Surgery is set for 3/6.
When I told my brother Joe that all the shoulder muscles were gone and there wouldn’t be any return of function, he had a lot of questions. Which ones were gone? What were they reattaching? I couldn’t answer. My conversation with Menendez had been startling, dismaying, and vague.
So I scheduled yet another pre-op appointment with him this week, when my orthopedic physician assistant brother was in town.
Joe and I went together yesterday.
We met with six people total. There was the guy who took my blood pressure, a succession of two surgery residents, in increasing order of seniority, the nurse practitioner Connie, who calls me with updates, then Menendez himself, and finally the guy responsible for ordering the replacement part.
I feel like Joe had a pretty great time. He loves his work and talked to everybody enthusiastically about their jobs and how things worked at their hospital.
When Menendez finally made his appearance, and I told him I was still unclear on what to expect from the surgery since our last meeting, Menendez didn’t wait to find out what clarifications I needed. He launched right in to the exact speech he had given last time. Joe and I each had to talk over him several times to get the additional information we had come for.
For one thing, Joe got the exact list of muscles that were taken out, and was able to see the xrays. Joe admits there’s more missing than he originally thought would be. However, we found out that the deltoid from the arm IS going to be attached, if not to the scapula itself, then at least to the ‘meat package’ around it.
I was also concerned about the notion that he was going to take the pectoral. Since the plastic surgeon hadn’t mentioned it last time, I hadn’t had a chance to really ask about it. The thing is, it’s hooked up right now. It helps me hold my arm to my body. Am I going to lose that function? Probably not, it turns out. IF they end up taking the pectoral, they probably won’t take the whole thing.
So, between the deltoid and the pectoral, while I won’t have much range of motion, I’ll at least have the ability to hold my arm in position and not have it flop around like a dead thing. I had been trying to imagine what kind of pillow-and-strap contraption I would have to arrange in order to keep my arm in position to, say, type, but it looks like I’ll have a lot more stability than I thought.
I also asked for clarification regarding the prosthesis. If we weren’t going to see a significant return of function, or really any much at all, why did we wait MONTHS for this super sparkly 3D scanned highly tailored prosthesis? Menendez informed us that the part I needed didn’t exist otherwise. There was no such thing as getting it off the shelf. This or nothing.
And then, because I was curious, he called in the guy whose job it was to order it. He informed us it was ~$21,000 for the humeral head, and another ~$28,000 for the scapula itself. Uninstalled.
I made them promise to get a good photo of it before it was installed, because I was going to print and frame it as the most expensive piece of art I own.
So, I’m glad we went. I feel a lot more sure of what to expect, and while it’s still not great, it’s better than I thought. But even Joe commented on our way out, “Man, you really have to pin that guy down.”
You do. We did.