Friday, March 28, 2014

Scapular Muscle Reattachment Surgery

Just a heads up to those that are a bit on the squeamish side, there are 2 graphic pictures showing my shoulder blade during surgery. It is a picture of before and after the repair. 

The flight home from California wasn't as bad as I feared it would be. The Quadrilateral Space Decompression surgery honestly didn't really hurt that bad; I'm used to far worse that this surgery was a walk in the park. I only had to wear the brace full time for a week and during week two I could start weaning from it. The only time I had to wear it was when I was sleeping. Once we got home, I was back in school a few days later. I caught up really fast but unfortunately just about 2 months later I was informing my teachers once again that I would be missing school due to surgery and that I would miss 2 weeks of school right off the bat. As usual I got the looks of concern and the talk about how I might want to drop my classes. I pretty much laid it straight and told my teachers this was going to be my 19th surgery and I will get all my assignments/quizzes/tests all done on time. If I feel I am struggling, I will come to them and talk about it.

3 days after quadrilateral space decompression surgery
November 1, 2011 was not only surgery day for me, but it just so happened to be my mom's birthday too. Talk about a not so fun Happy Birthday Mom! Nothing like getting to spend your birthday in the hospital waiting for your daughter to come out of surgery and then you get to take care of her. My goodness did I feel guilty.

When it was time to go to the surgery center for surgery on my left scapula (shoulder blade) you have no idea how much I was absolutely dreading it. Even though there was a little bit of happiness to just get it done and over with, at the end of the day I just did not want to deal with recovery. This was the 4th surgery in 2011. The recovery is so hard, my body was tired, and I knew what I was getting myself into since I had just had this same exact surgery a year prior. The scapular muscle reattachment surgery with the muscle transfers are way more painful than the standard way. My entire torso has never hurt me that much before.

Once I was wheeled back to the operating room and scooted onto the operating table, I laid on my back and saw a white board on the wall. On the board were the names of all the patients for the day as well as what procedures they would be having done. I found my name at the top with left scapular muscle reattachment written next to it. I remember laying there thinking, "right now is the best I am going to feel for the next several weeks...ugh". Within the next few minutes the anesthesiologist came over by me and put a mask over my nose and mouth. At first I was breathing just pure oxygen but then all of a sudden I could smell the anesthetic that was going to put me to sleep. I hate that smell. The anesthesiologist then told me the same thing all of the other anesthesiologists say, "Take deep breaths. We are going to take good care of you. You have nothing to worry about." At that, I felt my eyes getting heavier and heavier. Surgery then began.

The white part is my scapula. There should be muscle attached there. 

Can't see my scapula anymore! YAY!
This surgery revealed that my rhomboid muscle and serratus anterior muscle transfer had in fact retore. Dr. B fixed this in the same fashion as he has done previously. Several sets of drill holes were made into my scapula and then a bunch of sutures were used to sew everything back to the bone. He also tweaked up the things he thought needed tweaking along the medial side of my scapula (closest to the spine). To this day it still boggles my mind that I managed to retear my muscles just because I became sick and was throwing up 11 months prior. When that happened I was 6 months out from having the same exact surgery. No wonder my shoulder blade was killing me like no other on that night. It also explains why I looked absolutely dreadful when we went to the emergency room. To this day, one of my biggest fears is throwing up just because of all the stress that would be put on my shoulder blades.
Once you come to in recovery it is not very fun. A lot of pain. 
This explains why it is not very fun and hurts a lot.
Every single time you sit or lay down you are putting
pressure on the incision and newly reattached muscles.
As much as this surgery is a pain to deal with, the good news is the days do go by and slowly but surely and the heavy, heavy pain will start to ease. Ice is your best friend for the first several weeks. It will help with the swelling and it gives a little relief. With the big bulky brace, honestly, it will be a love hate relationship. You hate it because it's big & bulky, hard to get comfortable, you have to sleep in it, and it's not the most attractive thing on the planet. At the same time you will love your brace. My two main reasons why I like it is one: it is a warning sign to others so they don't bump you and two your shoulder is so weak you will be thankful that you can let the brace do the work for you by supporting your arm.

As far as school goes, I did not end up dropping my classes. During recovery when I wasn't sleeping. I was attempting to do homework and study. It wasn't easy but in the end I managed to get an A in my statistics class and an A in my speech class. All the hard work paid off in the end and I was proud of myself. I also got lucky because my next surgery for my left shoulder ended up after the semester ended which meant no studying during recovery! Yay! That's always a plus. 

This scapular muscle reattachment surgery unfortunately is in my future again. I need to have it done on my left shoulder blade. Originally I was going to do it first but I've decided to postpone it because my right shoulder is trashed, not functional and a million times worse than my left. I can't imagine the shape my right arm would be in after being the dominant arm for a couple months. 

One of my friends sent me this quote and I think it is very true and a good note to end on: 

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