The orthopedist didn’t mince words.
You have muscle tears in three places. There is compression in the shoulder and a bone spur that causes damage every time you raise your arm. Frankly, I’m surprised you’re able to use that arm at all. If you don’t correct the problem, you won’t be using it much longer.
Diagnosis: Arthoscopic surgery on the right shoulder; four to six weeks in a sling; two to three months of physical therapy. Prognosis: 70 to 80 percent use of the arm and shoulder after all is said and done — if I’m lucky.
A week ago, surgery was a final option. After more tests, it became the only choice. The doc wanted to operate on the arm next week but I have a full schedule for May and the high school sports season doesn’t end until the State Track Tournament in early June. After some debate, we settled on June 9. I agreed to take it as easy as possible on the arm and shoulder to avoid further damage.
Apparently, the problem goes back more than that morning three months ago when I woke up with pain and numbness in my right arm. The bone spur has been wreaking havoc in the shoulder for a long time.
"You must be used to pain," he said.
Yeah, I am. Pain has been such a part of my daily regimen for so long, I’ve forgotten what it must be like to go through a day without it. Bad knees, a bum hip, calcium buildup from too many broken bones over the past 40 years — all add to difficulty in doing many of the things others take for granted. I can’t lift my left arm above my head because of a broken upper arm and dislocated shoulder some 20 years ago.
H.L. Mencken put it best:
If I had known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken a lot better care of myself.