David Walker, Age 37
In October`05 I had an MR arthrogram. This procedure included the injection of a contrast dye directly into the shoulder joint, followed by an M.R. scan. The purpose of the arthrogram is to detect any tears to the tissue in, and around the joint.
The results indicated a SLAP tear and also a tear to the front or anterior labrum, which I now know as a Bankart Lesion, slight damage to the rotator cuff was also visible.
Two weeks later I had a consultation with my surgeon. He made me feel at ease immediately and talked me through the nature of my injuries and the surgical procedure for correcting them. I was informed me that although the arthrogram is a very good indication of the damage, true measure of the injuries would only be clear during the arthroscopic procedure.
Four days later at midday I arrived at the hospital with my wife, and had the operation at around three o`clock. At around six o`clock My surgeon came to see me and informed me that the operation had gone to plan and that the arthrogram results were accurate. Three anchors had been used to carry out the repairs, one to the SLAP tear and two to the Bankart lesion. The rotator cuff damage had been minimal and only had to be tidied up. I was allowed to go home at around seven-thirty, following hygiene and elbow exercise advice, and also a drink and something to eat.
A pre-op injection (interscalene block) into my neck had frozen the left hand side of my face and upper body, this strange sensation lasted for approx. twenty four hours.
I left the hospital in a sling with a body belt attached which was to be worn at all times, even when in bed and under my clothes during the day. I was given codeine painkillers to take home with me, these lasted for a week, I then used non prescription medication for a further week and a half.
Four weeks post-op I was using no painkillers at all, although the shoulder ached at times particularly first thing in the morning but it soon passes and was not really worthy of painkillers.
I found the advice on www.shoulderdoc.co.uk , and in the shoulder discharge information booklet to be extremely beneficial, particularly the advice to use pillows to support the operated arm when in bed, without this support the weight of the relaxed arm when horizontal causes discomfort by tugging at the repair.
For the first three weeks I found that washing was best done in stages, I would stand in the shower cubicle and wash from the waist down using the shower head with my un-operated arm ensuring that the sling did not get wet. I would then dry myself and then lean over the bath to wash my hair and face etc. again keeping the sling dry. Finally I would clean my upper body including under my operated arm and shoulder with cleansing wipes that are easily available from supermarkets. My un-operated arm was washed with assistance from my wife. Shaving was relatively easy as my dominant arm (right) was, fortunately, my un-injured one.
At three weeks post-op the sling could be removed for showering with the operated arm hanging by my side. I found this a lot better, although great care still has to be taken to avoid any slips and to avoid any temptation to try to use the operated arm.
I had my three week follow up appointment, Mr Funk examined me and reassured me that my recovery was on course.
I then had my first physio session which included light pendulum exercises and also shrug motions, these are to be done three times per day until my next session, when `range of movement` exercises will begin, and then further down the line slight resistance work to strengthen up the now weakened rotator cuff muscles.
At three weeks post-op the body belt was removed and the sling was worn on the outside of my clothes. This gives a feeling of new found freedom, and I am now getting out and about more, although when the body belt was on I did go for regular walks to maintain some form of exercise.
I found that improvements are noticed by looking back a week or so at a time rather than from day to day, as the recovery does take time, hopefully this will speed up when the sling is completely removed at the six week point.
I am hoping to have recovered enough to return to the gym by three months, fingers crossed.