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Shoulder saga – next chapter

Guess what. I am back in all too familiar surroundings: the ultra modern Clinique St Roch in Montpellier. And once again tapping this with one finger of the left hand.

Long suffering readers of this blog will know that recovery after last year’s second shoulder replacement did not go to plan. Right from the start I had sharp knife like pains on movement which baffled the surgeon and the rest of the medical profession and which prevented proper reeducation to mobilise the shoulder.

Finally  there was consensus that the main tendon holding the biceps was the cause, though the surgeon, Marion Bertrand remained unconvinced it was the sole problem. So it was agreed to cut this damaged tendon, leaving the other, shorter one to do its work.

I packed for what is usually day surgery, but because I live on my own, would include an overnight stay. The VSL taxi picked me up at 5.30 this morning for a 7am start. Almost immediately – after my second Bétadine shower of the morning, I was being prepped up.

All very familiar, and because I thought this was going to be a quick in and out job, not stressful.  Besides the staff here are very friendly and the advantage of a local anaesthetic is one can continue to chat throughout proceedings.

i saw Marion Bertrand across the corridor and she waved to me  I learnt that she has two adjacent operating theatres for maximum productivity.

Finally it was my turn and I realised that the striking young black woman scrubbing up was her assistant.  That really pleased me, given surgery’s notorious reputation as a macho discipline. The two women worked away calmly and amicably.

Then I started to wonder why a quick snip was  taking so long. Marion Bertrand explained: we are taking advantage of having opened the shoulder to do some cleaning up. The prothèse itself is ok but it is surrounded by adhérences – adhesions.  We have to sort out all these muscles glued together and remove unwanted bits of bone. Judging by their conversation which I eavesdropped, this was not easy. There also appeared to be quite a lot of unpleasant yanking of my arm.

Finally Marion Bertrand popped her head round my side of the makeshift curtain hiding their gruesome work and did some energetic semaphore like moves with her arm. You  are too optimistic, I said, understanding that she expected my shoulder to be able to emulate these. No,no, she said, we have already moved (wrenched…) your arm in these three positions  it is now a question of concentrated re-education to achieve this yourself.

Once again I attempted to get her to understand the reality of services in le Vigan and told her that I had been driving three times a week to Ganges.  She was adamant: I need daily treatment if this shoulder and arm are to work again – and she did imaginary flourishes as if playing the cello.

So she is going to see if the Centre de Maguelone will take me again  and then she was off for the next op, leaving her assistant to close up and stitch.

After an uncomfortable few hours in the salle de réveil, I am back in my room, surrounded by very friendly staff but not feeling particularly great yet.  It is now eight in the evening and my arm and hand are still completely numb.  At least I am now allowed to sit in a chair – far easier than trying to type almost horizontally, with my iPad trying to slide to the floor.

Next task: I must make a list of what Margaret needs to bring if I have a longer stay.  Why oh why did I not pessimistically but realistically not pack a second suitcase? When in the past five years have I had a normal, straightforward hospital visit??







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