Put Your Head on my Shoulder…uh, actually, maybe you’d better not!

Although I invariably work during my school’s summer program, I still get a few weeks off every June and August.  I would love to say that my wife provides me with a honey-do list, but the fact is that she could not give two hoots what sort of home improvement projects I engage in when I am off from work.  This summer, I started with cutting down an ugly, unkempt holly tree at the edge of my front porch.

Somehow in this process, I managed to aggravate an old injury in my left shoulder.  Back in high school during an athletic event, I collided with another student and dislocated my shoulder.  This required a trip to the hospital, Demerol, and an assortment of medical professionals–speaking various languages–deciding how best to get my shoulder back in place.  I honestly recall one guy saying, “We’re gonna do this the American way” before popping it back in!  Since then, it has popped out at least five more times.  I have never returned to a hospital to have it reduced; I just pop it back in myself (followed by tunnel vision, cold sweats, pain, ibuprofen, and alcohol consumption).  Yes, I am Mel Gibson from his “Lethal Weapon” days.  The last time it came out of its socket was 2007.

Fathers’ Day weekend, while taking down the tree, I aggravated this injury.  It never did pop out, but whatever I did to it made it feel like it may as well have.  This injury has impacted me in several ways:

1.        I have been unable to assume my normal two-handed firing grip.  Anything that has my left arm moving across the front of my body has been all but impossible, so that my standard isosceles stance has been tough to achieve.  It’s less about the pain I feel than just the inability to get my arms into that position.

2.       My left pinkie and the edge of my hand below that pinkie experience periodic numbness.  This is not ideal for my support hand grip, as it is the pinkie that provides most of that grip.  Thanks to Jeff Gonzales back in this class for teaching me that little nugget.

3.       I have not been able to perform most of my body-weight exercises, including push-ups and pull-ups.  Physical fitness is important to me, as it should be to all of our readers.

4.       I have been really frustrated by all of this.

A visit to my local orthopedist had him diagnosing my issue quite quickly:  probable SLAP Lesion of left shoulder.  Though surgery is an option, we’re going to explore Physical Therapy first.

Slap Lesion

Since I tweaked my shoulder about two weeks ago, some of my flexibility and some of my strength have returned.  I feel good enough about my strength and flexibility that I have registered to shoot in my first IDPA match of 2017 this coming Saturday.  As long as I do not experience any setbacks at PT this week, I should be good to go.  If I start to experience a lot of discomfort or range-of-motion issues, then I will shoot as much of the match as possible with my strong-hand only and see how it goes.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote an article about practicing with the “other” strong hand.  As it happens, I currently wish that I had done more strong-hand only practice over the last few months.  I have been dry-firing strong-hand only like crazy over the last two weeks, but I know my performance with the strong-hand is not nearly what it is with both.

So, let this information serve as a warning to all of our readers.  Allocate as much practice time/reps as you reasonably can addressing strong-hand only work as well as other-strong-hand only work.  You never know when you will need those skills. 

Hopefully, PT will be successful for me, and I’ll be sure to keep our readers updated on my progress over the next few weeks.  Whether PT is all I need or surgery becomes necessary,  I WILL get through this.  In the meantime, thanks, as always, for reading.  If you have any questions, comments, or medical opinions you would like to lend, feel free to do so below or on our Facebook page.

10 thoughts on “Put Your Head on my Shoulder…uh, actually, maybe you’d better not!

  1. YES!  PT will very likely help, if not completely control, this condition.  Be sure to follow the PT’s advice exactly and be sure to do your exercises at home – VERY important! Good luck with it, Robert!  I enjoy your stuff With kind regards, John John F. Moe, MD, MPH, FAAFP


    1. SBS,

      Thanks for the words of encouragement. It is this recurring injury alone that has kept me out of ECQC. I mean, you can breathe on it and it could pop out. I’ve had visions of going through the Friday MUC and then the live fire, but at first evo of the Saturday having my shoulder fly out and then that’s that. I discussed this with Craig when I took AMIS, and he said I can do or not do based on my comfort level. But let’s be real: I’d want to do it all!

      We’ll see what happens. Inflammation is already going down and it seems I can again assume a proper shooting stance (although I haven’t tried live fire yet), still having some full R.O.M. issues. PT lady seems pretty confident in getting this under control.

      Thanks again.



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