I apologize in advance for boring you with arm-saga posts.

But, I can’t really write a post like I did last Friday without providing an update afterwards.

Also, I feel like there are some things I need to say.

First of all, I want to thank you for support as I go through all of this.

Moral support DOES help – way more than you may realize.

Second, I want to make it clear how much I appreciate every single doctor, and health care provider, who has helped me in the last nine years.

Were some mistakes made along the way?


Were they intentional mistakes?


I feel very fortunate to have had medical care from people who genuinely care about me.

Third, there’s a lot of really good, positive, exciting, things going on in my life.

MRIs and doctor’s appointments, and physical therapy, have been taking up a LOT of my time.

But, medical stuff isn’t ALL of my life.

I’ll be updating you on my arm, but I will continue to share a lot of other things with you too.

And now, here’s the arm update:

•  I met with an orthopedic arm trauma specialist last Friday.  (And, one of his partner doctors also.)

•  Trauma Doc is a Nikon guy and I’m a Canon Girl.  Can you believe it?

•  I’m now in an arm brace due to the tear in my elbow tendon.  He also prescribed a topical pain medication to help me get through my New Zealand trip.  I have plenty of narcotics already, if I need them.  I try not to take them except when I’m ready to lose it from pain.  I’m waiting to see if my insurance will pay for the topical medication because, apparently, it costs $1,900!  (I almost died when I heard how expensive it is!)  The tear in my elbow tendon isn’t a complete tear (rupture), but it’s not a small tear either.  It’s classified as a “moderate” tear.  Did I mention it hurts?  Interestingly enough, the elbow tear does not mean definite elbow surgery.  I’m told it’s a “maybe” surgery.  My elbow has been immobilized until I return from New Zealand.  (My hand and shoulder are NOT immobilized.)

•  Trauma Doc realizes the elbow tear is merely a symptom of The Bigger Problem which is my post-car-accident-arm.  He wants to do surgery on me when I return from New Zealand.  (He understands I’m a professional photographer and I’m committed to the New Zealand trip.)  The surgery he wants to do would be A Pretty Big Deal and would require an overnight stay in a hospital.  (Most orthopedic arm surgeries are done on an out-patient basis and don’t require hospitalization.)

•  If I have surgery, it will be sometime in March.  I haven’t booked it, yet.

•  I’m meeting with another, highly thought of, arm doc tomorrow for another opinion.  I’m getting LOTS of opinions … even though it means an annoying amount of time at doctor’s offices.  I hate going to see doctors – more than you can even imagine.  But, I feel like the biggest mistake I’ve made along the way is accepting whatever a doc tells me is the right thing to do.  So far, I’ve had three doctors tell me I need another surgery.  I realize I probably do.  (They don’t all agree about the details/how to go about it.)

It certainly isn’t going to hurt to get one more opinion, is it?

•  If I go ahead with surgery, it will probably be with Trauma Doc.  He has the most experience with the type of surgery I need.  He’s used to seeing messy torn-up arm parts – arms that have internally exploded by various types of impact.  I’ve seen, on my MRI photos, important parts of my arm that are shredded.  Of course, no one knows exactly what any surgery will entail until they get inside my arm.  An MRI only shows so much ….   I will say, Trauma Doc is very stern and scary.  I’ve met a lot of doctors and he’s definitely the scariest I’ve ever met.  He’s not a warm and fuzzy guy.  On the other hand, his peers tell me he’s the best arm doctor they’ve ever met.  So, there’s THAT ….

•  I admit, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster.  I vacillate a zillion times per day as to whether or not I can bear to go through another surgery.  “OK, I’m going to schedule it,” I tell a relieved Paul Newman.  Ten minutes later, I think, “I can’t do it … I’m not going to do it!”  If this were my arm’s first/only surgery I wouldn’t be so torn.  (Ha ha … TORN – get it?)  But, if I do this it will be Surgery #10.

Surgery #10 … I have a hard time wrapping my brain around that.

And, if I can’t, how can anyone else understand what the very thought of it does to me?

4 Responses to “Update”

  1. Sandra

    Hi Suzanne,
    I just spent some time this morning reading your blog posts from Thanksgiving on. I haven’t been reading anyone’s blog much in the past few months. I knew you were having issues with your arm but I didn’t realize the extent, or how crappy 2015 was for you and your family. So sorry! I just wanted you to know I’m thinking about you and hoping things really improve for you. I’m sorry you have to have another surgery. Have fun in New Zealand!

  2. Elaine Tyler

    Bummer for sure that you developed a NEW problem (as if you didn’t already have enough). Did you “tear” this thingie by something you did? Or do the docs not know for sure why it occurred? Also, I am just curious as to whether all the traveling you do adds to the arm problems (the previous arm problems before the tear came about), or does the discomfort continue on at pretty much the same level whether or not you are resting your arm or jet-setting around? I do hope you have a good trip and that Fred will be able to stand being apart from you without having a total meltdown like before. How I love, love, love that dog. Best wishes!

    • Suzanne

      Hi Elaine
      The more I use my arm the more pain I have – which is why traveling seems to add to the pain. (Suitcases, etc!) Also, when I travel it often involves shooting which means an increase in arm activity.
      My arm always hurts, but if I don’t move it at all the pain is less than when I do. The new problem is the result of the fact my arm doesn’t work. My elbow tried to step up and help out for my non-working shoulder and it resulted in a torn tendon. If I had a healthy arm to start with, it wouldn’t have happened. I’m very worried about leaving Fred, even though I know he will be in the best of hands while I’m gone. I love him so much!


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