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The scandalous photos!

July 19, 2008

So there are a few biology things to put out there, up front, for anyone that is interested in what happened but not real informed on the physical makeup of a pitchers shoulder. I emphasize pitcher because there are parts of this that are relevant to me being a throwing athlete.

The first piece to this is regardless of what anyone in the medical profession has ever told you about MRI’s, even Gadolinium MRI’s (which is an MRI where they inject a fluid into your shoulder to give the images much better contrast, hopefully giving the experts reading the images more information on the condition of the joint being examined) it’s as inexact a science as there is. MRI’s are a very nice way to get an idea of a potential problem, but at best they are very obscure and inexact.

The MRI’s I have had over the past 5 years were reported as “unchanged” all the way up to my arm actually being opened. That’s not to say “healthy” or “in great shape” but rather nothing had medically changed from a diagnosis standpoint on the MRI’s, in anyone’s mind, with the exception of Dr Morgan.

The MRI taken early this year, as he read it, showed the bicep as ‘striated’. Think of how a thick piece of rope is made. The hemp is small strings wound together to create a thick rope. The bicep tendon is very similar in makeup, and a ‘striated bicep’ means that the ‘hemp’ that is wound together to create the bicep, was unraveling. This I was told is a sign of latter stages of deterioration of the bicep and is not a common thing, even in throwing athletes. It’s generally seen in older people who do manual labor, carpenters and such, and people that tend to use their arms over their shoulder height quite often, as well as tennis players at times.

So Dr Morgan diagnosed a striated bicep tendon and there was disagreement as anyone familiar with the situation might remember, but most everyone involved was in some sort of agreement that beyond that there was no real change.

Everyone that is but Dr Altcheck. Dr Altcheck was brought in as an independent 3rd opinion after the initial disagreements and as per the collective bargaining agreement stipulates. In Dr Altchecks opinion there was agreement that there were significant issues with the bicep tendon, but beyond that there was an opinion that I had ‘significant’ damage to my rotator cuff, career ending damage to be exact. That led to the belief that while a bicep tenodesis at that time might cure the pain I was receiving, the larger issues were of such significance that short of a major rotator cuff repair I would never pitch again.

This led to a lot of discussion about the completely unexplored area of doing a bicep teno-desis in a Major League pitcher. The opinion was that it had never been done and therefore was not a realistic option. Unfortunately we came to find out that it had actually been done and the few it had been done on, some as far back as the late 1970s, some threw in the major leagues afterwards. The more recent example(s) were in players much younger than I am.

The age and mileage factor was the wild card piece to any discussion about surgery, and rightly so. We knew, even if the MRI read pristine, opening my shoulder would reveal at least some semblance of damage, given that an MRI would most likely show the bare minimum in the way of injury.

The physical aspects of this are somewhat relevant too. The bicep tendon runs up the middle of your arm and enters into the shoulder joint along a narrow shallow canal at the end of your humerus bone. It enters at the lower end of the ‘knob’ of the humerus, and when it does it then is under a small bony sheath to the point it exits at the top, and is attached to your shoulder at the labrum.

The second important part to this is the labrum. Think of the labrum as an oval. A thick rubbery ‘buffer’ that is between your humerus and your shoulder socket, and is there to act as a buffer between the bones and the joint. Also think in terms of a clock, with 12 at the top and 6 at the bottom. In 1995 I had a labral tear from 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock of my labrum that Dr Morgan repaired with what was then cutting edge technology, tools and procedures. Now the bicep tendon exits this small canal and attaches to the labrum in two places. It splits just before attaching and is anchored to the labrum in two locations.

SLAP lesion

SLAP lesion

This first picture is my labrum. This actually looks rather innocent until you realize this. That white wispy cotton looking material is my labrum and that solid bone thing to the right is my bone at the joint. The white wispy thing is supposed to be adhered to the bone and NOT all frayed and floating. Basically I had a torn labrum from about 10 o’clock to 3 o’clock. Far more significant tear than I had 13 years ago. Also if you peek behind into the background you can see my bicep tendon hanging out back there, all shiny and white and healthy. That’s the bicep tendon as it exited the small canal near the top of my shoulder, looking pretty sexy I might add.

The second photo is the repair in action. The labral tear is “debride” which in addition to likely being spelled wrong is when they shave away the peripheral tissue to clear it out and insure what’s left is strong enough to handle being re-attached. They also start the bone healing process by making it ‘bleed’, at which time the body reacts by starting the healing process even before it’s truly fixed.

The picture above is the labrum repaired. Anchored to the bone with 3 sutures of ridiculous strength. Also note the bicep tendon is now absent, it’s been removed.

Another major factor in the process was that by removing the bicep tendon you could argue that the labral repair becomes unnecessary because the bicep causes all of the pulling and tension on the labrum in the first place. With the bicep taken out of the equation that part of the pain puzzle is removed. I would argue that would not be the smart thing since having a torn labrum to this degree would provide ample opportunity for that tissue to get ‘caught’ or wedged in the joint, and I don’t think that would feel too good. I am guessing that if there was no repair they would remove the labral tissue altogether? Not sure but I wasn’t real interested in finding out.

These last two pictures are the evidence I honestly never felt I needed (and if you’re squeamish I’d recommend not scrolling down). I knew there were issues and I knew they were not all connected to my labrum. Not only was my bicep ‘rotting’ and ‘diseased’ (which you can see by looking at the ends of the muscle which are whiter, and thicker than the middle portion, but notice that split? Ya, that’s not supposed to be there. The bicep is, until it exits the canal, one long continuous muscle, at least in normal cases it is. Mine is not. Mine is actually split in two as you can see. That’s not good but that is a definitive set of reasons why I had the pain I had, the way I had it.

