I saw the surgeon again today, to get my stitches removed and talk about what he found on the inside of my shoulder.
The tendon tears weren't as bad as he anticipated, which is good. I had some scar tissue that needed removed, and the anchors that were placed during the capsule reconstruction had broken off, so he had to remove them, too.
"I did find the reason for your pain" he said "and it wasn't really what I was expecting". He showed me a set of photos taken during the procedure.
"This is what cartilage is supposed to look like" he said, pointing to a photo of a smooth, glossy white surface. "This is what the cartilage on your humeral head looks like..." and he pointed to a picture of a pitted yellow surface "...there's not a whole lot of cartilage left there. You have a significant arthritis, probably from when you kept dislocating and subluxating your shoulder".
'Significant arthritis', and I'm only 40. :-/
The good news is that I'm probably a candidate for a hemiarthroplasty in the next few years - instead of replacing the entire joint, the surgeon just replaces the humeral head and resurfaces the glenoid. From what I understand, it's a very successful surgery, providing significant pain relief with improved motion and function. I'm all about that.
Every time I have a surgery, I go into it thinking that this one will be the last one....and every time, there's always something else that needs fixed or tweaked. Just when I think that the accident is finally behind me, something else rears it's head and I realize that no, it's not behind me yet.
*sigh* Maybe one day....
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