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On The Wrong Side Of The Knife

Fri, 10/11/2013 - 9:10am
Skeptical Scalpel

Two weeks ago, I underwent surgery for what proved to be an extensive tear of my right rotator cuff.

I have never had a major operation before. Here is how it went down.

Back in July, I felt a sharp pain in my right shoulder while playing tennis. Of course, I continued to play that day and for two more weeks. When the pain finally prevented me from playing, I saw an orthopedist who agreed with my guess that it might be a rotator cuff injury. An MRI showed a partial tear of one of the tendons. I was given the option to try conservative treatment or have surgery. I chose the former.

I rested for three weeks and took ibuprofen. I started playing again and was feeling only occasional sharp pain until I fell on my outstretched arm. From that moment, I was unable to raise my right arm above my waist. The pain was intense and unrelieved by medication.

After a week, surgery was inevitable.

The procedure was done arthroscopically through five small incisions. Two completely disrupted tendons were repaired. The anesthesia method was a brachial plexus block which took place after I was sedated.

I woke up with the recovery room feeling fine because the block had not worn off. Even after it did, the pain was tolerable. I stopped taking Percocet after three days. At my first follow-up visit, the surgeon was pleased. That's the good news.

The bad news is I will be in a sling for six weeks and under activity restrictions for four months in total.

You have no idea how important your right arm is until you can't use it.

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