An unexpected experiment in disabled computing

A 45-minute MRI inside of what felt like a 110 degree microwave oven, and an examination by the guy who does Tommy John surgery on Red Sox pitchers, and it has been confirmed that I ruptured my bicep tendon on Dec. 30; the muscle was ripped off of the bone in my forearm by my messing up a move in the gym called “toes-to-bar” and now needs to be surgically reattached as soon as possible before the tendon retracts too far up inside of my upper arm.

This is what happens when 53-year old men try to do things meant for 23-year old men. It happens to 3 out of 100,000 people, mostly men who lift weights in their 50s or 60s, and has an elevated risk for smokers (which I am not) or anabolic steroid abusers (which I am also not). There is some suspicion that anti-cholesterol statins may also play a role in weakening the tendon, but I have ceased taking those in a three month experiment to see if I can hold my HDL/LDL levels where they are today with a strict paleo diet.

Yes, I am depressed that this happened right on the eve of the annual indoor rowing season. No Cape Cod Cranberry Crunch at the end of January, no CRASH-B sprints in February. I’m looking at four months of rehab and another five months of work before I can return to 100%. The good news is I will return to 100%. Eventually.

Fortunately for me, there is a great online forum of distal bicep tendon rupture survivors with a lot of amassed wisdom on how to cope with the procedure and ensuing rehab.  And I am also lucky not to make my living through manual labor, but I won’t be able to drive while in a splint/sling and I am going to have to adapt to life with one arm, my non-dominant one at that.

I anticipation of being out of commission, I’ve installed Dragon Naturally Speaking on my ThinkPad to allow me to use the PC and continue “writing” with my voice. I’ve never had much luck with voice recognition software in the past, mostly because I haven’t been willing to put in the time to adequately train the system, and because I am such a fast typist. Blogging will either be drastically reduced for a month, move to Vlogging (I don’t like cameras), or be voice driven. We’ll see next week following Tuesday’s surgery.

Thanks to YouTube I can watch some orthopedic surgeons narrate examples of the procedure. I’m not squeamish, but it looks like pretty delicate and major surgery involving two incisions on my forearm and the back of the elbow.  The severed tendon is cleaned up and then anchored into some pins drilled into the forearm. The bone grows back, the tendon is re-anchored, and I’ll be doing heavy deadlifts by summertime.

With five days remaining I need to figure out how to clothe myself, put away enough meals in tupperware to sustain me until the splint is removed seven-days post-op, and clear my decks for the nasty, pain killer filled fog  that always follows surgery. My iPad and Kindle will be key to fighting off insanity. I’m already putting together a training plan to keep me in semi-shape during the recovery — lots of air squats, box jumps, sit-ups, and one-armed work for my good arm — but was advised by the surgeon that I would not be running or lifting much of anything for a while.



Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

9 thoughts on “An unexpected experiment in disabled computing”

  1. I’m really sorry. Hope you heal quicker than you think and with less pain than anticipated.

    Don’t beat yourself up too much either. Just because it happened at 53 doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened at 23. Injuries happen. The good news is that you’re fit and strong which will help your recovery. This type of injury could have happened just as easily if you were a couch potato and were trying to push yourself up out of your seat.

  2. Good luck David. It’s actually a kind of backhanded compliment: for a 53-year-old to be pushing himself the way you do is commendable–even if you do ding yourself up every now and then. I can only imagine the trouble you’ll be getting into when you’re 63!

  3. David,
    I am sorry to hear about your injury. I just registered for the Cranberry Crunch and I was scouting out the competition and found your blog. Your Crunch time was a bit better than my time at the crash-bs, and your crash-b time left min e in the dust (6:43.9). I’m a bit faster now, more like 6:40 or so, so I was looking forward to racing against you. I hope you heal up quickly and we can meet some time.

  4. Thanks Greg, I’m sorry to have to miss this year’s CC — it’s a fun event and a bright spot in the winter doldrums. Your time is very fast — my best recent 2K was a 6:44 in early December, my first since the Crash-B’s nearly a year ago, but I was looking forward to a good showing this year after so much time training. Oh well, back next year better than before.

    I’ll try to come to the community college next Sunday to watch the races and will introduce myself. Good luck.

  5. I feel your pain, Im also 53, got hit by a slapshot in the forearm by a slapshot during my roller hockey game on Feb,28,2012,Its been almost 4 weeks since surgery feeling better, started PT,What kind of exercise program are you doing in the meantime while you rehab? Hang in there, we need to stay positive during this tough time,take care

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