Just after Christmas in 2015, I had a nasty fall from my bike, dislocating my shoulder and taking out my long bicep tendon at the same time. It made for a miserable few months to be honest. Off the bike and in pain, it meant my 2016 cycling season was ‘off’ to say the least.
I’ve had ultrasound and MRI to confirm the diagnosis but the truth is that unless you’re a manual worker (nope) or an elite athlete (erm, nope) you simply have to do the physio, grit your teeth and take the cortisone injections.
Until I presented at shoulder clinic on 7 March. The injection had worn off again and I was hoping for another one to get me through cycling season. But the consultant persuaded me otherwise – waiting lists were short at about 6 weeks and he could guarantee I’d be done by the end of April if they added me to the waiting list that day for a Subacromial Decompression. This sounded like a great idea! Relatively speedy recovery and an end to the cycle of pain!
The NHS sprung into action. Two – two – days later I got a call with a provisional op date of 20 March. Yes, eventually it was put back to the 21st but still, 14 days after agreeing to the surgery I was in an operating theatre!
The day itself was amazing. I had to be at the Theatre Admissions unit at 7am but no clue to timings. It was brilliant! I was called through really quickly, met with nursing staff, the surgeon, anaesthetist and pharmacist before being whizzed through the anaesthetic room and into the operating theatre at 10.02. The surgical team could not have been better. My operation was carried out with me seated upright, conscious and under arthroscopic conditions – all of which would help my speedy recovery. Best of all – I got to watch it on TV! The team explained what was going on, kept showing me the instruments so I could see how big they were, and answered all my questions.
It is genuinely one of the most engaging experiences of my life. And somewhat amazingly, in the middle of the operation, the surgeon told me they could fix my injury. Right there. Right then. It would mean a much longer recovery but 90% I would get full use back. And the decision was mine.
Of course I said ‘let’s do it!’
My operation then became a Rotator Cuff Repair. I had understood that about 7 months from the injury was the maximum time that this could be carried out so to have it after 15 months was a miracle.
My operation was finished at about 11.20am, after which I spent around 30 minutes in recovery with 1-to-1 nursing care before being transported to a ward for observations, physio and pharmacy.
The ward staff were fantastic too, and my beautiful Mum who came to help me get dressed. Yes, we did seem to have to wait a long time for the medication to be dispensed but all in all, what a fantastic experience from our amazing NHS.
I had the stitches out on Tuesday, just a week later.
So, 3 weeks from agreeing to a non-urgent elective procedure and I’m well into recovery. And I have nothing but praise for the NHS, in particular Mr Manning and his extraordinary team.
It’s very sore and I’m in this sling now for 6 weeks before I can even start physio. At present I need a lot of help – I can’t even dress myself. But I’m still dreaming of my bicycle…