Ya that\'s just nasty.

Ya that's just nasty.

Oh one more piece. In the picture below you can see an arthroscopic tool touching some tissue. That’s the undersurface of my rotator cuff. In layman’s terms the cuff is basically 4 ‘muscles’ that anchor your shoulder joint and keep it stabilized. They are rather small and fragile but they tend to be the lynch pin in that were they absent your humerus bone would bounce around inside your shoulder joint and you’d be done, fast. I did NOT have a rotator cuff tear in the traditional sense, not even close. I had what’s called a ‘partial thickness undersurface tear’ and if you look close enough you can see it. Partial thickness is one of the few medical terms I have heard that means what it says. It’s partially torn and not torn all the way through the muscle. I’ve been told that pretty much any pitcher on the planet that’s thrown even a few innings at this level can show this exact thing. The career ending piece is when you have a ‘full thickness tear’, that means your tear goes all the way through the cuff muscle and there is detachment from the bone. I had none of that. In fact other than that small partial tear my cuff was 100% intact.

Off of this I had to make some assumptions when all was said and done. That labral tear is not a gradual hard to figure out piece here. That’s a major injury and in thinking back there is only one set of dates and times that make even remote sense to any of this piece of the puzzle. Last year I came one out away from a no hitter in Oakland on June 7th. Six days later I was atrocious and struggling in getting battered by Colorado and 5 days after that I was throwing 83mph in my last start before going on the DL. I think I tore my labrum sometime between the last pitch of the Oakland game the last pitch of the Atlanta game. In all honesty I think it was prior to the Atlanta game since those symptoms spread out over that 11 day period match the symptoms exactly that I experience over 1 inning in 1995 in Colorado when I tore my labrum. No real pain while doing it, but a sudden immense drop in velocity. Only when I cooled down and stiffened up did pain enter into the picture.

What I am curious to know is just how they kept me alive and breathing the rest of the season. I can’t deny the cortisone had to have an immense impact since my first three rehab starts in Pawtucket that next month were the best I had thrown in 3 years. I also know that everyone involved knew that every day after coming back was on a path of diminishing returns since there was no real time to rest anything.

I think I got fooled into believing a little longer rest period over the winter would cure all ills for that simple reason. I managed to get by the entire year because I could ingest Vicodin when needed for pain, and in between starts when it wasn’t that bad and my ankle wasn’t screaming we could manage to get some work in. The magic John Ferrell worked is now even more amazing to me looking back.

What we didn’t say at seasons end was that long layoff I had before the post season was due to a second cortisone injection and complete rest. I had immense discomfort between starts and really could not manage to throw much, if at all, in between games. My biggest fear going into Anaheim was rust, I literally DID NOT touch a ball for I think 7 of those days and as someone who lives for that little touch and feel work between starts it killed me. I will add that it was the first time I ever committed myself to visualization and I may have even gone overboard working with Don Kalkstein, another guy who without him I’d have folded the tents far sooner than I did.

I do remember heading out for game 3 and until I was on the mound pitching I had no clue how it was going to turn out. I certainly wasn’t physically locked in, not even close, but I think the ‘brain work’ and the complete and unflinching confidence in ‘Tek back there allowed me to get settled and get after it a bit sooner than I otherwise might have. I remember a lot of loud outs early but I also remember feeling like I was improving as the game went on.

Conspiracy theorists and ‘experts’ can speculate on ulterior motives about so much of this but the fact of the matter is I was strong enough to pass a physical and my MRI didn’t show anything anyone had not seen before. I was sure the rest would fix it all, but it didn’t. The bicep issue is not a spur of the moment thing, that’s been a long time coming and I guess given my age and mileage shouldn’t end up being a shock. Dr Morgans analogy back in January when everyone was looking for answers to why and how I just suddenly had pain, before we knew of the labrum damage, was that sometimes it’s just ‘the straw that broke the camels back’ with regards to my bicep.

So there it is, in all it’s gory splendor.

What next? I really don’t know. I am moving the shoulder passively and nearing that stage of the process when some decisions are going to need to be made. I have access to the right people should I decide to take the long road and rehab back to pitch one last time. If I did that it would be no sooner than the 2nd half of next season and even then there is a lot to ponder if that’s the path I choose.

64 Comments leave one →
  1. bosoxfan33 permalink
    July 19, 2008 5:49 am

    Wow. Thanks for sharing all of that, it was fascinating! I hope the healing continues to go well, and best of luck making what I’m sure will be a difficult decision.

  2. kathiemkm permalink
    July 19, 2008 6:00 am

    WOW….thanks for the details. I have seen my sister go through a number of arm & shoulder surgries over the past 5 years on both sides and this really put some light on it. Last year she had rotor cuff surgry which went extremly well and she has been for the most part pain free. She does still need to careful not to stress it.
    Good Luck with your Rehab & PT. I hope you do get a chance to make it to the mound in Boston next year.
    GO SOX!!!

  3. suesox permalink
    July 19, 2008 7:30 am

    Thank you for all this information. I was wondering when you’d reappear here! I truly hope you’re able to pitch for the Sox again, but if not, you definitely would be an excellent biology teacher! Your manner of clearly explaining complex medical issues is outstanding. To tell you the truth, I would prefer you refrain from pursuing a political career, but only because I typically don’t agree with your views. On the other hand, I believe it’s a passion of yours, so you probably should go for it! I’m so glad you have a supportive family to help you during this decision-making period. Not all ballplayers are so lucky….

