Wednesday, March 27, 2013

So Why Colorado?

March 2013

Before going back to writing in order starting in 2009, I thought I would discuss what led up to the surgery this past November and how I ended up in Colorado when I live in Illinois. This way I'll be able to maybe change the blog format and discuss present day stuff along with the story of how I got to this point. In a couple weeks, I am going to be going to Colorado for 10 days. It is very hard to live your life when you do not know how your life is going to lay out. I know I will be doing physical therapy in Colorado for 2-3 months at some point and will probably do a little writing every day to deal with stress. I think this will be a good way to keep all family and friends informed.

March 21, 2012 I had what I thought was going to be my last shoulder surgery here in Illinois by my "Favorite Illinois Doctor" :) I drew Dr. K a tiger picture for putting up with me for the past 6 years that I eventually had framed; Dr. K fixed my right knee, both my hips, and did a number of my shoulder stabilization procedures. I made Dr. K take a picture with me before surgery.

Tiger that I drew with colored pencil for Dr. K

The symptoms that I had didn't really match up with the surgery that I needed to have done. It is a good thing we weren't betting money in Las Vegas because I would have bet money saying that I needed to have the front of my shoulder tightened up because I was subluxating anteriorly all the time. Even when Dr. K examined me before surgery, I subluxated out the front and had to call him back in because neither I, nor my dad, could pop it back in. Before Dr. K did surgery, it was discussed that he would do an open incision in the front and the back of my shoulder. When Dr. K performed the surgery and was able to look inside the joint with a tiny camera called an arthroscope, it showed the posterior (back) aspect of my shoulder was extremely patulous (loose) and the anterior (front) aspect of my shoulder was nice and secured. So I had a posterior stabilization done as well as debridement of the labral tearing that I had.

All excited playing cards because I thought this was going to
be my last shoulder surgery. It was a very happy day
considering the circumstances.  

My amazing niece nurse Emily taking care of me. Emily
loves doing whatever she can to help me after surgery.
She is the best :)

For the next 4 months I worked really hard and continued doing all my school work. For Spring semester 2012 I took Biomechanics & Kinesiology as well as Exercise Physiology; I received As in both those classes. Since things were going very well, I felt like I was in a position where I could finally start looking towards the future. I met with an advisor at the University of Illinois-Chicago to see when I could transfer out and apply for their Kinesiology-Movement Sciences program. My long term career goal was to go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulders. After meeting with the advisor, she informed me that I had to take calculus and another biology class. I decided to sign up for calculus in the summer...BAD IDEA! All I know is there should be a disclaimer for students signing up for summer calculus because it was awful. Math is not my strong suit and it was brutal. The pace was so fast since it is a 16 week course condensed into 8 weeks. I ended up withdrawing from the class and decided to take it Fall 2012 instead.

When the end of July came, things in my right shoulder unexpectedly made a major turn for the worse. The weather in the Chicago land area was very hot and very humid when everything went south. I remember I was working on the tiger that I was donating to a burn camp fundraiser for burn injured youths in the dining room. While sitting, I clasped my hands together and stretched my arms in front of me. When I moved like this, the front of my right shoulder shifted out the front then back in. A few choice swear words came to mind because my shoulder should not have been able to move like that. I didn't say anything to my parents right away. I wanted to wait until I saw my physical therapist and see what his impression was. When I had physical therapy later in the week, I showed him how my shoulder would shift in and out just by "swinging" it slightly by my side. We were both concerned; I told my parents later that night. Next stop was seeing Dr. K.

When Dr. K walked in, I looked at him and said, "Hi Dr. K! I feel like I haven't seen you in forever! It's been 2 full months!" He looked at me and replied, "That's a good thing. It means you are getting better." I sat there, chuckled, and looked at my mom. (Dr. K didn't know at this point that I was having issues.) I took a deep breath. Looked at Dr. K and said, "Sooo funny you should say that because I am subluxating anteriorly again on my right shoulder." He stared at me. I felt like a bug under a microscope. He got up and examined my shoulder. Sure enough I was popping out the front. Dr. K suggested I see Dr. B down in Kentucky for his opinion; Dr. B appointment was set for the beginning of October.

September 22, 2012 was a big turning point for the negative change in my right shoulder. While my mom and I were at my brothers house in the evening watching my nephew, my right shoulder shifted out of place when I went to rub my niece's hair. I sat in the chair in shock. It was such a basic motion. My shoulder should not have popped out of place by moving my arm across my body.  Long story short, my mom ended up taking me to the emergency room because neither one of us could get it back into place. My mom called my sister Kelly to come over to finish watching our nephew for us.

So my sister arrived. Ready, set, go! My mom and I were off. It's 12:00 at night and the two of us are rolling down the highway for a 40 minute ride to the hospital. For amusement, we blasted Tom Petty; my mom was trying to distract me from the pain I was in. For 40 minutes we sat there singing very loudly to "American Girl" & "You Don't Know How it Feels". It may not have worked for the pain, but it did bring some humor to the situation. When we finally arrived at the hospital, we spent the next several hours trying to get my shoulder back into place. It was determined my shoulder was dislocated. No wonder it hurt! I refused the versedt (blocks memory) but accepted pain medication for the pulling and tugging that was required to set it back in place. (A blog will be written in the future about this eventful night).

