What it really feels like to have anterior shoulder stabilisation surgery: Preparation for Surgery.

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(Photo Credit Brakspear/Creative Commons)

Unfortunately due to my epilepsy, I am occasionally prone to falls, usually from falling to the floor during one of my seizures. However during one particularly nasty seizure during which I fell, I woke up with a searing pain in my left shoulder. As I gradually came to I became aware that I was no longer able to move the arm properly. I placed the injured arm across my waist and attempted to get up when an audible crack is heard coming from the shoulder. I was initially unsure as to what had taken place apart from the fact that I’d had the seizure.  Therefore I took myself off to the hospital to be checked over. It was once there they told me I had dislocated my shoulder, and the cracks that I heard was the sound of the joint going back into its normal position.

After that I thought no more of the event until around two weeks later the same thing happened again. A seizure where I dislocate my shoulder. I see my GP who refers me to see a physiotherapist. Once there I told them about the problem and they commenced a programme of exercise to try and strengthen the joint. However things go downhill and the dislocations become more frequent, with even opening a door potentially resulting in a painful dislocation.

The physiotherapist decided that nothing more could be done so a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon was made. I received an appointment confirmation from the clinic within a few weeks. During that time, in all honesty things were pretty quiet. My epilepsy was under control and the shoulder hadn’t dislocated once. However things deteriorated again with two dislocations no less than three weeks to go until my outpatient appointment. By this time I was getting tired. I was in constant pain with the joint, making sleeping at night almost impossible.  I was started on strong painkillers that made sure I was sufficiently sleepy all day however only noticing a marginal difference in terms of my pain. I think it was certainly bad times, but as my nanna used to say “things can only get better”.

I arrived at the Hull Royal Infirmary around twenty minutes before my appointment time.  I thought it would be better to arrive early rather than late. As I waited, I sat there reading some ebook about Antwerp’s biggest diamond heist. My name was then called. I was asked to go to the x-ray room to have some pictures taken of the joint. I laid there and allowed the radiographer to maneuver the arm into the correct position to take the pictures. The radiographer took two pictures of my arm before allowing me to get up off the table and put on my necklace (which had to be removed). I was then told to take a seat back in the waiting room and wait to see the doctor. I carried on reading the book when after approximately ten minutes my turn to see the doctor came.

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Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull (UK)
(Jonathan Fry/Creative Commons)

I took a seat on the left side of the desk, the room was small with an examination couch, desk and a couple of chairs; quite your typical examination room. I was surprised when the examination did not start immediately. I was left in the room for approximately five minutes until the door opened and a tall tanned man came walking in wearing a rather expensive suit. He introduced himself as a senior orthopaedic surgeon and the consultation commenced.

During the course of the consultation, a number of matters were discussed. These matters included the severity of my epilepsy, a review of the report provided by my physiotherapist and a review of my x-rays. It was established that I was suffering from an instability in the front part of my joint. He recommended an open operation as due to my epilepsy, a keyhole operation or further physiotherapy would not make any difference.  He started reeling off the risks and benefits of the operation. I didn’t like the sound of some of them but I had to weigh the risks and benefits to decide what was best. I decided that I could not go on as I was so I agreed to have the operation and we both signed the consent form. Although frightened by the prospect of surgery, I was also interested. You hear about people being awake during surgery, and this was something that I was interested in. I asked the consultant politely if this would be an option; however he said that due to the risk of my seizures occurring during the surgery he advised that I be asleep for the operation.

5 months later…

I had been waiting almost five months to the day from when I last saw the consultant when a letter arrived for me with an appointment for pre-operative assessment. It was then it really hit home that I was about to undergo major surgery.  I opened the envelope and started to read. There were instructions for an appointment to be held in three weeks, and a date for surgery set for a week after that. I was given instructions regarding what to bring into hospital, fasting and checking my skin for cuts and bruises (as these can lead to infection).  The letter confirmed in black and white that I was to be admitted into Castle Hill hospital in a month for surgery.

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Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham (UK)
(Paul Harrop/Creative Commons)

I was by now starting to get anxious. I had now dislocated my shoulder over ten times and it was very weak. I knew I needed the surgery, I was just frightened of the operation and anaesthetic. I have had a general anaesthetic before and the experience is one I would rather forget. However I decided to put the whole matter to the back of my mind until the date that my pre-operative assessment came round.

That date came round far too fast for my liking as the date to the surgery drew closer. I arrived in good time for the appointment at the pre-operative assessment clinic at Castle Hill Hospital in cottingham. I was called in immediately to see a nurse who asked me many questions about my lifestyle, medications, allergies and previous anaesthetic history. She took some blood and performed a heart tracing.  I was weighed and my height was measured. She then asked me to urinate in a sample pot for it to be tested. I was then asked detailed questions on my medical history and how my epilepsy affects me. All of these were noted down. She then allowed me to leave. All in all the appointment only lasted twenty minutes and was all very thorough. All I had to do was wait a week for my admission date to come round.

This post is a series of a three posts covering some major shoulder surgery which I have just recovered. I shall continue to post the remaining two posts over the rest of this weekend. Hopefully these will help someone somewhere… ☺

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What it really feels like to have anterior shoulder stabilisation surgery: Preparation for Surgery.

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