Posts Tagged ‘arthroscopic shoulder surgery

07
Jul
12

Taking it slow …

Taking it slow …

I am at Gleason’s Gym.

The sounds and sights the same.

The ring clock.

The bop-bop, bop-bop-bop of the heavy bag and trainer’s mitts.

The words of encouragement and plaintiff yells shouted into the ring.

I miss this world a lot. The sweat and feeling the power of my body torquing towards a finite point beyond as I smash into something. In the ring with Len, pushing off when we’re in close, the brava feeling of popping him right down Broadway on the nose. I like the close combat; hate the feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do when I’m swarmed and getting banged on and am aching for the bell so that I can collect myself again.

Ring clocks and rest periods and those three-minute intervals for pushing at the limits of endurance: I love the discipline of it. The finiteness. The I-can-do-this challenge of throwing punches fast and furious with no let up even as my muscles begin to ache and start in on begging as if to say—if you let me stop I promise you relief and easy breathes and lots of time to sit around doing nothing eating chocolate. But it’s not how it goes. I keep at it, digging in deep, screaming out “are you kidding me?” as the punches continue to flurry, to hit hard, my hips turning with each straight right and uppercut, yelling out “sorry” when the throw isn’t true, when I’m more pitty-pat than fiercesome warrioress mindless of my 58 years on the planet or achy breathlessness.

Ding. Time to breathe. To gulp down a sip of water. To let Len dab at my brow with my towel, to take the sweat out of my eyes, to hear him say, “that’s good girl, very good,” the only accolades I really live for. The acknowledgement of my work, my effort, my push through the rebellion that is my body urging me to ease up on a nice comfy couch with nothing but endless British police procedurals to watch for hours at a time.

One armed and restless, my right shoulder in a bit of an ache as I listen to the sound of the heavy bags straining against the weight of so many boxers pounding them, I can think of nothing greater than getting the all clear from my surgeon to return.

Six months from now, a year from now, I’ll wander in with a smile that cuts through me to take my place again at the mirror. My body out of boxing shape, needing to take it slow and easy, I’ll find my way—starting at the beginning with my stance, my jab and the first few tentative throws of my right arm. It’ll be back to basics then. An old dog relearning tricks I used to take for granted; protective for sure of my shoulder and of harming it again, I figure it’ll give me the chance to box that much better, to seek out a sort of perfection in the mechanics the way pitchers find theirs after injury. And that is what it is about anyway. Second chances. Ways of making things better after you’ve been down for a while. Leastways that’s how I see it. I have a rebuilt shoulder so that I can rebuild my boxing—smarter, tauter, tougher and ultimately easier.

That is what life is about. Working through the hard stuff to find a simpler way around as one peels back through the layers of interference. In my case a lot of junk and lots of tears mucking up the movement of my shoulder, but clearly more about the business of life where we all tend to lose site of things till we’re cloudy and full of obstructions that make movement nearly impossible.

Thanks to my very great surgeon, I’ll have full use of my shoulder again, an assist I appreciate and will take full advantage of once I’m healed enough to move forward. As with most things, we need a helping hand from those around us. What I appreciate so much is that I’ve had more than my share leaving me blessed in ways I truly cannot yet fathom, but feel so humbly grateful for.

19
Jun
12

The greatest things … Queen Underwood, Olympian!

The greatest things … Queen Underwood, Olympian!

Sometimes things just work out.

For USA Boxing‘s Olympic Lightweight Trials Champion Queen Underwood, talent, determination and sheer courage have won the day in the Olympic Tripartite Commission’s decision to give her the last lightweight boxing berth available to the American continent in this year’s historical debut of women’s boxing at the 2012 summer Olympic Games in London.

Queen will join her teammates and fellow Olympians, Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields in representing the United States this year.

Also getting the nod were Canada’s fabulous boxing talent Mary Spencer in the middleweight division and Brazil’s great flyweight champion, Erica Matos.

All three women were tremendously worthy of the honor not the least of which for their incredible skills as boxers.

In Queen Underwood’s case there is also something extra.

Her personal story is one of triumph over odds none of us should ever have to face or even consider. She is a survivor and a role model for punching through and finding a way to grapple with the demons that can haunt a person late into the night or otherwise push them into a spiral of self-abnegation and decline. Queen chose another way–and in that choice we are all the beneficiaries of an enormous talent not only in the ring, but in life itself.

