A few days ago, in a physical therapy office not far away. The day is November 14th, 2016 and I graduated from physical therapy and got thrust back into the war of iron all on my own. Now what did I do to get to this point and what did my post surgery journey look like? It has been a long and slow process so far and I still have a long way to go before I am anywhere close to my old strength. I will now take you back and clue you in on what it took to even get to this point.
We pick up our story again now on September 14th, 2016, it has been 2 days since my surgery and I am in a lot more pain than I expected. I cannot move my arm at all without some sort of pain. I am currently knocking down a pain pill every 6 hours on the dot. Today is the day I am scheduled to fly back to New York for a wedding, by the time I got to the airport that night I was really out of it due to the pain pills I previously mentioned. The first obstacle I go through is security. Since I can’t lift my left arm overhead I skip the TSA scanner and go through a metal detector and meet with a TSA agent so he can swab my sling and bandages to check for trace residue of all types of things. I pass of course.
Now it is time for the flight, I pop another pill. I scheduled them so I could take one right before my flight. For the entire flight I am groggy and still in pain but I mange to relax and sleep a little after my layover in Las Vegas and finally make it to New York. The next few days I pretty much just laid around my girlfriend’s house and hung out. The wedding itself was a lot of fun but I couldn’t dance or do much of anything at the reception. When it was time to fly home again I went through the same process as before with discomfort and pain pills.
When we got back it was time for me to start physical therapy. I didn’t know what to expect due to the fact that I have never needed physical therapy for anything. When I got to the office on the first day I went through my initial evaluation, by this point I had been in my sling for about 4 weeks and my arm was weak, stiff and useless. The physical therapist came in and tested my ROM, Strength and noted my pain levels. It was discouraging to say the least. After working so hard to build some strength and size I felt like I was back at square one. That first visit had me worried about how long this recovery process would take.
My doctor prescribed 18 physical therapy sessions and I was scheduled at the office for 3 visits per week. The next 6 weeks were arduous. I would start the day with the arm bike to get loose and warm myself up, then it was onto a doorway pec stretch, cross body stretch, and pec release with a lacrosse ball on the wall. After the warmup I went through a whole ton of different exercises from band rows to counter pushups and would always end the day with my physical therapist stretching me and working on manual release followed by ice and stim(electric stimulation).
By far the hardest and most painful thing would be the manual release and stretching. My physical therapist would push me each visit and I would take the pain with deep breaths and gritted teeth, ultimately knowing that it would help me recover my ROM. After about 6 weeks of this I had progressed to the point that they no longer had me doing band rows because I had become to strong for them,I had progressed all the way to floor pushups(my doctor told me it usually takes 3 months to return to pushups from the floor, I took less than 2) and had regained enough ROM by my last appointment that my physical therapist said I no longer needed any more sessions. He gave me some things I could do on my own since I would not be getting manual therapy anymore and said my strength was of no worry. He told me to focus on my stretches and slowly progress my exercises in the gym.
Reading through this it may not seem like much, but what I thought would be forever has come along quicker than I expected. I believe I am healing faster due to the fact that I had lifted and exercised religiously prior to my surgery and the fact that I have not slacked on any of my recovery stretches or exercises. I want nothing more than to go above and beyond what I was doing prior to surgery. It gives me a goal to chase and seeing my progress has motivated me immensely. I will keep the Iron Wars series going and use it as more of a training log and update series that follows my recovery to full strength.