Sunday, February 24, 2013

"The Sweet Spot"

April 2008

My upcoming surgery was scheduled for in April. Once again I had to notify all of my teachers that I would miss 2 weeks of school only to have surgery on my opposite shoulder. Every teacher had that look of skepticism on their faces; was I telling the truth or was I making up some story to miss class. In my sociology class I had a paper that was due one week after my surgery. I was required to have this turned in by the deadline because I knew about the paper in advance. So to make sure I would have this paper done on time, I emailed the completed paper to my teacher the night before surgery.

Finishing up my sociology paper in the hotel room the night before surgery

April 15, 2008 I had left scapular muscle reattachment surgery again in Kentucky because I did retear the muscle off the bone when I slipped on the stairs. When I arrived at the surgery center, the receptionist at the front desk gave me a funky look because it was the 3rd time I was signing in for surgery in  the past 5 months; I felt like a "surgical frequent flyer".  In this surgery, Dr. B made 4 sets of drill holes and had to reattach my rhomboid muscles. When I slipped down the stairs, my rhomboid muscles ripped along the entire medial (side of shoulder blade closest to spine) border of my shoulder blade almost down to the bottom. This explains why it hurt so badly when I slipped down the stairs.

Now is when things get CRAZY once again. I remember bits and pieces of post-op and I remember being wheeled to the car. It's as though when that car door shut, so did my memory. The next part of this blog my mom (Karen) is writing because I have no recollection whatsoever.

Once we (her dad & I) got Meg in the car, we were back at the hotel in 5 minutes. We wheeled her up to our room on the 2nd floor. As we normally do, we got her settled in the bed and propped with pillows. I've done this often enough to know her routine of wanting to eat Jello or a fruit cup right away. This time things were different from the word go. She did not want to eat. I managed to feed her a couple bites of Jello but she kept falling asleep. We let her sleep but noticed that this was not the normal sleep she has after surgery. She laid on that bed not moving (usually we are constantly re-propping pillows to get her comfortable). She was unaware of the noise from the T.V. and us talking. Something just didn't seem right. I called the surgery center and spoke to her nurse. Her nurse said, "It could still be from the anesthesia; see how she is in 30-45 minutes and call back if she's the same." The next half hour was the longest half hour of my life. Meg's breathing was very deep. When I touched her she didn't move.

I called the nurse back to tell her that Meg's condition hasn't changed and seemed to be worsening. The nurse advised us to press on her incision to try to get a response. There was none. She then said to rub our knuckles on her sternum and place ice on her body. No response. In the meantime her breathing seemed to be getting deeper and she was drooling and her saliva seemed to be gurgling in her throat. Her nurse told us to call 911.

My husband and I continued to try to get a response as we listened to the sirens getting closer. Eight paramedics joined us in our room. They tried to get a response out of Meg but they were unsuccessful and prepped her for transport. The one paramedic looked at me and asked, "Is this your daughter's normal affect?" I looked at my daughter not moving, drooling, and gurgling on her spit. I turned and met his eyes, and said, "No, she is a normal teenage girl, she moves, she talks. This is anything but normal." Then he asked, how much pain medication I had given her. I responded, "None. She was so medicated from the surgery center she didn't need anything. The surgery center had given her the same amount of medication as in her past surgeries but it was administered in a shorter period of time."

The paramedics went to transfer Meg to the gurney. Both my husband and I jumped in warning them on how they have to be so very careful because she just had surgery on her left side and had surgery on her right side 2 months earlier. The paramedics made a sling out of the bed sheet and 4 of them scooped her up and placed her gently on the gurney. They then took her through the hotel and out to the ambulance. Seeing as all of this was happening at a hotel, there were people looking out their windows and wandering around outside watching all the action.

Those paramedics could not have been more careful and nice. Next stop: the ER.

They allowed me to ride in the ambulance. As soon as they got her in the ambulance they gave her a shot of Narcan (this reverses the effects of narcotics). I was sitting in the front seat of the ambulance when I heard her voice. I have never been more overjoyed to hear her. I had just spent the last hour scared to death that the nonresponsive person in the bed may never wake up. I have never been more afraid.

When the paramedics got Meg in the ER, she was rushed back to a room and surrounded by a lot of medical staff. They placed a huge special oxygen mask on her face; it looked like something Darth Vader would wear. Even though she had spoken, her eyes were still very vacant, and she still wasn't with us. As I was talking with the doctor, all of a sudden Meg's eyes locked on mine and what I saw in her eyes was nothing short of being terrified. I said, "Meg do you hear me?" I then looked at the doctor and said, "She's back." Thank God.

Now I (Meg) will be taking over the story again...

