Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Glimpse At the Present

February 2013

Now that the leg injuries are over, I think it is important to know what my status is now in the present before I even discuss how things even got to this point. It will boggle your mind, just as it does mine, when you eventually read the blogs to come that discuss all the various doctors visits, testing, exercises, traveling, mental pressures and difficult, although sometimes humorous hoops, I have gone through that have brought me to this point.

Right now I am 23 years old, and I have been trying to get better for over 7 years. On November 9, 2012 I had my 10th right sided shoulder surgery in Colorado; an anterior capsulolabral reconstruction with allograft (cadaver tissue). This brought my total number of surgeries all together since 2006 up to 22; I've had 1 on my right ankle, 2 on my right knee, both hips, 7 on my left shoulder and 10 on my right shoulder. If not the most, it sure was one of my most painful shoulder surgeries I have ever had. This surgery entailed putting 4 anchors and 2 screws into the bone to secure the donated tendon in the front of my shoulder. The new tendon will help give the front of my shoulder more stability and hopefully prevent it from subluxating. I had a different procedure (open capsular shift) done in Illinois earlier that year in March which lasted 4 months before it started subluxating (partial dislocation) out the front on a daily basis. To most people you would think, "Wow 4 months that isn't long." For me though, it was the longest any shoulder surgery lasted. However, by the time September came, I was dislocating which caused me to have to wear a brace that locked my elbow at my side. This prevented me from moving my shoulder because anytime I moved, I would shift out of place.

My niece Lizzy & I at the pumpkin patch. The white around my waist is
the brace, and the gray straps secured my arm in place.
Below are pictures of how much motion I had the morning of surgery 11-9-12.

Flexion: moving arm forward

Side view of flexion

External Rotation 

Abduction: movement to the side

 Surgery #22 and still smiling and playing cards with my mom before being wheeled back to surgery
(No, I am not on any "happy" medicine but my right arm is COMPLETELY numb)

When you wake up in the morning, you never know for sure where your day is going to take you...

Thursday, January 31, 2013 started as just a typical day. I woke up, ate breakfast, and my mom drove me to physical therapy. The past couple weeks have been rather rough. My shoulders, especially my right, has been very sore and I've been mentally questioning a lot of things with life. Such as, what career I can do with limited motion and what am I going to do with school. I spend a lot of time thinking what if I don't get my motion back and primarily I wonder why my shoulders keep being problematic and requiring surgeries.

For the past seven years, since the time I became injured, I have always said, "It could always be worse." My mom's breast cancer was a life threatening illness; my injuries are not. She got through her breast cancer, I'll get through my injuries.

Christmas 2004 with my Grandma King and Mom cancer free!

At physical therapy, I was placed in a chair directly in front of a young man. I watched as this young man struggled as he got into his wheelchair from the table. His legs don't work well and he has to physically lift them up to get them on the wheelchair foot holders. My physical therapist offered to help him, and in a determined voice the young man, said, "No, I've got this." I sat in my chair thinking, "Oh, he is just like me in a sense." When you are limited in the things you can do, you want to do for yourself the things you can. I know in my case, I appreciate peoples' help; however, when I am asked if I need help over a task I know I can do, I will be stubborn, and sometimes it may sound like I am being short when I decline. It's only because I need help with so many other things and I want to feel like I have some sort of independence.

When my therapist walked by me and said hello, I looked at him and said, "That man has it rough. As hard as my situation is, at least I can get up and walk from point A to point B." My therapist looked at  me and said, "You would know because of the crutches." I agreed, but in my head I was remembering how hard it was when I was in a wheelchair for 6 weeks due to some unidentified virus that made it extremely difficult to walk. Being in a wheelchair absolutely sucks.

When my therapist and I began working on very basic, minimal shoulder motion exercises things weren't going great but they weren't going bad either. My therapist always has his hands on my shoulder to help give stability/support to the joint and help guide the movement. When we were working on flexion (moving the arm forward) all of a sudden there was a loud, audible, painful pop in the shoulder I had surgery on in November. I looked at my therapist whose eyes were wide and I felt my arm just kind of drop from the pain. I am not one to cry. When I started crying from the pain, I knew something bad had happened. As I gathered myself together and composed myself, I told my therapist he could continue. I needed to know if the pop that just happened was a good one that would make the joint feel better. It moved a little but killed. I was officially worried. It's no ones fault and there are no hard feelings. It's like that old saying, "S#!% Happens!"

Little did I know 9 hours later I would be on a 7:15pm airplane heading to Colorado with my mom to see my surgeon Dr. M the next day. It's a 2.5 hour drive from Denver to Vail, CO. My mom has learned to become an experienced driver and this was her first time driving in the mountains when it was snowing!! I must say, she did a very good job. Us and the car got there and home all in one piece.

Driving to Vail 

The following day I had an MRI of my shoulder in the morning, saw the shoulder therapist and then saw Dr. M in the afternoon. Needless to say, it was a long day. At this point there is no definitive course of treatment. Dr. M injected my shoulder with cortisone. I will now wait the next several weeks to see if my shoulder gets better. If it does not, then the next step would be going back to Colorado for an arthroscopy so they can take a peek inside. For now I will continue going to my wonderful physical therapist here in IL to work on strengthening my muscles and trying to gain some motion back. It was highly recommended to me that I stay in CO working directly with the shoulder therapy specialist for a couple months; anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months to have both regular physical therapy and pool therapy. My case is so bizarre and complicated that these specialists are thinking outside of the box to create a physical therapy protocol for me.

  Funky depressions that appear with minimal motion.
They came back after whatever it was popped in my shoulder.

  Kinesiotape that helps hold my shoulder in the proper position

I am SO thankful to have such a wonderful team of doctors and therapists. Without any of them I would be so screwed. They have put so much time and effort into my care and I am so appreciative. I have an uphill battle against me this year. It is going to test me and push me probably in ways I haven't yet experienced. I have decided to start blogging my journey because I hope it can help people realize they are not alone in their situations and to not lose hope. You have to keep plugging along and get through the hard days. So here's to a year of a lot of hard work and hopefully a lot of progress.

 "On a Mission" tiger I drew
This tiger pretty much sums up what my mentality will be this year.


  1. Megan,
    I have been wondering every day how your appointment went in Vail! I have shared your journey with my family and friends and continue to pray for your continued strength and healing. I so enjoyed our flight to CO...talking for the entire time! Your mom...she is the "other" tiger in this story. Keep smiling, living today, and looking forward to tomorrow.

    1. Faith!
      So good to hear from you, I'm glad you found my blog. Thank you for sharing with your friends and family. That's awesome! My mom and I had such a fun time with you on the flight to CO. The flight home wasn't nearly as fun. Thank you for your encouraging words. You are right, my mom is the "other" tiger in this story. I hope you are doing well and your trip in CO was a good one!