My rotator cuff was torn by lifting heavy equipment when most of the weight approximately 275 lbs. rotated to my left arm when unloading from my pickup. The accident was my fault as my help was not ready to unload. The left shoulder was injured seven years earlier by falling at home on the concrete driveway square on my shoulder. If anything from this article be careful with lifting and walking on ice.
My home surgeon was able to repair the first injury but was not able to the second time. Both accidents were extremely painful and the second time was different as the sensation of the tendons were unraveling and also there was a loss of stability in the cuff as a result of the massive tears.
My second surgery occurred in April 2014. As mentioned previously the surgeon could not make the repair. The surgeon indicated I would be a candidate for reverse shoulder replacement even though my shoulder joint was in good condition. The strategy for me at that time was extensive physical therapy and this did help regain some strength though there was no stability in the cuff. I thought for sure I would end up with shoulder replacement surgery or have no overhead strength and progressive weakness. I thought I will have to live with it as I had full confidence in my surgeon.
A couple of months passed and then one day a lady at work asked me “How did your surgery turnout?” Sheepishly, I told her it is irreparable. She then countered, “They ought to be able to repair this. They should be able to patch it.” This gave me motivation for a second opinion and this time I was going for the best specialist.
Later I googled “top shoulder surgeon” and Dr. Millett’s name was one of the surgeons on the list. His web site was impressive as he demonstrates one of his methods repairing cuffs and also indicated an international web cast doing a live surgery. Wow! He has to be a leader in his field.
I later sent an email to Dr. Millett describing my history. He indicated by email he had repaired several shoulders like mine. I then sent my latest MRI and medical records to his office. Dr. Millett later called me and was very confident that he could repair my cuff.
By prior conversations with his staff they indicated he would call me, but this has never happened for a Doctor to call me. My kids got a laugh at me when I quickly jumped out of the chair and ran to the phone when we saw ‘Vail Health Hospital’ ID displayed on the television.
I then scheduled an appointment and drove to Vail to visit Dr. Millett. Upon entering, The Steadman Clinic has the wall of fame with several all pro athletes’ jerseys. One of my favorite jerseys displayed was Priest Holmes with a note of thanks by Carl Peterson. Being an avid Chiefs fan I was charged this has to be the place for me.
The office visit was the best experienced, the staff is very efficient and friendly. I had a couple of X-rays, and later an MRI. I also learned at Vail Valley not all MRI machines are equal, as I anticipated the need for an enhancing injection as what was done with my previous MRI. The manager of the Imaging Department indicated I would not need an enhancing injection as the Vail machines are more powerful.
Dr. Millet called me later in the day and confirmed he could repair my shoulder. He did repair the massive tears in less than 2 hours during November 5. There were other innovative techniques used such as PRP.
The whole Vail medical team I thought was the best I had experienced. During recovery it was recommended for me to use the ‘Game Ready’ machine, that circulates cool water in a jacket over the surgical repair and it was well worth it. This machine was never mentioned in my previous surgeries. I was discharged through Howard Head their physical therapy center and they provided a valuable guide for my therapy. It was unfortunate I was not able to utilize the center given the distance from home. After extensive physical therapy, I am almost back to complete strength. The most important aspect is my cuff is fully stabilized and continuing to gain strength. Thanks to Dr. Millett and his staff the surgery was a complete success and he is the best.
Written by Matthew A. Greer
While clinical studies support the effectiveness of these procedures, individual results may vary. There are no guarantees of outcome. All surgeries involve the risk of major complications. Before you decide on surgery, discuss treatment options with your doctor. Understanding the risks of each treatment can help you make the best decision for your individual situation. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Only your doctor can determine the appropriate treatment for your situation. The clinical information and opinions, including any inaccuracies expressed in this material by patients or doctor are not necessarily those of Peter Millett, MD and should not be considered as substitute for medical advice provided by your doctor.