Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Update on Jim's Health Status - Heading for Surgery #3 Soon!

For those that have followed my story, thanks for your patience.  The time has finally come for the next step in this chapter of my world.  I will soon be having surgery to "release" my left elbow. Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 16th, up in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic under the experienced hands of Shawn O'Driscoll one of the world's best elbow gurus.  I enter this step without reservation and while every surgery has it's risk, I feel no anxiety, only excitement about the potential for moving toward "normal" again.  I'm a long way from here:

but I do not quite stack up with the rest of my family when it comes to muscle don't you think?

My doctor will be removing the new (and un-welcomed) bone growth that naturally occurred as a result of significant trauma to my ulnar nerve.  This trauma occurred as a result of the serious bike wreck I had on April 6th of this year and was compounded by surgery/immobilization that may have triggered more significant trauma to the area.  In addition to having this heterotropic ossification removed, the surgeon will also remove the 3.5 inch screw (less titanium in my body...leaving only two screws in my left hip).  In addition he will clip, clean, debris, smooth and possibly transpose structures/nerves within my elbow as needed.  He will also come out with good insight into any arthritic changes my joint has suffered and thus we will have a better idea of how to move forward.  Below is a review for those interested in the anatomy of my injury.

I will wake up from surgery with a CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine attached to my arm in an attempt to limit swelling/edema and maintain range of motion.  This device will be moving my arm 24 hours a day for those first 3 days in the hospital at the Mayo.  Doc says I get a 5 min. break an hour to move around a bit and go to the bathroom, but otherwise, it's 100% elbow moving!  They will teach me to "milk" my elbow by working the extremes of the motion in particular and yes, I'll learn to sleep with this gadget somehow.  I will have a nerve block at my brachial plexus so that should do the trick on controlling pain.  Once I am discharged from the hospital I will be flying home (Nancy will be a great Sherpa of course) and bringing my trusty CPM machine with me for 4 to 6 weeks of more elbow moving fun!  Over time I will be weaning from it based on how the swelling and motion are improving along the way.  Here's a picture of one of these units:

As you can tell from my muscle picture above, once I've re-established good range of motion, I'll still have much work to do on regaining strength in my left upper body.  My biceps and triceps in particular, but also my shoulder complex/rotator cuff muscles which have all atrophied (and frozen) considerably over the past 5 months.  Anyway, I look excitedly toward all of the PT work ahead and will accept the challenges just like I was working toward that elusive Ironman race.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts, prayers and well wishes...and particularly for your patience with me, if you are one of my current athletes.  My wife and kids and entire family have been extremely patient through this and I am extremely grateful for their support.  Even with all the "hassle" I still believe you MUST go after your dreams!  Only a life chasing your true passion will be "enough" when the finish line is in sight.  Let us keep rolling and let us make the most of this and every day!

1 comment:

  1. Jim, We have been thinking about you this week...and have been missing your morning greeting at school. We hope that your surgery went as well as the docs hoped and that you are back home and back to yourself in no time! (Kiyah, Tim, and Eleanor [and her siblings])