The shoulder verdict

This is my 2nd post on my shoulder. I had the MRI on Monday and opted for the cheaper closed one at Blue Ridge Bone & Joint (now EmergeOrtho). I probably breathed too heavy. The more I tried to control my chest heaving up and down and try to picture myself on a mountain instead of an enclosed tube, the less air I felt I had. I shut my eyes before they stuffed me in but they had to stop and restuff the arm holder pads because they quit going in with me when they hit the opening. After just a few minutes my neck and both shoulders were tense and tight but they told me not to move so I didn’t adjust. About half way thru I realized when they put me in my right arm was no longer by my side but they told me not to move and I guess they could see what they were capturing. I’m glad it’s done and I guess they got what they needed because surgery is scheduled for next month.


I’m wishing the flu epidemic was over with. I got a copy of my MRI and looked at the 136 pics but I can’t tell a thing. I tried to make out a bone spur and a fraying tear but the mesmerizing images playing just resembled a lava lamp. I found this site and at the bottom was this helpful video on what to look for. I will go back and look again… just because I like to be “empowered” patient. Probably not what most doctors want.

I’ve already mentioned what I thought was wrong with my shoulder in an earlier post. Good news is I was not just being a wuss. Turns out I have bone spur(s), I think impingement, definitely a fraying partial rotator cuff tear with a likely SLAP lesion (a torn piece of cartilage in the inner portion of the shoulder joint) with bicep involvement.  SLAP stands for Superior (topmost) Labral tear from Anterior (front) to Posterior (back) and there are 4 types of SLAP tear ratings. Dr. Brooks did say it wasn’t the worst shoulder he’d seen that day but it is worse than my left shoulder was in 06.


Unless a SLAP tear is caused by overuse by a young athlete they are often from aging, lifting something too heavy or a fall. I’m not young and I’m not an athlete and I didn’t fall. The original sharp onset of PAIN was from carrying something too heavy. I know when it hurt and then it got worse and better and worse and better until in autumn when I closed the door behind me and it’s never got better again. Those two things probably compounded by aging and use were the final straw.

On the paperwork, it said rotator cuff repair, subacromial decompression and labral repair. Based on what hurts where, they’ll fix the spur and rotator cuff tear for sure and look at the other two orthoscopic and fix them if they are indeed involved.

My previous post had a list of what hurts me so I won’t rehash it again.

In my notes I had AC joint (acromioclavicular joint?) written, but unless that is where he said the bone spur was I don’t remember what my notes meant.  They no longer sew or staple the labrum for a SLAP repair. They do a bicep tenodesis, where they detach the top end of the bicep ligament and move it over, reattaching it to the humerus, so it quits pulling on the labrum. Hope my loaded photography backpack doesn’t hit right wher they move those. That’s good because every time I’ve had internal stitches my body pushes a few of them out. I wish that I could remember what collarbone I broke. The chiropractor looked at some old x-rays and he said based on a callous he thought it was the right one. Not that it has anything to do with this but it’s just bugging me. As a side note when my back is out, my heartburn and hiatal hernia are worse.

Typical for me I’m dreading the needles worse than anything else about it. Although a long recovery is a close second.

just NO

My needle phobia overshadows most everything else. That was the worst part of my open hysterectomy by far. Dreading it messes up my sleep and stomach. I’d rather have the flu for 2 weeks then get the flu shot. I’ve had fillings filled without Novocain because I didn’t want the shot. I know it’s unreasonable but knowing that doesn’t make me fear them any less. I just HATE them and having to be stuck so many times because they can’t find a vein or collapse it when they do.  I’m hoping I get to talk to the anesthesiologist ahead of time so I can tell him that even when they give me everything in their arsenal to keep people from getting sick- I still get sick; and to ask, no plead to be put under with gas before they start trying to stick my horrible veins.

I didn’t even ask about recovery expectations or regaining the original strength I had. How long before I can drive etc. I just know from reading I expect this to be my longest slowest recovery and will be pleasantly surprised if it feels better right away.

