My Shoulder…and some fun!

Tuesday of last week I had an appointment with my orthopedic specialist concerning my shoulder.  For those of you who aren’t up to date with my shoulder, here’s the quick version…well as quick as I can make it.  Back in the summer of 2015 I took a nasty fall while doing childcare.  I screwed up my foot and shoulder.  My foot was worse than my shoulder so I started doctoring with my foot.  With taping and adaptations my foot got better.  Occasionally I’d have a bit of a relapse but I could get it better.  Then that December on my 50th birthday I took a fall going up the stairs.  I hurt my foot badly then.

I went to my local doctor a week or so later for my annual physical and that’s when she found the nodules on my thyroid.  We did an x-ray on the foot.  It wasn’t broken.  My thyroid and then my thyroid cancer took center stage.  After the cancer became manageable, I finally started paying attention to my ailing foot.  In August of 2016 I had foot surgery.  That didn’t go as planned and ended up needing a minor surgery on the foot in April of this year.  That healed quickly.

So now it’s time to pay attention to my ailing shoulder.  It’s never been the same since that original fall back in the summer of 2015.  The pain ebbs and flows.  Sometime the pain is worse, sometimes a little better but something has always been there nagging.  In March it got significantly worse.  I ended up at the doctor and then onto physical therapy.  It got a little better, but still nagging.

In May I was gardening and that was the end of it.  My shoulder was really bad after that.  I went to the chiropractor.  I started doing my physical therapy exercises really seriously again.  I put off and put off going to the doctor again.  It had gone away some before, I was certain it would again.  That’s when it got really bad.  I started waking up in the night in pain.  I couldn’t sleep.  It was miserable.  I could tell I was more easily irritated.  It wasn’t fun.  Finally I ended up a the doctor again.  This time, she suggested an MRI, physical therapy again and if we didn’t see improvement, to the specialist.

After the MRI and four weeks of physical therapy, things weren’t improving as they should.  I was still in pain.  I was still waking at night.  Things like vacuuming, reaching into the cupboard for a glass, snapping my bra, pulling up my pants, reaching to pick up toys, gardening and making beds and similar activities are very hard and induce pain.  Tuesday, I finally had my appointment with the orthopedic specialist.

She was awesome-very helpful and kind.  Here’s what I found out.  I have:
1-degeneration from use and aging with typical arthritis
2-inflamation
3-Something rotator cuff related
4-a tear in my bicep tendon

Everyone who has previously seen me was concerned about the first three things….in the end, she was most concerned with the last thing, the tear in my bicep tendon.  She said that’s the main cause of my pain.

Shoulder-1

Of course….anything with me is never text book.  Nothing is ever easy.  Here are my options.

1-a ultrasound guided cortisone injection.  This may or may not work.  If it does, there is no guarantee on how long it will last.  I am told this is a harder injection.  Little to no time off work.
2-Go in and snip the tendon.  Pain will be gone.  Other tendons and muscles will work and my arm will be functional.  I will have a lump that will be visible in my upper arm.  2-3 weeks off work.
3-Go in and pin the tendon.  Pain will be gone.  I save the tendon and pain should be done.  6-8 weeks off work.

BUT…there’s always a but.

There is “thickening” in my rototar cuff.  It’s a mystery at this point as to what or why the thickening is there.  So there is a #4.  If I choose #2 or  #3 they will look at what the thickening is.  If it need attention, they will address it.  Once the rotator cuff is touched, that means 8-12 weeks off.  Oh my.  That option I HATE.

So she suggested we send my info on to the person above her.  Once he looks at it, he’ll give his opinion and we’ll access what he has to say.  He might know what the “thickening” is…he might know if option #1 is promising.  Hopefully we’ll hear back from him soon and know what’s next.

Has anyone gone through any of these procedures?  I, of course, know each person’s situation is different but I’d love for anyone to share your experience.  Hearing about your situation might help me make a decision about mine.  Hubby right now is VERY against anything rotator cuff related.

Being I had to take the day off to see the specialist, I decided to go shopping.  I asked the girls if they wanted to come.  Kelli and Kalissa had the day off so they tagged along.  I don’t go shopping for clothes often.  It’s crazy shopping with these two.  We often like the same things.  Proof…here we all are in the same sweater.  We all liked it…all thought we wanted it until we tried it on.  None of us ended up getting the sweater.  I love this photo though….
Shoulder-2

I can’t tell you how many pieces of clothing Kelli and I have the exact same of.

I ended up getting two jackets, a cover up, a pair of athletic pants and a dress.  That’s way more than I ever buy.  The girls were a bad influence….not really.  I actually needed a couple things.  When we had the garage sale I really cleaned the shelves heavily.

Kalissa insisted on Ruby Tuesday’s for supper.

Shoulder-3
From there we went on to pick up Carver.  Grandma Friedman watched him for the day.  She doesn’t always get to see him as they live over an hour away.  I suggested to Kalissa often to get Carver to their house.  I know if I had a grand baby and didn’t see him often, I would feel sad.  I do all I can to encourage a good relationship with Carver’s other grandma.  He’s got plenty of room and time in his life for LOTS of people and LOTS of love.

