Valerie was injured in December 2007, and it was a Workers' Compensation case, which meant that her three surgeries were court-appointed. The third surgery, without the pain pump, wasn't much better: By that time she barely had any cartilage left.
"After the first surgery my arm was worse than ever; in other words, I would have been better off without surgery," says Valerie. "That was in June 2008, and in April 2009, I had the same exact surgery, but by a different surgeon, with the same shoulder pain pump. Both times I went home with the shoulder pain pump. I was furious.
"Pulling those tubes out was a really weird thing to do, it made me almost pass out. I can't explain the feeling—it wasn't pain but something moving around in your joint was sickening. It was down in my shoulder at least 12 inches. I had my husband pull it out the second time because I couldn't go through with it. The pain continued after the second surgery, and again, I had no range of motion.
"When I was told that I needed a third surgery, I asked my workers comp attorney if I had a choice. I told him that my shoulder was getting worse and I didn't want it done. But because it was a workers comp case, I had to get it done. My attorney said that I had to give them every opportunity to fix my shoulder—I didn't have a choice over my own body.
"The third surgery was supposed to be different. The surgeon was supposed to use bovine tissue to create a new rotator cuff so it would stretch and cover the area. But when I woke up from the anesthetic, I found out that he had done the same surgery over again, but no pump this time. He said I didn't need the bovine but it still hasn't healed and I still have a tear. According to the surgeon, the tissue was healthy and looked like it would heal but that clearly was not the case.
"My surgeon sent me for testing at a physical therapy rehab clinic, which took about three hours and they concurred with these restrictions: I can only lift up to 5 pounds occasionally, never repetitive or constant lifting and never above my chest.
"My surgeon said he didn't know why it isn't healing, and that I am the exception to the rule. The shoulder pain pump was never mentioned but he didn't use it for the third surgery. And my shoulder did get a bit better. However, he didn't give me a reason why the pain pump wasn't used and that is really odd. And that is when I connected the dots…
"The clincher was when my dad saw an ad on TV about shoulder pain pumps linked to chondrolysis or PAGCL, and I started doing research on the Internet. I was shocked and so frustrated to discover it was used for something not FDA-approved.
"The insurance company that I sued for my workers comp case sent me to their doctors and my attorney sent me to the law firm's staff doctor. Both of those doctors said that, after looking at my MRI, there is not enough cartilage left to go in and fix anything further.
"Adding to my frustration, workers comp will not cover testing for PAGCL. Furthermore, my workers comp attorney said I couldn't get a pain pump attorney until he closed the case. Now I am beginning to think that is not right.
"They closed my case and I contacted lawyersandsettlements.
"None of their reports mentioned the shoulder pain pump. I am 36 years old and they took my right arm away. And after researching the shoulder pain pump, I discovered that I was not the exception to the rule, as my surgeon said. In fact, I was one of many who likely have PAGCL. I am suffering from every PAGCL symptom you have listed on your website.
"As for work, I have applied for social security disability. I also just started a vocational rehab program, which the judge ordered. At this point I cannot even sit at a desk for eight hours. Sitting at my dining room table, playing cards with my kids, hurts so much after 30 minutes that I have to move.
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"If not for my husband, I don't know what I would have done. My kids are 16 and 11 so I didn't miss holding them, but it causes so much grief—I can't even play ball with them. Because the shoulder pain pump took away my productivity, I suffered from major depression and was in counseling for almost a year.
"These days I am much better, and after this vocational rehab, I hope to work part-time as a counselor—staying at home 24/7 is driving me crazy. And I want to sue the makers of this shoulder pain pump. It is their fault and I want the world to know, I want to tell everyone who is going to have surgery that they should tell their doctor—NO pain pump."