I remember waking up in what appeared to be a hospital room. I was so confused. I knew I had my surgery because I looked down at my brace. I knew I left recovery because I remember getting into the car. I knew I wasn't in the hotel because the hotel didn't have bright fluorescent lights above your head and doctors and nurses all around. All I thought was, "What the heck is going on?" and "What the heck is this giant contraption on my face?" I saw my mom at the foot of the bed and locked eyes with her. I was scared to death. The doctor came to my side and explained what was going on. He told me I fell into a deep sleep from the medications that were given to me in recovery. He wanted me to wear the mask for some more time because he wanted my oxygen level higher. Soon thereafter, the doctor removed the mask and decided it would be in my best interest to be admitted to the hospital for observation. They wanted me to stay because they wanted to make sure I didn't relapse.

I didn't realize when they admitted me, that I wasn't allowed to have any pain medication at all. The doctors and nurses were afraid that if they gave me any pain medication besides over-the-counter Tylenol I would go into what is commonly known in the medical world as "The Sweet Spot." This is when people who have been living in chronic pain fall asleep and find that place of relief and sink into it-thus, "The Sweet Spot". This was not an error on anyone's behalf. It's just when the body finds a place of no pain and wants to stay in it.

Needless to say, it was an extremely long night. Having major surgery and no pain medication is brutal. You have to think about it, skin is cut, muscles are detached to get to the injury, drill holes are made into the bone and sutures are used to reattach the muscles to the bone, followed by staples to close your skin. On top of it, you have to lay on your incision because you don't have the option to lay on your right side because it was still healing. Sucks huh?

Thankfully the next day I was released from the hospital and allowed to take my medications. Sometimes you can't get out of a bad situation but time does go by. You just have to dig deep and go with the flow. Eventually things will get better.

You can see the incision is longer on my left side.
This is because the muscle ripped farther down
when I slipped down the stairs. 


  1. Hi Megan!

    I haven't heard of the sweet spot before... What a crazy experience. You are a gifted writer and I think it is great that you are sharing your story. I am looking forward to following your journey. Keep persevering!


  2. I had the same surgery. My blog is

    I also slipped on the stairs. A silly little slip.

    I've documented my recovery - 18 months since surgery; 26 months since I fell; 8 years of Lyme disease (4+ undiagnosed and untreated, so an added complication) and a lot of major nerve damage and muscle damage, fractured scapula and dislocated shoulder went along with my injury. My healing was not as Kentucky expected, but I have an upper extremity nerve specialist now who has answered a lot of questions about slow healing - frustrating, but good to know answers to, and not to feel as if I am not doing something properly.

    I can't believe you have had both shoulders done. I think that would be my worst nightmare. I also can't believe you survived that first day with no pain meds. I had everything, plus a lidocaine catheter into the wound and it was the worst 48 hours imaginable. The hotel we stayed in in Lexington supplied recliners - I couldn't get in and out of bed at all. I could barely get in and out of the recliner.

    I'm not sure when you had each surgery, but I hope you write about your recovery - more people need to be aware of this injury. I took 13 doctors to get the right diagnosis.

    Best wishes with your healing and recovery. G

  3. P.S. I also have a long scar - my lower trapezius was entirely detached and "flapping" and my middle and lower rhomboids detached. I had 6 pairs of drill holes and 18 staples. My scar looks great now - you can't even see the staple marks (I have photos on my blog). I used pure aloe vera gel on it.

    I should have added above - with the two shoulders and no meds, I think you are AMAZING for surviving that! Good luck!

    1. It sounds like you too have had a very difficult several years and I’m very sorry for that. It is so hard. I can very much relate to you. My healing has not been like Kentucky expected either or any of my other shoulder specialists for that matter. Both my shoulders have multi-directional instability, plus the shoulder blade issues, & shoulder joint issues so it’s one big shoulder nightmare. I’m going for nerve testing at the end of the month. I have current posts up now talking about it. I do not have Lyme disease but in a month I’ll have my 8 year anniversary from the day I got injured. So I get what it’s like to have long lasting issues.

      I didn’t have both my shoulder blades done at the same time…that would have been a nightmare. Having no meds or anything was so difficult. I was allowed over the counter Tylenol which did zero. The hotel we stayed at in Lexington also supplied recliners. The recliner was my saving grace. My parents would help me up since I couldn’t push off with my other arm. You do get a strong core though!

      I’ve had 18 shoulder surgeries total since 2007 between my L and R. I’ve had the scapular reattachment done 5 times on my L and 2 on my R. My last scapular surgeries were in March & Nov. 2011. My blog talks about diagnosis, surgery, recovery and continuing living life. I want there to be more awareness about this scapular injury too. People like us have gone through a lot of pain and suffering to get a diagnosis.

      Your scar looks really good!! Mine doesn’t look as good but it has been cut into a lot of times. I should try the aloe vera gel. I never thought to do that. When I’m tan it isn’t as noticeable haha but once the tan fades they are there. How does your scapula/ shoulder feel now?

      Best wishes to you and good luck with everything also!! You are very strong to have put up with the Lyme disease and surgery. Keep it up!!