Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Stability at Last!

Warning to the squeamish types, there are 2 graphic surgical pictures towards the end. I'll write another warning when you get close to them...

October 17, 2012

The flight to Denver, Colorado to go see Dr. M was surreal. So much had changed essentially overnight. It went from telling Dr. K in Illinois, "Hey, I think I need this particular surgery done" to him agreeing and telling me to go see Dr. M. Now here we are in Denver and in less than a day I will hopefully be finding out how to proceed forward.

The drive to Vail was like nothing I had seen before. I've never been on such twisty/curvy roads completely surrounded by mountains. It's definitely different compared to flat Illinois. One thing we didn't take into account at all was the altitude. That one came back to haunt us. In Illinois we live at 850 ft above sea level; Vail is at 8,150 ft above sea level. We were all sick from the altitude because we did nothing to prepare. With the way I love Colorado now you would never know that I absolutely hated it the first time I went out there.

The following day was my appointment. My parents and I looked like a bunch of zombies. The altitude really hits us. I'm sure when Dr. M walked into the room he was expecting rather happy people because my surgeons had already talked to him. Instead, Dr. M walked into a room of people that looked like the walking dead. It was awful. Looking back on this day we all laugh at it. When Dr. M tried to move  my shoulder a couple inches it started to subluxate. The amount of motion I had was essentially nothing. After the exam Dr. M started talking about various stabilization surgeries. He started saying how usually after the amount of stabilization surgeries I've had done they would normally do a shoulder fusion; at that point I interrupted him (completely out of character for me) to tell him I am not a good candidate to have a shoulder fusion due my scapular (shoulder blade) problems. He then started to mention the fusion again, and I interrupted him to which he said, "Please do not interrupt me". I apologized and he then said he wouldn't do a fusion on me because of my scapular dysfunction. So instead he suggested doing an anterior capsulolabral reconstruction with allograft; the same exact procedure I had printed off and brought to Dr. K. As a side note, I emailed Dr. M later that afternoon after my appointment to once again apologize for interrupting him. It was SO out of character. All is good; no hard feelings :)

The day after my appointment we decided to drive Independence Pass to the Continental Divide which has an elevation of 12,096 feet. It was BEAUTIFUL! It was also really, really, windy, and cold up there! The brace that goes around my waist didn't fit over my winter jacket and it was too windy/cold to not wear a coat. One of my "tricks" that I do to this day is wear shirts or jackets that have pockets on the front. That way I can stick my hand in my pocket which helps take some of the weight off the shoulder and it helps support the arm; if I don't have pockets then I will pretty much always have my arms crossed on my stomach.
My dad and I.
Independence Pass- Elevation 12,095 ft- Continental Divide
My mom and I
Me and dad
After arriving home from Colorado it was crunch time to get things done. Surgery was scheduled for November 9, 2012. I worked ahead in my calculus class to try to make it easier after surgery. We also had to throw a big birthday bash for my grandpa because he was turning 90! It was such a great day. We invited all his family and two of his longtime friends. He had no idea that all these people were coming. The look on his face was priceless. We took many pictures and have many great memories of that day. Since his birthday is in October, and he loves sports, we had a "Spooky, Sporty, Surprise 90th Birthday Party".

Part of my family :)
November 9, 2012
Next thing I knew it was surgery day. This shoulder surgery was by far the most painful surgery out of all the shoulder surgery I've ever had. Looking back I really think the awful recovery was due to the nerve problem I have because that didn't get diagnosed until March of this year. At the time I had the anterior capsulolabral reconstruction with allograft to stabilize my right shoulder we had no clue there was any sort of nerve issue going on. Logically it made sense that my shoulder barely moved because of the instability. Now I know that isn't the case because my arm motion is the same now as it was the morning of surgery two years ago; it only moves if my neck is bent way forward.

Motion morning of surgery 11/9/12

My motion today


Even though my arm still doesn't move the way it should, I am so thankful it is at least stable. During surgery they put 4 anchors and 2 screws in to secure an allograft (cadaver) tendon in the front of my shoulder. It's the only surgery that has lasted longer than 4 months on me. I am over two years out from this surgery and it is still pretty stable. 

Waiting to be wheeled back to the operating room
The allograft tendon secured to the glenoid
The white in the shape of a backward C is the tendon that's stabilizing my shoulder
Definitely a hard recovery
As I've said several times in previous posts Colorado is beautiful. Below is the view from my hospital room. People pay lots of money to get that view from hotels; who knew you just had to have surgery and be inpatient?

During my stay in the hospital is the first time I met the the physical therapist that put my protocal together for when I would start rehab. Who knew I'd end up spending two months in 2013 and then two months this year in Colorado working with him. Between my physical therapist here in Illinois and the ones in Colorado I have a great team. I don't know what I would do without them.

One week after my surgery it was time to fly home. Physically it was the hardest flight ever. To anyone that has to fly on an airplane after surgery I would recommend bringing pillows so you can prop. It was SO hard to get comfortable! Landing was the worst part of the flight because of all the pressure that's put on the body. Even before this surgery I always dreaded the landings because my shoulders would shift out of place.

The landing
By the time we made it home I was beat. My bed has never looked so appealing!

Too bad I couldn't bring the Colorado view home with me to Illinois

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