Sunday, April 30, 2006

I was scared, but I just think it's funny

( UPDATE: They used the "zip-tie" method, or something similar to it. I looked up tenodesis in a dictionary and found that it was a very general term referring to anchoring a tendon to a structure, like a bone, so I guess there are probably lots of ways of doing it.

It's pretty painful now. For some reason, a nerve block wasn't used even though it was used the last time. However, the last time the doctor doing the nerve block was flying solo and seemed to be really good at what he was doing (from observing other people there). In this case, I think there was a resident intern trailing the main guy and she was doing a lot of the handiwork. That makes me think they just had trouble with the block.

On the other hand, after getting the "happy juice," I remember being rolled into the operating room (and yes, they do just talk and talk and talk to each other just like on TV) and I never received any nerve block. They guy in pre-op next to me got the block right there in pre-op, but I didn't have the block applied by the time I was in the OR, so I don't think I got it at all. I *THINK* that must mean they just used a local to numb up the incision area... or maybe I was just too tired to notice that they were cutting me open and operating on me for 2 hours... <?>

The plus is that I was able to use my arm... It wasn't dead weight. It will be 10 days until I can use it without support. It will be many many months until I'll be able to apply any significant load to it. The HUGE bandage-ish-thing stays on until Thursday... Taking pain killers and stuff in the meantime. They seem to give me hiccups. Is that normal? )

In about 5 hours I'll be getting prepped for surgery.

For a LONG time now I've been having sharp pains in my shoulder/upper-arm whenever I do certain special movements. I especially have a problem when I "supinate" under even a light load. (that is, whenever I rotate my arm so that my palm is facing up)

The pathology of this usually points to something wrong in the shoulder... Some sort of rotator cuff problem. So they went in for surgery in February, found some bursitis, removed it, and sent me along my way... But that didn't solve the problem.

You see, there's something mechanically wrong with me. One of the two tendons that anchors down the upper part of my biceps muscle slides in a grove, like everyone else's. However, unlike everyone else's, it faces some sort of lateral load that causes it to slide out of that grove. When that happens, I get lots of pain.

So I'm going in tomorrow for another surgery. This time it's a "biceps tenodesis."

Now, early tonight I was really worried about this. I was really scared. You see, I was up and running pretty quickly after the last surgery. However, this surgery was going to leave me in a sling for four weeks (rather than just one) and recovery would take something like 4 months (rather than just a few months).

This surgery involves cutting the tendon that's having the problem and reattaching it to a new spot much lower on my arm where it can serve the same purpose as before but not ever slide out of that groove. Now, I had no idea how they were going to re-attach it. All sorts of crazy ideas were going through my head, and I was really worried that something would happen (I'd fall or something) and I'd end up ripping out whatever anchor they were going to use. I was really worried about how my arm would feel. I was really worried about being worthless and on painkillers for a long long time.

So I looked up the operation...

Biceps Tenodesis (with pictures and links and stuff)

Both surgery options seem funny to me. The second one is funny to me because my brother-in-law joked, "Couldn't they just put a zip-tie around it?" Apparently they can!
Picture of Zip-tied Tendon

The first one really got to me though. I *THINK* that's what they're going to do with me. They cut a KEY HOLE out of the bone in my upper arm, ball the tendon up, suture it into that ball shape, and slide it into the keyhole! Scar tissue holds the thing in place... and I'm guessing after a few months the bone and tendon grow together.
Picutre of Tendon Ball in Keyhole

That just seems silly to me! It reminds me of something you'd do to some old chair that is falling apart but you want to find a way to keep together... so you cut a notch out of it and slide the pieces together in some novel way that should hold it for a little while longer.

And heck, they even call the tool the use to do it a BURR! The page italicizes the name and everything... As if it was very sophisticated. Granted, doctors aren't auto mechanics because they operate on the motorcycle while the motorcycle is still running... But sometimes it's hard not to feel like there is a lot of similarity!

I am really scared that this won't work. However, I really feel like I'm finally on the same page as the doctors... I didn't feel the same way before the first surgery.

It's funny how... barbaric<?> medicine gets. A KEY HOLE!!

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