Saturday, May 11, 2013

Don't Miss Out on Life

The timing of the surgery I had in May 2010 on my left shoulder was fantastic. I had zero stress from school because the semester had ended, and classes didn't start up again until August. It was a relief knowing I could strictly focus on recovering from this surgery without thinking how much homework/studying I have to do rolling around in the back of my mind. It was wonderful. Physical therapy started at the end of June. It was extremely difficult because my muscle was detached from my shoulder blade. A lot of times people don't think of their shoulder joint and shoulder blade coinciding. In order to do the various motions you do with your shoulder joint your shoulder blade has to move in some sort of fashion. Since I could only progress so far, I called Dr. B in Kentucky and we decided it was in my best interest to get my left scapula fixed so I would be able to progress in therapy.

Before having my scapular surgery on July 20, 2010 I wanted to have some fun first. At this point I was 21 years old. This surgery was less than 2 months after I had just had surgery on my left shoulder joint. If you do not incorporate any amount of fun in your life when you're having all of this surgery (doesn't even have to be surgery, it can be anything) there is no way you would be happy or feel like you have a purpose in life. It is a daily reminder in the back of my mind that reminds me there is more than just medical stuff which is why I get up everyday and keep fighting to get better. My life isn't the ideal lifestyle but it sure could be a whole lot worse.

11 days before surgery. My nieces and I in Chicago in front of
 Buckingham Fountain. It was a fantastic day. The
sun was shining, it was hot and we walked around everywhere. 

6 days before surgery. This is my niece Emily and I having fun in the
hot tub. I am not holding her; she is on an inner tuber.

2 days before surgery. This is my dad and I
at Natural Bridge State Park. We took a ski lift up to the
top and walked around taking in the view.

July 20, 2010 was surgery day in Kentucky with Dr. B. I had left scapular muscle reattachment surgery. This surgery with the new technique was WAY more painful than the old way. The incision is longer and some of the muscles are transferred to help stabilize the shoulder blade. This time Dr. B took part of my latissimus dorsi, serratus, and rhomboid and mobilized them so they sat on top of the very bottom of my shoulder blade to stabilize it. Everything in your torso hurts when you wake up from surgery. The pain goes across the front of your chest and all over your back because a lot of muscles are pulled tighter and reattached that way. Laying on the incision hurts like no other. It feels like there is a golf ball sitting on the bottom of your shoulder blade because your body isn't used to having these newly attached muscles there. Luckily this sensation goes away once your body adapts to it. Coughing, sneezing, and laughing all took on a new world of their own; nothing like doing an innocent sneeze and having all those muscles pull on your shoulder blade causing an insane amount of pain.

Usually I make a fake smile for the camera. Not this time.
It was more just take the picture and be done.

This is the bandaging I had to wear.

16 staples. This surgery is SO painful. The muscles are pulled and resecured
to my scapula via 5 sets of drill holes and are then basically sewn back with sutures.

The worst part about having staples is the incision looks
very unattractive afterwards. It does start to look better after
a couple weeks. In this picture you can see the difference
between the incision length on my left and right. The position
of my shoulder blade also sat different on my right side. It kind of
looks like I am shrugging my right shoulder but I'm not. That's the way
it sat because there was nothing holding the bottom of my
scapula in position.

Two weeks after surgery was a very special day. My Grandpa King who had served in WWII and was a decorated hero went with my cousin to Washington D.C for the day through the program Honor Flight Chicago. What a great organization. My Grandpa had one of his most special days of his life. Unknowingly to him, as he and all the veterans were spending the day in Washington D.C, all of the veterans families were gathering at the airport, along with military bands, and military personnel. We all made a parade to welcome home every one of these heroes. I felt horrible but there was nothing that was going to stop me from going to this one and only time that would allow me to honor my grandpa in this way. We spent several hours standing there waiting for the heroes to arrive. It just about killed me. As some of the older gentlemen walked and others were wheeled out one by one and saw all the hoopla that was there for them, every thought of myself went away. The expressions I saw, the older men in tears, the smiles on the older gentlemens faces made this the most special event I have ever seen.

