Thursday, February 25, 2016


Slowly, slowly, slowly things are coming together. I have an appointment with the nuerologist on March 17, at which point he’ll hopefully be able to determine if I need surgery for the nerves. It seems like a long wait but the timing actually isn’t that bad as he’s on the board that meets monthly to decide the surgery schedule for Calgary Nuerology patients, and that meeting comes right after my appointment. My hand strength this week went up to 47%, so after 4 weeks I’ve gone from 0 to almost ½ recovery. I guess that’s right in line with what the Canmore Emerg doc said, 2-3 months for nerves to heal. That is if it’s only the mylin outer sheath that is damaged. It kinda seems like that is the case as the healing process is coming, albeit slowly.

During my walk today I tried jogging a few steps and it was the wierdest feeling as that arm really doesn’t move properly. I think it’s the combi of nerve damage (my shoulder is quite numb still) and rotator cuff tearing damage. It took a great effort just to swing that arm in a normal running motion. Man, the things you take for granted.

So in a week I get to have an ultrasound that will hopefully determine the extent of rotator cuff damage. I then meet w/ Dr Reed to evaluate the need for surgery, at which point I”ll meet with Banff ortho surgeon. But I guess ortho surgery takes a back seat to nerve stuff. I’m hoping and praying progress continues on that front.

I’m not even thinking of running or skiing much. Certainly not the latter. Conditions are lousy this year anyway. My quest is recovery. Although I have enjoyed challenging myself on my spin bike intensity days. I record every possible value I can (heart rate, distance, max hr, apprx watts). I can be feeling a little low sometime as I enter the training centre weight room viewing people skiing on the adjacent trails, but a good hard effort can really up the spirits. Funny how sometimes the things you feel least like doing are the very things you need to do.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Steve0's Last Run update #2

Well, I might have been a little too optimistic about my comeback timing. I was reading today rehab protocols for shoulder surgery. It starts off with 6 weeks in a sling, followed by a couple months of slowly working back into activity. So if surgery comes (optimistically) in April, that puts me well into summer before I can start running. Given that it’s currently Feb (my birthday today) I’ve got a long way before I can do any substantial training. My goal of course is to get back to full strength. I don’t want to have a half healed shoulder that can pop out at any time. I’d hold back the rest of my life and there are just too many things I still want to do ski wise and otherwise to slow down now. So if it means losing a year, so be it. I’ll gain several more in terms of quality years later.

The one issue I’m concerned about, after making sure I get back full use of my hand and shoulder, is the VO2 max loss that I’ll sustain. Currently I’m spinning the bike and doing intervals 2-3 times per week. At this point the training goal is to minimize losses. During my rehab my plan will be to do a lot of walking combined with 2-3 higher intensity spin bikes per week and core and light strength. That’s basically the plan I’m on now. Besides maintaining fitness, I believe that activity increases blood flow and helps speed recovery. Another added benefit is the release of endorphins while training that could help mask some of the overall pain of surgery.

I’m still waiting for my nuerologist appointment. It’s been a month since the accident, so I”M READY!! Hopefully they’ll soon give me the ok to schedule the surgery, but this won’t happen until we know the nerves are generally healed and my hand and arm function are mostly back. I have an ultrasound appointment in 1.5 weeks to confirm the size of the tears. Then it’s just a waiting game from there.

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The saga of Steve’s last run and shoulder continues...

I’ve decided to blog my comeback, a diary of sorts. It may be boring to many, but if you want the gory details, etc. They’ll be here.

It’s been 3 weeks now since my crash at the Fernie skimo race and in that time not a whole lot has happened. I still haven’t seen a nuerologist for my numb hand. There has been some slow progress on that front though. It was a small improvement one week out when I could actually squeeze toothpaste out of a tube. Then after 2 weeks I was able to muster up enough strength in that hand to pull up a zipper. Lately, typing hasn’t been too difficult and some feeling in my fingers has returned, although they’re still quite numb.

