I Wouldn’t Be So Late If… (Part 2)
March 8, 2006
I Wouldn’t Be So Late If… (Part 2)
The Weiner Center for Pre-Operative Evaluation is located at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston MA. “The Brigham’s” as it’s often called, is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. It’s odd that I wound up here typing this blog article, because after my shoulder injury, my friend Digital Doc said to me, “I bet there are people in Boston who specialize in shoulder repair and sports injuries just for tennis-player-management-consultants like you.”
Sure enough, there is such a group. I found out that they existed when my colorful shoulder sling garnered the attention of an acquaintence at our local health club. She had her two children in tow and had just left the pool. “I’m a swimmer,” she said. “When I tore my supraspinatus tendon in my shoulder, I had a great doctor at the Brigham’s perform the procedure. So did David here,” referring to her friend. “He tore his bicep off the bone. We’re both doing great.”
“Well,” I replied, “I’ve got both of your shoulder injuries plus more in my one shoulder. I would love a name. The surgeon here cringed when he reviewed my MRI; plus they’re backed up until mid-April.”
A few Google searches later, and I found that BWH was planning a live Internet broadcast of an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair on Thursday, March 9th at 4:30 p.m. Way cool. Laurence D. Higgins, MD, chief of Sports Medicine and chief of the Harvard Shoulder Service in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery is performing the procedure as orthopedic surgeon Scott D. Martin narrates. To view the Webcast, visit http://www.or-live.com/BrighamandWomens/1374/
These folks were the ones for me. I ran a search of physicians at the Brigham’s website, found a phone number and called. I told the receptionist about my injury, and she asked if I would like an appointment. Figuring I’d have to wait about 6 months, I asked when the next slot was available. “How about next Thursday,” she asked. “Sold!” I replied.
The next week I was looking over my MRI with Dr. Higgins, which I obtained on CD from the Berkshire Medical Center radiology department. (I love the digital world.) “See this?” he said. “It’s your subscapularis tendon. See that? That’s your biceps tendon. Your shoulder must have dislocated behind your back, because everything on the back of the ball of your arm bone where it goes into the shoulder socket is still attached. Everything on the front is torn off. It must have hurt.”
“Sure did,” I replied. “It was an especially ferocious bear, and holding him in that headlock was really tough as I saved my children from harm.” I figured I’d play with the bear story one last time, because earlier I told a friend about how it really happened from taking out the trash and slipping in the driveway. He said, “My advice is to stick with the bear story.”
Bears aside, the good doctor Higgins was quick to move given the severity of my injury. He told me that with tendons and ligaments torn off the bone, and given my relatively young age (45), that waiting any more than 3 weeks was ill-advised. We were right at 3 weeks. He said, “We’re going to schedule this expeditiously. How about next week?” “Sold!” I replied.
Here’s the technology part of the story. The other surgeons were backed up for two months. With one serendipitous exchange at a health club and a few Google searches that night, I was hooked up with one of the best shoulder repair surgeons in the country. That’s the beauty of a connected world – information on any device anywhere, anytime. And given the nature of my work as a management consultant, there is no time to waste. If I’m on the bench, I can’t go to my clients around the country to make the donuts. I’ve got a staff payroll to make. Fast is good in this case.
More on this story will unfold on this blogosphere. In the meantime, it is incredible how much we often take for granted in life. You have no idea how important a limb is to your day-to-day life until it’s rendered useless, strapped in pain to the side of your body, with dangling parts wiggling around inside. Here are some of the things that are very difficult to do when you can’t use an arm:
Typing this article
Getting into, out of, or driving a car
Using turn signals with the right hand
Answering a cell phone and trying to do anything else
Tying your shoes
Putting on your pants
Flossing your teeth
Draining a pot of pasta into a collander
And many more…
Last thought. I’ve been in this predicament for almost a month. There are scores of people who have disabilities for life. I’m grateful that nearly instant access to information has put me on a solid recovery path with the best folks in medicine. It will be 6 months to a year to regain use of my arm with a lot of (often painful) physical therapy. In the end, I’ll likely not regain 100% given the severity of the injury. In the meantime, doing the things on the list above, things we take for granted every day, has to be done with a new mindfulness and consciousness that I never did while racing from one thing to the next (and falling on the ice). Another thing that I’ve had to learn is to ask for help from people in my life. Part 2 is about accepting that help. It’s not easy for a recovering Type-A obsessive compulsive people-pleasing perfectionist. But it’s important practice to be a more balanced human being – not just for me, but also for my relationships with loved ones.
That being said, I can honestly say that I’m discovering entirely new ways of being happy in life – today, right now. I have incredible gratitude for people and circumstances around me. People out there who have been so remarkable – you know who you are. Thank you!!
Meanwhile, stay tuned…