My mom and I waiting to see my grandpa. 

My Grandpa King. He was shocked. The expression on
his face says it all.

If there is any advice that I could give, it would be to participate in what gives you LIFE no matter how rat nasty you feel. I had every reason not to go to Honor Flight Chicago at the airport. It was late at night. It was crowded. There was nowhere to sit so that meant standing for several hours. I was only home from Kentucky for one week and was 2 weeks out from surgery. My grandpa would have certainly understood why I wasn't there. My point is when you decide to stay home really consider it because you could be giving up some once in a lifetime moments that will warm you heart forever and you do not want to regret missing them. Live your life and enjoy yourself.
The last summer blast before school starts with my nieces.
My sister, my mom, and I getting our picture
taken at my cousin's wedding. This was taken
2.5 weeks after surgery. I did not want to miss
their wedding. 


  1. Hey Meg, I read all your posts and there's a question that is still bugging me: are you sure your doctors do everything right? Considering that your problems keep on coming back on both sides even though you do your therapies and you do everything you can... Is it normal like this?

    1. Hey Anna, is what happened to me normal? Absolutely not; however, I’m positive my doctors are doing the correct thing. I have 3 shoulder doctors who all have their area of expertise. Between the 3 of them and 2 great physical therapists we have made a lot of progress. Multidirectional instability is very, very complicated and when you add in shoulder blade issues too, this makes things even more complicated; especially when both shoulders are involved. I’m told I am a one of a kind case; I do not have any genetic tissue disorders, but my shoulder tissue is “stretchy”. Just keep in mind, so far the majority of these blogs discuss what has happened in the past. It is not my current situation. There is SOOO much that has happened between then and now. I’ve been blessed with parents who have taken me to the top super-specialists to get the proper treatment for my very specific issues. I am happy to say, my shoulder blades are currently in the best shape they have ever been since 2007 (ever since the new procedure was done). My shoulder joints are more stable now than they were last year. I’m currently in daily pt, 2 times a day. Thanks you so much for reading my blogs!!

    2. I'm happy to hear about your progresses.
      I'm sure that I would have kicked the asses of all the doctors and I couldn't believe in them like you do.
      Keep up the good work and I have all my fingers crossed for you!

    3. Hey Megan. I love your story. I also had the surgery in Lexington. I can totally relate to your story except you have had a lot more surgeries than me. Are you uncomfortable wearing a bra? It bothers my shoulders and chest. Did you have dyskinesia too? Why did you have so many surgeries?

    4. Hey Oscar5. Isn't this surgery a pain? How did you injure yourself? When did you have your surgery done? How are you doing now?

      I am uncomfortable wearing anything that is form-fitting/tight over my shoulders/shoulder blades; it doesn't really bother my chest that much. I had and currently do have scapular dyskinesis. My scapulas still wing but part of it might be due to current shoulder joint issues going on. But when I move my arms in front of me both my shoulder blades move in towards my spine instead of out to the side like they should. I have a video of it on the blog post July-> Colorado PT Part 3: 2013. Do you have this issue?

      All my injuries came from a fluke fall basically. The length of time on crutches plus a heavy school backpack sheared the muscles off my scapulas. The first 5 surgeries were to fix the joints in my R. leg and L. hip. The following 18 surgeries were for my shoulders. Part of the reason for having a lot is because I have multidirectional instability in both shoulder joints which is tricky to treat. The muscles were torn off both my scapulas and then the procedure changed in 2010 so my shoulder blades and shoulder joints didn't "move properly" from 07 until I had them both fixed in 2010/2011. Finally some of my shoulder joint injuries didn't show on imaging and had a weird presentation. The combo of everything just trashed my shoulders which really sucks. Still going through treatment and diagnosis phase now.

      My blog explains the story. The first post is The Jump that Changed My Life and things pretty much go in order from there. I hope your shoulder blades and shoulder? are doing well. Hopefully you don't have too many limitations.

