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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 01-04-2012, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Kevin45
Well, we went through surgery #7 yesterday. And damn it is really sore. The shoulder popped out last week and we couldn't get it back in place. The surgeon was also explaining to me that for some odd reason, I scar rather fast. This is what has been pushing my shoulder of of socket. Once it popped out than the scar tissue continued to grow, not letting it pop back in.

This should be the last surgery. There are no other revisions that they can do to the shoulder. And the shoulder is basically back to where it was 8 years ago. He removed the components from the Reverse Prosthesis, the ball out of the socket, and the socket from the stem, then added one large ball to the stem creating a Standard Prosthesis. Only now, I have absolutely no Rotator Cuff, and will have a very limited range of motion, if any at all. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I won't have pain on down the road. I'm really tired of eating painkillers
Kevin,
No one knows the pain another suffers but it seems like you are in that "...so I smiled, and things got worse" cycle these days. I don't think you should be crossing your fingers -- good chance your shoulder will pop out. I can't imagine going through all this just to be back where you started. I went over the handlebars of a mini-bike and landed on my shoulder. Gave myself traumatic bursitis and couldn't believe the pain. You've been dealing with worse than that for years.

If I were you, I'd strap that arm down tight for a month. Sounds like you heal quickly but not in a good way so give the scar tissue time to toughen. Before you even think of using that arm, figure out how you can do the job with one hand. Trust me, you can do an awful lot with one arm but you have to get your mind adjusted. Also helps to have a lot of patience. Doing things one-handed usually takes longer and when you get tired or frustrated, it's best to walk away and come back to it when you're rested. Oh, and take care of the 'good' arm because you are going to be putting a lot more stress on it.
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Old 01-04-2012, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Heine
Kevin,
No one knows the pain another suffers but it seems like you are in that "...so I smiled, and things got worse" cycle these days. I don't think you should be crossing your fingers -- good chance your shoulder will pop out. I can't imagine going through all this just to be back where you started. I went over the handlebars of a mini-bike and landed on my shoulder. Gave myself traumatic bursitis and couldn't believe the pain. You've been dealing with worse than that for years.

If I were you, I'd strap that arm down tight for a month. Sounds like you heal quickly but not in a good way so give the scar tissue time to toughen. Before you even think of using that arm, figure out how you can do the job with one hand. Trust me, you can do an awful lot with one arm but you have to get your mind adjusted. Also helps to have a lot of patience. Doing things one-handed usually takes longer and when you get tired or frustrated, it's best to walk away and come back to it when you're rested. Oh, and take care of the 'good' arm because you are going to be putting a lot more stress on it.
Bob.....Believe me when I say I'm going to baby it, but I was babying it when it popped out last week. I was sitting in the chair with the sling on. My arm was kind of positioned palm up. I turned my arm ever so slightly and it rolled out of place.

As far as doing things with one hand, the last three years I've basically had to do that.Simple things like taking medication, I've had to do it one handed. As stupid as that may sound, my arm only bent at the elbow. The shoulder would not move enough to even get my hand to my mouth. There are so many simple things that a person takes for granted until you don't have full faculties. Fastening my pants was a chore in itself. For eight years now I have not been able to put my arm on the car door while driving. Going to a drive-thru bank or some place like MickeyD's was a challenge. I had to sell my '62 Impala because I was not able to work on it the way I wanted to. I've had to sleep on my right side only for eight years because of the pain of laying on my left side.

So we'll see what this latest operation brings. Like I said, earlier, this surgery was only done to relieve the pain and not for range of motion. I'd much rather be off of all the pills, before they do anymore damage than they may have already done.
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Old 01-04-2012, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Kevin45
Bob.....Believe me when I say I'm going to baby it, but I was babying it when it popped out last week. I was sitting in the chair with the sling on. My arm was kind of positioned palm up. I turned my arm ever so slightly and it rolled out of place.

As far as doing things with one hand, the last three years I've basically had to do that.Simple things like taking medication, I've had to do it one handed. As stupid as that may sound, my arm only bent at the elbow. The shoulder would not move enough to even get my hand to my mouth. There are so many simple things that a person takes for granted until you don't have full faculties. Fastening my pants was a chore in itself. For eight years now I have not been able to put my arm on the car door while driving. Going to a drive-thru bank or some place like MickeyD's was a challenge. I had to sell my '62 Impala because I was not able to work on it the way I wanted to. I've had to sleep on my right side only for eight years because of the pain of laying on my left side.