These 2 depressions are what
appeared after I dislocated.
My arm is lifted about 5 inches
off of the ground.

The next 3 weeks was filled with much travel seeing doctors. Dr. K in Chicago, Dr. L in Chicago (2nd opinion), Dr. B in Kentucky, Dr. K in Chicago, Dr. M in Colorado. It felt like we were playing "Where's Waldo" only our game was titled "Where's the Shoulder Specialist".

I ended up going to Colorado because I needed to go where the specialist who deals with chronic shoulder instability is. Dr. K did zero wrong. He has always tried to do what is best for me. Both Dr. K and Dr. B want me to be done with all this surgery just as much as I do. The injuries to my shoulders are just crazy complex and complicated. When I got home from Kentucky, I came across a procedure that is done for people who have had multiple shoulder stabilization procedures and continued to have instability issues. I brought this information to Dr. K to see if he had heard of the procedure. Dr. K told me he knew of the procedure, and knows Dr. M very well. They have been friends for 16 years and lived across the hall from each other during residency!!! He advised me to go see Dr. M. Talk about a small world kind of moment!

When I saw Dr. M in October I was given 3 options. One: live with the instability and do nothing. Two: have the anterior capsulolabral reconstruction surgery. Three: have a reverse shoulder replacement surgery. I refused to accept living with the instability and I refused to take drastic measures and have a reverse shoulder replacement. I am only 23 and have a lot of life ahead of me to deal with this shoulder. Therefore, I picked to have the reconstruction surgery. Before I left the office, I was scheduled to have surgery on November 9, 2012.

Before surgery #22 pic. That red thing in my lap is my USB.
Dr. M said they could take pictures of my surgery for me
and it put it on. He made me a CD instead; they are amazingly gross :)
After surgery was a very different story I felt awful and was SO miserable!

Luckily, we had a beautiful view of the mountain and snow
falling outside of my window.
This picture cracks me up. I was getting aggravated at my dad
b/c he kept taking my picture. I don't remember this but I guess
I said, "I so want to flick you off right now." He said, "Go for it." So I did :)
Anyone that knows me, knows I've not done this to anyone in my life.
(I blame it on the "happy" meds)

This was flying home back to Illinois. The landing was the
worst part because of the pressure and force put on my body.
The staff on the airplane was very helpful and accomodating.
If you have been following my blog, you know I had something pop in January 2013. I went to Colorado to see Dr. M and then came back to try a new method of physical therapy. This has not been going well. Yes, there have been some improvements; however, the spot where I felt something pop is still giving me so much trouble and I am not gaining a lot of motion. So, in April I will be going to Colorado with my mom for 10 days. I will do twice daily physical therapy for a week and then be reevaluated by Dr. M the following week. Fingers crossed, hopefully we can figure out a plan together. At this point, it will either be continue physical therapy in CO or have additional surgery. Regardless of what the outcome is, it is going to be very difficult and I will be in it for the long haul. Wish me luck! Anybody have any ideas to keep me & my mom occupied since we will literally be stuck in the middle of the Rocky Mountains? I'll keep you posted. Thanks for sharing my blog and for all of the support/encouragement!!

Thank God, time does go by and there is a light at the end
of the tunnel. Life continued and before we knew it,
Christmas was right around the corner.


  1. An inspirational story. It reminds me of how lucky I am to be here reading it. Thank you for sharing. If you have no objections I would like to add your blog to my roll if those are the correct terms and you have no objections. Good luck and best wishes for the future.

    1. Thank you so much for the best wishes. I have no objection with you adding my blog.

  2. Thank you for your story. It's helped me to see my doctors in a more positive light. I have bipolar disorder, and have been on a lot of meds that didn't work for me or caused very bad side effects. As of lately, and especially after reading your blog, I've come to realize they are just people too, even though they have medical degrees, they are still human and not perfect. It's taken about 10 years of trial and error to get on meds that work right for me, and it is still a work in progress. I still struggle with anxiety and poor sleep, although my moods are stable and I'm no longer experiencing intolerable med side effects. It also took ten years before that to get a correct diagnosis, I went through being labeled as ADHD - inattentive type and chronically depressed, when the real issue was bipolar disorder, which I did not start mood stabilizers until the age of 28, nearly 10 years ago now. Anyway, thank you again for your blog/post. Please add me if that's okay with you. I'd like to see more of your writings. Best wishes, Kim Gandy

  3. As your. Mom, it is so odd (déjà vu) to read about how we live & what we've experienced. When you are living life through it all there's not much time to reflect & think about what it all looks like or to even think about how far we've come. Your blog certainly gives me a new perspective...lot's of memories, some good, some not so good & some downright hilarious(now)! There's always lots of growth & lots of love. So my Dear, get adventures & experiences are coming soon. Hopefully some good life stories too. Get ready for a new chapter of life to start!! It will truly begin the day we leave for Denver....literally a travel day that includes planes, trains & automobiles!!!! LOL