On June 28, 2012, now over 9 weeks ago, I injured my shoulder. My chiropractor believes that I tore something – possibly a torn rotator cuff. Prior to that time I had adjusted my workouts, but was still pretty pleased with them. The blurry photo below gives you an idea where I was at the time.
The following is my perception of the change. After more than 9 weeks of little upper body work, I think I am noticing a big difference. The muscles in my arms appear to be shrinking and there appears to be more loose skin. My chest and back seem to have much less definition. And my shoulders appear less muscular and more bony.
Is this really true? Yes, there is probably some truth to this. From what I have read, muscle atrophy begins 1.5 to 2 weeks after you stop lifting weights. The course of the atrophy depends on level of activity. The more active you are, the slower the atrophy. Unfortunately, for the first four weeks I was really not able to do much with my right arm/shoulder. I have since been doing physical therapy exercises, but am still not lifting any substantial weight and have not for more than 9 weeks.
Even if my shoulder were miraculously healed tomorrow morning, there is not time to get the muscles back in shape prior to my surgery (now 11 days away). Considering what I noted above, this means that while I am bedridden (during my hospital stay) and at significantly reduced activity levels upon return home, my muscles are likely to atrophy more quickly.
So what? You may say. You are alive! Very true. I am sharing these observations and some associated frustration because it is real. Yes, I know how lucky I am to have been diagnosed prior to critical incident. I do appreciate that this will lengthen my life. However, I would be ignoring my own feelings if I did not acknowledge the sadness and some frustration I feel as I watch the muscles deflate and my strength slowly decrease. I worked hard to get here!
Luckily, I know how to come back from injury and illness. I have spent the last year doing just that. And I am lucky enough to have a friend who is a personal trainer and a wellness coach through my employer. Both will help me stay focused, patient, and on my path back to where I was and beyond.
One bright spot, we are headed into fall and winter. Who wears tank tops (other than at the gym) in the winter time?