Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Fisherman’s Shoulder Operation: Rotator Cuff Repair
The year before last I hurt my shoulder fishing! No, it was not fly fishing. I did it on the beach chucking 4 ounce weights using a long beach caster rod and a fixed spool reel. (My friends in the USA call it gear fishing.) The target was a shoal of mackerel swimming up the English Channel. I was putting a lot of muscle into the casts as I was fishing with my pal Graham Henson who is a few years older than me and who was consistently casting about 20% further than I could. (I found out later that he was using a fine braided line whereas I was using mono.)
My son Jason with the offending beach caster rod!
Anyway the reward for my effort was not a bucket full of mackerel but what I thought was a pulled shoulder muscle at the top of my left arm. So I rested my arm, put up with the pain and waited for it to get better. Well the pain eased a bit and months went by and I started to notice that I did not have the mobility with my arm that I had previously enjoyed. In particular I could not reach across the car to open the glove compartment. Also I could not reach behind me with my left arm to get anything from the back seat of the car. My doctor gave me a course of anti-inflammatory tablets and they did nothing to help so back I went and I ended up seeing a surgeon who specialises in shoulders. His name Mr Iossifidis I never quite managed to master, so I resorted like everyone else to calling him Mr I. Aided by some X-rays and a brief examination Mr I announced that I had damaged my “rotator cuff”. I didn’t know I even had one, so it came as a bit of a surprise.
Everyone has two rotator cuffs
I went on the web and found a good video clip all about shoulders (there are hundreds of them). See
Anyway I agreed with Mr I that he should operate. Then he told me that I would not feel any pain for 24 hours after the operation because I would be injected with a “pain blocker”. So I said “And then what?” and he said “Then it will be very painful and you will not be able to drive for 12 weeks.” Well I consider myself quite tough when it comes to pain, I even have teeth drilled without an injection, but when that pain blocker wore off Wow! it made my eyes water. Not only that, but I could hardly move my arm for ages so I suffered the humiliation of having to have my wife help put my socks on etc. Then for several weeks I had to do really gentle exercises just to get some mobility, and then I had to start more strenuous exercise. I had to exercise 4 or 5 times a day and each session started the pain off again. Then I started physio with a young lady called Amy who was tough enough to have been a “storm trooper”. Slowly my arm got stronger and the pain faded away and I could touch the ceiling again and open the glove compartment in the car. I knew I was well on the way to being “mended” when I got back on the river bank. So my advice would be:-
1. Look after your shoulders.
2. If you do damage your rotator cuff by all means go on the web to understand what you have done.
3. Don’t watch a video of how surgeons do key-hole surgery, as that would really put you off. Key-hole surgeons use a lot of heavy handed tactics to put it mildly! I watched a clip a year after I had the operation and boy did I understand why it was so painful for so long.
Fortunately when I had the operation I was still working and covered by the company’s hospital plan so I didn’t have to wait for the operation or pay for the treatment. Just out of interest I kept track of the total cost of all the treatment and it was in the order of £6000 say $9000.
Well looking back on it, I should have left the 4 ounce weight chucking rod alone and stuck to my fly rod. A mackerel on a fly rod can be a lot of fun.