Thursday, April 01, 2010

Baby steps ...

It's been almost 10 weeks since I broke my shoulder and about four weeks since I was allowed to remove my sling. My shoulder STILL hurts! I'm doing heavy duty physio these days, going twice a week and doing 1.5-2 hours/day of exercises at home. I still need to take painkillers from time to time and am anxious to finish healing.

My physiotherapist has purposely given me double the number of exercises as he would the average person because he knows I have an Ironman coming up. He also realizes that I am healing/progressing at double the speed :-) This is probably due to a combination of being in good shape previous to the accident as well as my stubborness/mental resolve. What got me through all my long distance races will also get me through this long and painful healing process!.

I've got another few weeks for the bone to get harder but was sure happy to get rid of that sling! Besides the obvious possibility of regaining mobility, I was THRILLED to say good-bye to the horrible rash caused by wearing the sling. It was constantly itchy and irritated, making it difficult to fall asleep and waking me often during the night, even bleeding and weeping from time to time because of all the scratching. It took a full two weeks to heal even after the sling came off.

Having one arm is no fun.

I couldn't do simple things easily, like preparing food, washing myself, getting dressed and undressed, putting my hair up in a ponytail, tying a garbage bag ... I relied on my friends to help me and even once on a stranger ,"Oh, please, could you put my hair up in a ponytail?" My hair was full of static electricity because of my winter hat, annoying as all heck, and I was waiting to get an x-ray done at the hospital. I knew she'd understand, as she herself had her hair in a ponytail :-)

I learned to do things creatively, like roll my hair up and put it into a clip with the help of the edge of the table and also to hang clothes with one hand. Not the smartest thing to do though, as this required balancing myself precariously on the edge of the bathtub. Try doing that when your centre of gravity is displaced because you've got an arm pinned up against your chest.

I quickly realised the first time I washed my hair after the accident that pouring shampoo directly on my head was not a good idea, as I poured out half the bottle. I learned that I had to put some shampoo on my leg, put down the bottle then scoop the shampoo quickly into my right hand. I also gave up on washing certain parts of my right arm and upper torso but I did learn to apply body lotion on certain parts of my body with my right thigh.

I even learned to wash my right armpit with my right hand. And then I learned to SHAVE my armpit too ... mind you, the first time was a little scary.

Good thing I have helpful friends. Good thing I have friends who cook. Good thing I have a freezer.

So, now that I'm finally doing strength exercises with light weights (2 & 3 lb. weights, and two different resistance bands), I've started training again, but ever so gently.


I started running again about 2 1/2 weeks ago with my arm pinned against the front of my chest as any shoulder movement was painful, and since the jarring motion also hurt the fracture, I had to run very slowly and smoothly. I started out carefully and built up ... 15 min, then 20, then 25, then 30! Then 5k!!

And now, because the physio exercises have increased the range of motion of my shoulder, I am able to run with my arm slightly away from my body. My present goal is to get back to my regular arm swing and increase my weekly mileage slowly. My shoulder's still quite sore so I haven't attempted more than 5k at a time.


Yay! I was thrilled when my physiotherapist gave me the go-ahead to swim two weeks ago. So this is what I've done since ... mind you, I have to be very careful since I can't yet extend to the end of my stroke because of the pain. But check out the progression of these workouts ... slow and steady!

1) 200yds = 8 x 25yds breaststroke

2) 400yds = 8 x 50yds breaststroke

3) 400m = 2 x 50m breaststroke + 1 x 100m breaststroke + 8 x 25m front crawl

4) 600m = 2 x 100m breaststroke + 4 x 50m front/back kick + 4 x 50m front crawl

5) 800m = 200m breaststroke + 6 x 100m front crawl

6) 700yds = 200yds breaststroke + 2 x 250yds front crawl

* I swam in two different pools, one measures 25yds, the other 25m.


Well, I've been cycling little bits since about two weeks after the accident, but I found it quite difficult at first sitting up completely straight on my racing bike and propping myself up with the aid of a chair beside me. I've been cycling anywhere from 20-40 min. each time, about twice a week, a real pain when I was in the sling 'cause my arm got hot and made me itch worse. And once out of the sling, the first few times were painful since I had nothing supporting my arm and shoulder.

Riding has recently gotten much better. My butt has now developed callouses and my left shoulder isn't as sore as it used to be. I've adapted to holding the chair and often ride holding nothing. I'm now slowly progressing to cycling in a bent-over position and holding my handlebars on the tops, but only a minute or two at a time. I can't yet put my full weight on my shoulder and don't want to risk it until the bone is 100% hard. Sure eels good to get stronger on my bike!

Today's weather was absolutely gorgeous with lots of sun and warm Spring-like temperatures ... a perfect time to ride outdoors. I was tempted to give my mountain bike a mini-tuneup to take her for a spin, but what would I do if I got a flat tire? Montreal is just starting to clean its streets and there's lots of glass and mean bits lying around that will slash bike tires. I know this from experience when I got a flat my first outdoor ride in 2008. With the lack of strength in my left arm and shoulder, I wouldn't stand a chance of being able to change a tire!

In fact, when my racing bike was set up on my trainer after my accident, the front tire valve tip snapped off when I removed the pump. I haven't pumped that tire up since because I know it'll go flat once I depress the valve, and I'll be unable to change my tire!

I still have a long road ahead of me to get my full strength and mobility back but it's nice to know I'm on my way.

It's almost ironic that a friend last year told me, "Oh, you should be able to do a really good Ironman next year. You've had enough bad things happen to impede your training, nothing can happen now!"

Yeah right ...

Car accident before Ironman Canada 2006.

Bike accident before Ironman Louisville 2008.

And now, broken shoulder before Ironman Canada 2010. Good thing that at least in my mind, I'll be able to finish it ;-)

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