I’m too young to remember the boxer Rocky Marciano. He retired in 1956, just a few months before I was born. His record was 49-0, the only undefeated, undisputed heavyweight boxer in history. After he retired, he was often asked whether he’d consider making a comeback. To which he would reply, “Come back from what?” It was his way of pointing out the absurdity of the question. You see, when you are the undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, what is there to come back from?
Well, then there’s the rest of us. The rest of us need comebacks—sometimes a bunch of them. A year and a half ago, I got the surprise of my life when some hard-to-explain symptoms I was having turned out to be a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia, a form of blood cancer that grows at breakneck speed and requires immediate and intensive treatment. There were multiple setbacks—a hard-to-achieve remission, problems with continuing chemotherapy, the need for a bone marrow transplant, all followed by these now many months of continued treatment and recovery.
My latest deal has been some fairly intense pain in my arms and shoulders, symptoms that have confounded my oncologists. And since I’m an equal opportunity recipient of all medical specialties, I was pleased to be referred to an orthopedist at Twin Cities Orthopedics. After ruling out a golf injury (all those 300+ yard drives over the years, I'd wrongly guessed?) or the time I shattered a backboard dunking (sorry--pre-YouTube), or an old pitching woe (my knee-buckling curveball--I was hoping for a double Tommy John surgery), I've now been diagnosed with "frozen shoulder" (or “adhesive capsulitis,” if you want to get more exotic). I'm not sure if it's more that I've given or been given the cold shoulder, but the diagnosis and symptoms are pretty straightforward--pain, stiffness and inhibited range of motion. Surgery is not usually recommended, nor do you get a cortisone or steroid injection. Instead, it's a whole lot of physical therapy, and while it can take a good while to subside, things usually thaw out, much like the Minnesota winter we've been in the grip of this year. It's news I'm taking great hope in--that it won't be chronic or something that gets worse.
So today I started my latest comeback. My physical therapist at TCO, Mike Dixey
, is not only a shoulder specialist, but he loves baseball and 80's metal hair bands, so how can I go wrong! The exercise regimen was clearly explained, is doable, and I left feeling a new level of confidence in my recovery. Driving home from my appointment, I was reminded again of how privileged I’ve been (and am!) to be the recipient of practitioners with such care, wisdom, and a commitment to keep getting better at what they do.