So we'll see what this latest operation brings. Like I said, earlier, this surgery was only done to relieve the pain and not for range of motion. I'd much rather be off of all the pills, before they do anymore damage than they may have already done.
I feel for you. I have to put the car in Park, unbuckle and turn sideways in the car to work the drive-up (I usually just avoid the drive-up window thing). Luckily the only pain I have is phantom arm pain and by thinking of something else, I can usually make it go away. I miss driving a stick as much as anything. For years I drove little four-bangers (Triumph, Vega, Fiat X1/9) and steered with my knees when I shifted. When I bought a '69 big block Corvette, I got cocky and power-shifted it right off the road into a (then) new Cadillac and Lincoln.

Somehow I survive being stupid but I think I've pushed my luck far enough.

It seems like you should be able to get a brace or strapping system to lock your shoulder in the socket. If you can keep it in the socket and avoid the horrendous pain, you might be able to get back to working on your car. I've been working on my '72 big-block Corvette for nearly 30 years and I don't care if I ever drive it - I enjoy working on it. My '87 Corvette is always available to drive. They're both automatics and although they are nothing compared to your Impala, it's better than driving a Kia (no offense intended if you do).

It's a bump in the road. A nasty, painful, ugly bump but a bump none the less. I was doing some research on an artificial hand that has a motor for each finger (mine has one motor for all five). One story featured Bryan Anderson, who was blown up in Iraq and lost both legs and his left forearm. He is walking on artificial legs and using what is left of his body. And he's laughing. He and a couple of million others who are way worse off than me make me keep going and help me smile on my worst days. It's better than a pill....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTGuP6KfwjM
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:48 PM
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Just an update. I had to have another surgery on my arm. Surgery #7 and it will be, or should be the last one. They had to remove all of the components except for the stem, then they ended up putting one large ball on top of the stem. So basically I am back to where I was 8 years ago except I now have no rotator cuff. Today I had to go to the hospital to have a PICC line put in my other arm. This is basically an IV line that goes in through the bicep through an artery towards the heart. I will be doing 42 home IV's due to an infection that has settled around the prosthesis into the bone. The IV's are one a day, 7 days a week, for 6 weeks.

I think the infection may have started with a dental implant I had a couple of years ago that did not work out right. The dentist though that I might have had an abscessed tooth next to it, until he pulled that tooth. The infection was in the dental implant. I was on antibiotics then but evidently it wasn't enough to knock it. And for anyone that doesn't know, any dental work requires that you take antibiotics before the dental work for the rest of your life. A few years ago they changed it to only having to take them for two years, then went back to life.

So now I have two bummed arms. With the PICC, I can't use my arm overhead or lift any more than 20 lbs. with that arm
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Kevin45
So now I have two bummed arms. With the PICC, I can't use my arm overhead or lift any more than 20 lbs. with that arm
Kevin,
I looked up SOL in the dictionary and found what appears to be your picture. I've got nothing -- your rant is well deserved.

My mother had an artificial hip so she went through the antibiotics routine before every visit to the dentist. Friend of mine contracted TB that settled in his knee and had the PICC for a loooong time. I've been lucky with only bridgework in my mouth to replace the ones knocked out.

Ten years after my arm went missing we moved from New York to Florida. The day we moved into the house was my son's 12th birthday and he wanted a skateboard. Having roller- and ice-skated for years, I thought it would be the same thing. I couldn't get the skateboard to move on the epoxied gravel on the patio so I pushed off a wall. Skateboard took of and left me behind -- I landed on my one and only elbow. Hurt like hell but I didn't want to ruin the party. Two hours later it was swelling pretty bad so my wife suggested going to he hospital to have my head examined. Nurse was very encouraging when she took X-rays. She said it couldn't be broken because the pain would be excruciating and I couldn't possibly move the arm the way I had for the X-rays.

Turned out the nurse was wrong and I had fractured the elbow through the joint. Doctor gave 50-50 chance that surgery could fix the joint but I didn't like the odds. Elbow went in a half-cast and I had to exercise the joint as often as I could stand. Doctor was thrilled that I recovered 120-degree extension but I was not nearly as pleased.

Exactly one year later we took our kids to DisneyWorld and stayed in one of the trailers at Fort Wilderness (long gone). It was Halloween weekend 1976 and they had opened River Country that year (also long gone). I had been exercising my arm all year and could almost do a 1-arm chin-up. The kids saw a platform in the middle of the lagoon that had a wire clothesline stretching to a log cross-bar twenty or thirty feet from the platform. Just grab the t-bar on the trolley and you rode the line down to the cross-bar. When I jumped off the platform my elbow snapped. The sound was loud enough to catch my wife's attention over on the beach. Saw a lot of stars and fell in the water without making it more than six feet from the platform. I guess it broke the calcium loose from the joint -- arm extends 180-degrees ever since.

