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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ever Seen One like That?

“Ever seen one like that?”

That has quickly become my stock question when confronted these days by the medical profession or the physical therapy guys. Most of them, I know right away they haven’tthey had no idea what they were looking atmore or less a void.

While the problem had started back on the 9th of December in 2014; the finalization culminated in mid-April of 2015. There was no going back now. All that remains is looking forward to a new adventure every day of the remaining world.

The pain had started about mid-day and worsened as the day grew longer until such time as I had no ability to use my left arm whatsoever. This condition persisted for almost two days until such time that I started getting some ability to use my hand and slowly progressing upward over the next couple of days.

I obtained an appointment with my regular Doc about a week later and he advised me to see my orthopedic doc immediately. I had already tried that avenue and determined that that wasn’t gonna happen until sometime in MarchI couldn’t wait three more months, no way! I chose to see another orthopedic doc in the meantime. The news there wasn’t any better. He said that he couldn’t help me; I needed someone with special skills and there was only one guy in Austin that fit that billso, that was my next call.

As hard as it was to swallow, I couldn’t see this new guy until the 22nd of January—(41 days after the start of all this). Come visit time, I saw only the doc’s PA and we looked over some X-rays that showed the titanium implant had shifted up and partially around. Steven scheduled me for a CT scan and fluid draw at River Ranch Radiology on the 30th (day 52)—then another 14 day wait while the culture of the fluid had a chance to show signs of infection and whatever.

On the 17th of February, I finally got to meet and see Doc GrahamNice Guy! (71 days from the onset) Doc’s prime concern was the amount of missing bone according to the X-rays. He told me to be prepared for a bone graft taken from either the back side of my Humerus (bicep) or from my pelvis; neither of which seemed to concern him at the time. To allow the time he needed, I would have to be the last surgery of the day so as to not back up the schedule with unexpected outcomeshe wanted as much time available as the procedure required.

After meeting with the doc, I spent time with the nurse that schedules his surgeries and we determined that the 13th of April was the next available day that my surgery could be performed. (125 days after the start)


I checked in and was soon called back, prepped and taken into the operating room. They quickly tried to put the oxygen mask over my face and I objected as strongly as I could, but the anesthesiologist had a stronger will than I. That was the last I remember until I groggily began to awake in the recovery room. Doc Graham dropped by but I never understood what he was saying.

The next I knew I was wheeled into a room on the sixth floor with Patsy waiting there for me. She told me that Doc Graham would be in early the next morning and we could discuss the situation then. I was fine with that. Currently feeling no pain, I was back to sleep and did so for most of the night.

Early the next morning with my sling in place, Doc Graham visited, gave me the newsthe pain was a result of floating pieces of the surgery cement and fragments of bone floating around in the shoulder cavity. We discussed the operation, the situation and my future and then set a follow-up visit for ten days out. I was to keep my arm immobilized and in that damn sling until that time.


On the 23rd of April (the 135th day), Patsy drove me to my appointment. While waiting to see Doc Graham, his X-ray technician took me back to get some updated shots of my shoulder. I stood up against that cold, cold device as she positioned me and took the first shot. She came back around and took the film canister saying: “Let me see how this looks in case we need to get a better shot.”

I watched as she went over to her computer and hooked up the device. The picture sprang up on her screen. I could tell, even though I couldn’t see her full face, that she was confusedthe side of her face that I could observe wrinkled up and she sorta cocked her head to the side.

I knew immediately what the problem was. I spoke up” “Never seen one like that before, have ya?”

She looked my direction with a totally blank look on her face: “No! Where’s the shoulder?”

“There isn’t one anymore. It all crumbled apart just like an eggshell.” (Doc Graham’s words, not mine)

“Nope! I’ve never seen one like that!”

That’s what they all say when I am asked what happened: physical therapist, neighbors, relatives, people at the HEB, clergy at funerals, everybody!

I still have muscles, ligaments and tendons, but no shoulder joint. Doc Graham cut it all out after the new bone graft and socket shattered like an egg shell. He sat back on his stool and said: “What the Hell?” and then he went to sawing and cutting.

A new adventure has begunjust how long it will last is anybody’s guess (most likely some 13,098 days after the start, minimum).

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