  4. mvislegurl permalink
    July 19, 2008 11:43 am

    yeah, looks painful more so then when i split my humer bone open.it hurt was very painful,and still does when it rains.but i use the arm and shoulder as beore.I cant lay on that side tho.but its an adjustment i got used to.
    I really hold hope you will return,i feel you will,you are such a strong individual in many ways.
    sooooo, we’ll see you second half of next year!

    be stubborn w/ it. ; )

  5. July 19, 2008 3:14 pm

    What an informative post. The way that you explained things gave me more insight into my own shoulder problems.

  6. slammermike permalink
    July 19, 2008 4:59 pm

    Curt,

    I bet you feel like you have had a great deal of medical training. I know I always wind up learning more about an injured part of the body than I really ever wanted to know.
    I always find medicine incredible and like you said what is cutting edge one day is obsolete a year or so later.
    Thanks for sharing this information. I know it will be a long hard rehab and a more difficult decision. You have to consider your quality of life after the healing is complete.
    Good Luck, hang tough.

  7. July 19, 2008 5:23 pm

    That is really amazing that you have the photos as well. Thanks for allowing us to see them and bringing the public into this surgery. We all wish you the best of luck Curt.

  8. mannyramirez1 permalink
    July 19, 2008 5:38 pm

    Wow, such detail. Very very interesting to say the least. How do you remember all this stuff? I walk out of my Dr’s office after a simple visit and say “what did he just say?”

    Anyway, it sounds like you’ve been through quite an ordeal. I hope that everything goes well with your rehab and I will surely keep you in my thoughts. Don’t stay away from us too long, I’m really starting to miss you out there.

    Peace

  9. July 19, 2008 5:39 pm

    That was really interesting. As long as there isn’t blood involved (and yes I know there was but it wasn’t in the photos) I can look at pics of surgeries all day long.

    I’ve had total knee replacement and I know that it takes a really long time to bounce back from joint injuries. No matter how extensive the surgery and how good the doctors, the fact is you NEVER come back at 100%. For a top athlete, that has to be a difficult fact to swallow. We all want to believe that doctors can cure all ills, but it’s a job just like any other job, only with more inherent risk involved.

    I hope that you get back 99% of your motion and that pitching once more is possible. But even if it isn’t, you have a beautiful family, a new house to look forward to, a loving wife, and a battery of fans who only wish you well.

  10. pilotnh permalink
    July 19, 2008 10:08 pm

    Good luck for a healthy and painless rehab! I have recently been diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear (7.5mm of the supraspinatus). Unfortunately I can’t do the surgery right now because I won’t be paid $8M during the time I am out of work and rehabbing so it’s cortisone shots and P.T. for now.

  11. thirstybosoxfan permalink
    July 20, 2008 12:55 am

    Thanks. Very insightful. It gives me a greater appreciation of the wear and tear you and all pitchers endure over the years. Next time I see a picture whose game is a bit off I’ll think of your post and wonder what could be happening with his arm/shoulder.

    Good luck with the rehab. Maybe you’ll need some of that warm Arizona sun to help you heal !!!!

  12. empirelady permalink
    July 20, 2008 2:47 am

    Curt-
    Please read this completely as it is very important that you read it and you need to hear what I have to say(which is only said with good intentions and with great caring for you). First,before I say anything else,I must thank you for sharing the great pictures and detailed description of what happened to you medically. It means a great deal that you not only want to keep us informed but also that you are giving us insight into what you have,and are,going through,physically and mentally…As for your comments regarding whether you return to pitching in 2009(and you are worth the wait),obviously I could tell you quite selfishly that I want you to return,as I do selfishly want to have you pitch again,regardless of which team(and I am not alone in that thought,not to mention that I read the comments that your wife made last week,when she said that it would be great for your children,particularly your youngest,to have you continue to play and for them to be able to experience that). I am very much aware of the fact that this is a difficult decision and that returning to pitching would require a tremendous amount of physical and mental rehab. By the way,I should point out that prior to the surgery,you thought that your career was over,that you would not have the opportunity to ever play again,
    that there was another “plan” for you,but thankfully you have the chance to play again,should you desire to do so(and hopefully you do). The IMPORTANT MAJOR thing that I want you to remember is what Edward Kennedy,Jr.,
    son of Senator Kennedy,said to me a few years ago. He said that we cannot let an injury or a physical condition define who we are or dictate our life;in other words,you cannot let this injury dictate to you. He lost a leg to cancer at age twelve,yes 12, yet he does not consider himself handicapped; he describes himself as physically challenged and has since gone on to do many of the things that he desires to do, including going skiing. The POINT is that if not for your injury and need for surgery,you would be pitching right now and probably would be next year,as mentally I know that you want to continue. So PLEASE do not let the injury and the physical rehab dictate what you do with your career,with the rest of your life;please do not have it be the ending of your career. I am painfully aware that it will not be easy,mentally and physically(I have spoken previously about my own eighteen month rehab to truly learn how to walk again,after spending two months in a wheelchair thinking that I would never walk again and my own battle to regain my life,reclaim it from the railroad that shattered it,all the while keeping Kennedy’s words in my mind),I know that it will be a battle for you, but you have always been a fighter, you have never quit on anyone or anything,so do not quit on yourself,keep fighting,and you are going to win. Do not give up the fight and keep fighting(and do not use your age as an excuse,as you are not “too old” and are in better physical shape than most of us)! There is so much more to you than baseball,both off the field and on,you are a fabulous human being and that will always be,but in terms of the pitching,do not let the injury win. Please do NOT give in to the injury. Keep fighting(you once said that you thought that the LORD has a plan for you,which I truly believe,in terms of all of us,myself included,and I think that the plan for you is to keep fighting,keep pitching),know that you are never alone,I am with you every step of the way(and although sometimes it is hard for me to stand I will always give you a standing ovation) and after all of the difficult rehab,physical and mental,I know that you will have the greatest feeling. It will have been worth it and you will be pitching once again,having the career again,and having the career end as you want it,rather than giving in to the injury,having the injury end the career for you. When it does end,let it be on your terms,not the terms of the injury. Don’t give up,keep up the fight,I am here for you,always, and I hope that you feel better soon,that the pain lessens quickly. My thoughts are with you,always,I hope that you are soon free of pain,if there is ever anything that I can do for you,let me know,and please think about what I said(which as I said at the start is only said with good intentions and with great caring for you). *Note: Any thoughts,comments,questions,or responses that you have to what I said will be most welcome,always.
    *Donna Blanc,New York City,empirelady87@hotmail.com

