A while back I shared a "random-but-appropiate" movie quote on my Facebook page.

"It has been explained to me that I have been away for some time…. I'm back."  (Robert De Niro in Awakenings)

After much deliberation, the time has come to share where I went. And why.

Two years ago I was actually in pretty good shape.  Not rock-hard abs or buns-of-steel, but I was training for a half-marathon -- on a rowing machine, no less.  I know a lot of people would find that boring--just sitting there in one place for a couple of hours on end while a puddle of sweat builds up on the mat beneath you.  Fair enough.  But for me, rowing was an escape, almost a meditative experience.  I looked forward to that rowing machine every day.  Not much can make me get out of bed at 4 in the morning, especially in the colder months of the year, but rowing did.

But then, as the date for the half-marathon started to draw near, I discovered that I couldn't complete my morning workout without a little tinge of pain in my elbow.

It was just a little thing--hardly noticeable at first.  But it was consistent. And, day-by-day, it was getting worse.

I talked about this with a physical therapist, which was where I first heard the phrase "golfer's elbow."  His recommendation was to shorten the period of time I spent on the rowing machine and also to alternate every-other-day with jogging or cycling.  All well-and-good, but I have ankle problems, and have had for years.  That's what got me on a rowing machine in the first place.

And in a month I'd be doing the half-marathon.

What harm could it do? It was only a month.  You can push yourself through almost anything for a month.

Four weeks later, I rowed a half-marathon.  Goal complete.  I'd done it.  I celebrated and gave myself a week off from the rowing machine to let the elbow recuperate.

Except it didn't.

One week later, not only was the elbow pain still there, but it was getting sharper.  The simplest motions could cause pain in my elbow like a hunting knife had been shoved into my funny-bone.  I was losing grip strength. Sometimes I even got pain while typing--and as a guy who spends both day and night at a keyboard, that wasn't good at all.

One trip to an orthopedist later, I received 2 diagnoses -- golfer's elbow *and* carpel tunnel.

I share this with you not because I want or need sympathy, but in the hopes that someone out there might be saved some of the problems I've been going through.

I'll skip over the gruesome details.  Suffice it to say that I haven't been able to do much at all in the way of upper-body exercise for the past few years.  We dealt with the carpel tunnel first; I had to be able to type to keep the day-job, after all.  No worries there.  That's fine.

But the elbow has slowly and continually been getting worse--even though I'm not doing anything with it besides the daily activities of life.

Physical therapy hasn't worked.  The first few doctor-based treatment options didn't work either.  An MRI scan shows that a portion of my tendon there in the elbow has started to calcify.

Back in November we tried one last-ditch effort before heading to surgery.  The treatment has been incredibly painful and, since the key idea is to induce swelling and inflammation, anything for pain that includes an anti-inflammatory has been completely off-the-table as an option.  Tylenol has been my friend--but not a very good one.

And the immediate end-result was that I had a severe allergic reaction to the treatment and wasn't able to complete the full regemin.

Whether what I survived for the elbow works or not remains to be seen--it can take up to 6 months before we'll know how successful we were.

Again--I'm not seeking sympathy.  The key thing here--the lesson that for some reason I seem determined to have to learn over-and-over again--is that **ERGONOMICS MATTER.**

If you're doing anything that requires repetitive movements, pay attention to your pain.  Don't ignore it.  Have someone watch you once in a while to see if there's anything wrong with your form.  Take regular breaks.  Check your posture.

These things matter.

Be well.

 


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