Today is a true day of “role reversal” for me. Instead of being the physical therapist, I’ll be the patient rolling into the operating room for surgery to fix a chronic shoulder injury by Jacksonville Jaguars Head Team Physician Dr Kevin Kaplan at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute.
I have to admit, consulting others about a shoulder scope is much more fun than being the one starving yourself after midnight and wearing the paper-thin johnnie! I’ve had my share of surgeries. I find them all to be great opportunities for me to learn better ways to help athletes recover quicker when they have to “go under the knife”.
The AC Joint Injury
I’ve had a chronic grade 3 acromioclavicular (AC) joint sprain for many years that needs to be fixed. How did I get it? Here comes the entertaining part of the blog post. I crashed hard on my mountain bike doing a downhill slalom race at Mt Snow in Vermont……in March….in blizzard conditions! No, it truly wasn’t my smartest day, but it sure was a fun event until I slammed on the ice with my shoulder. As a fan of extreme sports I might not be any smarter today than I was back then but I’ve learned how to crash more gracefully.
Here’s my game plan for a successful shoulder surgery:
Loosen Up the Good Stuff
I started doing extra shoulder, upper back, neck, rotator cuff and chest stretching during the past week. Those ligaments, joints, muscles, fascia and tendons are the very things that will dictate my shoulder function after the surgery. Therefore, I want those structures to be limber, strong and relaxed going into the operation.
Get Rid of the Bad Stuff
Inflammation and edema are bad so my shoulder filed a Restraining Order against them just last week. Meanwhile, I’ve focussed on icing, controlled exercises and massage as key steps to start the recovery process from my surgery before I even get to the hospital.
Hydrate the Right Way
Healing tissue needs to be happy tissue. Approximately 60% of the human body is water. Staying well hydrated starting three days before the surgery will make the doctor’s job easier and my recovery faster. I take my hydration serious in any type of weather so when it comes to recovering from surgery, water is my best friend.
Tune Up My Rotator Cuff
Resisted rotator cuff exercises such as external rotation, forward flexion and side raises will continue to be done 3 times per day right up to 2 hours before the surgery. I want “my cuff” to be as active and as strong as possible before Dr Kevin Kaplan sticks that scalpel into my arm.
Listen to Your Commanders
The surgeon and his staff are your commanding officers so listen to them closely. They know best so read their memos and listen to their tips. They will ultimately play a huge role in your outcome so be a great patient before, during and after your surgery. Post-surgery rehabilitation is priceless.
Plan the Recovery
I have my ice, bottled water, pillows, books and, most importantly, my beautiful wife ready before I leave the house today. Limping in the door with my arm in a sling is not the time to be setting up my recovery zone.
Think & Be Positive
Healing and recovery starts between the ears. Positive thoughts and self-talk about my shoulder is dominating my mind today and will continue for the next four weeks. Those healthy images involve much more than just my body and mind. They include a strong sense of gratitude for Dr. Kaplan and his highly skilled staff involved with my care.
I view my involvement with today’s surgery as an active process, not a passive event left to the skills of others. I’ve prepared my body, mind and home to both maximize the benefits of the surgery and accelerating my body’s recovery from the trauma of the operation.
I have way too many exciting things I want to do this off-season with this better-than-new shoulder and just laying around isn’t one of them!