Total Reverse Shoulder Replacement from a Rheumatoid’s Viewpoint
This is an account of my experience of being a rheumatoid and having my shoulder replaced. It’s not really for comment but just meant as a guide for anyone else with RA looking at having the same procedure. I will write in installments and add a couple of photos of the scar as we go along.
This is just my experience. We’re all different and even the aggressiveness of RA varies between us so please bear that in mind if you continue to read.
For those who don’t know me a brief summary is I’m called ‘Legs’, female, born 1958, married 1978, contracted RA after the birth of my 2nd child when I was aged 27. I had a toddler of 2 years, a newborn and all my joints stopped working, almost overnight in a massive flare and Mr Legs and I had to learn to cope. We have and we continue to do so.
I’ve had 3 new knees, knuckles on my left hand replaced plus other hand procedures.
For years my shoulders have been very limited in their range of movement, but as they didn’t hurt, particularly, I learnt to live my life around them. In 2018 my shoulders became very problematical causing me so much pain that it was difficult coping from day to day and that isn’t speaking of the nights!
I decided to seek help with the pain and, as I expected, the wheels were put in motion to have both shoulders replaced, starting with x-rays, a CT scan, seeing a surgeon and being put on the waiting list. The surgeon told me that I have no shoulders; the sockets had worn away completely and the ball part was disappearing too! (I have wondered for years why bra straps always slipped down!) The window for him to work with was very small as the more they eroded the less bone he would have to attach the replacements. If I left them as they were the chances were the bones would fuse (grow together) leaving with me with no movement at all!
The procedure was due to take place in April and by this time my shoulders had settled down again, the pain much less and therefore bearable. I still had difficult nights but it wasn’t as bad as it had been during the flare. This was now a gamble because apart from the aching, clicking and grinding with movement, should I have the surgery? I decided to go for it as I was always terrified of the ‘flare pain’ returning so it was a case of 'now or never'!
I am right-handed and also a watercolour artist and glean much pleasure from this hobby. They wanted to operate on my right shoulder first, wait six months and then do the left. I would have a total reverse procedure which, if you need to know more, I can detail later. My surgeon said that he might only be able to do a half replacement but wouldn’t know till he was ‘in there’ and could physically see what he was faced with. I was told it would be a very complex operation and they would have to use computer software to make sure the implant was put in the correct position. This was also further complicated by the fact I would have to be awake due to the arthritis in my neck and jaw.
I had the pre ops and a date for the end of April but my surgery was cancelled because of Covid19 and lockdown. Eventually the operation took place at the beginning of this month.
(I will continue this account in a short while.)
If you have any questions please don’t be afraid to ask.
'Make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing'