap to the extent of my modest ability.

I want to say that I had an amazing winter. I made greater gains than ever before, I had huge plans, and this setback is not the end of it - it's a detour, not a dead end. I can't promise not failing, but I pledge to fight to the end. Whatever gains I'll have to give up I intend to reconquer by the same time this year - and tell my story as I'm doing it.

If I'm up to it, I'll add a few lines on Friday after surgery, otherwise I'll post over the weekend. And while I'm out, keep me in mind - do one more rep for me!

Addendum 02-18-2015. I try not to edit my post in order to keep them authentic. However, I decided to make an exception for this first post. For those who just start reading it, I'll post a bit of "lessons learned" here. I'll also make some notes on other posts, so that others wouldn't repeat my mistakes. Since big things are best seen in the distance, there will be a few months' delay between me completung a stage of my recovery and posting "lessons learned" about it. I'll start with the surgery - 7 months is long enough.

Here's my advice:
Pre-surgery, once you're disagnosed and decided to go ahead with the operation:
1. While some exercises may be off-limits for you, keep working out. The speed and quality of your recovery depends on your pre-operation shape. My metabolism before the first surgery was at its peak, but it slowed down, naturally, before the second surgery. The result - slower recovery.
2. Make sure you have a good surgeon. After my second surgery my therapist commented that people usually have swelling for a week or two, while mine was gone in three days.
3. Physical therapy is instrumental. Surgery only starts the process, therapy is where the real work comes in. If you are not ready for therapy, you'd be better off without surgery. And yes, some of it will be painful. Very painful.
4. Even more important than getting a good surgeon, make sure you have good physical therapist. Your surgeon will see you once after an operation, and then every 6-8 weeks. Your therapist will see you 2-3 times a week. If you can, get a specialist in sports therapy. My first therapist works mostly with office workers, most of them older people in mediocre shape. My last therapist specializes in sports medicine, and most of his clients (even office workers) are gym regulars. Both of them are excellent professionals, but the difference between the two is obvious.
5. Don't set your recovery expectations based on what you see on the Internet - the recovery is very individual and the expectations confuse you at best. Also, don't look on the Internet for any therapy guidelines - it is very infdividual. I never did some of those YouTube exercises (in fact, we tried a few of them with my therapist and he told me NOT to do them), and some of the exercises that I was given are not found on the web, at least not as part of shoulder therapy.
6. Prepare for a long haul. You may be away from the gym for several months. You'll experience lots of pain for a couple of weeks. Your movements will be constrained. When you come back, you'll be a lot weaker, and many of your favorite exercises will be off limits. It's been 7 months since my last surgery, and it will be probably another 2-3 months or more before I do anything with barbell, could be another 6-9 months before I can attempt bench press, and I have no idea when I can start overhead persses. Remember - you will be back where you were and better, but it will take time.
7. Have a plan. Have a goal. Make sure you have to do something once your therapy is over, something that won't leave you hanging once your therapist says that you're done, while you're still too weak and stiff to get to you pre-surgery workouts.
8. Shave your armpits. Seriously, unless your religion forbids it, shave under arms the day before the surgery, even if you've never done it, especuially if the weather is warm. There will be 4-6 weeks during which you won't be able to lift your arm. If you use spray-on deodorant, consider using gel for that time. Your family, friends, and coworkers will appreciate that.
thanks for sharing