After eleven years as a competitive powerlifter (24 World and 25 American titles), my shoulder joints have been reduced to bone on bone. Osteoarthritis is defined as the wearing away of the cartilage which cushions the joint. Most people over 60 years of age with this condition are subjected to shoulder replacement surgery, which is an invasive procedure involving the removal of the head of the humerus and the installation of a titanium rod with a titanium ball on top, into the bone marrow of the humerus itself. I was told a number of years ago by my orthopedic surgeon that I would not be able to lift heavy ever again if I undertook such an operation. Therefore, I continued to train with severe pain rather than end my career. My training partner, John Hare, has literally had to shove me under the bar for the last four years in order to get into position to squat-a very painful movement.
I continued to ask my surgeon if any new techniques had been developed for the shoulder like the resurfacing procedures being performed on hips and knees. Finally, last year he referred me to Dr. Anthony Miniaci at the Cleveland Clinic who has been successfully resurfacing shoulders with a partial replacement technique known as Hemicap surgery. In this less invasive procedure the head of the humerus will be smoothed down to accept an “igloo”-like titanium dome which is merely glued and screwed to the surface of the glenoid process of the scapula. His procedure then inlays Teflon to form the other side of the joint. After meeting with Dr. Miniaci in March, I was convinced that after rehab I would be able to continue to compete at a high level. I’m on my way to Cleveland as I write this for surgery tomorrow on my right shoulder which will include a repair of a partial tear of the bicep tendon too. After a summer of rehab I will likely return to Cleveland in October for the same surgery on the left shoulder and then begin the arduous process of restoring my strength to world class level. My goal is to get back on the platform by the end of 2017.
I will be logging my progress at KabukiStrength.com for the interest of other mature athletes who may be facing the same or similar condition. I’m sure that the Duffalo Bar and ShouldeRok along with other tools which can be found in the Kabuki Strength Store will be a big part of the rehab process.