Because my shoulder hurts, really hurts, for the first time in a good while. Getting back to playing drums has really helped, physically and mentally, and I’ve been feeling pretty good up until this evening, but I’m having some wicked trouble sleeping and needed someone to vent to.
Pain clouds thought so I’ll try to post something more constructive soon.
Well damn, it’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to post to this blog ever since the year anniversary of the plate removal in September. It will be 2 years this September 15 th since the second surgery, and while I’m much improved from 2 years ago, I am still struggling with problems that I have come to accept will most likely never go away.
Long story short; the plate came out Sept 15 th 2004 , the next few days are a blur now, but I remember waking up to having feeling in my hand again, and continued on with the rehab and recovery. I did as much rehab as I could, trying to push myself, but otherwise took it easy. I had to quit my band to have some extended time to heal, and began freelancing again, eventually landing a full time gig at an ad agency here in Dallas. I now do graphics for online games, drum in the band again, and continually try to find ways to improve and manage my chronic pain.
Getting laid off right before the surgery prevented me from doing as much physical therapy as I would have liked, so I had to keep up on myself to do it. Over time I’ve picked up the range of motion exercises, as well as yoga, and light weight training to keep my shoulder and arm active. I’m currently working on changing my diet and eating healthier. Honestly, I’ve been slacking lately on the exercises, but have taking up drumming again (something I couldn’t do 2 years ago), as well as running to keep my endurance up. So far my symptoms haven’t worsened, thankfully; it’s just not as easy as is used to be. But nothing worth doing is I suppose.
I’ve still got some tingling in my index finger, a side effect of either nerve damage or TOS, as well as back and neck pain. The right side of my neck stays pretty tight, and I have to continually stretch and exercise to loosen and tone it. The severe pain in my shoulder blade was replaced with a much subdued uncomfortable-ness whenever I have to sit against a hard surface or a shitty office chair. The shooting bicep pain has pretty much vanished, as have most of the sharp or unexpected ones that used to hit me out of nowhere.
I’m pretty sure my clavicle is a bit shorter than it should be however, that or my musculature has just been deformed a bit at the surgery site, as I know have a “dimple” where the new union is, in part to the bone not being as thick in that spot. When Dr. Philip Hansen (avoid this man) installed the original plate, he overlapped the bone too much, so now I have symptoms of nerve damage and TOS, even though the plate is out.
Unfortunately my current insurance is quite shitty, and I’m having trouble getting in to see Dr. Burkhead about the problems that have yet to resolve, but am diligently working on it and will have an update about it as soon as it happens.
All in all I feel better than I did, but looking back I might have opted to not have any surgeries at all had I known the outcome would be a lifetime of nerve damage and chronic pain. Thankfully I can at least play drums again, and hold a paintbrush, something I really couldn’t once Dr. Hansen fucked up the install.
I hope to keep updating this blog, both as an outlet for myself and hopefully as a resource for others who suffer through this. I’ve said it before and will again, this is a debilitating condition, a disease almost, coupled with a healthcare system that doesn’t deal well with the root causes of chronic pain. It’s ironic that 3 generations of my family have now suffered some type of shoulder injury leading to nerve damage and thoracic outlet syndrome. My grandfather passed away long ago from cancer that developed in his lungs following an invasive operation to remove his rib. My father is worse than me but also a lot tougher, and is dealing with his pain as best he can. I hope to get him to start writing about the subject as well.
OriginalJohnny, if you’re out there, look me up man. I lost my addy’s in a hard drive crash but would like to hear how you’re doing.
That’s right folks, that plate is outta there. as i type one-handed, it sits here in a little hospital bag, looking unassuming and surprisingly small. Hard to image such a small thing caused so much pain and managed to help me heal.
Here’s an in-hand picture of it for you, to give you a little sense of size and scale.
So the surgery went well, and after getting a good look with is own eyes the doc says my bone is healed quite significantly. He did a small excision of my clavicle, to remove some “spiked” that had developed from the break/non-union. He also removed some arthritic tissue that was developing near my a/c joint, and he speculates that when i originally broke it, the fracture actually went INTO the a/c joint, hence my miss-mash of conflicting pain and symptoms.
