Patient Journey Following Reverse Total Surgery


Speaker 1 (Delta):

I’ve been a water aerobics instructor, a fitness instructor at the Y, for over five years. I enjoyed teaching my classes. I enjoyed swimming.

The Y had just started a master swim program before I hurt my shoulder, and I was really excited about that because I’ve been a swimmer all my life and I really enjoyed it. 

A few days before Christmas last year, I was getting ready for work. As I went around the bed, I looked at that one box and said to myself, “That box is not in a safe place, I need to move it”. But I didn’t.

I came back around, tripped on the box, fell into the bedpost of my bed, and shattered my shoulder basically. When I finally came to a stop, I took inventory for my toes up to see what was wrong. When I got at the shoulder, it was way back here somewhere.

Speaker 2 (Dr. Ben Szerlip):

So Delta and I met because I specialize in shoulder problems, both non-operative and reconstructive problems. So, I did a shoulder fellowship and specialize in specific types of replacement and I’ve particularly taken interest in reverse for fracture because I think it’s done so well for our patients.

I particularly love my job because I get to deal with some complex problems, help patients address those problems and get back to their quality of life that they had missed before.

Speaker 1 (Delta):

Yeah. Yeah, I was worried that my life, as it was, was basically over because I’ve always been active. I was a runner for years and years and years. You know, I played tennis, I played volleyball. You know, I was just really physically active. And I just felt, like I said, my life was basically over. 

The shoulder seems to be working remarkably well, better than what I was told it would. I was told I would just have such a limited range of motion. 

But the last time they measured it, I had 180 degrees, straight up that way. You know, out,  back is a little hard. But, you know, I can do all kinds of things. The physical therapist told me that I would always swim in circles because I’d never be able to get the stroke right. I don’t swim in circles.

Speaker 2 (Dr. Ben Szerlip):

I think that our job as physicians is to educate the patient on how to give realistic expectations on what our goals are for the surgery and how long it’s going to take for them to get that function back and the pain relief.

And Delta did a great job putting in the hard work, being patient, taking the time, and working with the physical therapist to get back to where she is. And I think that’s a pretty high level of activity for how bad her fracture was.

And so all the credit to Delta, and I think that it’s most important for us as physicians just to give realistic expectations and then a winning formula or recipe on how to do that.

Speaker 1 (Delta):

I’m happy with the recovery. I do remember, though, all those baby steps. I remember when I was first able to put deodorant on, little things like that. 

You know, I remember each little step in the process, and I rejoiced every time I did something a little bit more. I know the doctor told me not to lift over, I don’t remember, so many pounds, and yet I find myself carrying in six bags of groceries. 

Basically, I’m just doing everything I did before. The association that I have my certification through to teach water aerobics says that only 4% of the population can swim 400 yards, and that’s 16 laps at our pool. And that was my goal both before the surgery and after. 

And I, unfortunately, have not been able to do that since the surgery. But it’s not for lack of trying. But I’ve been able to do 200 yards at a time. 

Well, I expect to get it back up to the 400 yards. And I just love swimming and it’s just the best exercise there is.

Speaker 2 (Dr. Ben Szerlip):

You know, Delta is the kind of patient that really makes me appreciate what I do for a living and my practice, because I see a lot of parallels and she wants to work hard. Being active is her number one passion and helping other people to be active, whether she’s swimming with others or she’s doing yoga as an instructor. 

So working with her is kind of really what makes being in practice worth it.

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