(Editor’s note: As we age, we trade surgical stories like baseball cards in the spokes as kids. 2018 MSBL World Series Hall of Fame member and feared southpaw on the mound, Charlie LaDuca recently entered the surgically repaired shoulder world. At my urging I requested that Charlie please keep us in the loop regarding his procedure and recovery so that we may all gain knowledge on what may lie ahead. Charlie was kind enough to send an update last week that I thought you may be interested in reviewing…Steve LaMontia, MSBL Director of Communications
Submitted by Charlie LaDuca, Chautauqua MSBL, owner Pro Bats, LLC
I am currently recovering from extensive rotator cuff surgery on my non-throwing shoulder that I injured a few years ago diving for a ball. I tweaked it in the gym getting ready for a tournament and finally destroyed it landing on it once again. I had surgery May 21st in a three-hour surgery, as they re-attached two tendons that had torn off the bone, repaired two others, repaired a huge tear in my labrum, re-attached my biceps tendon, and shaved a bone spur. Piece of cake, right?
Dr. Duquinn at the University of Buffalo Medical Center was amazing. He is an athlete himself and went the extra mile for me. I spent six weeks in a sling and now going to physical therapy twice weekly. I’m thankfully ahead of schedule, since I did some work on my own (go figure) and I’m thrilled to be on schedule to take the bump in Arizona at the MSBL World Series this October for Bob Sherwin’s Athletics in the 65-over division. Bob Bankoski is also a player in our Chautauqua MSBL and had the same surgery only two weeks ago. Bob is the Manager of the A’s and has been playing and running that team for the past 11 years. He is done for the season but looks forward to taking the field again next spring. We are rehabbing together at Fredonia Physical Therapy where they push us hard, but we would expect nothing less.
I was allowed to take my arm out of the sling after three days to shower, but only allowed to let it hang down. No lifting, raising it up or moving it. I was allowed to do some small semicircular motions with it hanging, and that was about it. This was the protocol for the six weeks I was in the sling. The hardest part was sleeping, as I was afraid I would injure it even though I was in a sling. As most patients did, I slept in my recliner for all six weeks. I was pretty much sleep deprived for those six weeks, although I cat napped during the day which was a saving grace.
I did push things a bit, as most of us players will have a tendency to do. I cut my lawn and trimmed the bushes and drove my car, although in writing I was not supposed to. We all drive with one hand anyway here in Western New York. After three weeks I found a YouTube video of a doctor showing how to do passive stretching at this point post-surgery. I went in my hot tub every morning and stretched my shoulder.
Another big part of recovery is an ice machine. They offer you the option of purchasing an actual ice machine and most insurances cover it. It is basically a container that holds water and ice with a tube and pad that fits around your shoulder. Once you turn it on, cold water is circulated through the pad and around your shoulder. It was absolute heaven!
So, from that point until I got the sling off at the six-week mark, I alternated stretching and icing. Once the sling was removed I started PT. There were very slow baby steps with stretching and finally very light exercises using stretch cords and one-pound weights. Since I have been pitching for so long, and caring for my throwing arm, I was able to get ahead of the curve and speed up my recovery using some of the same techniques. I was told rehab was hell on earth though I never felt any pain at all. Maybe some little twinges and that was about it.
They say that my shoulder will be completely healed at the three-month mark. My last visit with my surgeon was three days ago. They were impressed with my progress and after putting me through a bunch of tests, gave me permission to start playing catch. Yahoooo! Again, this is my non-throwing shoulder, so it would have been a much different scenario had it been my left shoulder.
So there it is. I’m confident I will come back stronger than ever. I now realize how weak that shoulder was for a long period of time. I really do enjoy the challenge of doing the work to get back on the diamond. I hope this little update helps those either considering the procedure or experiencing it right now. There is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel so stay the course!