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The Shoulder Saga (Part 5)

August 31st was the day of my Independent Medical Exam. I was initially a little upset with worker’s comp for setting this appointment up without discussing my case with me. I felt slighted. After talking with some of my co-workers and some of the surgeons I work with I realized I probably could not have been in better hands.  Dr. X. (I think I should keep some of the details to myself until my worker’s comp claim is closed) Needless to say, he is one of the top shoulder surgeons in the country.  Anyway I’m in Dr. X’s office for my exam, and I was super impressed with how professional his office was, but honesty I was still expecting the worst. (That is mostly my fault because I read way too much on the internet.) I feared he was working just for the insurance company and ultimately against me. Wow, was I wrong. There may be some doctors out there that work for insurance companies, but he certainly was not one of them. He did a very thorough exam, read through my file, and even said he thought he could help me; which I instantly agreed to, pending what worker’s comp had to say.

So for eight long weeks I waited for worker’s comp and the doctor’s report. I wish I could say patiently on my part, but that would be a huge lie. Then one day I get the phone call I’d been waiting for. Not only was his report in, but they had already scheduled me for surgery.  In two weeks! Finally, maybe I was going get some relief. I went in for the pre-op visit where he told me what his plan was, and I was cautiously optimistic.

I probably should say something here because I feel like I’m leaving some stuff out. I was told in my first visit that I would not get full use of my arm, but he hoped to get me a lot more than I had. He really believed we could do much better than what I was currently dealing with. At the very least he wanted to try to stop the pain I was feeling every day.

The day of surgery finally arrived. I got to the hospital which is in downtown Atlanta, and let me tell you, it was not a small-town hospital like I am used to. The folks in the surgery center were just as impressive as the Dr. X’s office staff. They finally called me back, and the sweetest nurse you have ever met did my prep work. She made me feel so at ease; not to mention that’s also when they started pushing the drugs. I vaguely remember talking to the doctor before and after the procedure, but I don’t really know what he said, except in small pieces. I remember riding home and not being in tons of pain. Even the day after, I was still not in tons of pain. Of course I was highly medicated, but it felt different than after the first surgery. When I did finally get back to myself, Stephanie (that’s my amazing best friend, awesome caretaker, and blog editor) began to tell me the report from the procedure. She told me the doctor seemed very disappointed that he couldn’t do more for me. Apparently there was not a way to fully fix my shoulder without causing severe nerve damage. He was not able to get as high a percentage in my range of motion that he had originally thought possible. He did stop a lot of the constant pain and I have a little more range of motion than I had before.

Therapy has still been really difficult, to say the least. Healing after surgery is not easy. I have a new physical therapist who is really good, but therapy is painful. Really painful. I see tiny improvements, but the reality is that I am not going to get much better than I am. I hope to get the motion I currently have to be looser/smoother than it is and maybe get some strength. The truth is, without a total shoulder replacement, this is it. I am disappointed for sure, but I am grateful that I had great care and that we at least tried. I am sure it will get easier as time goes by and as I learn to use what I have. As I have said in a previous post, I know it could be so much worse. So I will appreciate the arm I have, be thankful that I’m alive, and be grateful that I’m not alone in my new challenges.

I have a doctor’s appointment in a couple weeks, so we will see what’s next. I will post again when I have more news. From here I will just keep moving forward…

Read the final chapter

If you just found this blog you can start The Shoulder Saga here. (Part 2, Part 3, Perspective, Part 4) You can also click the “shoulder” tag or “The Shoulder Saga” category to get all of the posts.

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