All in all it was a good day.  I was a little sad that my shoulder issue would wait another week before we had more answers- but I’ve done it this long…I can do it awhile longer.

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18 thoughts on “My Shoulder…and some fun!

  1. Kay

    Had rotator cuff surgery when I couldn’t lift my arm above my waist. Yes, long time in sling and off work, but so happy now.

  2. Lisa B

    In 2003 my husband was involved in an accident that shattered his arm from just under the shoulder socket down. He had surgery to replace that section of the arm. He faithfully did the physical therapy and regained basically 100% use of his arm. His M.D. was surprised at how well he recovered. It did take a year of physical therapy with him doing it daily at home to achieve that. Oftentimes he wouldn’t think he had not made any improvement but he had when he actually saw a physical therapist. A friend needed her rotator cuff fixed and she went to the same doctor my husband saw. Her surgery was very successful and a few years later she had her other rotator cuff repaired. She regained full use of both arms. In my opinion the secret was an excellent surgeon, following the prescribed rest time after surgery to allow for healing, and doing physical therapy faithfully every day.

  3. Stoney Monte

    Jo–I tore my right arm up in 2011 but suffered until 2016 when I could no longer lift the arm overhead. Then I got the MRI, which showed complete tearing of the cuff plus the bicep tear. You are right to complain about pain because bicep tears hurt. I had an amazing surgeon and I will always be grateful for that. Your situation is yours, not mine, but I had a full repair with 6 weeks in a special sling, no movement, but I had PT starting on day 3. I had twice weekly PT(physical therapy) and she was so helpful and kind. I was faithful to twice daily PT exercises and after one year, I am 95 percent back from who I was in 2011. At my age, I’ll take that. When I woke up from surgery, my instincts told me all was well, and so far, it’s been even better than that. Holding you in positive thoughts as you make your decision…..

  4. Carolyn

    I used to be an Orthopedic nurse back in my 20-30’s (LONG AGO) and proceddures were not as good as they are now. Recovery was longer and harder. When I read your 4 problems, I was more concerned about the biceps tendon tear. After they figure out what the thickening is from I would want the repair of that. even w time off issues

  5. Sue

    My husband tore both shoulders up. First one done while hiking and he slipped on snow/ice. Second one he got into a snowball fight with our grandkids. He rolled down a hill with everyone on top of him. First shoulder required re-attaching the ligaments and putting a staple in the torn bicep. (6 week recovery before he could drive, etc.) Second surgery on the other shoulder was done microscopically and less recovery time but it doesn’t feel as good to him as the first surgery which was more intensive. (The first surgeon also scrapped arthritic material off the bones.) Both surgeries involved a few weeks off whereby you rest and then start on exercises. At some point, you will need the surgery from what you have described. Bottomline, we don’t BOUNCE like we used to. Hope you find a great surgeon.

  6. Kim

    What ever you decide I hope you have a positive outcome. Both of my shoulders are doing great so I can offer no opinion, yet :)

  7. Ellie

    I don’t have any experience with shoulders, mine is all with knees. However I will agree with Lisa B that the secret to success is a good surgeon, following the proper post surgery prescriptions, and physical therapy. If you think of the time off work compared to the rest of your life it’s a drop in the bucket!

  8. Donna

    I had rotator cuff surgery and had the muscle reattached to the bone along with scrapping some arthritis away. It was such an easy surgery for me. I started therapy the next day and had 6 weeks of every other day plus doing it at home. It wasn’t a convenient recovery but it wasn’t painful. I have 100% use of my arm and wouldn’t think twice about doing it again if needed. My Doc was great and I did exactly what he said. the surgery was supposed to be 1 1/2 hours and turned out to be 4 hours because there was so much more to do once he got in there. I think a good doc and being vigilant about therapy both at home and the therapist was the key. I had tried the shots and therapy to avoid surgery but it didn’t work. Each case and person is different but mine was the right choice for me. It’s been 8 years and things have improved even more since then.

  9. Gayle

    I had the whole 9 yards which you describe. It was well worth it but the hardest part was NO driving until I got the go ahead. I definitely did not want to ruin the result but it is so hard if you live alone to not drive.

  10. Sherry V.

    My DH had a tear in his rotator cuff. . . . put off having anything done since all the drs. said that it was a small tear & might heal on its own. Then he did something at work and was in terrible pain. . .he had almost torn the rotator cuff completely through & surgery had to be done in order to get his arm back working.

    The surgery was a one day “in & out” thing. . . . which went really well. He was given a “fanny pack” set up with pain medication that worked through some kind of a pump thing (there was tubing directly into the shoulder area) and that lasted for about a week (each day the ball with the meds became smaller & smaller).

    I believe that he was out of work for almost 3 months . . . . he needed work drs. to ok him to go back & they kept changing the appointments.

