July 22, 2014

How to Fix a Broken Shoulder Part 3: Recovery

By Slacker | Guest Writer

Previously on How to Fix a Broken Shoulder...

"Throughout my visits to TTSH and Dr Lim, Iwas visiting the Sinseh regularly every fortnight. He would use medicine, acupuncture with heat, cupping & evenletting of blood to aid my recovery & sore muscles. There were times wherehe would put some secret Shaolin formula on my shoulder, wrap it up & toldme to leave it there for 3 days. Given the bucket loads that I sweat, I could feel the itch already..."
My Gym

I went back to my gym (FightG) the day after Humpty Dumpty had the great fall. It was my 2nd home, even though I knew I couldn't train but just needed to be there, to absorb all the +ve energy, to fuel my desire to come back fast.

From my prior experience of shattered collarbone, I knew that normal exercises were too painful to do. There also wasn't much selection & it was all boooring, yawn.. More or less the only thing that I could do was climb stairs.

After 3 days rest, more for my soul to adjust than for my body, stairs climbing was all I did to make sure that I keep on moving. Since I lived on the 14th storey, I decided to go for 8 rounds to hit >100. It was boring but the worse thing is that people either think you're crazy or a burglar, appearing ever so often.

Happier Times

A few days on the stairs sapped more out of my mind than my body and it was time to go back to the gym. Classes were running like clockwork (ya right haha) and I could only watch on the sideline but at least I can do body weight exercises, skip & lift weights with my left.

My Achilles Tendon started to hurt from all those skipping and I had to sought an alternative for keeping my cardio up. As my injury got better, I started cycling to Bishan Park 2 nights a week, it's a nice park but simply too small, I had to go on many a merry go rounds to hit my target and it was hard to stay motivated.

My friend suggested Freelatics as he was using it to lose weight & tone up to great effects. I tried the Aphrodite (which consisted of many Burpees, Squats & Situps) modified it & added stuff to suit. It's intensive, I sweated much & thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then my left elbow (which was somewhat loose courtesy of my Army days) started to hurt from all the Burpees. The double whammy was that I was sick on & off for 5 weeks, thus I was only able to squeeze in a day or 2 of light workouts before being out for the rest of the week (again, sigh).

I hate taking antibiotics and tried letting my body heal itself. But eventually I had no choice as the infection spread to the lungs. My fever went up above 39 degrees and I had to take 2 courses of antibiotics to finally clear it. It seems that trouble always comes in swarms - injury, overuse, illness.... but that's life & there're many others in worse situations than I was. That was the point when I told myself to quit feeling sorry for myself let the Xiao Qiang (cockroach) spirit emerges again.

Adjusted my routine again (being able to kick the bag helps) & so far so good ;-) 

The worse part of getting a serious injury or illness is inactivity, losing hope & giving up. I'm acutely aware of this pitfall & was determined not to let it happen but it wasn't a smooth journey to say the least, especially when you're high with hope, only for it to be shredded & tossed at the bin.

The romantic version is that I'm a fighter - you can knock me down or even knock me out  but I'll always get back up. However, I guess I should start calling myself Xiao Qiang (a nickname for cockroaches affectionately called by Stephen Chow in his movie) from now on as I have the Xiao Qiang spirit (Ding, ding ding)!

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, you can hit them hard but they just keep on running at you :-D
(Fun fact: did you know that Xiao Qiangs can lose their head - literally & survive for weeks! How's that for a survivor).
Getting back into the game

The Journey Ends or Has It Just Began?

After 2.5 months that felt like years, Dr Lim finally told me I can go back to riding & punching but lightly as more work has to be done. To be frank, it was somewhat of an anti-climax. Perhaps he felt my enthusiasm waning & a boost was in order. The happiness was somewhat muted as I still had doubts.

All this while, I've been diligently  doing my rehabilitation everyday, sickness & all, spending 45 mins or more. It's very taxing physically, mentally & time wise. I could not remember the last time I was so disciplined & followed every word of a Doctor but this time I followed to the letter.

Ever since I started training 7-8 years ago, the longest I've been away was 2 weeks due to reservist. So this 10 weeks was especially tough sitting on the sideline & boy do I miss sparring & mountain biking with my buddy again.

It'll never be the same again & I'll have to accept that. I'm aware of some drills & exercises that I won't be able to do again but I do not know what else will be added to the list until I'm back. It's like you know that you did badly for your exams but do not know the exact score until it's revealed.

I went for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) class the same day Dr Lim gave the green light. I think it must be similar to what ex-offenders feel the day they're released from prison. Well, good that I'm finally free but what lies ahead?

The jolt from taking my partner down can be clearly felt on my right even though I was landing with my left. This was somewhat disheartening, fingers crossed that it'll get better with time..

We went riding Track 15 (an easy trail) last Sun & the phobia of falling is still there. Can my shoulder survive another fall? We'll never know till it happens. Will I be able to go back to the rocky section again? I do not have the answer..

For the 1st couple weeks, every week I'll feel better, stronger & thinking that it's as good as it'll ever get & I'm ready to go back. It's tough but for those of you in similar situation, give it 1 more week then evaluate again. After all, this may be the only chance for you to heal properly, what's 1 week compared to the rest of your life?

Initially, as soon as the pain & soreness subsided, I thought I was good to go again but then I realized from Dr Lim that pain is actually my friend, it's telling me that something is wrong so don't try anything funny wise guy. Pain free doesn't mean you're fully healed so seek (competent) professional advice before you make it worse & live to regret it.

Physical recovery may be tough but it's the easy part, it's the mental recovery that's the issue because if you think you can, you can but if you have doubts then you'll never be 100% again..


16 Jul 2014 - Saw the 2nd Specialist at TTSH, he was way better than the 1st idiot but nevertheless he presented me with a dilemma, my injury severity was right smack in the middle between surgery & not but he was more inclined towards surgery as I lead a very active lifestyle.

Needless to say it's a major decision & there're many things to consider. Maybe time will tell but I only have 2 months to decide as the joint will become arthritis & surgery is not a good option after that.

Many friends have shared their opinions with me & I really thank them for their concerns but I do not want to rush into things as it never ends well (based on many prior experience) :-D

Please do share with me if you have any such experiences as I pounder the journey ahead & please tread carefully & try not to fall ya.

Back to Part 1 where this all started...


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