Dr. Brooks has been doing this a long time. I like how straightforward Dr. Brooks is. I’m a geek on stuff like this and even like to watch surgeries on Youtube ahead of time. I like to learn all I can and be well prepared and hope I don’t need everything I’ve planned for. I think Dr. Brooks is the one who did my Aunt Donna’s & Uncle Ken’s knee, and both of his shoulders. I know he did a difficult major shoulder repair on my good friend and fellow photographer, Paula. He did a knee surgery on a friends husband and so far he was the only one not happy that I’ve talked with, as he’s never been able to go without the knee brace and has needed more surgeries.

I started trying to do even more things with my left arm even though it is basically hurting daily now from doing the work of two arms. I asked Dr. Brooks about my left shoulder compared to my right because it got better from the 2006 cortisone shot. At the time I think he said it was rotator cuff wear and small tear and bursitis. At my MRI follow up this week he said they were not comparable. I told him it was bothering me from all the use and he can do another shot in there while I’m under. My left arm is going to have to do 100% of the work for 6-8 weeks after surgery and since it already is feeling the extra workload. I’m not doing a shot in it again awake I’m hoping he helps it out.

53934b7f6bcd78298c8767dcc14662e5Maybe Dr. Brooks could stick some cortisone or botox in the left side of my jaw, or jerk it into better alignment while I’m under too? I mean it is a bone and it hurts at a joint and they are Blue Ridge Bone and Joint. It’d be awesome if my left jaw quit popping and catching and my screaming tinnitus in my left ear quit. I can’t imagine after 3 years what it’d be like to quit hearing that ringing! I guess I need to tell them that even if they don’t do anything to help my jaw that if it gets locked open from the breathing thing being in my mouth during surgery to take my mandible to the left to unlock it. A full CBC w. TSH, T3 and T4 couldn’t hurt either while I’m out because it’s not like I’m going to find a GP or get poked on my own.

My jaw popping is compounded by non-stop yawning every night when I lay down and every morning when I wake up. I don’t yawn more than anyone else during the day but I yawn myself to sleep as soon as I lay down with my jaw just popping away and as soon as I wake up the same thing. Only way to stop it is to fall asleep or get up. Annoying plus extra stress on my jaw. Maybe someday I’ll mention go a GP if we ever find one. I imagine the response would be something like- that is strange I’ve never heard it before.

I’ve been back to the chiropractor several times on my right rib. It isn’t displaced anymore but it’s still just not right. I’m wondering if favoring my shoulder is affecting my right side ribs and that’s why it still hurts. I can see why my rotator cuff is affecting my right shoulder blade after looking at the muscle structure. I added, “get an adjustment” right before the surgery to my to-do list because it will be months before I could be adjusted after the surgery-for my ribs anyway.

I started talking to hubby about some potential issues of having an immobile dominate arm for 6-8 weeks. I wondered if he’d be able to fix my hair, help me get dressed, cook, work, take care of the cats. One of my biggest concern was when my mind uncomfortably wandered into realizing how degrading it would be if I didn’t figure out my bathroom needs on my own, with my non-dominate hand. Even after 27 years of marriage, there are some things that are better not shared.

I’m working on my before surgery to-do and shopping list. I’ll be glad when this is all over and looking forward to getting my normal activities back without pain. Click the tag shoulder for all my post on it.

Had rotator cuff, SLAP lesion or bicep repair?

I’m open to all advice, suggestions, and tips especially if it was your dominant arm and if you’re a well-endowed female. There are just some clothing bra comfort issues I don’t think petite woman or guys would understand.

Let’s end on a happy note. On my glasses. Instead of paying $170 for frames and $555 for single vision lenses from my eye doctor to try out a new Rx pair of glasses w.o the nose pads, I bought a cheaper pair from Walmart’s Vision center.

Now the $9 frames don’t look as nice as the others but at an over $500 savings to try a new kind of frame with my Rx – I’m happy. I didn’t like the progressives and who knows I may not like the plastic no nose pad frames but for $228 total for lightweight small frames I can look under for reading it’s worth a try. I might add that for that price I got the lightweight lenses, with transitions in my prescription. Makes me wonder why the doctor’s office lenses cost so much more.

Any of you who want to say a prayer that the surgery goes well and that insurance pays it’s part and it doesn’t end up costing me more than a new car- I’d really appreciate it.

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