Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Rotator Cuff Recovery is Going Well and I am Getting Stronger!!!

In spite of starting out with a complete blowout, my rotator cuff recovery is going very well and I am now back to working out on a regular basis. While I’ve got a two-three more months of hard work at my rehab before I get back on whitewater, I have all of my flexibility back and I am getting stronger every week. I’m back to working out 5-6 days a week and a couple of them are now on flatwater.

As a result of my progress, I’m looking forward to racing in 2010 (although it’s too early to decide on the World Championships)! The season opener is the “Chute the Hooch Training Camp on Jan 23-24 and I will be ready for it!

There’s no secret to my successful and speedy recovery. I followed the same basic guidelines that other successful surgery/rehab patients have done:

  1. Choose a Great Sports Medicine Doctor: For me, the choice was easy. I chose Dr. Craig Weil because he is an excellent orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine doctor. But there were two other reasons that I felt were important. I wanted to use someone I knew so I would get the attention I wanted, and someone that was conveniently located for me.
  2. Choose a Great Rehab Center: Again, this was an easy choice for me. Having worked with Marcus Hutchison on rehabbing my other shoulder in 2003, I choose the Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Center (in East Cobb). In addition to being a real expert, Marcus had just the right mixture of holding me back early on and encouraging me to work hard as I got stronger.
  3. Use technology to help you: Besides being a great surgeon, Dr Weil is up on the latest technology and prescribed the Kinex Phase One Rehab integrated shoulder motion chair. I spent 4+ hours a day in the motion chair for the first 3 weeks after surgery which prevented scar tissue from forming and promoted blood flow and healing. In addition, because I used the chair, I was not afraid to move my arm and had a good benchmark for what constituted a normal level of discomfort. I also found the local ATL distributor to be easy to work with and to be very likeable
  4. Do exactly what you are told to do for the first 8-10 weeks….. nothing more, nothing less. Perhaps the hardest part for me was taking it easy for the first 2+ months.
  5. Once you are given the green light to start light strengthening, treat your rehab like you do your training and go for it!!!

Please feel free to let me know if I can help you with any questions you might have.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I am Back In the Boat (if you can call it that)

Well I did it... I paddled a K-1 wildwater boat on flatwater for 30 minutes and it was not all that bad. I was fine the next day too!

Since he has been through the same kind of thing, Larry Castillo was kind enough to call me ahead of time with his thoughts on "watch outs".... and they were spot on. As he and I predicted, the hardest part was getting in and out of the boat!!!! WW K-1's are tough to get in/out of especially if you are trying to avoid putting pressure you your shoulders!

My thoughts are:
- I figure I have to crawl before I walk, and walk before I run. Yep this is a crawl.
- GEE, who made these WW boats so durn tippy?
For the first couple of minutes I was happy I wore my life jacket on flatwater if that tells you anything. By the end of the workout I felt pretty good about it.
- Marizio's Esox is way to small for me. If I am going to paddle it, I at least need to rip out the thigh braces.
- I will try C-1 next (because it will be easier to get in/out of). I should probably start with something more stable like a Tip Top.
- I'm going to start off slow/easy and only add 5 minutes per workout
- I'm going to start doing this 2x/week as part of my therapy.
- I have had wonderful advice/care from the Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Center (Marcus Hutchinson) and as a result I am already getting start messing around in boats again.

Stay Tuned.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Feeling Stronger

To quote the theme song from “Rocky”, I am really feeling stronger. My appointment with Dr Weil on Oct 22nd went very well. I am now strong enough (thanks to the help of Marcus Hutchinson at the Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Center) that I don't need therapy, I just need to to do self workouts.

I am well on my way to being back on flatwater by Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Things are Starting to Look Promising !!!!

My six week post surgery check up on Sept 3rd with Dr Weil went very well overall. While I have been working hard at therapy, I have been careful not to injure myself. The 2-3 times where I have overdone it since surgery were apparently just painful reminders to tone it down a notch.

The scary part is that I did see a deep look of concern on Dr. Weil’s face when he was flipping back through my surgery photos. He said “just seeing the pictures reminded him of how bad my shoulder was (before surgery) and gave him the willies”.

As a result, Dr Weil and his head is head nurse really stressed to me just how important it is to continue to be extremely careful at this point in my recovery. I have 3 more weeks of flexibility therapy left before I can start light strengthening. Also they warned me “not to even think about touching any weights” for another 3 weeks.

But I know from talking to other patients and the therapists that I’m doing quite well overall. The good news is that my range of mobility is coming back fast. By the end of the appointment, Dr. Weil used words like “awesome” and “incredible” to describe my progress.

The Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Center has taken the great work that Dr Weil did and have really helped me progress. Marcus Hutchinson (at the E. Cobb branch) is world class and I have known him since he helped me rehab a dislocated (right) shoulder after the 2003 World Cups. Of course, everyone on the Falcons staff is incredibly qualified and I am thrilled to have them coaching me through this.

It looks like I will be able to reach my goal of being back on flatwater by Christmas.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Shoulder Update – August 10th

Shoulder Update – August 10th

Wow, I have to say it again. Med Tech is amazing these days. I had my follow up visit with Dr Craig Weil today and the pics that he scoped of me were amazing. The bad news was that it was me. I had total detached and shredded my rotator cuff and my bicep ligament from my shoulder bone. I also had a couple bone spurs. Dr Weil has done his part. The rest is up to the good Lord, my body, and being smart about by rehab (and being careful).

