Shoulder Injury Update – Another Surgery?


If you’ve been reading my blog for about five minutes, you know I’m not the world’s most medically lucky person. Since 2013, I’ve had a stomach surgery to fix a faulty stomach valve, back surgery, gall bladder surgery and now…shoulder surgery? Prior to that, I had surgery on my knee and my appendix removed. You know when you go to the doctor’s office and they ask you to write down all the surgeries you’ve had on the intake forms? I had to write on the back of the paper yesterday. It’s ridiculous.

While there once was a time when I detailed every little aspect of my life on this here blog, that day has long gone now that I have actual responsibilities in my life. Therefore, it probably seemed pretty random a few months ago when I just casually through into a post that I’ve been having problems with my right shoulder for ages, but had never mentioned it before. Well, here’s the back story.

The only clues have been pieces of black tape on my right shoulder (the far one in this picture)

When I was about 15, I fell off my horse and broke my collarbone on my right side. I landed on my shoulder and there was some talk about whether I had done any other damage, but I ended up just putting my arm in a sling and going about my business. About 5 years ago, when my friend Amanda and I used to go cycling all the time, I noticed that my right shoulder always bothered me a LOT when I was riding. It usually happened within about 10 minutes of getting on my bike, but it only hurt when I rode, so I didn’t think much of it. I just assumed I had terrible posture or something, because, well, don’t we all? I think that’s what CNN articles tell me.

Then, two years ago, when I started teaching barre, I started having a significant amount of pain when I lifted or lowered my right arm (think holding your arms overhead in crescent lunge). The rest of the time, it didn’t bother me. Then, at the start of this year (after I had mostly quit teaching barre), the pain started to get worse. I was having a lot of pain in my neck and running down my arm, and I started having bad headaches. My arm and hand would go numb if I lifted my arm.  I assumed there was something wrong with my neck and that it was affecting my head and arm – it never really occurred to me that my shoulder would be the issue. Well, to make a long story short, I went through quite a complicated process this summer after my headaches became unbearable. I was referred to a neurologist and a physical therapist. The neurologist took MRIs of my head and neck and said that I have bad migraines, but my neck is fine (thankfully!), and the pain in my arm, shoulder, and neck is unrelated to my headaches. My physical therapist started focusing on my shoulder, which she had suspected all along was the problem. After 4 months of physical therapy, I got an MRI done on my shoulder a few weeks ago that revealed I have several cysts, tendinosis (degeneration of your tendons), bursitis, and some possible tearing in my labrum and rotator cuff. YUCK.

No one knows how this happened. It could be as a result of breaking my collarbone so many years ago, but we don’t really know. Regardless, it has been getting worse and worse to the point of keeping me awake at night and even causing pain when I’m doing things like pushing a shopping cart. It hurts when I run more than a few miles, too. The pain runs down my arm and up my neck, and it hasn’t improved despite several months of physical therapy, changing my workouts at the gym, and generally doing a lot less. So I finally went and saw an orthopedic surgeon who said, in just so many words, that I’ve done my due diligence and my shoulder is not going to fix itself at this point. He said it’s perfectly fine for me to keep trying physical therapy if I want to go that route, but if it hasn’t helped at all in 4 months, it’s probably not going to solve the problem. So that means that yes, it is time for another surgery. Sigh.

As long as it stops the madness, I’m fine.

The good news is that it is probable that this isn’t a “repair” surgery and is more like a “clean out” surgery, he thinks. That means my recovery time shouldn’t be too terrible – I can get back to the gym in about a month. Of course, there is a chance that once they get in there, the situation will change (as it did with my back surgery) and they’ll end up needing to repair more, and then it will be a pretty long recovery. But I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Me being me, I obviously planned my surgery around important events like foster care training (it’s endless) and my upcoming half marathon on October 28th. I’ll still be able to run as long as I get my shoulder taped up by my physical therapist before I go. So, I’ll get the ol’ shoulder fixed on November 1. I’m actually pretty excited and looking forward to feeling a lot better soon. If there’s one thing I’m good at, unfortunately, it is recovering from surgery. So, I’m really optimistic about the outcome. I know that once the problem is fixed, if I stay really diligent with my therapy like I always do, I’ll be feeling a lot better very soon. And THAT means I can get back to improving my strength in the gym! Hooray!

8 thoughts on “Shoulder Injury Update – Another Surgery?

  1. Thanks for the update, and I hope the surgery goes well. I’m glad that it is timed around your race and with foster care, because it would be extremely tough to care for a child while recovering from a surgery or preparing for one. I hope that it goes well and is mostly a cleanup rather than a repair. You’ve overcome so much already Danielle, and there’s no doubt in my mind that you won’t come back stronger from this too.

    1. Thank you so much, Amy! It was definitely nice to have a bit of control over the timing. Hopefully it will just be the clean up because the repair will be a much longer recovery, but time will tell. I wouldn’t be able to drive for a while with a repair also, so that would really be a challenge!

  2. OMG – yeah, you have mentioned some of these things off and on and it can be hard to exactly remember what you have said, when and to what extent! haha

    We know my body is incredibly forgiving – no broken bones, no real surgeries, etc. But Lisa? Not so much – similar to you she seems to always be first in line for whatever medical disaster is on offer … so I totally get where you are coming from!

    Hope the surgery is uneventful and recovery is quick! Glad you got your fostering experience in before surgery … and get to run the marathon! (non-runners totally wouldn’t understand why you want to run it even knowing there will be pain) 🙂

    1. Sounds like you and Lisa are just like me and AJ! I like to say that I handle all of the medical issues for the family because he is too wimpy to deal with it – and he agrees, haha! We will be taking another placement once we know for sure what my recovery from surgery will be like. Hopefully it will be the following week!

  3. Sounds like you have the perfect attitude going in and that will make all the difference! Plus, you will run your ass off in that half marathon, knowing it may be the last hard effort for a little while 🙂 Although I’m sure you will be back to your gym tricks in no time!! Here’s to healthy, speedy, healing! *with a gluten free beer of course

    1. Hahahaha well, I appreciate you giving me that much credit, but I will probably not be running my ass off in the half. My friend and I are just running for fun! We are just proud of ourselves for getting back into the habit of doing long runs, since those fell off for the whole summer.

  4. Sounds to me like a similar surgery to that Alex had for his ankle (he had to do a follow up surgery to reattach ligaments, but the first one was laproscopic clean out). Sometimes, you just need to stop trying to point a finger (with the good arm) and instead just deal with the problem. I’m hoping it gives you relief from your other pains–I get frequent enough hadaches to know that I am scared that they will get worse or just keep returning after I give birth, and that scares me–I’m sure you feel the same about getting them with your foster kiddos!

    1. Yes- I completely relate! The migraine issue was a real challenge when we had our placement because apparently, 5 year olds don’t care if you have a migraine. I’m sure babies don’t either 🙂

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