Monday, August 31, 2015
On June 16th of this year, I was opening the door to my car in the parking lot outside of my office and my left shoulder dislocated. It took everything I had to suck up the pain and drive myself home. The hour long drive felt like an eternity. I was halfway home when the left shoulder dislocated its self again while I was driving on the freeway. I pulled off the road and cried my eyes out for about 20 minutes before the muscles had a spasm and set itself.
After calming myself down, I was able to drive to the next closest town and have my husband pick me up. The spasms continued for the next several days, and I could not stand it. I decided that I could no longer live with this pain, and constant anxiety of wondering when its going to dislocate randomly again. Will it be in my next business meeting? When I am at the grocery store reaching for a box of cereal? Or when I brush my hair? It was getting so bad, that I could not do anything with my left arm without causing severe spasm episodes.
I then decided to meet with the orthopedic doctor who diagnosed me back in 2005. I met with Dr. John Douglas of Tooele Orthopedics & Sports Medicine on June 22nd, and he ordered an MRI for me. That Wednesday I did the MRI, and it was excruciating. A 1 1/2 hrs to 2 hrs appointment turned into 5 hrs. My shoulder had constant spasms in that claustrophobia-nightmare-of-an-MRI-tube. They could hardly get any pictures that wold work, and I was having panic attacks because my shoulder was starting to have partial dislocations in that tiny tube! It was miserable. I asked the Radiologist if they could just knock me out so they could get what they needed, He wasn't very nice and told me to suck it up. ( Rude) . Finally we were able to get A picture that would work, so I was very glad to go home.
We met with both Dr. Douglas and his colleague Craig Packham, and they said we are doing surgery on you Monday ( June 29th). He said that he wanted to create a bumper around my joint with my muscle to prevent further dislocation since my shoulder was ridiculously loose. Being someone whose never had any type of surgery before, I was very nervous and wasn't sure what to expect. However I trust Dr. Douglas so I agreed to the procedure, and tried to manage my anxiety that whole weekend.
Monday came and I arrived to the hospital at 10 am. They wheeled me back to the surgery prep room ( I have no idea what its called, but you know what I mean.) and there I changed and they stared me on some IV's. I had my sweet husband beside me, and my darling father in law there for support. Two doctors came in and did a nerve block on my shoulder. OH....MY...GOSH!!!! Never ever ever will I have that done again! To be honest, I have a terrible pain tolerance, but OMG, that was worse than a dislocation. I am going to go into a bit of graphic detail here, but they stuck a HUGE needle down the side of my neck and instantly I could not feel my arm.
You know in Harry Potter when Professor Lockhart ( the dimwit ), "accidentally" removes all the bones in Harry's arm? My arm moved like that. I could see that my arm was moving, but it felt like it wasn't there. It was the most bizarre and terrifying thing for me. I was given some sedation, but I was still conscious. I remember yelling at my husband and crying that they took my arm away! ( So funny now, but at the time I was so scared.) I then had two nurses come and wheel me back to the OR. I was crying and having a such anxiety. They moved me onto the operating table and the sweet anesthesiologist told me to breathe, since I was hyperventilating like crazy. She then put a mask on me when I had calmed down and said, " Think that you are a pretty princess in a castle-" Wham! I was gone.
I woke up at 4:30 that afternoon all wrapped up in a sling and completely disoriented. My Husband and Father in law were there next to me, which made me feel safe. I had two nurses who were just adorable. They had me drink and brought me little packs of Oreo's. ( I am an Oreo addicts-I swear that stuff is like laced with something). Dr. Douglas came in shortly after I woke up, I was still kind of out of it so I don't remember exactly what he said. Per my husband, he said that he was so pleased with the job he did and he was confident that this would solve my problems. He said the space between by socket and ball joint was ridiculous, he could drive a truck through there ( More like he could fit two fingers in between.). After speaking with him, and getting a little food in my system I was able to go home. Our dear sweet friends brought over some Panda express( my fave) and we all just ate and watch movies, while I was in and out of it all.
At 11 pm that night things though got out of control. Most of the pain medication wore off, and I was starting to feel pain. My shoulder that they just did surgery on started to spasm under all the bandaging and the restraint it was in. My body was not sure what happened to my shoulder and was freaking out that it couldn't move the way it used to. In a way the shoulder felt claustrophobic and started to spasm in order to feel some sort of relief I am guessing? My husband took me to the ER because I was screaming from the spasms and the severe pain it was putting me through. We also were worried that if it continued to spasm hard it could dislocate and rip out all the stitching he just did.