    Now, it has been several years, and his shoulder works as well as before, but when the weather patterns are going to change he feels it in his shoulder.

    The biggest problem with the entire situation was that he got bored & wanted to do things. . . and couldn’t. He hated being stuck in the house and not being able to get out since driving was not an option until he started physical therapy.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do. . . . .being in pain is not fun.

  11. Robin

    Thank you for encouraging your daughter to let the other grandparents watch Carver. I am the other grandma and it is so painful so be left out. You have such a kind heart and always put others before yourself. Now it’s time to take care of you! I have no advice but will pray that the doctors will find the best and least invasive way to help you.

  12. Paula

    I had rotator cuff repair with tendonisis (bicep tendon pin) in December 2014. It was painful and took a long time to heal, but it was worth it. I went to PT off and on for 2 years prior, starting with bicep pain that gradually increased. I was in constant pain and always worried I was going to make one move and really hurt myself. That happened as we were decorating our Christmas tree. I reached up, and bam! That was it. I was at the doctor 2 days later and in surgery within a week. Please don’t let yourself get to that point, as the longer you wait, the more damage you’ll have. I had significant arthritis and an almost frozen shoulder, so the surgery was extensive and recovery took time. Be sure to do the physical therapy as ordered. It’s a pain and can be painful, but it makes a world of difference.

  13. Chris

    Not my shoulder, although I am headed to a Dr to see why my arm has pain below the shoulder, but my hip was the issue. I ignored it for 20 years! Until the pain became so unbearable I couldn’t function. Found out I had hip dysplasia and a labral tear. Hip replaced in Dec even though I am 20 years too young for one. Best decision I ever made. Now to garner the nerve to get the right hip replaced. But the pain level there isn’t as much since the labral isn’t torn at this juncture. All this to say, ignoring it, or avoiding longer term recovery, is the wrong option. Which is more logical, taking a short cut now, but risking permanent damage long term? Or going for the best option and possible longer recovery with no permanent damage. I did cortisone shot, it lasted 3 weeks. Not your best option. It cures nothing, only masks the pain.

  14. Cindy in NC

    Thankfully, I don’t have any orthopaedic issues, but a I can offer some post-surgery suggestions based on my husband’s rotator cuff surgery.

    First, make sure you have clothing, such as elastic waist pants, you can get in and out of with one hand. Practice to be sure. My husband was in a sling for quite a while, and many days I’d arrive home from work to find him waiting for me to zip and button his pants.

    Second, if you are having surgery during the winter figure out some sort of wrap you can wear instead of a coat. At the very least you will have to go out for medical and PT appointments. A poncho would be ideal, but a heavy shawl or small knitted/crocheted afghan might work.

    Finally (I’m sure you already know this), do your PT faithfully. My husband’s therapist told him most people don’t, and that prolongs or even prevents recovery.

    Goof luck,

  15. Paula

    I posted earlier, but have a few things to add. First the things no one told me. As Cindy’s said, have easy on/off clothes. I lived in stretchy pants for the first 2 weeks and wore baggy button shirts for at least month since I couldn’t get my arm up to put on or take off pullovers and tees. No one thought to tell me that I wouldn’t be allowed to drive for 6 weeks, so I had to arrange rides with family when I went back to work at 2 weeks. I couldn’t sew for a while, but I did read 13 great novels in a very short time, since that was about all I could do other than my pt. Again, it was very worth it!

  16. Karen Dowd

    I had rotator cuff surgery in July 2016. They called it a SLAP repair and then reattached tendon. They offered a nerve block before surgery and that was awesome, it helped with no pain or discomfort til the next day. I couldn’t drive for a couple of weeks and was told not to drive with the sling on, I wore the sling for about a month. I went to PT the next week, i did exercises faithfully! I stayed out of my main job for a month. Hard part was not sewing, but i started 5 minutes at a time till i could finally do it. However my surgery was not on my dominate side so i think that was easier on me. As someone else said, stretchy/loose pants, baggy shirts, try getting dressed now with only one arm see what works and what doesn’t. I was almost good as new by 10 months. Now i really only feel it when the weather changes, a little bit of an ache. I put surgery off for almost a year hoping it would get better, i should have just had the surgery to begin with, i would have been in much less pain!
    Good Luck with whatever your decision is!

  17. Lacefaerie

    I hope your decision will be blessed with a quick return to health! My dear husband tore his bicep completely away from the bone. It was incredibly painful and had surgery within the week. He was in a full arm cast for 3 months, from armpit to fingertips. Although the rotation of his fore arm is limited by the shortening of the bicep tendon, he has never regretted the time loss of work and playing sports. He was committed to PT and it resulted in a great outcome.

    His next thing is knee replacement. His sister had hers last year at age 49, so you know it was bad ’cause the don’t like to do it before the age of 60. HH is 55 and now jumping thru the insurance hoops till they approve his surgery. His brother had both hips replaced in his 40’s. Guess lack of cartilage runs in the family.

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