Friday, July 8, 2016

Shoulder Recovery Milestones

While I've been keeping up with Mailbox Monday and Wildlife Wednesday, the blog has fallen down the priority list. The last couple months have been all about shoulder recovery, as will the next couple months. I'm now 14 weeks since surgery and making progress, which is slow going when you are dealing with shoulders. I have an incredible support group of friends and healers that have kept my spirits up and my calendar booked.

Since I can't catch up the last 7 weeks in one blog, here are a few memorable recovery milestones.

The one I'd been waiting for and actually accomplished weeks ahead of schedule was my 1st bike ride! I was off the saddle for 4 months, but on June 10th I tentatively climbed on the mountain bike and did a slow ride on the pavement. After 2 weeks, I graduated to my road bike and have been increasing my time and climbs. Next weekend, I'm doing my first organized ride and attempting a metric century.

On June 15th, I was officially released to do any activity within reason and without falling. This means I'll be very careful once I try trail running and will likely put off real mountain biking until next season. The most important take-away was to not be afraid of damaging the surgical repair going forward and start trying to do more with my left arm.

I'm quickly becoming a Pilates convert. I'd heard plenty of great things but never made the time or financial investment. Now 8 weeks since my 1st session, I can't imagine stopping. Our teacher is amazing and has developed specialized classes to strengthen our shoulders and everything else. Terry is also going and seeing vast improvements for his back and balance. A week ago, I did my 1st plank and survived! This was a major physical and mental milestone as I had done planks the dreadful night in February when I had the final dislocation.

When it comes to Physical Therapy, I'm still going several times a week. After an hour of therapy, I do my exercises in the gym until I have to get back to work. My range of motion is improving and maybe 75% for most everything. In a few more months, I'll get my external rotation to open up which will allow me to start swimming. In addition to going in, I do 30 minutes of exercises at home every morning and evening.

Last but not least, my bodywork sessions are getting more and more tolerable. We push as far as my nervous system can handle and then back off. It's all about breaking up scar tissue and improving range of motion. After 90 minutes, I need ice and just want to curl up in a ball, but it's helping. My non-shoulder related muscles are also in need of some love with all the hiking, biking, pilates, and compensation.

On the mental side of recovery, we've had several weekends of friends and family to keep things happy and hopping. June included lots of hikes and laughs with 2 weekends of visitors followed by a weekend in Montana! I've also had more work weeks at home than on the road which allows me to stay on top of all the above and focus on recovery.

Our 1st ride since our surgeries - high five for our left shoulders!
Getting more comfortable before moving onto our road bikes
Bouldering on a rainy day - so proud of my nephews
Next visit I'll be able to join them
So Happy to be Riding!
Montana Continental Divide Hike

Monday, May 23, 2016

Range of Motion Vacation

After enjoying last Friday's vacation day, I decided that even though I was staying in town, I'd still take my planned Tour of California vacation days. It seemed a waste, especially with crummy weather in the forecast, yet it was the best decision I could have made for my body and mind. I'm heading back to work this week feeling mentally refreshed and physically ahead of schedule.

The focus this week was on range of motion. It was the 1st full week without the sling so everyday tasks plus rehab have brought significant improvement. Granted, I'm still very limited but compared to the last 6 weeks, I feel like my wing may fly again. For example, this coming week, I'm going to try washing my hair and closing the car door with my left arm.

I worked a couple days, but otherwise dedicated my time to physical therapy, pilates, and hiking. I alternated days of PT and pilates, then each day added an hour or more of hiking. I had a rough patch on Friday where the extreme ache in my arm caused me to question my vacation schedule, but everyone said that's part of the rehab and to keep going because my range of motion was definitely improving.

With Terry sticking to our vacation plans in California, I was home alone for my stay-cation, but not lonely. My friend and I did all the pilates and gym sessions together and most of the hikes, plus a few lunches. PT is more friends and laughs, when they aren't inflicting pain. I was able to attend a girls lunch that I've missed in the past due to work travel and catch up with friends I haven't seen in a long time. There was even a neighborhood party to keep me busy. Otherwise, I caught up on podcasts and finished a couple books.

Terry enjoyed days of riding and sunshine and most importantly took a break from work. He felt bad about going without me, but I pushed him to do it as I hope he'd do the same with me. We are looking forward to this week (and maybe next) of no travel and getting the house ready for summer and several weekends of guests.

While I made gains on rehab and range of motion, the Tour of California women's race made gains for women's cycling particularly in the US! The coverage wasn't live, but there were several people giving online updates and a daily recap video. Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) took the win on Stage 1 and kept the yellow jersey thru Stage 4. She won the overall, the sprint jersey, and was 2nd in the mountain category. She also earned enough points to go on top of the UCI Women's World Tour standings by over 100pts. She is now officially the best in the world! The Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling Team did great for their 1st UCI race and Nina Laughlin was best placed in 26th. We are so proud of all the women! For replay videos, results, etc - check out the Tour Tracker and the team links above.

Wednesday afternoon hike after physical therapy
Thursday morning hike before a fun girls lunch
Not bad for a quick neighborhood hike
Friday morning hike before physical therapy and the weekend storms
Always inspiring to see our Olympic Venues and think about the athletes & their dreams!
Saturday morning downpour not stopping these four
Sunday morning hike before the hail storm - I turned around too late
From sun to hail to snow in a matter of minutes

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rehab Just Got Real

After three months and three light physical therapy appointments, I'm finally starting official shoulder rehab. Today marked Week 7 from surgery and was the 1st time where I could start using my muscles to help gain movement. I'll be going to sessions 3 times per week for the next month and the home exercises will start ramping up, it's going to be very time consuming but so worth it. My goal is to go on a bike ride by August 1st, and then do at least one Gran Fondo or long ride in October.

I'm happy for the positive milestone, yet sad as I had to choose rehab over the Tour of California. We've had this week on the calendar since our ToC vacation last year. The women will be racing the final four stages and our plan was to at least follow those four stages, if not more. Terry is going to catch at least one stage and cowbell for me, while I cheer on the teams from home. It's a major bummer, but I need to get back on the bike and can't afford a setback. The men started racing yesterday and the women start on Thursday. Both race their final stage on Sunday in Sacramento. I highly suggest you make the trip and watch in person, but if not, please follow on Tour Tracker and show your support. Our Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling Team got an invite and I can't wait to see how the ladies perform against the best teams in the world.

This past week, we both were back on the Pacific Coast for work. I spent three long days in Seattle at a conference and Terry returned to San Diego. The weather was gorgeous in the Emerald City, but I only had time to do hot laps around the hotel a couple times during the day and then walk to dinner at night.

Tuesday morning from plane before 3 days in the airport hotel
Small lake near the hotel - good reflection point between meetings and dinners

I took a vacation day Friday for a "me" day. Physical therapy, followed by a long walk and lunch, then my 1st massage since late February. On Saturday, I continued the pampering with my friend who is also going thru shoulder rehab. We did a special pilates rehab session, hiked, and then enjoyed a late lunch. Sunday morning, we met up with friends with plans to hike/ride and brunch. The perfect summer weather from Friday and Saturday had been forced out by more winter weather, so after 30 minutes of miserable, we called it quits and enjoyed a nice meal and conversation. I spent the rest of the weekend icing and recovering from the week's activity in preparation for this week's rehab ramp.

Friday Vacation Day
Friday Fly Fishing - guess I'm not the only one taking a day off work