So it’s 3 weeks in a sling “for comfort” and small range of motion “pendulum” exercises to keep it from getting stiff. After that it’s on to rehab and hopefully I’ll be back to jamming on drums in a few months or so.
The picture below is from the doctor removing my “pain pump” and redressing the wound. Appetizing, ain’t it?
Well what a weekend it’s been. I’m now having surgery this Wednesday September 15th at 7:30am.
I arrived at work Friday morning to find a plain white envelope on my desk, informing me that I was no longer needed “due to a reduction in force.” This from a company that just donated $5000 to The Howard Stern Show and spent upwards of $200,000 on full-page ads in the Dallas Morning News, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
$200,000 per paper!
So with my employment status fucked, my insurance in LIMBO … guess who calls! That’s right, My Doctor. Seems they have an opening next week on Wednesday. “Surely you’d like this done as soon as possible?”
So i filed for unemployment, requested my COBRA beneifits, and am currently haggling over my severance and (lack of) disability coverage. Needless to say Friday night was a fucking blast.
I haven’t been that drunk in at least a year.
So here I sit, after partying way too much this weekend, drinking WAY too much Friday night, packing up my bags to go stay a few days at the rents’ while I recover. Surgery is tomorrow morning at 7:30, which means I’ll be up at 4am, to leave by 5am, to get there at 6am (when they told me to arrive), only to have to wait until 8:30 because the doc will be late as alwasy.
At least I’ll be Sans Titanium by this time tomorrow … I can hear thunder outside. How ominous. It should be a lovely morning for surgery.
More to come…
That’s right it’s official. September 22nd will be the big day.
This titanium plate will finally come out and maybe i can get back to some semblance of a normal life. It just so happens that the 22nd is also the fall equinox and the first day of Autumn. I feel that’s a good sign, and I’ve always believed that healing and health are 90% in your mind. Here’s to positivity.
So in my last post i was very excited that i seem to have finally achieved union, meaning that my bone is in one piece and can hold itself together, but now h’m not so sure.
I’m cursed with a curiosity to rival almost anyone’s, and so i like to be as prepared as i can be. So after carefully comparing x-rays from right after the surgery to the one taken in August I’ve come to the conclusion that my signs of union are flimsy at best.
The x-ray was taken at a lighter exposure to show bone of lesser densities, so it’s may be deceiving in that end as well. To my untrained eye it simply appears that my scapula and collarbone are overlapping, and the high exposure gives the illusion of bone growth.
Hopefully I’m wrong though. Check it out for yourself.
Regardless of union or not the plate is coming out, so now i just have to be prepared for whatever complications may arise. Hopefully there IS a small section of bone connecting, which is all i would need to begin recovering, over time stress and weight will force the connection to get thicker and stronger.
So needless to say i’m a bit nervous, but excited to, maybe removing the plate will at least relieve some of my T.O.S. symptoms. The countdown is on. 13 days to go. More to come…
So I finally have a date set. WOO HOO! Just in case you didn’t know, the entire point of my first operation was to correct a broken collarbone, using a 6 inch titanium plate as an internal splint.
Well I received good news this past Tuesday in the form of a nice spiffy x-ray showing promising signs that my bone has in fact grown back into one piece.
So what does this mean for me you might ask. Well, a shitload actually. It means that my coming surgery will remove the plate, leaving me with a plateless, one-piece, fully-functioning collarbone, minus the extra space the plate was taking up, which should help alleviate my symptoms even more. I plan on attaching the T.O.S. with some aggressive physical therapy.
So September 22 is the tentative date for this bad boy, baring they have an opening any sooner, in which case the date may move up.
They will be removing the titanium plate, and applying some artificial bone graft to help with healing. The good news is that baring any complications I should only be in a sling for about 14 days, and able to return to work and normal activities in 6 weeks.