4 months. That’s how long it’s been since my ski season ended with a crash and severely dislocated shoulder. Although a few of my skimo friends are still sniffing out snow, most have transitioned into summer activities. For me that transition took place in late January.
The human body is amazing. Even though the axillary nerve running to my deltoid has seemingly been permanently damaged, the surrounding muscles have stepped in to compensate. It has come with some very intentional work though. I’ve been tugging at physio bands, stretching, going to physio and hitting the weight room religiously 2x a week... all with no breaks. When I first started to try to run, I couldn’t lift my arm away from my body which resulted in a very awkward running style. Now, that arm is mostly able to swing as if that deltoid muscle is actually working (which it isn’t).
Last Saturday I went for my longest run yet, a 4.5 hour jaunt, that turned into almost an ultra race pace workout. Though the shoulder was sore after this, the fact that I could even do it all amazed me.
In 3 weeks I meet with a neuro surgeon, neuro dr, physio, occupational therapist, and maybe others. We’ll make a plan. There’s a very complicated surgery they can do that would move a tricept nerve over to the deltoid. It’s a 10+ hour surgery followed by 4-6 weeks in a sling, followed by rehab, with some re-inervation at 3 months, some strength at 9months and full strength at 1 year.
One of my fears is that they’ll say that I’ve been so good at restoring function, that they’re unwilling to proceed with a radical, complicated procedure. Realistically I suppose I could go the rest of my life in the present situation, but I’d really like my deltoid back. I’m hoping my hard work won’t be rewarded in this manner (this happened to me 3 years ago with a sport hernia. But I’m more than glad as the surgeon has actually done more harm to others I’ve heard about due to the method of his repair. As long as I stick to my exercises and don’t slack off I’ve been ok w/o surgery).
Nerve repair or not, I’m not waiting for a year from now to re-enter sporting life. My hope is to fully have things repaired, but I’m not waiting. My run times are slowly returning to where they were a year ago, even without a full ski-mo race season. When you’re competing at my age, when you lose that high end VO2, it’s pretty much gone for good. I figure I’ve already lost 15-18% of what I had when I was around 30. I’m pretty sure the body again, compensates...whether through strength, technique efficiency or maybe even mental stuff.
I’m not ready to roll over yet.