8: Coming Back

This Monday was the 6-week mark in my recovery, and my surgeon cleared me to load my biceps. I asked him how much weight I could put on my arm, and was surprised when he told me – ‘as much as you want’.

Meghan will be quick to tell you that this is a dangerous thing to say to me. I did a lot of biceps curls that day, and in my excitement I think I did too much. The long head of my biceps spent the next couple of days in an unhappy cramp, trying to recover, but I don’t think I did any permanent damage.

It’s nice to have a new set of exercises I can do. The surgeon even let me do pullups!

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Not a beautiful first pullup, but I’m pretty happy.

Another milestone: this is the first week that my post-op left shoulder has a larger pain-free range of motion than my pre-op right shoulder. It seems like a small thing, but it reinforces my decision to have surgery.

It’s not all wonderful though. I’m still not allowed to put any weight on my arm while it’s extended out to my side, but I can finally stretch into those positions. My physio showed me the motions that I hadn’t been doing, and just how stiff these got over the last 6 weeks. For example, it’s extremely hard to reach behind my back (at least without shrugging the top of my shoulder way forward).  It’s nice to have something to work on.

It’s pretty hard to train my runty biceps because the short head takes over and the long head barely fires. I’m a bit surprised that my biceps after the tenodesis looks a little deformed, and unsurprised that it’s even smaller than it was before the surgery:

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The lump on the outer side of my biceps is the long head. It feels pretty soft, even when I’m flexing. I think it will take time for it to remember how to contract. Interestingly, I can do pretty heavy ‘biceps’ curls, but I don’t think that movement isolates the weak part of the muscle. Instead I’m focusing on the twisting motion that’s the main function of the biceps, using one of these things:

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Other problems, for full disclosure: I have a lot of clicking when I make various motions, none of which are painful. I hear this is normal, but I don’t really understand why there’s so much of it. Some muscles in my shoulder are chronically tight, which might explain the clicking.  All in all, though, things are recovering pretty well.

My surgeon also cleared me for a ski tour in Wyoming in a couple of weeks, which will be my last outdoor activity before my second surgery. I haven’t scheduled that surgery yet, but I’m aiming for the last few days of April, or early May.

For a parting shot, a mysterious lycra-clad euro bolt-clipper:

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Not quite Wolfgang. (photo Ryan Goldsbury)

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