A Brief Introduction

I’m a 51-year-old female and next month I will undergo a total replacement of my left shoulder. Most people I’ve spoken to have never heard of such a thing and indeed I was surprised when I heard that this was possible. However, despite trawling the web for hours on end I have been unable to find anything which will tell me what I am letting myself in for. So hence this blog – to help not only anyone else who may have this procedure in the future, but also to remind myself of the journey I took, when it comes to having the other one done……

I am having the procedure under a nerve block alone – i.e. I will be awake for the op. Most people think that I must be mad but the doctor says that whilst I will feel pulling and tugging I will be pain-free. As it has been years since I was pain-free I want to be awake to experience that – if nothing else! I’ve been told I can take in my iPod so at least I can have the music to listen to instead of the grinding. I’ve had root canal surgery in the past so I’m sure I can cope. I’m not afraid of the surgery at all, however I am afraid of what comes afterwards. I’m a very independent person and I find it difficult to ask for help, something which I must do for a while after the surgery – especially the first two weeks when my arm is constantly in a sling. I’m going to turn into a right grumpy cow and I have already pre-warned those who will be affected!

I plan to update this blog once a week until the surgery and then frequently afterwards, so if anyone knows someone who has had this procedure already I would love to hear from them.

22 thoughts on “A Brief Introduction”

  1. Tracy G said:

    I will be closely following this blog & following your progress .
    We all need help in life at some time & seeings you do so much for everyone else it’s only fair (karma ying & yang). That you have a couple of weeks following your Op being looked after . Hope the benefits of the Op far out way the negatives in the long run . Best wishes from your best friend Tracy xxxx

  2. Lorna March said:

    I’m sure you will get through it fine, as you have done all your life no matter what has been thrown at you. You have always amazed me how strong you are even though you might not think it. I’m so proud of you keep your chin up sis. Love you x

  3. I completely agree with Lorna. You are so strong considering what you have been through. Keep strong my darling. Our love and prayers are with you all the time.
    Aunt lil.

  4. Lesley said:

    Good luck Michelle … will be following your progress from over here in Oz! Much love, Lesley x

  5. Marie said:

    Best of luck Michelle, I will be following your updates and recuperation.xxx

  6. Kathryn Main said:

    I would like to give you my experience as someone with rheumatoid arthritis for 30 years and with multiple joint replacements. I had a full left shoulder replacement in the past ten years and can reassure you that you will cope. I did have it under a general anaesthetic but I have had other ops under epidural and would say that the recovery time is much quicker if you can avoid a general. Don’t worry about the pushing and pulling you will get slightly sedated so you don’t panic. Try to concentrate on your breathing to keep you calm.
    I appreciate you are an independent person but remember people do like to help and if it makes your life slightly easier then let them.
    As for the sling the time will go quickly. I remember taking it off and resting the arm on a pillow for a change.
    Afterwards you will have to do physio. I had to set up a pulley on the side of the door surround to help with lifting of the arm.
    Hopefully if you do your physio then you will gain a good amount of mobility in your arm and you will be painfree. That is the goal.
    I think you have the right mindset to achieve it. Good luck and I’m sure it will go well.
    If you want to discuss it further let me know and I will be happy to help.
    Kind Regards,

  7. I had right shoulder replaced a couple of years ago and left will be done this June. Right shoulder now pain free with excellent movement. I did some physio exercises pre-op and was very diligent post-op with exercises. Swimming gently within 4 weeks and do recommend getting good physio and advice. Can’t wait until left shoulder is done and a good night’s sleep! Start practising early doing tasks with “wrong” arm. I am left-handed so this time will find things a little more awkward but I will cope! Good luck.

    • I had left replacement in November unfortunately I tore the rotor cuff tendon four weeks later and was in surgery on Christmas Eve for a repair. It’s taken a long time to get back to where I was before the tear but I’m hoping to get the right arm done later this year. Good luck with yours please let me know how you get on.

  8. Pauline said:

    I have suffered with shoulder problems for long time and have been received reverse shoulder replacement. Tell me are you going for NHS or Private?. There does not seem to be many surgeons that specialise in this in my area – Essex.