I start rehab on Saturday. The forecast is 5-6 weeks of mobility therapy before I can start any kind of strength building (which will need to last 6 weeks to 3 months).

Depending on how everything goes, If I am lucky I will be on flat-water again by Christmas. If not, it will be several months.

Stay tuned and keep me in your prayers.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rotator Cuff Surgery Went Well Today

My thanks to Dr. Craig Weil for what appears to be a successful surgery. Craig is very well respected as in the local sports community and is regarded being one of the best surgeons in the region:

It turns out that I had a bad tear to my cuff and had also torn the bicep (at the point of attachment). Although he started off with a scope, Dr Weil ended up having to open me up to repair everthing. I will get the complete scoop on everything Dr. Weil did and what to expect once I start rehab...... stay tuned

Monday, July 13, 2009

Post FIBArk Injury Update - July 13

Although I knew I may have sustained a pretty serious rotator cuff injury I intentionally scheduled my MRI for 2 days after I arrived back from FIBArk. Well, it was not a surprise when they told me I have torn my cuff (and torn it from my shoulder) in more ways than I know to describe. My doc (Dr Craig Weil) is having me sign of off all 4 possible types of repairs than he can make to a rotator cuff and figures he will make at least 3 of the 4. He also thinks there is a strong chance that he might have to open me up to be able to tack everything down.

In some ways I feel very fortunate. This is my first serious injury paddling in a lifetime of agressive sports.

In the meantime, I’m a hurting puppy. And the even more painful part is the unknown. Will I ever be able to paddle again or is this the end of an era for me? How about whitewater? What about racing? What about next years World Championships? Will I be prepared or is it going just a pipe dream?

My surgery is scheduled for July 24th. I’m going to take each day at a time after that.

Keep me in your prayers.


USA Nationals and FIBArk - June 13 - 2009

USA Nationals and FIBArk
June 13 - 2009

For me, any trip to FIBArk boils down to two events, my play time in the mountains and FIBArk .

My play time in the mountains was a blast. Lynn and I arrived on Sat pm (June 13th) and had Sun-Monday to hike. So we hit several of our favorites.

On Saturday we hiked Mt Elbert up to about 13.5k which is enough to see from the Leadville area to Howard. WOW, what a feeling of being on tope of the word.

On Monday we hiked the Alpine Tunnel Trail about 6 miles Northwest of St Elmo with the O’Sullivans. Tierney and Bailey were real troopers but it was pretty obvious why we are such huge fans of Keen boots.. For day hikes, I’m a huge fan of the Targhee Mid level boots so I can bomb down trails without worry about twisting or dinging up my ankles.

Lynn is a big fan of the lower cut Targhee II hiker as she wants something that is light like an elite running shoe but has boot properties.

But either way, the functional beauty of our books became quickly apparent at the day wore on and we crossed snow on the trail and easy boulder fields.

Lynn and I also hit Agnes Vail Falls and other local attractions in the region such as Cottonwood Pass.

The rest of the event was FIBArk and USA Nationals. I’d done a pretty through job of documenting the races and results on The links you will want to see are:

Without a doubt, FIBArk did a heck of a job hosting the events.

On a personal level, I’ve heard the rumblings that it must have been disappointing for me to race C-2 and not win the USA National Championships. Well, while that has only happened a something like 3 other times, I don’t feel that way. That’s sports! The other C-2 teams were all quite good this year. Both Roehner/Baker and Bortz/Wiegand were very solid and I was happy to have gotten the chance to compete with them.

The only disappointment for me was the injury I sustained prior to the event. As a result, I only raced the C-2 event in order to fulfill my C-2 commitments at Nationals and only raced the FIBArk 10 mile downriver race in C-1.

Friday, April 3, 2009

March 28-29 - Nantahala River, Bryson City NC

March 28-29 - Nantahala River, Bryson City NC

The US Open was the first big test of the season. Chris Hipgrave and the NRC did a world class job of running the race as always.

I was also proud to be sporting the new Keen gear we earned as team members. The yellow on black stickers look GREAT on my carbon fiber boat deck, helment and paddle. Keen sponsorship fits in great with my other gear sponsors/pro-deals with Patagonia, IR, Cliffbar and Shread Ready.

It was also fun to team up with David Jones to pool our Keen freebies to provide prizes for medalist at the race. Everyone LOVED the T's that I handed out and I got a big round of appause when I annouced that Keen was a new sponsor for USA Wildwater.

I felt that I raced up to my ablility (consistant with my training plan). I was thrilled to see that Jack Ditty of the 08 USA Wildwater Team came down to race. I'm hopefull that Jack will continue to improve and will pull ahead of me in the near future.

As is was I ended up nipping Jack by less than a second in the sprint..... and my years of distance training added up to about 30 seconds or 4.7% in the classic distance race. Ultimately, I was pretty happy with my Classic Race as it is on pace with right where I should be for this time of year and compaires favorably with some of my better times.

And most of all, I was very encouraged by the performances of our Jr athletes and everyone who comitted to racing at the Junior Worlds