OyChicago blog

Under the knife

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12/09/2010

I’ve been cut twice recently.  Both surgeries were to fix lingering hip and shoulder issues.  I’m talking 7-8 years of discomfort.  I’m not addicted to surgery like some reality television star, or Joan Rivers.  I really tried everything first:

• Rounds of physical therapy,
• Numerous chiropractors,
• Experimentation with acupuncture,
• Massage therapy (think pain not pleasure),

and the list goes on.

It felt like Groundhog Day.  The only upside, I have an unbelievable library of exercises for your hip and shoulder.  You might be wondering, how does a trainer in his 30s have a bad hip and shoulder?

Well the shoulder is easy to explain.  I was working at the JCC in Skokie and we were repainting the locker rooms.  We mailed two letters and had a sign up asking members to remove their lock.  Our requests went unnoticed by a shockingly high percentage of senior clientele.  Weird, right?  With all the locks stuck on the lockers, I helped remove them for about 45 minutes.  Of course I thought, what a great workout!

It took three doctors to figure out that was the repetitive motion that injured my shoulder.  At the time I was single, poor and scared of surgery.  So I signed up for physical therapy and worked the crap out of my legs.  I was leg pressing Mini Coopers (not really but my legs were getting strong).  And then I made the huge mistake (not really) of running.  After a few months of running more than usual—hip pain.  The diagnosis took years for one simple reason—no doctor requested an MRI with dye (MRI Arthrogram).  My takeaway: if you are feeling any pain in the hip or shoulder, push for an MRI with dye.  They inject your joint with a safe amount of fluid that makes it easier to see tears in tight spaces.

When I finally had the MRI it was clear that I had a tear and possibly other damage in my hip.  The cause was congenital, meaning my bones/joints developed that way (it was not from working out too much).  After meeting three surgeons, and consulting/annoying doctor and physical therapist friends, I went with a doctor at Rush.  His approach was in between the optimistic and the pessimistic doctors.  Despite his name sounding like a James Bond villain, Dr. Nho was my guy.

Since my shoulder had been bad longer than the hip, I went for the shoulder surgery first.  Reaching for the backseat, placing the remote next to my bed, and trying to put plates on the top shelf all where annoyingly painful.  The surgery went well.  Since the problem was going on forever I had already seen several doctors and knew Dr. Romeo at Rush would do my surgery whenever it happened.  When I saw his physical therapy protocol, I knew I picked the right guy:

• 8 weeks, throwing from a pitcher’s mound
• 12 weeks, light contact drills, progressing to full contact

No, I did not do either of those exercises but apparently I could have.  The physical therapy went well for the shoulder.  It’s still taking me time to get back complete range of motion and strength, but I’m happy to say I’m much better!  Thanks to my wife and my physical therapist Kristine, the road to recovery was smooth.  I was back at work after only a few days and started personal training people four days after the surgery.  The first few days post surgery are the worst.  I needed my wife to constantly fill this ice machine, help me shower (trust me not sexy) and I had to wear a massive sling with a squeeze ball attached to it.  Sleeping with a sling, brace…it all kind of sucks.

I had a two week hiatus from shoulder therapy ending and my hip therapy beginning.  The three biggest downsides to the hip surgery:

1. Crutches
2. Brace
3. Couch

You think it would be nice sitting on a couch all day, but it sucked.  I was so bored.  I had some visitors, but it was lonely.  It also made me realize once I’m healed, I need to get out of the gym and spend time with some friends.

Television was my only act of gluttony.  Three-hundred channels, and there’s still nothing to watch.  I’m happy to say I didn’t sit on the couch and wolf down buckets of chicken or anything like that.  When you don’t move much, you just don’t get that hungry.  I have no idea how those grossly overweight people stuck to a bed eat so much.  Then again my home nurse (wife) was feeding me healthy meals.  You really need a good wife to get through this.  A combination of pain, helplessness and boredom can make for one crabby patient.

I am now walking without crutches and counting the days for this brace to come off (eight to go!).  If you need a referral for surgeons or physical therapists, shoot me a note.

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