  13. jimmykc permalink
    July 20, 2008 1:12 pm

    Curt: Excellent photos and commentary-especially from a nonmedical (although deeply interested) party. My unsolicited advice as a medical doctor who has survived his own personal health crisis is to throw in the towel on pitching. Rehab yourself so that you can be able to hang a picture and throw a wiffleball to your grandkids, and move on to enjoy your family and your many other interests. Your legacy in Red Sox lore is forever intact, and will only diminish should you decide to return. No one will think less of you if you call it quits after this extensive procedure and life offers so much more than the satisfaction you get from your career. Keep blogging from time to time for those of us who appreciate your insights and candor. Best wishes whatever you decide.

  14. simondsjt permalink
    July 20, 2008 1:50 pm

    I hear you about MRI’s not being an exact science. They found a torn labram on my MRI but what they didn’t see was I had chipped away about 8% of my shoulder socket. They didn’t find that out until they got inside.

    They went from doing the procedure arthoscopically to them opening me up and removing the bone fragments. When I woke up, it felt like my arm was out of the socket.

    My sympathy goes out to you, because I know just how long and hard the rehab you are about to go through will be. Mine was 6 months and I’m not an athlete. I can only imagine what you’ll have to go through to pitch again.

    I’m sure everything will work out for the best.

  15. tranmerelectric permalink
    July 20, 2008 3:56 pm

    Curt,

    I wish you the best and I hope you pitch again. And if the Red sox are smart it will be for us. Your one of the few athletes that I wouldn’t be upset with if you left because I know that you truly love being here and if management lets you go thats a shame. Get better and keep us updated. I check the site a few times a week. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have an atlete to look up to for my kids who doesn’t consider himself better then the rest of the world…..

    Jim

  16. July 20, 2008 9:15 pm

    Hey! We really DO look like chicken! ;)
    Kidding.

    Actually, the pics weren’t as bad as I’d thought they be. And, I feel much smarter now because you explained it all so well.

    Interesting about the striation; it’s funny because the only time I’ve ever heard that term is in respect to body builders. When they’re in “show” condition, they’re so dehydrated and their skin is so tight you can see all the muscle striation and that’s the look they’re going for! Which is just sort of creepy all in of itself, but just an interesting tidbit I thought I’d put out there. :)

    I know we’d all love to hear that we’ll get to see you play for one more season. But you know, life is funny. Sometimes I think it’s best not to think too far ahead and just see what life hands you. Because it’s always those best laid plans that seem to go astray….

    Be well, and hope you continue to update. :)
    Rebecca

  17. denisesoxfan permalink
    July 21, 2008 12:37 am

    Hey Curt, you’re right, that IS one sexy bicep tendon! :) Seriously, if anyone can come back from this injury, you’re the guy. Curt, wishing you continued recovery, and hoping that you will be walking from the bullpen to the mound at Fenway in the second half of next season. If that doesn’t happen for whatever reason, I’m a fan of Curt Schilling whether you are pitching for someone else or masterminding 38 Studios. But I sure hope you keep blogging!! All the best, Curt, and thank you for breaking the 86 year old curse!
    Denise

  18. July 21, 2008 6:38 am

    Those pictures are crazy Curt. Thanks for posting.

  19. ed051042 permalink
    July 21, 2008 6:59 am

    My advice, Curt…You’ve had a great career, one that you should be very proud of. Skip that long painful road to pitch for just a half season, and retire. You’ve established a great baseball legacy, worthy of the Hall in my book.

    Ed

  20. allenbosox permalink
    July 21, 2008 9:19 am

    Just to say that the decision is there to be made is amazing to me. Like you, I had a ‘bucket handle’ tear of the meniscus. i was 42 at the time of the surgery. Unlike you, I had the tear repaired, rather than removed. The surgery was 7 months ago and I still can’t even run properly. I have difficulty climbing and descending staircases. We are almost the same age, and for me, I turned down an invitation to play on a softball team because unless I hit home runs, the best I can hope for is a single! Hmmm. Maybe I can pitch if the league will go tto the DH!

    Best of luck, Curt. The Nation supports you, regardless of the next chapter.

  21. July 21, 2008 9:44 am

    Curt –

    Thanks for the update. The photos are particularly interesting since I have a slight tear in the rotator cuff of my left (throwing) shoulder. Surgery is not something I am looking forward to.

    Best of luck with your rehab.

  22. July 21, 2008 2:00 pm

    Hey, thanks for the pics, dude. Interesting stuff.

    Now, more 38 news, gogogo.

  23. soxfanindan permalink
    July 21, 2008 4:33 pm

    gross

  24. July 22, 2008 9:02 am

    Wow Curt. Those are some scandalous photos and truly the sexiest bicep tendon I’ve EVER seen *blush*!!!
    Thanks for sharing all your gorey details!! Just for selfish reasons, I hope to see you back next season. …Rest assured I’ll understand if you’re not! Just know that there are people in your corner and we want to see you succeed- be it pitching again, or retiring as a giant in the game and an icon for Red Sox fans. Regardless of what you decide to do, we’ll always have ’04 and ’07 and for that we thank you.