    • Hi Pauline I’ve now had both shoulders done on NHS but I think Peta (see Your Stories page) may have had hers done privately and she lives down South I believe

  9. Anonymous said:

    I am having a shoulder replacement. I am due my first orthopaedic appointment in 5 weeks. I am in a lot of pain right now even though l am taking pain relief it doesn’t help. I can’the do much without making the pain worse. Getting quite down with it. There seems to be very little help before the operation. Advice would be appreciated. .Thanks Jean

    • Hello Jean, I am sorry to hear you are in so much pain. There are lots of hints and tips on the pages at the top of the blog. I diarised my experience through two shoulder replacements both before, during and afterwards. Before my second replacement I decided to convert my whole blog to a book so that I could easily refer back to it when I had my second operation. This proved to be very useful to me and so “Total Shoulder Replacement – an (Im)patient’s View” became available on Amazon in both kindle and paperback versions. This has since been updated to “Two Total Shoulder Replacements”.

      Several people have contacted me to say they have found this blog very helpful, however if you have any specific questions or just want to ‘chat’, please contact me via the contact form. Good luck.

  10. reyhane said:

    Hi my friends
    thank you lady for giving us your experiences.
    I am in a new situation and I need find more information about tumor prosthesis which bony tumors are replaced by them.
    and I want know some people who had experienced it.
    dose any body know somebody relevant?

    • Not entirely answering your question Reyhan but a lady from my gym had a bone sticking out on her shoulder ball joint from a previous injury. Can remember exactly the medical term for it. After being put off with painkillers and told she had a frozen shoulder and after some nagging from me she saw a surgeon and had a new shoulder. I am pleased to say she is doing very well now and not in any pain. The operation was lengthy because nerves and tendons had become trapped and entwined around the piece of bone sticking out so recovery time was a little longer. I hope this helps a little.

  11. Lesley P said:

    i had my shoulder replaced just over two weeks ago and I can tell you it is no where near as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, the physio is challenging but ‘no pain, no gain ‘
    Severe bruising has just about gone and I can lift my arm straight out to horizontal level . Target is to lift it above my head within four weeks ! And to get it someway up my back ! Wish me luck !
    Lesley P.

    • Please be careful Lesley, I was doing so well that after 4 weeks I flicked the duvet cover and tore my rotor cuff tendon which meant another op and six weeks in the sling. Take care

  12. Hi I’m Lisa and I’m 47 about 5 years ago I had shoulder replacement, was supposed to be full, but the surgeon said the back area looked good so had just the bit with ball on.
    Sadly my pain is back worse than post op pain, it’s sitting on a nerve, I’ve seen consultant twice with the problem but the don’t offer any solutions. The use in my right arm isn’t great, I can’t move no further than my waist.

    • Hi Lisa, I’m sorry to hear that you have had a bad experience, I think its time to ask for a total shoulder replacement if they have no other solution. You simply cannot carry on not being able to use your arm when there are clearly options out there. See if you can see a different consultant for a second opinion. Good luck x

  13. Lesley Wykes said:

    Hi, I had mine done one year ago by very experienced surgeon doing two to three per week ! I have a plastic on metal joint. As long as you are prepared for the hard slog and frustration afterwards, you will be fine. I was exceptional in that I discarded my sling after three weeks and was driving and riding my horse after three weeks and have never looked back ! Within six weeks I could raise my arm above my head. The strength in my shoulder is still improving and I can do everything I want to with it. I could not dress properly or wash my hair normally beforehand but now I am pain free and I would say have well in excess of 90 % mobility.

    Please make sure you choose an experienced surgeon ! It is not as bad as you fear ! I would not choose a nerve block because of the brutality of the operation ! Get yourself very fit and the right BMI and general anaesthetic will be no problem.!
    Hope this helps !

    Lesley W

    • Hi Lesley since starting this blog almost three years ago i’ve had both shoulders done, learning some valuable lessons along the way. Writing the blog before, during and after my replacement helped me a great deal when the time came to have my second one done. Comments received on my blog also helped a great deal. I’m pleased to hear that you are doing well.

  14. Lee Bowen said:

    Hello, my name is Lee & in a couple of weeks I will be going in for a TKR. They will be offering me either Spinal Anaesthetic or general Anaesthetic.
    Having read your story in how you were awake during the procedure & you could hear what sound like carpentry going on with, drills, sawing & hammering horrifies me. I know you felt no pain, but the noises!!!!
    What made you decide on a blocker & not general Anaesthetic……im swinging towards a general after reading your story..

    • Hi Lee firstly I’m sorry if I scared you. You are allowed to use your ipod or similar during the surgery so maybe your choice of music and volume will distract you. My reason for choosing to stay awake was mainly because I have poor kidney function and it was a safer option. Another advantage was that I didn’t need 24 hours to recover from the anaesthetic. I was fully conscious by the time I was back in the ward, able to speak to visitors and eat and drink normally. If you have any more questions please feel free to contact me again. Good luck with whatever you decide 😊

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