Shoulder Surgery Update

March 28th, 2009 | Posted in General


First off, many thanks to all those who have contacted me with well wishes regarding my rotator cuff / shoulder surgery on the 19th. I thought I’d take a moment to give everyone an update.

Yesterday I had my first post-op examination by my surgeon, followed by a physical therapy appointment. I had the sutures removed from the five incisions made to conduct the procedure.

My doctor is very pleased with the results. He told me after looking over the condition of my biceps tendon, something that occasionally gets damaged due to the inflammation from the rotator cuff injury, he decided it was fine and did not need surgical repair. That was good as it would have added more time to the recovery process. He used a titanium screw in the top of my humerus to secure the rotator cuff tendons back in place. Due to my being what he termed an “athlete” (i.e. knowing I intended to return eventually to weightlifting) he reinforced the bond with a secondary plastic connector of some kind.

Both he and my physical therapist were surprised and pleased to see the range of motion I already had with the shoulder. My therapy at this point consists of nothing but small, stretching/motion exercises that mostly target healthy joints and tissues to keep them from getting stiff and contracting. It will be weeks before I do any direct therapy that places any stress on the repaired area itself, and months before I can even think about the slow climb back to full strength weightlifting.

My left arm will be in a sling for another 5 weeks. Right now it is a bit sore, especially after any therapy exercises, but the pain is very manageable. In fact I take nothing but the occasional Tylenol dose during the day, and leave the prescription pain killers for nights to help me sleep. Sleeping is the most difficult part of recovery. I cannot lay down for more than a short time, because gravity inevitably pull the shoulder back and even that small stress on the repaired tendon begins to throb. Therefore I have to sleep in my sling, in a reclined sitting position. After a week of this You can imagine how badly I’d like to lay down on my side and sleep. It will be at least another two weeks before I can start attempting that, however.

So, things are going well and I am right on schedule or even a bit ahead in my recovery. Thanks again for the well wishes.


  1. Get well soon.

  2. Mugshotz says:

    glad you’re ahead of schedule. Gimme a break, you don’t sleep, you just wait!

    How’s managing drawing going with one arm. I did okay when I only had three usuable fingers on my left hand, a few years back. Never gave much thought that I held the paper with my left hand until that point. A shoulder seems much more of a task.

  3. Ryan Branson says:

    I’ve had hundreds of clients over the past 6 years. You are one of the hardest workers I have ever seen, if not the hardest. If anyone can get past this and end up bigger, faster and stronger it is you.

    Hang in there and I will see you sooner than later!

  4. Tom Nguyen says:

    Great to hear, Tom…hope the rest of the recovery goes well and keep pumpin’ that other arm as big as you can!!! 😀

  5. Steve Hearn says:

    Good to hear your doing well, the London air will soon help you on your way to a full recovery Tom!

  6. Pat Bollin says:

    Great to hear you are doing well. I’m blown away that you have managed to keep this blog running smoothly straight through all this.


  7. Glad to hear things are going so well! (Relatively speaking). Sorry to hear about the sleeping issues. We’ve got a noisy baby that still isn’t sleeping through the night so I can sort of relate. Hope the wing heals well.

  8. Meesimo says:

    Glad to see recovery is going well.
    I’m sure you’re putting in the extra effort to “not miss’em.”
    Hope to catch you some time this year on your world tour.

  9. Alex S says:

    Wow.. I also had shoulder surgery but mine was on feb 20, 2009. why did you need yours. if you can reply cool. if not i understand you are a busy person.
    but dont worry, the first weeks are the worst after surgery, but the later weeks in Physical therapy are the worst. good luck though

    • Tom says:

      I tore it weightlifting when I mistakenly used a much heavier weight than I intended due to… of all things… the metric system. I was on vacation in Jamaica and thought a dumb bell I grabbed for lateral raises was 22 lbs, but it was actually 22 kgs or about 48 lbs. Tear happened on second rep.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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