I was a fast pitch softball pitcher and first noticed symptoms of TOS after pitching at an all day tournament. My arm swelled to the point that I could not bend my wrist, and although it's my favorite color, it turned a very unpleasant shade of purple.
My parents took me to a specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, but little was known about TOS or its treatment at the time. They simply told me to remedy the situation by quitting sports. I played softball for another year after that, relinquishing the position of pitcher and taking on second base so I wouldn't have as much strain on my arm, but eventually I gave up softball all together.
Three years ago, my younger sister found she had the same problem while playing softball in high school. Unfortunately, having seen that I had to give up softball, she didn't vocalize that she was having pain, and ended up in the hospital with blood clots.
Knowing more about TOS now than they did over ten years ago, and taking into account the severity of her situation, the doctors recommended surgery to remove the top rib on both her left and right sides to reduce the obstruction of blood flow. She spent quite some time in the hospital first to eliminate the blood clots, then for her surgery. She was restricted from certain activities after her surgery, softball included. She has since recovered; she has two less bones and is all the more cheerful for it. For every ounce of bone she lost, she gained an ounce of sunshine and inspiration.
When my sister was diagnosed, I went back to Hopkins and had a sonogram of my right shoulder to revisit my own TOS. They found I still had restricted blood flow, but not to the extent of my sister's prior to her surgery. The doctor recommended Physical Therapy and wrote me a script.
I did physical therapy for about three months to build up my upper body strength and regain some range of motion in my arm. I am always
I have not had any pain or difficulty with it since my physical therapy... until today.
I was so excited for today's WOD (Shoulder Press, Push Press, Press Jerk), I didn't even begin to consider whether or not my shoulder was capable. The thought never even crossed my mind until my trainer pointed out that my left arm was carrying most of the weight and I was not locking my right arm.
The little Kelly I used to be would have made excuses and would have quit right then and there. I would have cited pain in my shoulder and headed for the car. Somewhere along the way, whether watching my sister go through surgery for the same condition that plagued me, whether through pushing myself to run further than I ever thought possible, pushing myself passed all reasonable exhaustion in CrossFit, or if it was just a natural progression, I can't say, but somewhere I grew up.
I put on my big girl panties and I got mad. I got mad at my shoulder for having held me back from pursuing my favorite sport in college. I got mad at the doctors for not knowing how to help me sooner. I got mad at myself for not pushing to do more sooner. And I pushed. And better still, I failed.
That's right, I failed. And I'm proud of it.
I maxed out at 58 pounds on the press, 78 pounds on the push press, and 88 pounds on the push jerk. I failed at 63 pounds on the press, 88 pounds on the push press, and 93 pounds on the push jerk.
So why am I so proud that I failed? Because it means I tried.
I cannot know what my limits are without pushing them. Sometimes that means I have to fail. But I cannot tell you how good it felt to throw down that 93 pound bar knowing that I had given it all I have got. After all these years of being too afraid to push myself, I have finally accepted myself for who I am and have become comfortable with where I am, and comfortable with pushing myself further. And I'm going to keep at it.
This is the sexy face my husband gets to come home to everyday.
Isn't he a lucky guy?