Injuries, surgeries, rehab...my story

Hello!  Happy Thursday! I hope you all are having a wonderful week!

Today I want to talk a little bit about something that has played a huge part of my life this past year...my shoulders.  As many of you know I had surgery on both of my shoulders, but there is a lot I haven't talked about; how I injured them, the challenge of being in a sling for four weeks on each arm, the mental challenges I had to overcome, and the pain and frustration I went through with physical therapy.  Well, this is my story.

Gymnastics was my life for 18 years.  It was my first love and I will always have a special place for it in my heart.  I was very blessed throughout my gymnastics career with a tough body.  I never had a lot of serious injuries and whenever something would hurt the pain would just go away a week or two later.   During the Fall of my Junior season I noticed that my left shoulder would hurt whenever I did things with my arms above my head (which happens a lot in gymnastics haha).  As per usual, I just left it alone because I figured it was nothing and that it would just eventually go away.  Well, several months later when it was still bothering me I decided to get it checked out.  It was just at the end of the gymnastics season so I had time to take it easy and get my injury taken care of.  After several x-rays and an MRI we (my athletic trainers and I) discovered that I had torn the labrum in my left shoulder.  Now was time for a tough choice: get surgery on it and risk sitting out of competition season the next year if I wasn't ready in time or push through the pain for another year and get surgery after my Senior season.  This was one of the toughest choices that I had ever had to make.  I came to the decision that I was just going to push through the pain for a year because I loved gymnastics too much to sit on the sideline for a year.

At this point my shoulder hurt so bad that I couldn't do any gymnastics on it. I began to rethink my decision of waiting because I couldn't get through one day of practice...there was no way I was going to be able to get through a year.  I spent the whole summer only doing rehab on my shoulder to get my arm stronger.  By the time practice came along in the Fall my arm was strong enough to get me through my last year (with the help of a cortisone shot and a couple toradol shots-they work wonders!).  The beginning of April rolled along and I thought I finally made it... however in the last week of practice my right shoulder began to hurt.  From the moment it first started hurting I knew exactly what it was but I didn't want to hear it.  The following week my worst fear was confirmed..."Congratulations!!! You are the winner of two torn labrums!!"  I remember hearing those words like it was yesterday.  I can still picture exactly where I was when I was told the news and how I completely broke down.

Fast forward to September 21, 2016 - my first labrum repair on my right shoulder.  Following my surgery I was depressed, I was constantly tired, I cried...almost every single day.  I had to sleep on the couch for 6 weeks because I couldn't lay down in bed.  I felt sorry for myself.  I felt like I would never be able to get through it.  Gymnastics was my life for so long and since being done with it, working out had become my outlet for everything.  I went from being able to do whatever I wanted to nothing in the blink of an eye.  I couldn't workout.  I couldn't do my own hair.  I couldn't do my own makeup.  I couldn't cook or clean.  I felt useless.  I woke up every morning thinking it would just be best to go back to bed because I couldn't accomplish anything that day anyways.  I remember lying in bed in the mornings thinking what was the point of even getting up if I couldn't do what I loved??  I lost all motivation to be productive throughout the day and I was miserable.

I decided I couldn't live like that anymore.  I had come to realize that I had a choice to make; I could feel sorry for myself or I could make the most out of what I had.  From that day forward my life completely changed.  I went to the gym EVERY SINGLE DAY... in my sling.  I found new ways to workout and how to do my hair with one hand.  I began to wake up with goals, feeling like I had a purpose.  I was finally starting to feel happiness again.  

I went to physical therapy twice a week and my shoulder was still really struggling to get its range of motion back.  Nine weeks out of surgery my doctor decided it would be best to have a manipulation.  I went back in for the second surgery on that same shoulder.  Thankfully the manipulation helped a ton!  After a couple weeks of going to physical therapy every single day I had full range of motion.  

January 11, 2017.  We had moved to California and I flew back up to Utah to get surgery on my other shoulder.  The night before my surgery I made the decision that this time it was not going to be the same.  I was going to have a positive attitude and make the most of what I could do from the beginning.  I went in for surgery and everything went as planned.  Making that decision the night before surgery was the best decision I had made because things weren't going to be easy.  I had finally gotten to the point where I could start doing "normal" stuff in the gym again only to have to start over back in my sling.  However, that did not keep me down! A couple days after surgery I was back in the gym walking on the treadmill at 1.5 MPH because that was as fast as I could walk without my arm hurting (I only took my pain medication for 24 hours after surgery because I hated it so much!).  Although it sounds pathetic it made me so happy to be in the gym doing what I loved.  Now don't get me wrong...being in a sling for four weeks is not necessarily fun, but I like to think that I made the best of it.  

We were a lot more aggressive with therapy this time and luckily I was able to gain my range of motion back without having to get a manipulation.  

I guess one of my reasons for writing this (very long) post was to express to you the power of the mind, whether positive or negative.  It is absolutely amazing to see what a difference it makes to be positive even in the darkest of times.  If you ever feel like you are the only one going through something (whether it is depression or something else) I want you to know that you are not alone!  I want you to know that you are loved and cared for.  I encourage you to take the challenge of having a positive mind and I promise those dark times will begin to get brighter.

Health and fitness are my passion.  Those are two of the things that helped me get through my depression.  I want to share my story and journey with others because I hope to inspire someone just like I have been inspired.  Fitness brings so much joy into my life and has helped me find out who I am and what my purpose is.  Even though my life may not be all about gymnastics anymore I will forever be grateful for the love of health and fitness that it has brought into my life.

XO, Kenz