    5. Hey Megan! I was having pain in my elbow and had elbow surgery. Three days after surgery my shoulder started winging. Same arm that I had elbow surgery on. From there, neck pain, shoulder pain , lots of therapies and many doctors. I then had neck surgery. Fusion of c-5&6,c-6&7. I had back surgery L-5. I guess because of the dyskinesia plus I did heavy factory work my muscles were not working correctly and other muscles took over. Then during therapy one time the opposite shoulder started winging. Those awful headaches,that stabbing pain where the muscle detached, I don't know how I made it.I had MRI's, CT scans, nerve studies. I too felt like the doctors thought I was crazy. My husband found Dr. Kibler on the internet and made my appt. He diagnosed me in 5 minutes. I retired in 2007 where I had worked for 26 years. I don't attempt anything heavy and I have a lot of chest muscle pain so I stay home a lot. I still feel like my neck is doing all the work so I don't do much physical anything. I am not terminal so I am thankful for each and everyday. Hope your treatment is over soon and you get some relief!

  2. Hello Meghan,
    Wow it so refreshing to find someone else going through the same surgery and lengthy recovery process. I too recently had surgery by Dr. Kibler on the scapula and the shoulder ligaments.

    I am 11 weeks out and still in a lot of pain. I still have swelling. I can't even open the car door with my left hand as it pulls on the repair on the right side. I can't even carry a small purse on the opposite side as it tilts me slightly and then here comes severe pain and pulling on the repair. I don't really have any range of motion. I have to be very selective as to what clothing I can actually get on with one hand. I had to loosen up my bra significantly and needed help from my Mother to get it on. So it basically just covers gently. Physical therapy is very slow and very painful. I was told to expect a 12 month recovery process. I get up several times a night to ICE down my shoulder because of the pain. Why did you have to have the procedure re done? and how soon after each surgery was yours re-done?

    Thank you for the Blog it gives people a resource to talk with someone going through the same thing.
    I wish you a speedy and healthy recovery.

    P.S. How is your recovery process? At what point did the pain ease up for you?

    1. Hello sorry to hear you are having a lot of pain. Unfortunately what you are experiencing is not that abnormal. It is a rough recovery. I found propping with a lot of pillows is helpful, I wouldn't wear the bra strap on top of the surgical shoulder, with showering I would sit on a chair and prop with a plastic pillow to support my arm and keep it in a neutral position. I also changed my clothing. Clothes that can stretch are great. I think it is easiest to put the affected arm in the sleeve first and then do your other arm that way the surgical arm can prop on a pillow. Like you, my mom helps me a lot.

      I had the procedure redone for a couple reasons. I reinjured it once slipping down the stairs, another time my muscles retore from vomiting, another was because I slipped walking downhill and caught myself grabbing a railing 6 months out, I also had the surgery redone because the procedure changed from the first few times I had had it. My last scapular surgery was in 2011 but currently I am having trouble with my left one so I'm not sure what's going on there.

      My situation is not typical at all. Ive had the scapular procedure 5 times on my left and 2 on my right. Both my scapulas and shoulders are involved making things tricky so i really can't comment on the recovery process because of the complexity of my situation By month 3/4 things were definitely better from a pain perspective. Your motion will come back, it's just a slow process. Try not to get to discouraged.

      If you have any questions about how to go about various tasks or anything else feel free to email me at I have had a combined 18 shoulder/ scapular surgeries and have learned a lot of tricks along the way. Hope you start feeling better soon!!

  3. Megan,
    I found your blog once and then when I looked for it again I couldn't find it on the internet. Now, that you are doing a fundraiser have you thought about advertising it more on the internet or changing the title to something involving shoulder surgery, or scapular surgery. Just a friendly thought on my mind...
    I am sorry to hear you need another very painful surgery and lengthy recovery. You and your family have been through quite an amazing ordeal.
    Hold your head up, and try to look forward to your life ahead of you. Your fans will be cheering you on every step of the way!

    1. Thank you, I took your advice and changed the title. It's now Meg's Shoulder and Scapular Surgeries Fund. The more I thought about it people would want to know based off of the fund name what they are donating for. Do you have any suggestions about how to go about advertising it more on the internet?
      I don't know why you couldn't find my blog on the internet. If you google my impossible medical journey it pops up. Our heads are still held high and thank you for the support.