On July 10th I added a fourth surgery scar to my often broken body, the first three (each knee and an appendix) had been to remove parts that had become troublesome. This time around it was to add something, no not a brain, an artificial shoulder ligament that will hopefully offer me back the quality of life I’ve missed for a year. Time will tell on that one, it’s early days yet.
Whilst taking part in Ironman UK on July 19th 2014 I crashed my bike, lost some skin and badly damaged my shoulder. I suffered a grade 3 fracture of the AC joint and experienced pain that made a kick in the testicles seem like fun. The x-ray above shows what I lived with for almost a year, the collarbone should be attached but as you can clearly see it wasn’t. Sometimes this injury can heal itself by going back into place, mine didn’t. The first surgeon that I saw said that I would just have to live with it but that if I was an England fast bowler he would operate tomorrow. You can imagine what I thought of him. Look at that x-ray again, why should I live with that? Everyday pain and a loss of lifestyle that I loved.
My brilliant physio James took one look at me and said I needed an operation on account of the fact he could move my collarbone with his hands. So I went for a second opinion and after asking around the same surgeon was recommended again and again. I got an appointment and on examining me he could see my discomfort and agreed that I needed an operation to fix me.
The procedure was originally scheduled for February but was cancelled at the last minute due to my dangerously low thyroid levels, but I got there in the end. I didn’t actually believe it was going to happen until I stood in Writington hospital tying up my very fetching surgical gown. I was soon at the point where I closed my eyes as a mask was placed over my face taking me into dreamland for a couple of hours while I was cut open, sawed and drilled and improved.
The surgeon made a 6 inch cut along the left “bra strap line”, peeled back the deltoid muscle, sawed 1cm of collarbone away, drilled through it in two places, inserted hollow screws and then looped a new artificial LARS ligament through the screws in a pretzel shape to give me a bionic shoulder. See below.
When I came round I felt great, a bit woozy but no pain. That would be the nerve block, when than wore off I certainly knew about it. I was sent home with my arm in a sling, it would remain in it for at least six weeks, and a carrier bag of painkillers.
It’s now four weeks since my op and my mobility is improving thanks to physio but it’s going to be slow progress. I’m limited in what I can do and have literally no strength on the left hand side of my body. I have good days and bad pain wise, I’m tired a lot but I’m trying to stay positive. The surgeon assures me it was a success but that the healing process is taking longer than expected, I may need the sling for upto 12 weeks now. I’m learning new levels of patience.
I’ve been doing my exercises and walking lots, over 50 miles a week to try and keep fit and to stop me from going insane. At the moment because of the pain I can’t ever imagine getting my left arm into the aerobar position (it just doesn’t bend that way yet, james assures me it will) and as for swimming front crawl that seems like a distant dream…but one I’m hanging on to.
I’m officially fixed but still feel very broken, it’s strange. I’m excited, frustrated, pained and positive. But that’s to be expected as any if you old enough to remember him, Steve Austin, didn’t find it easy becoming bionic.