August 24 – Dr. Burkhead and Surgery

Written by Matthew Warlick

August 26, 2004

I went to see Dr. Burkhead Tuesday for my final pre-surgery visit. I was planning on taking the titanium plate out, in hopes that it would alleviate some of my Thoracic Outlet Syndrome symptoms. I was skeptical though, seems Burkhead wanted to do a clavicle resection as well, and if you’ve seen my x-rays, that is way to much bone to take out. I’ve read anything more than 1 or 2cm being removed can cause MAJOR complications. And I really don’t want to come out any worse this time.

So I asked some questions and told him about my reservations, i also told him straight up that I didn’t want to and wouldn’t let him remove the end of my clavicle. So he decides to do an x-ray, and low and behold, on a light exposure, there are very promising signs of union.

I literally couldn’t fucking believe it.

I don’t like to get my hopes ups, but the x-rays DO look promising. See for yourself.

So after getting the good news, I agreed to let him remove the plate, and shave off the very tip of the lateralof my collarbone, as the union has made the top part stick out in a spiky fashion.

I literally felt hopefull for the first time in almost 9 months. It was nice. So we got into talking about possible treatments for the T.O.S., and he starts talking about releasing my scalene muscles, or my pectoralis minor muscles from the bones. Now I’m amazed by modern medicine, but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around detaching muscles from bone. It seems altering your anatomy that much just couldn’t possibly be good for you. However, it seems the muscle scars back to the bone, allowing the muscle to “stretch” and allow for more space in your thoracic outlet. Good thing I took my dad with me.

He’s had a shoulder injury now for several years, with pretty severe nerve damage. He’s also develop R.S.D., , a VERY debilitating nerve disease. If anyone knows his shit, it’s my dad. Funny thing, my Grandfather had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome as well. They took out his first rib to allow for more space. Four years later his lung collapses, and they discover cancer living in the scar tissue of his rib and all down his surgical scar. It eventually spread to his brain and killed him.

And so now my dad has T.O.S. as well, thanks to his work-related injury. He had some kind of nerve cutting procedure done (for obvious reasons he didn’t opt to remove a rib, something ill never do either). Well, nerves are funny things, and despite what doctors and books tell you, they DO grow back, albeit very slowly, only they don’t work right when they do. Imagine your nerves as the electrical wiring in a robot, and someone crosses all the wires from your arm to your brain. From you’re shoulder down, you’ll never work correctly again. Symptoms include, pain, aching, tingling, numbness, muscle atrophy, and wasting.

And so now I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome as well. Woo Hoo!

* Insert sarcasm here

So now I have to do as much research as I can on active surgical pectoralis minor muscle releases. Shit, that’s a mouthful.

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