Joanna was a veterinary technician. One day, a few years ago, she tore her shoulder while dealing with a difficult animal. "I had a pain pump during that first surgery," Joanna says. "About six months later I had another surgery because my shoulder was torn again. That time, there was no pump used. I worked for 3 years between that surgery and the next, but my shoulder was never right. For example, in order to write on the surgery board [which is mounted on the wall] I had to have a friend hold my arm up. It didn't heal properly.
"After 3 years, I went in and asked to have my case reopened because my shoulder still was not healing. They did an MRI and found my shoulder was torn again. Since October 3, 2006, I have had 4 surgeries on my shoulder [in addition to the initial 2 surgeries]. I had the pain pump for the first, third and sixth surgeries.
"Before my most recent surgery, my shoulder was a mess, so they did a total reverse shoulder replacement. My shoulder is all titanium and mesh now.
"I had the same doctor do 4 surgeries and I thought he did something wrong. I didn't read the doctor's reports, but my rotator cuff was totally messed up. In those 3 years that I worked following the first 2 surgeries, I had no strength in my shoulder, a lot of pain, poor range of motion and I couldn't hold my arm up for any length of time. Even doing my hair hurt my shoulder. I still have pain—I'm in therapy now. It was hard, having the bone cut out and a total muscle reconstruction.
"My shoulder is worse than it was before, definitely. It is worse than what I had fixed in the first place. It's still pretty bad.
"I cannot be a veterinary technician any more. I can't type for more than 5 minutes and I can't move the mouse for more than 5 minutes. I used to do a lot of artwork on walls; I can't anymore. I can't go bowling or play volleyball. I can't do physical jobs at all. Even office work—filing—just the movement of putting files away is painful. I used to do a lot of physical activities. I worked very hard my whole life. I don't know what I am going to do.
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"I read an article about the shoulder pain pump and I have the same symptoms as that person talked about. Increased pain at rest and with motion, I can't sleep due to pain, I can't get comfortable, increased stiffness, decreased range of motion, grinding and loss of strength.
"People should ask what kind of system the doctors use to keep patients out of pain that first 24 or 48 hours. The doctors didn't tell me what they were using—they just did it. People should ask about the pain and how doctors will lessen it. I don't think people think about the extreme pain after surgery and they don't know to ask."