  25. mannysps2 permalink
    July 22, 2008 10:12 am

    Kind of cool to see the inside of the arm that helped win the Sox two world series. After I threw up in my mought a little, I came to that conclusion!

    Get well soon G38!

  26. chillyme permalink
    July 22, 2008 1:03 pm

    “That’s a major injury and in thinking back there is only one set of dates and times that make even remote sense to any of this piece of the puzzle. Last year I came one out away from a no hitter in Oakland on June 7th. Six days later I was atrocious and struggling in getting battered by Colorado and 5 days after that I was throwing 83mph in my last start before going on the DL. I think I tore my labrum sometime between the last pitch of the Oakland game the last pitch of the Atlanta game.”-Curt Schilling

    Well.

    There you have it.

    Curt, last year I asked you if going for the no-no might have messed with your shoulder.

    Your answer to me in the Q&A was “Absolutely not”

    It’s taken a year, but I’m glad to see you’ve opened your mind to the possibilty.

    Even so, knowing what you know now, you were right to go for the no-no. The shoulder would have gone eventually.

    Lessons learned? 1) Don’t shake off Tek and 2) Don’t shake off menopausal women who know a thing or two about why things happen the way they do.

    Sit.
    Stay.
    Heal.
    :)

    Onward…………………….

  27. smash46 permalink
    July 22, 2008 1:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Curt. My prayers are with you. Do whatever seems best for you and your family. No need to spend them in agony. You have made a mark in baseball and we respect you for it. Perhaps you have something else to excel at. You are indeed a gifted person and an inspiration to many. You are also a man of faith and I’m sure God will direct you.

    God bless you and your loved ones always and in all things! Thanks again.

  28. July 22, 2008 1:17 pm

    Crazy stuff, Curt!

    Thanks for the BodyWars-esque look into your arm. You never cease to amaze.

    In other news… 100 Innings of Baseball is ready to roll for its 5th year! We are playing August 30 and 31st at Adams Field in Quincy, MA once again. If you could let folks know about getting involved we still have room for more players and donations are always welcome.

    All information can be found at http://www.100innings.com.

    Take Care!

  29. fenwaynationchief permalink
    July 22, 2008 1:37 pm

    Holy Mackerel!

    Now I’m glad I didn’t go to medical school! (not that I planned to anyway).

    Good luck on the rehab! Keep the sling on so nobody shakes your hand! We need you next year!

    EP
    FN

  30. cobaby permalink
    July 22, 2008 2:03 pm

    Curt best wishes on the rehab and thanks for the pics. I am a huge Sox fan and appreciate what you have brought to the team the last 4 years and I am not only referring to 2 rings. Over the last 14 months I have had 2 shoulder surgeries not scopes, open me up sew up rotator cuff tears clean out arthritic areas and reattatch where the rotator had not only torn but split and tore off the bone. I am not a pitcher or a manual labor guy just an aging (53) weekend athlete. The rehab is tough but once you start to see range of motion improvements it helps the mental state. Sleeping sucks for about 6-8 weeks after the surgery but once you can lay down without propping up the arm and shoulder it will improve. I hope you get well son and return to 100% maybe even get a chance to put a Red Sox uni on again. Good Luck!

  31. stevejtorres permalink
    July 22, 2008 8:22 pm

    Curt, thanks for sharing this account. Chances are you wont remember me but I was an intern at API in Tempe, AZ back in Jan./Feb. of 2005 and worked with you following your ankle surgery. We tossed the ball around quite a few times during your rehab. Anyhow, to fast forward a little, I’ve since gone on to medical school and am currently a fourth year medical student looking to go into orthopaedics and so it was actually very educational to read this. I’ve seen quite a few SLAP repairs but never a biceps tendon tenodesis, interesting stuff. I can also somewhat relate with your experience because 3 months ago I had my SLAP tear repaired. I had the very same picture you had with the “peel-back” sign on the superior portion of the glenoid, a type II labral tear. I’m currently going through the rehab process and they say I can throw a ball in a few weeks which is exciting. Nevertheless, good luck with the rehab. If you’re back at API I’m sure Sue is taking good care of you. Mark has actually helped me out a lot and has gotten me an elective with Dr. James Andrews next month. Good luck with rehab and I feel for ya man.

  32. mike411 permalink
    July 22, 2008 11:23 pm

    hey curt like the description in detail of the surgery, i have a miniscus tear,labrum tear and a partial rotator cuff tear…..any ideas??

  33. gdavidson44 permalink
    July 23, 2008 10:27 am

    Curt:

    Great overview. Thanks for the information as it helps me better understand specifically about the labrum which I may have also torn. Not sure yet.

    As for when you pitch again, as a diehard SOX fan of 30+ years, I wish it was now so you could only bolster the strong staff the SOX have. More than likely what we have been reading is it could be next year, but I am no doctor. Either way, I hope it is still with the SOX as you have eased the pain of many New Englander’s like myself by helping bring two WS championships to Boston.

    Get better soon. We hope we see you on the mound very soon whether it be with the SOX or someone else. Not the Yankees though!!!!

    Best regards,
    Gene

  34. racheles permalink
    July 23, 2008 10:51 am

    Curt,

    Thank you for keeping your blog updated. It means a lot to your fans.

    You have a lot of decisions to make, but I know you’ll do what’s best for you, your family and the team. Conspiracy theorists be damned.