(See this superlative article in the NY Times for more on Queen’s personal saga.)

In the game of life as in the ring we often roll with whatever the shots are. Sometimes they are to the gut and sometimes not, what’s great to know is that life has the capacity to surprise and to reward greatness when it counts.

————————

Note to readers:

I will be a one-armed bandit for a while as I am about to undergo the “knife” so to speak for arthroscopic shoulder surgery on June 20th.

It’ll mean I’ll be out of the box for a while, but I will attempt to post, albeit, one-armed. That will likely be next week, but sooner if I can manage.

While I can’t say I’m jumping for joy about all of this, I do look forward to walking into Gleason’s Gym to spend many a happy hour at work on the double-ended bag.

My surgeon is Dr. Andrew Feldman who has otherwise had a lot of “practice” on New York Ranger’s hockey players (he’s their team physician) so I’ve got to figure he’ll be ready for the “show” when he works his surgical magic on my labrum and tendons tomorrow.

I’ll see you from the other side.

 

01
Jun
12

Moaning and groaning … oh yeah, about that shoulder!

Moaning and groaning … oh yeah, about that shoulder!

Shoulder Anatomy (Credit: Massageitsgoodforyou.wordpress)

Oy … so here’s the story.  Back in December my shoulder started hurting after boxing.  I didn’t think too much of it and let it slide for a while.

By February I noted serious “ows” when I swam–so I stopped doing that, but kept boxing, avoiding things like the right cross.  By March it was still hurting and making “popping” noises so I saw an orthopedist and after getting an MRI got the diagnosis:  A torn labram.  Specifically, I was diagnosed with a SLAP Tear (Superior Labrum from anterior to posterior), a tear where the biceps muscle tendon connects with the labram in the shoulder joint.

Labram Tear (Credit: Healthandfitness101.com)

Here’s a good explanation from About.com: An injury to a part of the shoulder joint called the labrum. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, similar to the hip; however, the socket of the shoulder joint is extremely shallow, and thus inherently unstable. To compensate for the shallow socket, the shoulder joint has a cuff of cartilage called a labrum that forms a cup for the end of the arm bone (humerus) to move within. A specific type of labral tear is called a SLAP tear; this stands for Superior Labrum from Anterior toPosterior. The SLAP tear occurs at the point where the tendon of the biceps muscle inserts on the labrum.

The MRI also showed tendonitis of the supraspinatus tendon (the tendon at the top of shoulder) and bits of inflammation in a couple of other places).

Next up was a course of physical therapy — and no more boxing for the duration.

I worked with a terrific therapist name Eddie who patiently took me through a myriad of stretches and strengthening exercises.

Twice a week I  lay on one of the tables while I had a heat pack applied to my shoulder that felt GREAT–for a few minutes. Next up was a massage and gentle manipulation to try to improve my range of motion–and get me out of pain.

After the heat and massage came the hard part: lots of exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and improve range of motion which I had already begun to lose. The biggest problem was my shoulder was feeling even more unstable–meaning lots of popping when I moved it plus it hurt even more after PT was done.  In other words, not a great sign.

So … back to the orthopedist I went only to learn that I was also developing a frozen shoulder, meaning my shoulder was stiff and losing range of motion big-time.

I’d already known that I hurt when I tried to move my arm up and to the side or across my body–but the shocker was realizing that I couldn’t scratch my back anymore on my right side. I had also started to wake up in the middle of the night in pain, and trying to put on a sweater was becoming a challenge (not to mention hooking a bra!).

In other words my favorite shoulder Yoga pose was a pipe dream and I could no more do the pose than launch into space.

Options??  Well pretty much only one if I want to gain back the use of my right shoulder — arthroscopic surgery to repair the labram tear, clean up the “junk” around it  and to “unfreeze” those parts of the shoulder capsule that are impeding range-of-motion.

Arthroscopic means that the surgery will be performed through 3-4 small incisions around the shoulder using a camera and specialized surgical instruments.  Depending upon the severity of the repair, tiny ceramic screws may also be inserted to help stabilize the shoulder joint.

Surgery typically runs from one to two hours and may also entail repairs to the biceps tendon depending upon the amount of damage.

Recovery is another challenge. Immediately post-op, patients wear an ice-pack on their affected arm for 72-96 hours and pretty much keep the arm immobilized in a sling for upwards of four weeks.  PT starts pretty early though and patients usually start a course of exercise from about the second day or so.

