"I'm very angry about this," Julie says. "I was a manager at Family Dollar and I was throwing freight off trucks. One day, I was doing that as normal and I felt something pull in my neck and shoulder. It hurt, but I thought I should quit being a baby and go back to work. The next day, I couldn't move my right arm. There was pain in my right shoulder region radiating through my arm."
Because it was a Workers' Compensation issue, Julie was sent to a variety of specialists, including someone who specialized in shoulder injuries. The doctor determined that Julie would have decompression surgery on her shoulder to relieve her of the shooting pain down her arm.
"They did the surgery on July 16, 2007," Julie says. "They used the [On-Q] pain pump. It was a round, circular pump that they put in my shoulder during surgery to alleviate the pain. It stayed in for 4 to 5 days and I was to pull it out myself when it had fully drained. But, about 2 to 3 weeks later, I would go to move my arm and I would get sharp, shooting pains that would stop me in my tracks. It happened over and over and I thought something was wrong."
Unfortunately, Julie's doctor did not believe she was having shoulder problems, instead thinking that she was looking for prescription drugs. Julie was sent to a doctor to be taken off her medication. However, the pain continued.
"Every time I moved my arm to a 35 degree angle, I would have to stop because of the pain. The doctor [the one for the pain medication] decided to do a contrast MRI to find out if something was wrong. They did the contrast MRI and it was very painful, but they found a tear in my shoulder."
On October 29, 2007, just over 3 months following her first surgery, Julie underwent a second shoulder surgery, again using a shoulder pain pump.
"This time, the pain was even more intense," Julie says. "If I moved my arm to shift my car, I would cry because of the pain. I was taking 8 to 12 Percocet a day for the pain. This went on for months."
In the meantime, Julie moved to Colorado and began to see another doctor, who evaluated her and determined that she had "frozen shoulder." Essentially, there was a lot of scar tissue in her shoulder—more than normal.
"He said there was extensive scar tissue and damage in my shoulder," Julie says. "I had to sit in a CTM chair for 6 hours a day, every day for 6 weeks. That's a chair in which your arm is strapped to the arm of the chair and it slowly raises your arm up to a 120 degree angle. I took a video of myself the second day in the chair and it hurts me to watch it. I was sobbing like a child because it hurt so much. It was just terrible.
"On top of that, I had 2 hours of one-on-one treatment 7 days a week. To this day, I can only move my arm to a 90 degree angle. I have pain every single day. They [the doctor] said I would have to live with the pain. The kicker is that I had surgery on my neck on December 22, 2008 because there was still pain radiating down my arm. The doctors fused my vertebrae 5, 6 and 7 and the shooting pain down my arm [the reason for the original shoulder surgery] went away. So did I even need the shoulder surgery?
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"The crazy thing is that, from what I've seen, the information about these pain pumps was out there when I was having surgeries, so why put the pain pumps in my body? People need to really do their homework. Ask questions about what will be done to them. Don't fully trust the doctor just because there is a Dr. in front of his name. People have to do their research."