On May 12, 2015 I went to the hospital to get Scapulothoracic Fusion Surgery. If you are not familiar with this surgery, it is basically when the surgeon attaches your scapula to your ribs using wire and a metal plate. It’s a very invasive and somewhat risky surgery. It is not guaranteed that you will always get the results you wanted. Also, there are very few doctors in the world that are actually qualified to do this surgery. You want someone who has done it several times (this could mean as little as 15 times and that’s a lot for this surgery). My surgery was done by Dr. Higgins at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The first few days in the hospital were miserable. I woke up without any feeling in my right arm (the side I got the surgery on). It felt like pins and needles but when I touched it, I felt nothing. I was also in a lot of pain and on a lot of drugs (pretty loopy). They brought me into my hospital room where I was staying. They hooked me up to this machine that was connected to my iv in my arm. Every time I felt a lot of pain, I would just push a button and Dilaudid (stronger than Morphine) would flow through my iv, into my arm. I was also woken up every 2-3 hours so that the nurse could give me more pain medications. So those few days were pretty miserable.
They sent me home with a sling around my arm and a big cushion between the sling and my stomach. Here is a picture of it:
I could take it off when I wanted to shower and if I needed to change which was great. The first week I pretty much slept all day long. With all of the meds I was taking, it was almost impossible for me to stay awake more than 30 minutes. I was in a lot of pain those first few weeks and all I could think about was how awful the next 8 weeks would be. Some days I would cry because of the pain and the fact that I could barely move anywhere around the house. I felt trapped inside all while it was beautiful outside.
After a few more weeks it was finally about 8 weeks since I got the surgery. I had an appointment with Dr. Higgins on July 1st. He said I could leave the sling on for another week or so and then take it off. That was the best thing I heard all summer. He said my incision looked great and so did my scapula/shoulder. In a few more weeks I had to make my first Physical Therapy appointment.
Here I am, 13 weeks after my surgery in my second week of Physical Therapy. My arm is still pretty stiff, so I can’t raise it to the height of my shoulder, but I’m getting there. It still hurts a lot if I try to lift it too high, but I’m hopeful that with a lot of PT, I will be able to put my hair in a ponytail again. Normal day-to-day activities do not cause me any pain. My scapula no longer sticks out and I am much more confident already. I am planning to get the surgery on my left shoulder done in the winter.