The prospect of surgery is miserable to say the least — but given that I can’t even run because the motion hurts my arm gives some indication of its necessity.  As my surgeon said, if I want to be active at all, I kinda’ have no choice and given that I DESPERATELY want to box again, onward I march into a summer in recovery mode.

My surgery is scheduled for June 20th at NYU/Hospital for Joint Diseases.  I’ll let you know how it goes from the other side.

For further information on Labral tears here are a few good resources.

Johns Hopkins Orthopedic Surgery

NYU – Shoulder Labral Tear

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

03
Apr
12

Loving boxing and my right shoulder …

Loving boxing and my right shoulder …

Christina Cruz (l.) beats Florina Novac to take record sixth Golden Gloves title. Credit: Ken Goldenfield/NY Daily News

Aside from my absolute joy at the fact that Christina Cruz won her sixth (count ’em) New York Golden Gloves Championship (not to mention that she is the 2012 USA Boxing National Champion at 118 pounds!) boxing has definitely had the better of me lately.

And while I go to bed thinking about my left dig and wake up thinking of how to work in the left hook off the jab,  my body isn’t cooperating in fact it’s in downright rebellion what with a labral tear in my right shoulder socket (that’s along the top, a classic repetitive stress injury from banging) and supraspinatus tendinitis (yep, plus a rotator cuff injury)!

Ssssh…. Talk about the proverbial “bummer.”

To go back a step or two, I’ve had intermittent pain in my shoulder area since about Christmas, mostly when I’d throw a right cross and sometimes on the speed bag.  It wasn’t awful, but if I moved my right arm back, I yelped a definite “ow.”  I was easy on it and figuring to lighten the exercise load tried swimming. It turned out that didn’t work out well either as I could only swim using a Side Stroke because the overhand movements of the American Crawl stroke — and the lateral movements of the Breast Stroke caused even more ows than boxing.

The ouches seemed to subside and I thought, must be a trigger point or something because the discomfort was mostly felt in the back of my arm.  Still, it didn’t go away, and I began thinking it might be a rotator cuff injury which can be more serious.

Rotator cuff injuries up to and including actual tears involve the tendons and muscles outside the shoulder joint where the tendons attach the muscles to the humerus (arm) bone.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “A rotator cuff injury includes any type of irritation or damage to your rotator cuff muscles or tendons. Causes of a rotator cuff injury may include falling, lifting and repetitive arm activities — especially those done overhead, such as throwing a baseball or placing items on overhead shelves.”

In the case of boxing, the constant repetitive motion of throwing punches, not to mention, banging away, hard, on heavy bags, pads, not to mention sparring can certainly cause injuries.

With that in mind I headed over to an orthopedist at NYU/Hospital for Joint Diseases and within about five minutes, some “popping sounds” and several pushes on my right and left arms he was convinced I was suffering a rotator cuff problem and ordered up an MRI to be followed by physical therapy.

It was only after receiving the results from the MRI that it became clear that I had both a labral tear along the top of the labram — also called a SLAP tear (Superior Labrum Anterior-Posterior — aka top of the labram running from front to back), as well as tendinites of the supraspinatus tendon at the top of the shoulder.  In other words, “ouch.”

After talking it over with my doctor, we both agreed that a conservative approach was preferable, so the next will be physical therapy (tomorrow) with a focus on treatment, pain relief and muscle strengthening to give better support to the shoulder area.

Unfortunately, when it comes to SLAP tears, the alternatives after physical therapy can be rather bleak — as in arthroscopic surgery, though my doctor feels strongly that the physical therapy should do the trick, and with your indulgence I’ll likely write another piece about the physical therapy process once it gets going.

The real cautionary tale here is that if you shoulder is starting to “catch” when you pull your arm back, or if you find it aching to the point of an “ow”  after a work out, do get it checked out.  There are, it seems, a lot of things that can go wrong with the shoulder — and a good course of physical strengthening of the muscles in the area, as well as good warm-ups may mean the difference, especially if you are shall we say … older!

For some more information on rotator cuff injuries and SLAP injuries here are some links!

Medline Plus – Shoulder Injuries and Disorders (site has a lot of links for possible disorders)

WEBMD Shoulder Slap Tear (good general discussion)

Lenox Hill Hospital – Rotator Cuff Exercises (tips on strengthening)

Lenox Hill Hospital – Shoulder Pain (general disorders with links)




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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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