    I really appreciate all the work you do for ALS. One of my former professors is battling the devastating disease; every little bit helps us get closer to a cure. Do you work with ALS TDI at all? Their lab is in Boston, and they are doing amazing work.

    Best wishes to you and yours,

    Rachel

  35. 1redsoxfan07 permalink
    July 23, 2008 6:46 pm

    Curt,

    Thanks for the pics and the commentary. I do hope that you try it again, with the Sox,but if don’t Thank you for everything that you’ve done on and off the field to better baseball and people’s lives. All the best to you and the family!!!

    Good Luck

  36. audram permalink
    July 23, 2008 9:12 pm

    Curt,

    Today is a gift from God, that’s why they call it the present. Today, you need to look at what is important to you and your family. You came, you pitched, and you conquered! Totally living up to they hype in the Ford commercials back in 04. All of us who write in your blog would love to see you pitch again but you have so many other talents and ways to be productive. Sometimes you need to “swing at the pitch that’s thrown” instead of standing there looking at them go by. As many of your fans mentioned, your explanations and commentary regarding your surgery were very well written. You could easily stay in Baseball and teach what you have learned. On the other hand, if those that you consult with say you can rehab without damage and it’s what you want more than anything — you’ll do it. I refer to the late Lou Gehrig when he said “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth”. He didn’t have a future, you do. (Keep up the good work for ALS)

    . . . with Every Good Wish to you and your family. . . . .

  37. soxwin28 permalink
    July 23, 2008 10:02 pm

    curt, thanks for sharing this with us. I hope the healing goes well…

  38. stev0623 permalink
    July 24, 2008 12:37 am

    Hi Curt.

    I know your prolly not going to read this, and even if you do – you’ve heard is 1,000,000 times. but I made an account to write this, so im going to write it.

    Curt, the first game of baseball I ever watched was game 7 of the 2001 world series. At the time I had no idea what was going on, all I knew was that my dad didn’t like the yankees, so I didn’t either. I got to hear his stories about clemens 20k game in 86, and about how the sox broke his heart in 78(He was born and raised in NH, before moving to FL when I was 2). This was one of the first real bonding experiences I had with him.

    You had an amazing outing that game Curt.And I remember being stunned that someone could beat the yankees like that(comeon, even young kids know the yankees were amazing.. especially going for ANOTHER world series) But it wasn’t about you, it was about the D-backs. In the bottom of the 9th I remember my dad walking away, when I asked him why he said and I quote, “they brought mariano in, it’s over. there’s no point in watching.” I don’t know why this stuck with me, or even the relevance of it. But after your team won, and I saw you crowned Co-MVP I was hooked on baseball. I don’t think it would be fair to call you my favorite player at the time seeing as you were the only player I knew of. Most kids had batman or superman.. me? I had Curt Schilling.

    Seeing as my entire family was made up of red sox fans, naturally I became a sox fan. 2002 was ok, but 2003.. man, that was something else.I remember saturday night in october. 3 years later, another game 7 with me and my dad.”A fly ball, deep to left. It’s on it’s way, there it goes.. and the yankees are going to the world series”

    One word. Devastated. I was shocked. I had gone the entire game without giving up faith. Posada’s double.. matsui.. Jeter.. All my dad could say? “Welcome to the world of watching the red sox.”

    I was done, sick of baseball. Afterall, how could one game hurt so much?

    Then, that thanksgiving week, everything changed. Curt Schilling is coming to Boston? It can’t be true?!?!

    I’m sure you understand what i’m getting at. Curt, you are the reason I started watching baseball when I was a kid. You are the reason I kept watching. I’ve watched your bloody sock game 20 times if i’ve watched it once, I tear up every time. It’s amazing how something like a game can make a 19 year old guy so emotional.

    I was watching Sportscenter a few weeks ago, and peter gammons was trying to explain how he believes you won’t make it into the Hall of Fame. I literally was screaming at the TV and mumbling as I turned it off.

    I don’t know how or why im so attached to watching you play. I think it’s that every time your on the mound, you pour your heart and soul into every pitch.

    Curt, you’ve been like a mentor to me even though i’ve never met you. I wish you the best in your life, and if it’s all over – Your(at least in one kids eyes) the greatest pitcher i’ve ever been privileged to watch.

    If you actually took the time to read this, the honor has been mine Curt.

    Thanks for everything,

    Steve Silvestro

    Stephen.Silvestro@gmail.com

  39. mike302 permalink
    July 24, 2008 10:23 am

    Curt – Boy do I understand what you mean about MRI’s (even those with Gado are not really reliable). I am a retired Firefighter who injured his shoulder on the job in 2001. I had three MRI’s (two with gado). Despite my constant pain and loss of strength, I was told that I had a very minor tear in my cuff. Finally, I was “challenged” by an ortho surgeon who said my only problem was that I was addicted to narcotics and that the only way to know definitively what was wrong was to “go in” and look. I consented and, as the doctor told my wife after the surgery – “On behalf of all of the doctors who treated your husband, I apologize. It looks like a bomb went off inside his shoulder. I don’t even know how he functioned”. Following a total reconstruction, I returned to work ten months later. I lasted two months before it blew out again and needed another reconstruction. I am now retired. Moral here – Don’t put all of your eggs in one (MRI) basket! Good luck with your rehab! I really do hope you pitch again! M.K.

  40. Momoftriplets permalink
    July 24, 2008 1:10 pm

    You see pictures like that and you just KNOW that we are created in the image of God, by God. Nothing that complicated just crawled out of some primordial soup! We will pray for your continued healing during rehab and would love to see you pitch another year. My son Justin continues to do well in his cancer treatment and still LOVES the Red Sox. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/justincondoluci
    Stop by and say hello again.
    God Bless,
    Amy Condoluci

  41. britredsoxfan permalink
    July 24, 2008 5:23 pm

    It was interesting to see how the opp worked,I wish you a speedy recovery and rehabilitation,it would be great to see you pitch again but the main thing is that you(play or not play)enjoy a fruitful and happy life.

