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The Wait is Over, Shoulder Surgery Confirmed

I didn't see an airport all week and if luck holds, this week will be the same. Instead of airport waiting areas, I got my fill of office waiting rooms. I had scheduled "No Travel" on my work calendar back in January knowing that I wanted to spend my birthday week at home. Terry did the same. This past week was the 1st week all year we've been at home together. I took advantage and booked every medical and financial appointment I could, including shoulder consults.

I kicked off the week with my annual exam. I'm a vegan with high cholesterol (ugh) so I fast for blood work and get the earliest appointment. I only had a few minutes in the waiting room and had it all to myself. Not as entertaining as taking the early flight out of SLC, but much more peaceful.

Tuesday, I squeezed in work around two appointments. In the morning, I went to an MRI review with the orthopedic surgeon. I had been told that the MRI report stated no tears two weeks prior, but my body wasn't buying it. I was anxious to see what he would propose for a treatment plan. I was alone in the waiting room until a friend came out of her appointment. What a surprise! She had also injured her left shoulder and had just been told that she'd be having surgery on Thursday. As I walked into the room, I knew that if surgery was my fate, I'd have a fellow cyclist as a walking partner until we healed and could ride again.

I walked out of the room 30 minutes later disappointed. I had been patient for three weeks waiting for this appointment with few signs of getting better. The doctor suggested I try physical therapy for another 3-4 weeks and then come back for another consult. If little improvement, we'd schedule surgery. I understood his hesitancy to cut with no obvious issue on the MRI report, but my gut told me this wasn't a typical injury and it felt like I'd been put on delay for a month.

Tuesday afternoon, we had a tax appointment. Thankfully we have a great accountant that can make sense of our personal and company activity. We were alone in the waiting room and read an interesting article in Fortune on the Nike CEO. Now we have to be financially patient for a few more weeks until we know how much to send to the IRS.

I started my birthday at another medical appointment. This time, I was seeing the shoulder specialist that fixed my right shoulder 5 years ago. I made the appointment immediately after my injury, but since his wait is close to a month, this was the first time he could see me. I gave him background on the x-rays, MRI, failed attempt at PT and massage, and even some of the prior day's appointment with the orthopedic. Instead of reading the MRI report, he went right to the images. He immediately saw a torn labrum and bone damage from multiple subluxations. Once he pointed them out to me on the screen, it was obvious. My mind immediately started spinning - for two weeks everyone had been reading an MRI report that was wrong, ie "an impression". I probably wouldn't have been able to schedule surgery any sooner, but it was frustrating. Plus I knew I would be getting the medical bills and wouldn't see a discount for quality issues.

He moved my shoulder around a little and confirmed what he saw in the MRI. He advised surgery as soon as possible. Deep down, I knew that was what I needed, but once he said it, I got depressed about the recovery. Six weeks in a sling and four months before I'd be back on a bike meant it would be hiking and recumbent biking at the gym through July. It helped that I knew at least one friend with a matching sling that would hike with me. I went back to the waiting room, which was almost as busy as an airport, to finalize my surgery plans for the end of the month. In a mountain resort town, there are a high number of orthopedic issues and long waits.

Not the best way to spend your birthday, but at least I now had a treatment plan. We tried to forget work, surgery, and taxes with a nice Italian dinner in Salt Lake City. There wasn't a wait, but dinner was long enough that Terry had to excuse himself a couple times and go stand in the waiting area to relieve his back pain. Yes, we are quite the pair. Terry's still recovering from last year's back surgery as I prepare to go in. We have decent insurance, but it's start-up coverage so not as great as we've been used to. Talk about financial patience.

Thursday, I was back at it with a physical therapy appointment. I wanted one last opinion on whether I should do surgery right away. He had seen my shoulder one week in when I had no mobility, so at four weeks, it would be a good test. He agreed with having surgery right away, especially when I got light-headed and nauseous after doing a few simple stabilization exercises. The waiting room is the same area that I almost fainted in, so I was the one providing the entertainment.

We ended the week with another financial appointment for more company activity. No waiting room, just a nice conference room with a view of the mountains. Believe it or not, I squeezed in two more medical appointments on Friday. An annual mammogram and a friend who taped my shoulder to provide stability. Mammograms are unpleasant but especially when you have to "grab the bar" and your shoulder is shaky. The taping was much more enjoyable and has provided additional pain relief on my long walks this weekend.

I have no appointments on next week's calendar and the waiting is over. I just have to be patient for 3 more weeks and then I'll start healing. I'm starting to wrap my head around the long recovery and have had to cancel several cycling commitments. On the positive side, I'll have plenty of March Madness Basketball and Pro Women's Cycling to keep me occupied.


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