Mayday part two
And then disaster truly struck. First, I got sick. A couple days after injuring my knee I ate something funky. I hadn’t had a stomach bug for over a year so I guess I was due. Still feels horrible for the ~24 hours that you are under the weather. It started one evening, I barely got any sleep rushing to the bathroom every 2 hours, and despite still feeling awful when I got up, I still went into work. I literally laid on the floor of my office for 30 minutes at one point because I felt so disgusting. Looking back I probably should have called in sick, not because I felt so bad, but because I may have been contagious. Can’t do anything about it now. A bug like that passes relatively quickly though. The next day I was fine. Makes you very appreciative of just feeling like your regular self!
A week went by. My knee still hurt, but it was improving. My arm was completely healthy or so I thought. I went out to throw one Wednesday afternoon and hurt my shoulder. It was on the last pull down throw. I had thrown out 5 balls, about 20 feet apart, as I was coming in from 180ft. On the last one, at about 90ft, I crow hopped to get my momentum going towards the target and then unleashed a max effort throw. At my release, I felt a stretching sensation on the top/back part of my shoulder. Immediately, a sore kind of pain shot through my entire shoulder. My heart dropped. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was in complete disbelief. This wasn’t part of my plan. This is impossible. “My dream could be instantly crushed”, I thought. I continued on and threw the flat ground I had planned, at about 75% intensity, and the shoulder did not feel good. After finishing up the rest of my workout (sprints, plyos, mobility, and flexibility) I started my car to head home. From the moment I turned the key, the engine started to shake, the check engine light began to flash, and yep, here goes another engine misfire. By some miracle, I was able to drive the car back home without a serious issue. Sitting in the car, with a hurt shoulder and a broken down car, I thought it was all over. I started to prepare for the worst. A torn labrum and a failed engine. Surgery and multiple thousands of dollars to fix.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he talks about how plane crashes are almost always caused by a sequence of small things going wrong. While one may think one horrific mistake leads to a plane going down, in reality, there are usually a number of small mistakes that build off one another. I think this is why I hurt my shoulder. I can think of about 7 different small factors that could have played into the injury.
- Threw 120+ BP throws 3 days beforehand
- Hadn’t thrown in 3 days
- Hadn’t iced or done much arm care in the weeks leading up to it
- Hurt knee may have caused me to use more arm in my throws instead of legs
- Didn’t warm up for quite as long with throws for distance before pulling down (I was in a rush to meet a friend for a skype conversation)
- Pull downs are as maximum intensity as you can get so they put my arm in the most compromised situation for an injury
- Didn’t get much sleep in the few days leading up to it (~6 hours a night), which could have made my body/arm more tired
After compiling this list I also made a list of actions I can take to ensure I account for factors like these before/while I throw so that they do not build up to an injury. These are the steps I will take on my road to recovery.
- More yoga, more deep breathing, less upper body lifting, more sleeper stretch, eccentric muscle contraction exercises, concentrate on good body posture, eliminate imbalances
- Use your best mechanics on every throw. If an ache or other malady makes this hard, adjust intensity accordingly
- Be aware of prior usage, adjust intensity accordingly, go through entire recovery process, ice/stretch/exercises
- Focus solely on throwing, give it all my consciousness, allow myself as many throws/as much time necessary to feel good, be on MY schedule
- Only do 100% max intensity pull downs when I’m in midseason form
- Get 8+ hours of sleep a night
Yes, I’m pretty bummed that I’ve experienced a setback (I want to say ‘yet another’…but that makes me sound so dramatic and whiny), but I have so much else to be grateful for, especially in regard to my health. I’m still active, have energy, and can take care of myself. I’m young. I have hardly any health issues relative to other people with less wholesome habits, or elderly folks who have lived long lives. For example, my grandfather has been in rough shape, recovering from a surgery over the past year. I was at my grandparent’s house visiting for the Memorial Day weekend. There was a fitting card pinned up to his refrigerator.
A year and a half ago my grandfather had surgery to remove his right leg just below the knee. He had a cancerous tumor in his foot and an amputation was the only option to keep it from spreading. Approaching 90 in age, he is not at a point in his life where he recovers quickly. In the year and a half since the surgery, he has been in and out of hospitals and care facilities to deal with the complications of post-surgery recovery. Multiple infections, new medications, new side-effects, physical therapy, and new environments are just a few of the challenges he has faced since the surgery. I think the hardest part for him is the comparison from before and after the surgery. Before it, he was incredibly healthy, able to get around well and keep his mind sharp, but there has been a rapid deterioration since the surgery. Now, dementia has crept into the picture. My poor grandmother, bless her soul, has done an amazing job caring for him through it all, however, at over 80 herself, all the stress has taken its toll on her. In a matter of weeks, my grandfather will be moved into a full-time care facility, most likely for good. My grandfather’s health situation makes my injury seem like a joke.
Okay, part of me doesn’t want to completely belittle my disappointment over experiencing another arm injury. I have spent the past 14 months recovering from my elbow injury so that I can continue to pitch. To have all of that investment go down the drain with another injury feels brutal. What if this causes me to fail? What if I’m not able to realize my dream? Those thoughts have flooded my mind these past two and half weeks since I first hurt my shoulder. Fortunately, I’m confident my shoulder injury will not require surgery based on the evaluation I had with a physical therapist. I’m still deciding whether to get an MRI done. In regard to the car, I was able to get Carmen fixed for free (Ignition coil warranty!!! And Budd’s Auto Repair are the best. True homies). Sometimes things aren’t as bad as they seem.
Carmen has been driving well the past two weeks. Vamos a ver como baila Miguel with the shoulder though. Uncertainty reigns supreme. It could take a few weeks to get back on a mound or a few months. On the other hand, maybe this is exactly what I need. A reminder that I must focus 100% on my purpose. A reminder that I have to view the body as a complete system and take care of every single part. A reminder that my dream hangs in the balance, on the tip of a sharp knife, ready to drop at the slightest misstep. I choose to view this as a challenge I will work through. Something that was done for me, for my benefit. It may take more time, but I will be patient, I will be focused, and I will heal. Here’s to a healthy arm in July, able to give myself a chance at following my dream, just one chance to live my purpose, full of freedom and love. Suerte.