Of course you know better than anyone that those joints make excellent weather stations and repetitive motion (like sanding primer by hand) is a short-term activity. I remember clearly how having both arms messed up was a nightmare. Unless you have help, just showering and getting the wildlife out of your hair is a giant pain. Kevin, it's bumming me out just thinking about what you are going through. Best thing you can do is take it a quarter of a day at a time. A whole day is too tough to bite off. Just try to get through the morning, afternoon and evening and hope nighttime brings some relief. I hope they didn't put the PICC where you can't even lie down.

Not sure if it helps but know that I'm thinking of you. This whole getting old thing is not for wusses.
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Old 01-14-2012, 03:02 AM
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I don't know Bob, I think you got me beat by a longshot. Just reading the part about hearing your arm snap, made me cringe. I'm glad that it broke something loose, but I imagine the pain was quite terrible. My biggest fear is falling in the winter and doing damage to my other arm. I know that if I fall on the one with the prosthesis I stand a chance of shattering the complete upper bone that the prosthesis is in. The second time they put the stem in they reamed it out again so now I don't have much bone around it.

As far as the PICC goes, it is in through the bicep and I have a stretchy knit piece that goes over it to hold the line down. A little uncomfortable but by far not unbearable. Bekow is a pic of the PICC line and the components that the finally had to remove from the shoulder. I'm left with just a huge ball in the shoulder now. Basically back to where I was eight years ago only worse.





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Old 01-14-2012, 12:18 PM
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Kevin,

I rarely "laugh out loud" but your shoulder picture put a big smile on my face. Orthopedic surgeons do not spend a lot of time closing up their work. Hey, at least they made the same cut on you each time. In your case, a zipper might be a better closure. I once thought of having a zipper tattooed on the end of my stump but was told scar tissue isnít a good surface for the ink. I also thought about a big M-o-t-h tatoo running down the length (instead of M-o-t-h-e-r). My wife has a great sense of humor but even she thought it would be in poor taste.

The first surgeons to work on me were orthopedic specialists. They sewed a big flap of skin back on my skull. It healed up just fine but their stitches left me with six or seven really weird cow-licks. Luckily they called in a plastic surgeon for the rest of the gashes in my face.

They didn't sew up the stump the first day because they needed to do a secondary amputation. Only about 15% of amputations are upper limbs and most of those are fingers. Above-elbow amputations are pretty rare and the fitting of a useful prosthesis requires some 3-bears care on the length of the stump (not too long, not too short). My surgeons did an excellent job on the bone and internals but the skin closure looked like it was done by a Girl Scout sewing team. I don't think they had staples back then so they used fine stainless steel wire. A year after the surgery, a piece of wire they accidentally left in there worked its way to the surface. Not expecting the scars to change after 46 years....


A few weeks after the accident the doctors sent me to a lovely place in lower Manhattan across from Bellevue Hospital. It was called the Institute for the Crippled and Disabled and the place matched its name. The building was dark and old with artificial limbs hanging from hooks in the workshop. They asked me what I did for a living so I told them I was starting a new job as a technical writer -- big mistake. They made the arm with the lightest weight cables and thinnest fiberglass. They gave me an artificial hand but the $180 vinyl glove would stain from ball point pen ink, newsprint, mustard and a host of other things. I elected to wear a hook instead. Actually a good choice for avoiding burns to my good hand.


Working around the house and on the cars I managed to snap the operating cables about every three weeks. After my fourth repair they gave me a supply of parts to make my own cables at home but they were still light duty. When I had a new arm made eight years later, I told the prosthetist I worked as a ditch-digger. Never broke another cable. The harness has been replaced twice but it has held up pretty good. It came in real handy when I was pulling the cast iron heads off the big block in my Corvette (safety chain around my neck helped as well).


Three years ago (before I qualified for Medicare) I was checking the $10K a year health insurance plan I had (the $10K a year was in addition to the $7.5K contribution by my former employer). I discovered they covered prosthetic devices 100% so I got a prescription for a new arm (I bet you'd love to be able to do that right about now). The new arm is myoelectric and although the technology has been around for decades, advances in battery technology has made above-elbow arms possible more recently. The arm is called a Utah-3 and is really cool. Without my insurance I can pick one of these up for $80K but it was a mere $26K for my insurance company. A couple of powerful motors operate the elbow, wrist and hand. The hand can put 22 pound of pressure between the thumb and fingers -- same with the motorized hook. Sensors in the stump socket pick up electrical signals from the bicep and tricep muscles through the skin. Only issue with the insurance was the battery. Two chargers and six batteries ran nearly $600 and the insurance company thought they were a luxury. A short letter explaining that the battery packs are unique to the Utah-3 and the arm is a decoration without them. I guess that convinced them to cover the expense because I never got another bill.