  42. gimaria8 permalink
    July 24, 2008 9:28 pm

    Hey Curt:

    Truly remarkable account of your injury and surgery. Really a shame that you know so much about what happened: it can only mean you lived through it personally. I am a PT and know alot about what you have described here and you are right on!!! Best wishes for a speedy recovery. I hope you return to the Sox asap…I love to watch you pitch!

  43. Hugh Jass permalink
    July 25, 2008 7:35 am

    Kurt, gross!

    Mike302, so sorry. However, I do hear that those heavy file cabinet drawers in the BFD have torn up many a good jake’s shoulder, esp. when they are filling in at a higher pay grade! :-)

  44. kbonedoc permalink
    July 25, 2008 8:15 am

    Curt,

    Your cuff and joint surfaces look quite good. The labrum obviously is torn and the bicep when pulled out obviously looks bad. FYI the suture is not “ridiculously strong”. It appears to be PDS which is an absorbable suture and not one of the newer “super sutures”. Some surgeons, including yours, prefer to use this on throwing athletes as the knots will go away over time and not potentially cause pain from prominent nonabsorbable knots.

    Good luck

  45. scottyusmc permalink
    July 25, 2008 7:11 pm

    Curt, thanks for the info. I had a Slap repair back in June, and the pictures look alot like yours. The Bone on my shoulder looked like little puffs of cotton. The shoulder is still a little sore, but with the rehab, it’s feelin a lot better. I never knew what a labrum was until this year, after 3 MRI’s and a few xrays, they finally decided on a torn labrum. At first it was nothing, Second MRI was supposedly Osteo-Arthritis, what a gas, how do these Doc’s go from nothing to a torn Labrum? Hope all is going well with you, and the recovery is on track. And If your ever down here in New Bedford, I’d love to talk about the surgery and the sox…..Just wishing. But seriously, get well and come back soon, we need you. Take care

    Scotty

  46. csbenvie permalink
    July 26, 2008 9:44 am

    Curt,

    Get yourself better. You’ve given more to this city and the fans of Boston than anyone could ever ask of you. I only hope that should you decide to retire, the boys in Sox management will break the typical “rules” and retire #38 because nobody will every wear it better than you here.

    ~Chris

  47. July 26, 2008 1:37 pm

    Fascinating story here. Thanks for sharing all this. Regardless of whether you come back to pitching, I hope that your health fully returns, your pain disappears, and you continue to do great things. Can’t wait for 38 Studios’ MMO and I hope that one day you get into coaching, as you’re a brilliant student of the game.

  48. July 28, 2008 3:19 pm

    Thanks for the pix and the update, Curt, and best to you in recovery. Personally I’d love to see you throw again- who wouldn’t?

    I’ll never forget you and Randy, throwing for the DBacks…

  49. Hugh Jass permalink
    July 29, 2008 12:00 pm

    Kurt, know what I was thinking the other day when the Yanks took 2 of 3 and then again when Dice-K imploded last night? We need a horse like you, bro. These young bucks will never be as good a money pitcher as you, Kurt!!! They are good, but they do not rise to the occasion like Kurt Schilling.

    I wish I had a healing machine to fix you right quick, but alas only the Great Man upstairs has one, and He has a plan for us all. God Bless! And I was happy to read that Robert “Mr.” Craft is supporting our guy, Senator John McCain. How cool is that?!

  50. July 29, 2008 10:34 pm

    I have to admit, Curt, it was great to read about a ballplayer’s REAL challenges off the field.

    And, “Ya that’s just nasty”–you said what I was thinking when I saw it. That was kind of funny; it lightened things up for me anyway.

    The Sox lost to The Halos tonight. I really hope they can get it together soon, but even if they don’t repeat…

    “We’ll always have 2004.”

    And you were instrumental in that historic run AND in 2007.

    Whatever the future holds for your career, God bless you and your family.

  51. fansincekneehigh permalink
    July 31, 2008 9:25 pm

    Schill,

    As a fan I’m hoping your site will be called 38StillPitches.com in 2009. As a family man I just hope you heal. Peace Bro.

    Tim S.
    Plover, WI

  52. July 31, 2008 10:58 pm

    Appreciated the comments about the Manny situation Curt. A lot of light shed

  53. August 1, 2008 7:36 am

    hey…thoughts on manny? i know you have some…i want to hear them!

  54. fortmyersglenn permalink
    August 1, 2008 1:19 pm

    I was talking to my son about Manny last night, he reminded me of how Manny Ramirez yelled at him and took off when he politly asked “mr Ramirez, will you please sign my ball”–he was talking about how much he liked the other players, especially Curt Schilling.
    We reminised about how one night two Marches ago, we were walking to the car from a spring training game. Its was pitch dark, my 8 year old son was wearing a Schilling shirt, there were few people around. A white mazeratti pulls up, and a blacked out window opens up. A voice from the dark says something to the effect of “hey kid are you a Yankee fan??” my Son responded no! then the voice asked if he could sign the ball that was in my sons hand. He signed the ball, asked how old he was, his school and what position he played in baseball–It was a priceless moment with me and my son that we will cherish forever, it was magical.

