I (Jody) have had pain in my right shoulder for more than four years. Generally the pain was just with certain movements or if I slept on my right side, the kind of pain you can live with.
When we moved to Quito 2-1/2 years ago, though, my life changed quite a bit. We didn’t have a car and I found myself doing more carrying of grocery bags longer distances or carrying a heavy backpack. I also did more baking by hand rather than using a mixer, especially making bread. To do laundry involved carrying the basket up to the roof where the laundry is.
I think my attitude was, “I’m strong, I feel young, I can do things by hand, I don’t need a car or a KitchenAid mixer.”
After about 1-1/2 years, though, my minor shoulder pain became major, waking me up at night. Initial doctor appointments were followed by an ultrasound, then an MRI, appointments with an orthopedic surgeon, and 15 physical therapy sessions. I bought exercise bands in the U.S. and have used them for four months six days a week.
But the pain is still there (although better) and last Wednesday I scheduled surgery for this coming Tuesday. (That’s assuming my insurance pre-approval arrives by then.) I’ll have it at our hospital here, Hospital VozAndes (“the voice of the Andes”). I’ll have at least two nights in the hospital, two to four weeks with my arm and shoulder immobilized, and one to four months of physical therapy.
My surgery will involve reattaching a ruptured supraespinatus tendon to the top of the humerus, cleaning cysts out of the sub-scapular area, and moving my bicep muscle (or maybe tendon?) higher on the humerus (I think). The surgery will involve an open incision rather than arthroscopic surgery.
Dr. Febres, my surgeon, speaks English, which is wonderful. Almost no one else in the hospital will speak English, though, and this is one of my major apprehensions. Scott can’t be with me all the time, and I fear not understanding a question or not being able to communicate a need. This is the trade off for having the surgery 1) where I live and have people to care for me and 2) where it will cost much less. (The estimate for my hospital stay, surgery, and the surgeon’s fee is just over $4,000.)
This is the first of (I hope) several blog posts about the surgery.