As cool as the arm is, it has a few drawbacks. I can't use it around water, it needs to be in a relatively dust-free environment and I can't have it turned on when I'm driving (cell phone signals can trigger a sudden elbow, hand or wrist movement). I need to have a spare battery with me at all times because the battery is very difficult to remove if it dies and the arm is not fully contracted. It would be useful while watching TV but the motors make a fair bit of noise Ė which turns out to be annoying to my wife. I have to admit itís fun to trigger the wrist motor and just let the hand do non-stop revolutions. It creeps me out so it must really be bad for onlookers.

A few months after I got the arm, a lawyer contacted me to find out the date of my accident and how much money I received as a settlement because they expected me to reimburse United Healthcare for the cost of the arm. Told them it was 43 years ago and the railroad didn't even refund my unused ticket. Haven't heard back from them. I never thought I'd be happy to not win a settlement but knowing I could/would have been screwed out of it by an insurance company anyway made me chuckle.
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:10 PM
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Kevin, it's also been a while since I have been on and I ran across your post. Man you have had one bummer of a year . I am assuming your doctors have checked for MRSA infection, if not please suggest they do. I have a coworker who has been in ICU for several months fighting the MRSA infection. Almost lost his kidneys and will be going through a heart valve replacement because of the infection. He has been on some really stout antibiotics both oral and IV. He now gets an antibiotic shot once a week to the tune of $1000 a pop. It has been a Herculean struggle for he and his wife and kids but he finally is on the mend thank God.

I am recovering at the moment from rotator cuff surgery. The injury happened six years ago when I pulled the transmission out of my 34 on back on the garage floor. I have been putting up with the pain since then and decided it wasn't going to get any better so I had it fixed, should have had it done six years ago

I hope 2012 is a much better year for you and your wife.

Take Care
Vince
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Old 01-15-2012, 01:09 PM
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Bob...it's great to see that through all of your tragedy, you can still find humor in things. That's the makings of a great person. I'm thankful that I still have my arm although it won't do what it's supposed to do, but I still have my fingers and such that work. I just can't get it up high enough to flip some other drivers off though. LOL!!! I know that they have come a long way with prosthesis. And it is great too because of all the Veterans that are coming back and needing something. God Bless Them All!!!! Hopefully they can get their lives adjusted where they will eventually be able to find some humor in a tragedy

Vince....take care of that shoulder. If I were a little smarter 8 years ago, I wouldn't be where I am today. My shoulder just started out as a pain if I would toss a ball, rock, stick or something. I always thought I just pulled a muscle. Then it started to hurt at night while I was sleeping, so I went to see my doctor. Then the test started. MRI's, X-rays and the doctor told me I had bone spurs and arthritis. So I was scheduled for arthroscopic surgery to clean things up. The pain never went away. So I talked to an Orthopedic surgeon and he told me that I needed a shoulder replacement. He also said that after the replacement I would be golfing and playing tennis in six weeks time. B.S. The surgery took 1 1/2 hours more than what it should have. The surgeon told my wife that the Rotator Cuff was in bad shape, so he had to repair it first. I think if he stopped there, then things may have been good, but why stop there? Go for the big money. I think all in all it was something like $52,000 when it was all done and over with. My shoulder was never right and always hurt. So 5 years later I talked to another surgeon that come highly recommended and he said I was a prime candidate for a "Reverse Prosthesis". I looked online and did some research. It showed older people able to lift their arm straight up. Said they never felt better. B.S. AGAIN. I had it done, two weeks it fell out of place, th esurgeon redone it, two weeks later another surgery to replace components, two weeks later it was out of place and yet another surgery to put it back in place, two weeks later it was out of place and he told me to live with it for a few months to see how it was healing. If at that time it was healing well he would put it back in place. He also told me he cut the Axillary Nerve, which controls the Deltoid Muscle, which in turn is supposed to help hold the shoulder in place. He blowed me off for almost a year. Finally I had to go for another EMG test to see how much the Axillary Nerve was working and it was working at about 35%. He then told me that there was nothing he could do with me.