    This is really just a thank you for that, not a Manny bash

    With great blesings comes great responsibilities. You get it—others dont

  55. theclassofbasball permalink
    August 1, 2008 4:27 pm

    Red Sox nation

    Big mistake letting manny go, Even though he’s high mainance.You can’t argue the fact, That he is a great player, he’s been complaining about the Red Sox as long as he’s been there, But the fact still remains, You won two world championships with him, This guy from Pitt great player,But again not manny.
    You’re chances of winning WS is about as good as are’s now,Not a chance,No bullpen other than pap isn’t gona get you another ring, Atlease not this year,Anyway nobody is gona beat the angels, Great team, ah?the’ll put a ass whipping on us, Just like they did to you, to much speed pitching and everything thing, anyway i’d rather see them win other than the Rays, The more i watch them and listen to there two anouncers, Go on and on how great a team they have makes me sick to watch them,To bad living down here in Florida,I don’t have much choice when there playing the Soxs or the Yanks only broadcasts local telecasts,
    I’m not into knocking RedSox Nation like all you fans do, I guess i can understand why you hate us so much all those years we put a ass whipping on you, I guess i would hate us to,
    anyway my dad love the RedSox that’s probably the reason i don’t get into saying alot of bad things about you’re team,I’m one of the few good Yankke fans that respects the rivary and has fun with it, And always remembers that it’s just a game,Nothing more than that…………peace

  56. cshippee permalink
    August 2, 2008 12:58 pm

    Hope to see in Boston the thrill of the Schill once more.

  57. usmmvet permalink
    August 2, 2008 9:57 pm

    Fascinating account of your shoulder repair.My Docs told me to learn my limitations, to avoid surgery as I woul not have the mobilityI needed,so I heeded their advice,changed a lot of bad habits and with weight training picked up the stregnth I needed . Even as an old fart today I still”try” to follow the advice of know my limitations. My shoulders can tell you when it’s going to rain. But when you are young and feel you are invincible…you always go for the max… and as time marches on, pay for it. Advice to the youngsters: go for the gold..it may only be there once.Thanks Shill for all the great years you have given to baseball.

  58. rlevere permalink
    August 3, 2008 2:43 pm

    What a great posti! I have a labrum tear in my hip after logging too many harsh running miles and can relate to the pain and suffering involved in rehab.

    I have a slightly off-topic question for you, Mr. Schilling: I was just reading a Sox blog and I’m really interested in your opinion(as an insider) on this subject:

    http://www.overthemonster.com/2008/8/2/585417/what-will-it-take-to-chang

    Best of fortune with the rehab. I can’t wait to see you back on the mound at Fenway!

  59. sfbill permalink
    August 4, 2008 2:47 pm

    I’m 41 this month and dislocated my shoulder over July 4th – left me with the biceps tendon slipped out of the groove. Really sucks to have your shoulder move around in the socket when you twist your palm upward. I can’t believe you pitched with that thing!

    I’m having the biceps tenodesis surgery along with a couple of partial rotator cuff tears repaired this Friday the 8th at Stanford Medical Center. Not looking forward to it, but it was really helpful to see your blog on your experience – thanks!

    Sorry you had to go through it – I really hope you can come back and pitch, both as a Sox fan and as someone who might want motivation to get back on the tennis court. Good luck with your rehab!

    Bill B – SF

    Side bet that I clock 120 before you hit 90 :-)

  60. August 10, 2008 8:15 am

    Woah awesome photos! Curt im interested if your going to blog about the Manny deal?

  61. momosmom permalink
    August 12, 2008 12:05 pm

    Curt,

    Glad to see your rehab is coming along. I had rotator cuff surgery 3 days after yours. Coming along okay. I loved your photos. Mine are very similar. Every time I do rehab I wonder how yours is going. I alway ask the physical therapist if they are torturing you like they are me. She assures me they are. So you know it’s not so easy typing with one hand. Keep up the good work and i look forward to hearing more about your progress.

  62. rniblock permalink
    August 12, 2008 10:46 pm

    Hey curt,

    You probably don’t remember me but I waited on you and your family a few times at the Red Lobster in Paradise Valley, AZ. Hate to deliever bad news but Michael Trias lost his battle with ALS this morning. I know that you and him talked from time to time and thought you would like to know. Not really sure when the funeral will be but if you would like me to keep you posted please don’t hesitate to ask. You can call me at 602-332-1149, I hope you get this Michael and his family always spoke highly of you, plus you are a fellow Shadow Mountain Matador, so I know you must be a good guy. Sorry give the bad news. God bless, please keep up the good work with ALS awareness, you and youre family are truly heroes.

    Robert M Niblock

  63. denisesoxfan permalink
    August 13, 2008 2:31 pm

    Hey Curt! Where are you? We need our blog fix!!!! Hope you post soon!
    Denise

  64. ggleine permalink
    August 19, 2008 2:30 pm

    Mr. Shilling,

    Thank you for the candid description of your procedure. I recently suffered a torn labrum in my right shoulder (from approximately 2 to 4 o’clock). I am contemplating having the surgery. I am 34, still pitching for my wood bat baseball team in Cleveland, Ohio. I still love to play the game and expect to perform at a high level (I pitched in college). Unfortunately, my peformance level has severely declined this season as I am trying to pitch through the problem until the end of our season (early September). Then, it will be decision time. I realize that I am looking at a 6 month minimum rehab if I have the surgery. I also realize that I cannot pitch at a high level forever. Obviously, there is not a professional contract waiting for me at the end of this tunnel. Any light you could shed on the rehab process would be greatly appreciated. With physical therapy and specific exercises, I am fairly confident that I can manage or eliminate the pain and still perform normal daily activities and even play sports (but not at a level I am accustomed to). I must ultimately decide if the surgery / rehab path is worth the cost, time and effort. Thanks in advance for any future updates or advice! Best of luck to you as you continue your rehab!

    Regards,

    Greg

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