Female cyclist on the road to recovery after major surgery

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By Neto Baptiste

National female cyclist and a former sportswoman of the year Tamiko Butler says it will take months before she is physically able to cycle competitively after undergoing surgery earlier this year.

Butler, who has won several national and Caribbean titles, is currently in Trinidad where she is recuperating following surgery on her right shoulder, an injury that kept her out of competitive cycling for almost three years.

“The surgeon has told me it is supposed to be six months before I can get back on the bike but I am determined to push the boundaries and recover faster than they expect. So I start physiotherapy tomorrow [August 30th] and they are hoping that by the three-month mark … I would be able to get some movement, to be able to move my arm by itself,” she said.

“I am going to start the process with my training now, so I start gym next week and I can focus on my legs because as long as nothing is weighted on my shoulder I can keep my legs in good shape,” she added. 

Butler was forced to sit out parts of the 2016/17 cycling season after doctors said she suffered from what was first thought to be a hip injury. The athlete also missed the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, because of the injury.

But according to the cyclist, it was only this year that doctors correctly diagnosed the injury.

“They checked my hip, they checked my back and I’ve been struggling to get the right tests, to get the right attention and only this year they discovered that the main issue was coming from my shoulder. So I actually just did reconstruction surgery on my shoulder and I am five weeks post-op now,” she said.

“It took me some time because I discovered that at the start of the year and by the time we started to get things together to be able to arrange surgery. I did surgery in Cuba last month and the surgeon said to me he didn’t know how I was doing what I was doing in the state my shoulder was in and it needed a complete reconstruction. I now have four screws, I had to reshape the bones, I had to re-attach cartilage and four titanium screws are now in there for life,” Butler added.

As for what may have caused her injuries, Butler pointed to a number of factors.

“A number of crashes that I’ve had and falling on the right side [the surgeon] said was the most likely cause of the torn cartilage because I had two tears in the cartilage. I think it’s an actual lesson I am trying to teach young people right now because I’ve always had a bit of a loose shoulder and I don’t think that proper strengthening from a young age was done to stabilize my joints in a way that I would have been able to protect it,” she said. Butler, who signed a professional contract with the UK-based Drops Cycling Team back in 2016, won gold and bronze medals at the Caribbean Cycling Championships in 2012 before taking silver the following year.

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