My life plans took a change after that and I had to deal with my parents failing health, then I ended up with a cough that eventually turned into a huge cancer scare that took almost 6 months of my life away. The cough turned into a massive tumor, which I ended up having two P.E.T. test ran. This involve a nurse coming in with a lead encased syringe shooting you full of radioactive isotopes. Don't go into any airports afterwards, don't get around any pregnant women, and for God's sake, don't hold any babies for 24 hours. I was scheduled to have the tumor removed, but I pleaded with the surgeon to run one more test to see how bad it was. So he was going to do a needle biopsy. The risk was collapsing a lung. If that happened, I was to be rushed into the operating room and have the tumor and a third of my lung removed. I was on the table and they had to do a CT Scan. The doctor was shaking his head no and looking at the ground. He then told me he had to run another CT Scan. Same thing. Hell, I thought I only had a few months to live after that. He told me to get dressed and he went to get my wife as he had some news to tell us. For craps sake, I didn't even have a will made out. He came in and told me to go home. There was nothing there. All the doctors have been seeing was pneumonia. Which is what I told them months before. I was cutting a bunch of MDF wood and had gotten into the sawdust without wearing a mask and breathed it in.

So anyways, I went three years with my shoulder out of place. I worked every day. I worked on large punch press dies wrestling them around plus all of the other stuff I had to do. I am a Toolmaker so what I do involves a lot of lifting of different tooling. I managed but in doing so I really screwed things up. With the shoulder out of place it constantly tried to heal itself and in doing so, created a lot of scar tissue and fluid buildup. The surgeon I have now said he would operate but it was to just get rid of the pain and not for range of motion. I was fine with that. At least I have a chance of getting off of narcotic painkillers that I have been on for eight years. He operated and put in larger components that were made to hold the ball into the cup. The cup was deeper so the ball would not pop out. Two weeks later it was out of place. I went to the E.R. and luckily we got it back in before surgery, so the decision was made to leave it like that and see how it healed. Two weeks later it was out of place again and would not go back in. So all of the components came out except for the stem. On the stem he put a huge ball that fit back in to my original socket. But he had an extra hour operating because he said that I had more massive scarring and fluid buildup in the shoulder. He said he has never in all of his years seen anyone scar as fast and as massive that i do. And by doing that causes complications. Then on top of it, he decided to do a culture to see if everything was alright as I had one place that did not heal like the rest in the suture. In doing so, he found that I had Osteomyelitis, which is bacteria around the bone. And with that it can cause muscle atrophy, which I have no muscle in my left arm at all.

But I won't bore you with how I think that came about but I have a good idea and it stems back to another doctor. Oh....I did think about sueing a doctor, but I spoke with three different lawyers and none would take it on a contingency basis. They steered me towards a firm in Cincinnati, but all warned me that it would cost me $80-$100,000 out of my pocket. And then you only have a 50/50 chance. So I have a bum arm, my insurance company is out a few hundred thousand, my shop sent me a letter stating that since I have been off work for so long that there is no guarantee my position would still be open, and they want me to sign up for SSD.

So anyways....I'm very sorry for rattling on, but once I get to talking about it, it kind of turns into a RANT

Take care of your shoulder Vince, and don't let them talk you into something like I went through. It never as good as the real thing!!!
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Old 01-15-2012, 05:53 PM
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Have taken your words to heart Kevin. The operation on my shoulder was minor I had a partially torn rotator cuff. The surgeon who did mine does all the arthroscopic work for the Dallas Mavericks, Rangers, and Dallas FC soccer team and he came very highly recommended. The surgeon did not have to re-attach anything but did remove some bone spurs and scar tissue around the rotator cuff area. That was three weeks ago and I can already tell it is going to be a lot better. Like you I could not sleep on my left side before the surgery, now I can. I did not even need therapy.

Vince
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:51 PM
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Kevin,

About 8 months after my run-in with the train I had a melt-down. Spent some time with a psychiatrist who didn't say very much but led me to a breakthrough. He made me realize that my misery was self-inflicted. I wasn't happy when I had a 100% functioning body so it seemed OK to be unhappy with less. I eventually gave up on the coulda, shoulda, woulda and if onlys and got on with life -- with a few adjustments.

I can tie my shoes but it's a pain so I wear loafers or sneakers with Velcro straps. I tie my welding apron in front and then pull it around -- same with tool belts. I don't play the clarinet any more but that's a bonus for those who never heard me play.

My only regret is not working with veterans. I lost my arm before the draft caught up with me for Vietnam so I never served but I have learned to cope with the inconvenience of doing everything one-handed. I thought that would be helpful for young amputees and I've done a fair number of presentations at Physical Therapy seminars. I've written to the VA a bunch of times and even button-holed a manager at the VA who I met at jury duty. Never heard back from anyone. A few of the physical therapists I've worked with are amputees but all of them were lower limb. A two-armed person teaching a one armed person how to do stuff makes no sense but that's what happens. Kinda like teaching someone to drive a stick shift using a car with an automatic.
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