On Friday, a good family friend saw the prayer request at church and contacted  Deb & I  immediately. It turns out her dr specialty is nuerology and I think she kind of acts as a coordinator to Calgary nuerology services. In any case she took me on and got to work setting up an EMG conductivity test, gave me a couple perscriptions for pain and set up a doc that specializes in brachial plexus injuries.

I hope it comes soon, as I saw my sport doc today...the news is interesting. It seems I have not 1, but 2 significant tears in my rotator cuff (in addition to the 3rd small tear I already had). If I were to fall there wouldn’t be a whole lot holding that shoulder socket in. Not good news as I’m already nervous about the nerve damage I’ve sustained. Another dislocation and stretching of those nerves this time could easily permanently damage my nerves and ability to use my hand/arm.

So for now, I’m waiting on the nerve doc and another ultrasound to confirm the cuff tears. The good news is that my sport doc, Andy, b/c he works with national teams, is able to fast track a lot of surgical procedures, plus either of the 2 surgeons are friends and know me and my lifestyle and being a Bow Valley local, they usually rush us right in. So if my nerves cooperate I could conceivably have a shoulder surgery April/May? With a 6 week recovery, perhaps I could be running by June?

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I ordered some running shoes today.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Steveo's Last Run

I'd finally begun to get into the ski season with a race in Whitefish MT, then Fernie. However, the season wasn't meant to be. Descending the first downhill in Fernie I took a high speed tumble with outstretched arm and immediately knew something major had taken place in my left arm. My first impression was that I'd broken my humorus. I held it and called out a weak "! I need help". First to come was a snowboarder named Ashton. I'll never forget this wonderful guy. He unselfishly positioned himself on the steep hill and held my incredibly awkward arm in place for the longest time. Eventually as the patrol arrived they relieved him of his duties, but not before they cut off my suit. Someone exclaimed, "you might not want to look." Well I did and was amazed that an arm could even be contortioned into that position. Turns out it was waaay dislocated.

It was 2.5 hours before they finally got the shoulder back into the socket. First came the laughing gas, then the sled ride down, followed by the ambulance ride to the hospital. Just having that incredibly uncomfortable position and pain (despite the gas, fentynal and a couple other pharmacuticals, it turned out to be the longest 2.5 hours or my life. By the time the shoulder was re-located significant nerve damage had been done. It's been 1.5 weeks and I still can't feel my fingers. I also have no strength in that arm, wrist, shoulder.

It's getting a little better though. Though I'm relieved, it has some downsides. That whole shoulder region is so numb that the pain of the accident has been minimal, but today I started feeling the affects of a torn rotator cuff and various other stretched and bruised ligaments.

I'm not even thinking of skiing again this year. First the nerve issue has to get resolved, then we can asses the damage and consider surgery for the rotator and possibly tighten up the shoulder. I hope we can do this as I really don't want to be one of those guys that continually pops his shoulder in and out. Plus I tend to do a fair bit of training alone and in the backcountry. I can just see me having to bang it against a tree to get it into place if I fall, not to mention the pervasive fear of this happening. I know recovery will be longer, but I'd like to get it fixed. I've already got a small rotator cuff tear on the other side, so now I have a matching set. We've got 2 really good shoulder guys, Heard and Butchko. I'm so grateful to have such great Dr resources. Plus my sport doc and friend Andy Reid. All these guys service our top Olmpians, so I know I'm getting the best care.

Looking at Facebook is one of the most disheartening things as you see what all your friends are accomplishing on their skis, so I don't hardly look at it. But everyone needs a focus to keep going. My goals have changed into things like:  # of icings, stationary bike workouts most ever day (2x z4 each week to keep my fitness), strength for legs and core, 2x physio/wk, etc. All this is with the hope of being able to play my guitar in the worship band in church on Easter Sunday. Given the lack of strength in my hand and the numbness, this might not be possible and it's not really a goal, just a hope. I can only control the things that might lead to that. I also believe that prayer is powerful tool too, so there have been a lot of prayers from me and for me. But I also pray for the ability to patiently get through each day where I'm at and pass each little test. Though the goals have certainly changed for the year the challenge has not!