Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dance in the Rain

November 2012

Pain! Lots and lots of pain! That was my word of the day for several weeks/months. The anterior capsulolabral reconstruction w/ allograft shoulder stabilization surgery did not go anything like my previous shoulder surgery recoveries. At my post-op appointment I learned I had diffuse grade 2 and grade 3 osteoarthritis on my glenoid (socket) and humeral head (ball). The arthritis occurred in 8 months. During my surgery in March of 2012 I had one spot of moderate chondromalacia which is softening of the cartilage. Now I had diffuse arthritis throughout the shoulder. Even knowing there was arthritis in my shoulder something just didn't seem right. I couldn't pinpoint what it was exactly; I just know I've never hurt that bad in my life.  I kept telling my family over and over again to get the graft out of my shoulder because I thought it was maybe that causing the pain (I know now it was NEVER the graft). I had pain that was radiating over the right side of my neck along with this constant sharp/stabbing pain over the front of the shoulder area that just wouldn't go away. I took the pain medication and muscle relaxants as prescribed and it didn't touch this sharp pain. I slept a ton in the day and very little at night. I iced a ton and I cried a ton. The pain just wouldn't subside. 
Incision 3 days post-op
During this time I also had my calculus class to attend too. After every surgery I only give myself 2 weeks off. This time though I only let myself miss a little over a week. Thanksgiving break was about to happen and I knew I just needed get through a couple days and then I could rest. My class was in the morning. The car ride was brutal. I was so pale and looked awful. I made it to class and sat in my seat which was in the front row in the corner. My teacher walked in and spotted me and kept his eye on me the whole time. By the time break came I couldn't even hold myself up. I rested my head on my left hand and existed. When class started back up I slouched in my seat and just stared at the white board trying to understand whatever was being taught. My neighbor offered to take the notes for me. I took him up on that offer. I didn't feel like writing left handed anymore (I'm right handed). The following week after Thanksgiving we had an exam. During Thanksgiving break I tried to study but I wasn't retaining any information because I couldn't concentrate. When I took the test I did absolutely awful on it. Before the test I was earning an A and after that exam I dropped to a low B. I was freaking out because there were two more exams and then the final exam to still get through. I decided to just withdraw from the class because I didn't want to bring down my GPA and the demands were just more than my body could tolerate at that time.

Thanksgiving dinner with my grandpa, sister, nieces, dad and mom (she's taking the picture)
I'm the one in the pink doing the famous fake smile :)
November 26, 2012 with my niece Emily.
December was less stressful than November because I didn't have to worry about class but it was still a really rough month. I was not used to feeling the way I did a month out from surgery. My energy level was really, really low but since it was Christmas time I wanted to try to enjoy the Christmas festivities too. If I knew I was going out and about at some point in the day for a couple hours I made sure to rest and not do a lot beforehand to conserve my energy. To this day I do this because sometimes things aren't ideal and you just have do the best you can with the body you have to deal with. In mid December we went to my cousin's house for the King family Christmas party. It does the mind and body a lot of good to just get a change of scenery sometimes. It's also a good distraction. We knew before we even left our house to go to the party that there was no way that I was going to last the entire evening; however, I knew there would be a comfortable couch to sit on so really there was no reason why I couldn't go. Personally, I would rather go for a couple hours and try to have a little fun instead of not going at all. 
Incision almost 1 month post-op
I hung out with this little cutie who is my cousin at the Christmas party.
If you ever need a smile just go hang out with a baby. 
The following week my sister was going to take my nieces to the Brookfield Zoo so I decided to go with. There are wheelchair rentals and lots of benches in between to sit down. We went shortly before it started to get dark because the zoo decorates with Christmas lights. It was a very enjoyable time and it wasn't freezing. I'm positive we will be going there again this year. It has kind of turned into a Christmas time tradition for us.

My nieces and I sitting on the Christmas sleigh
I felt like a big puffy marshmallow between my hoody, winter coat, and brace.
I stayed warm though!
The following week was Christmas and in the blink of an eye 2012 was over. It was a roller coaster of a year. There were a lot of highs with that feeling of hope that I had my last surgery for hopefully a long time back in March and I could start planning for future. Then there was the major low of waking up with my shoulder unstable again and being back in surgery out of state in Colorado 8 months later. Soon enough physical therapy would begin and the crazy "impossible" medical journey would continue into 2013. There would be a surgery, four medical trips to Colorado, one medical trip to Kentucky, and one medical trip to Ohio. I guess the one plus of having really, really, rare complex shoulder injuries is you get to travel. Over the years I have certainly made my way across the United States seeing some of the top shoulder specialists in the country that I've been referred to. 

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