Call Now: 443-286-2488

Archive for 2013

The Gift

The gift arrived on January 16, 2013.
Like many gifts it was a surprise.
And unexpected.
It was a torn left rotator cuff.

The Story
As long-time readers know, I am an avid triathlete and a four-time Ironman finisher.
Following another successful Ironman campaign in 2012, I decided that 2013 would be an off-Ironman year in which I would concentrate on getting stronger with a weight lifting regimen and faster by competing in shorter races. That would allow me to compete at an even higher level when the 2014 Ironman rolled around.

The suggestion was made to try kettle bells—a round weight with a handle. Not wanting to take any chances, I hired a kettle bell instructor to work with me.
Everything was going fine –until that one lift. As the kettle bell was going up over my head I felt my shoulder give way and I felt the pain. And I knew it was not good.
I suspected a tear in my left rotator cuff—a group of muscles and their tendons that act to stabilize the shoulder. I was quite familiar with the rotator cuff world after surgery on my right rotator cuff in 2008, which was followed by 32 weeks of rehab.
An MRI in early February confirmed my fear. It was a tear—a small tear, but a tear nonetheless.

I was crest fallen as I sat with my surgeon, Andy Cosgarea, and began to mentally prepare myself for another surgery and another eight-month rehab grind.

The Gift
And then the gifts began to come.
After explaining to me where the tear was, Dr. Cosgarea paused.
“I’d like to think outside the box,” he began. “Oh” I replied, “Let’s do that. What’s outside the box?” There was a possibility, he explained, that I might be able to avoid surgery or at least push it out to the future. Because my conditioning was so high, it might be possible to rehab the muscles around the rotator cuff and stabilize the area.

Off I went to physical therapy jumping in with both feet. After three weeks, the plan called for me to get back in the water. We would start with five-minute sessions and gradually work up to longer distances. Fast forward three months to the end of May. As I triumphantly emerged from a one-hour pain-free swim, it was time to announce the rehab an overwhelming success and time to think about racing again. I would be allowed to race in sprint triathlons. It was going to be a shortened season, but a season nonetheless.
I enthusiastically signed up for the “Celebrating Heroes” sprint on June 23. My swimming had progressed but my speed had not. To offset that I had begun to spend more time on my bike and was beginning to feel myself becoming a very strong cyclist. I had also become a faster runner. I had no idea what to expect on race day. I was just happy I could race and that my shoulder no longer hurt.

I have raced well over forty triathlons and I had never come close to the “podium.” That was normally reserved for the top three finishers in each age group, and there was little doubt that was not my peer group.

This day was a little different. I certainly had a slow swim; but when I got on that bike and put on those running shoes, it was a different race. I not only won my age group I won the “Sixty and Over Grand Masters” award. Basically, I was the fastest old guy that day.

The Lesson
I certainly didn’t ask for the torn rotator cuff but without the loss of my swimming skills, I don’t think I would have dedicated so much time to becoming a stronger cyclist.
I knew nothing about a non-surgical rehab option but was blessed with a doctor who did.
The torn rotator cuff was not the gift.
Dr. Cosgarea’s rehab suggestion was not the gift.
The gift was the positive outcome I decided to create.
I could not control what had happened, but I could control my response.
I simply chose to focus on the upside of the situation I was in.
Nothing, it seems, has any meaning except the meaning we give it.
I decided to give my circumstances a different meaning.

I decided to focus on the good and the possible.
Our brains are very good at learning from bad experiences but very bad at learning from good experiences.
That is because we spend more time dwelling on and encoding the bad and give little time or attention to our successes.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
The next time you have a positive experience take 15-20 seconds and dwell on it, soak it in.
If you do this on a regular basis you will begin to see your thinking shift more toward the upside of a situation and away from the downside.
Who knows?
The next time you have a challenging situation you may find yourself looking for your “gift.”

On October 25, I fell and snapped by right clavicle.
As I rest and heal I can’t wait to see what gift it will bring.
Ironman 2014, after all, is only eight months away….

Page 1 of 1612345678...Last »

CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488