The Doctor in the ER was really nice, but he did not know much of what to do. So he ordered morphine and a few other pain killers for me to help me relax. Every 5 minutes my shoulder would spams hard causing me to cry out in pain. It was very difficult for me, and for my husband because we had just gone through this surgery, and now we were worried that it would rip things out and we'd have to start all over again. ( No thank you- No nerve block! )
By 3 am nothing seemed to be working and I was still having the spasms. He then loaded me up on more medication to see if it would help. My heart was barely beating, since I was on so much medication. My husband was freaking out because alarms were going off saying I wasn't breathing enough and the one nurse ( She was awful) completely ignored him and just would tap me a little and say breathe and then leave. The ER doctor called Dr. Douglas at 4 am and told him what was going on. Dr. Douglas was furious that he put me on so much medication, he said that much would make my heart stop! Scary!!! So by 6 am, I was still in pain and nothing was working. My mother in law came to sit with me while my husband went home to get some rest. The ER Doctor came in and said that the only other thing he could do is a nerve block. I said HECK NO! So I did some breathing exercises to calm down the anxiety ( Its amazing how much breathing can calm you and your muscles and just relax everything), and my mother in law took me home to her house so I could rest more comfortably on their amazing sectional.
I stayed at my in laws for 3 days while I was adjusting to everything. ( They have the better couch.) I was on lots of pain medication, from Oxy, Cyclobenzaprine. etc. I was able to manage my pain and spasms with those. I wore this obnoxious shoulder sling with a bumper on it. I was unable to shower for two weeks, and my husband was in charge of washing my hair. People say recovering form surgery is miserable, and boy do that have that right. Not being able to shower, feeling greasy, your hair is greasy and in knots, you cant dress yourself, and you need help to do everything. Sleeping is miserable- I am a stomach sleeper and I had to convert to blasphemous back sleeping. Did I mention everything was MISERABLE?
After about the 3rd week after surgery I was starting to feel lots better. I wasn't taking pain medication and I was becoming a bit more active ( Yes I gained 10 pounds from taking a month and a few weeks off to recover. ) I was able to go back to work towards the end of July. I am a Travel Agent so I sit at a desk all day, so I was able to sit and work. I had to type with one hand which made things difficult, and slower. However I worked hard and did what I needed to do to get the job done.
After my 2nd week back to work, my right shoulder began to start the spasms like my left one did prior to the dislocations. It was so bad I could not hold a phone to my ear, carry my purse, or hold anything in my hand without it flying across the room after my spasm. ( So embarrassing... I was carrying my bowl of soup back to my desk at work- Had a spasm and flung it all over my cubical.) I then started to take things a little more easy. We had a big deadline at work, and the gal who was supposed to cover it was out of vacation for 3 weeks, so I was the only person available to help with this. I had to arrange several hundred peoples travel within a week. I worked 16 to 19 hour days ( and weekends) for a week and a half straight in order to make this happen. That push far too much stress on my right shoulder since I only had the one hand. After slowing down and doing what I could do without killing myself, things got better.
I was able to get my sling off on Aug. 11th, which has been very nice. I wear it if I know I am going to be in a big crowd of people or if its hurting pretty badly. I started my physical therapy on Aug 18th, and that went well. The Physical Therapist, Nathan Ploehn at Mountain Land Physical Therapy Tooele is awesome. He spent the first 20 minutes of my session talking to me about my shoulder and what exercises they would do to help get my range in motion back. He did some stretches to see what my limits were ( I tried to be a tough cookie- but I could only tolerate so much pain.) He was very gentle with me and did not do any movements with my shoulder that I was uncomfortable with. He said the first thing he wanted to work on was relaxing the muscles in my shoulder, because I have anxiety and I am tensing up my shoulder too much.
I have never had PT before so everything was all new to me. At first I really hated the muscle relaxer massage pad thing ( again- I have no clue when it comes to medical terms so please bare with me.) it really hurt at first, and then within the last 5 minutes of it being on I finally felt good. They did some stretches and I pushed my self. Surprisingly I wasn't in any pain afterwards, but I am sure my next appointment will be even more challenging and will have me sore.
Well, that is the update for now. I have physical therapy twice a week until November. I will post my progress then. Overall, YES- surgery was miserable and the recovery sucked! But now that I am feeling better and getting back to normal routine. I do feel a difference with my shoulder and I think that if I keep up with the physical therapy and work hard this will all be worth it.
If you have any questions on Living with Multi Directional Instability, you can email me through the link on the right. If you are in Utah and would like to work with an orthopedic surgeon on ways they can help you. I highly recommend Dr. Douglas and Craig Packham. They are amazing! They listen to you and your concerns and they genuinely want to do whats best to help you.
Their details are below! :)
PHONE (435) 833-9180