Friday, July 18, 2014

Finding Answers

For those that read my "Starting the next Chapter" post you know that this past week Nancy and I went to Rochester, Minnesota for my consult with Dr. Shawn O'Driscoll at the Mayo Clinic.  Here's a recap for those that care.

The Mayo Clinic is an incredible place for sure!  It is seriously a mecca in the world of health care.  It is many things, including: huge, efficient, passionate, clean, on time, professional and best of all, extremely knowledgeable & caring.
My CT scan wasn't an easy thing for the technicians based on the extreme lack of range of motion in my left elbow (I can move it only 10-15 degrees total), yet this woman had me laughing and smiling the entire time while showing that her 42 years of experience at this job would find a way to get the job done. And that she will see pictures (from my CT scan) below.  

So what is the problem with my elbow restriction?  It is called a "heterotropic ossification" or HO for short. This new growth of bone tissue occurs outside of the normal skeletal system and in my case is seriously restricting any possibility of moving my elbow. HO's can occur as the result of severe nerve trauma and is a self protective mechanism that the body sometimes uses after serious injury.  Just a few years ago doctors used radiation to try and eliminate these bony growths, but thankfully the answer does not involve that mechanism any longer.  The only way to get rid of an HO is through surgical removal. (by the way, I was told that the red "stuff" around my elbow joint in the scan below shows that I've had trauma to those areas of the bone...hopefully something I can overcome to avoid osteoarthritis type of issues later in life.)

So now we know the problem, and Dr. O'D says he can fix the problem.   Needless to say, I'm pretty ecstatic that I didn't go with the locally suggested "let's put you to sleep and manually manipulate your elbow" routine...who knows what might have happened with that.  Anyway, elbow surgery is tricky in that the joint spaces are restricted with nerve and blood supplies delicate and numerous in the region, yet I will tell you that I'm counting down the days until Sept. 16th when I will be under the scalpel.  Fixes are good, even if there is a bit of "valley" to walk through to get there.  

I will be in the hospital for 3 days and should be able to come home at hospital release.  Immediately after surgery my left arm will be placed in a CPM machine (Continuous Passive Motion) and this friend will be with me for the next month or so.  Morning, noon and night my elbow will be moving from the time surgery is over for the next many days. I will start with a 5 min. break each hour, then slowly progress my time out of the machine as my swelling, motion and pain dictate.  Needless to say, that could present some challenges from mid September till mid October as I work one handed yet again, but I need not fret on that at this point.  I have a plan, I believe in the fix and I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I also EASILY recognize that my issue is small potatoes compared to so many in the world.  I am one of the fortunate ones that can search and seek the best help.  Not by my own doing...but by the will of a Greater Being I suppose?  I am not deserving...but I will take with faith that this is the answer that I've been seeking.  

Peace to you and thanks for your positive thoughts, prayers and expressions of concern.  


  1. Jim, that is great to hear. Thank you for sharing

  2. You are welcome Mike! Everyone has their challenges along the way, it's just a matter of "when"...not "if" is suppose. thanks for reading.