forewarned, I am rambling a bit in this review. This is paintball related.
It has been 1 year since I had shoulder surgery - I went under the knife on Feb 2, 2012 to repair damage to my shoulder as a result of a paintball injury many years prior.
The story begins in the summer of 2003. In preparation for the Castle Conquest, Pumps vs. Semis game that fall I was at my local field get some practice time in using the paintguns I was planning on taking with me to defend the castle. My home field then was Paintball Wholesaler's place in Taneytown, MD. During a game of woodsball I was using my BE Nightmare in stock class setup. I decided to dart past a hut in the woods to get a better angle on the 2 guys behind it. Well a tree root made me do a John Woo gun-fu flying leap . . . trust me, they are ill advised.
So as I was flying through the air, instead of doing something smart like dropping my paintgun or even considering the effects of tripping while running at full steam in the woods I continued to keep it trained on the bunker I was darting past. This was idiot move #1. And down I came on my right elbow, driving my arm up into the shoulder joint and causing mayhem.
All I felt was that I had knocked the wind out of myself in the worst way possible. I rolled behind cover, heard my teammates shouting at me about what happened, and called for a ref. When the ref ran over he whistled the game over. What he saw was my arm hanging out at a weird angle. when I stood up that is when I realized my arm was at least dislocated. So idiot move #2 on my part - I shoved it back in place. I didn't think about it, I just grabbed my arm and plunked it back in place. Back to the staging area, another player game me some ibuprofen and I waited a bit for it to kick in, then I packed my truck and left for the day.
that was idiot move #3 - the truck I was driving was my old F150 with the manual transmission. I came to realize something was wrong, really wrong, while trying to shift gears. So I drove to work where I had my other truck at that time (it had an auto) and swapped vehicles, and then further decided driving at all was dumb so I called my Mom to come get me and take me to an ER. At this point quite some time had passed since my fall.
At the hospital they do x-rays and declare me an idiot and tell me how I had a 'compression fracture of the greater tuberosity'. Basically, I had crushed in part of the knobby bit on the top of the humerus, along with dislocating my shoulder. Oh joy. So I get sent off to see orthopedic specialists and they put me in an immobilizer and said "you need tincture of time for this to heal"
this leads to idiot move #4 - actually attending the Pump vs Semi's Castle Conquest game just a month later. I actually don't regret it - I made that conscious choice to go, and the experiences I had at EMR that day were worth it. But that said, it was dumb to go and play so soon after causing such damage to my shoulder.
Fast forward through the years - and guess what? my shoulder began to more and more problematic. The damage to the bone resulted in a Hill-Sachs lesion on said bone. I gave myself gastritis at one point from taking too much ibuprofen to control the pain. Everyday tasks became increasingly difficult, and basically a game of russian roulette as to whether they would result in searing, brutal pain. I saw a doctor about it and in his words "that is one helluva hill-sachs lesion!" There was no mistaking the deformity on any angle of any x-ray. And along with the messed up bone I had a rotator cuff that was torn and by all accounts worsening. Basically, I could feel the rotator cuff getting twanged inside the joint.
After becoming a Dad and realizing how much of an impact the shoulder was having, and while contemplating kid #2 with the Wife, I decided to finally do something about it. So I saw more docs and there was no problem getting approved for surgery based on the damage in the joint, etc.
And now we are back where we started, on February 2nd, 2012, when I had surgery. The plan the surgeon laid out was that he was going to clean up the rotator cuff tears and maybe do a joint decompression. What happened instead was that once he got inside the joint he found that the rotator cuff was actually detached in one spot, along with being torn up. So he put reattached the rotator cuff, cleaned up the other tears, and also performed a Mumford procedure to decompress the shoulder and allow more room for movement. In the Mumford they grind away part of the clavicle to open the joint up. The actual length of the surgery doubled from what was scheduled because of the unseen damage the encountered. I ended up with a constellation of 6 scars around my shoulder from entry points where they went in arthroscopically.
I was restricted to an immobilizer for 7wks afterwards. And after that many weeks of physical therapy. The recovery has been a slow path, but here at a year past I can definitely say it has been worth it. Quality of life has been greatly improved with the fact that I can use my arm without pain. Range of motion is the slowest thing to return, but it is nearly back to pre-surgery levels and honestly hasn't impeded my ability to do anything.
so some pics for detail
Here is a pic of me at the Pumps vs. Semis Castle Conquest game. The mohawk was my attempt to provide some extra juju to offset my injury. And you can see the first immobilizer I had
Here is a pic of the shifter in my truck. The truck is a '76 F150 with the NP435 4spd gearbox, just because
And here are some pics from the surgery - looks like fun, don't it?
The immobilizer I wore for ~7wks after the surgery
And here is a pic of me playing for the first time after the surgery. So yeah, I had the immobilizer off mere days and I wanted to play - and Demonio and TPG were having a pump day at Camp Pendleton, which is only 10mins from home, so why not? lol - yeah, I know . . . my Wife was shaking her head in disagreement, but I went and played a half day. I had zero strength in my right arm. Demonio let me borrow his Sydarm, and it was hard to aim it. But I had fun!
one detail on the surgery. They did a nerve block to numb my right arm. The anesthesiologist showed me exactly how he would use an ultrasound to locate the nerve. That was pretty neat. The effect of the nerve block was disconcerting though. Waking up after surgery my right shoulder and arm were right and truly numb - just dead meat attached to me, zero sensation. As that day wore into evening the nerve block began to fade - and this is what was disconcerting. It faded in bits and pieces throughout my arm - so like I began to be able to feel and use some, but not all of my fingers. And various parts of my arm began to tingle and itch while others were still stone dead. The worst part was having sensation return inside
my arm, again in bits and pieces over time. I used painkillers for a whole 3 days - not to be some sort of bad@ss, but because the side effects of painkillers began to cross the benefits. Once the sutures were out I did start with Tiger Balm . . . and if you have never used Tiger Balm before let me tell you it is fantastic stuff. Part of it for sure was the act of massaging it into the shoulder - that helped a lot - but the Tiger Balm itself is pretty nice. I did end up thoroughly annoying my Wife and my coworkers with the smell of it, oh well.
So yeah, let me sum up:
1) Don't be stupid if you hurt yourself playing!
2) Don't be stupid - listen to your doctors!
3) Don't be stupid and put off your taking care of your health / your body!
And if you do end up having shoulder surgery don't be daunted by the recovery. It is not a terribly large hill to climb at all.