If you follow this blog and Website you know that I am a survivor of what was a catastrophic motor vehicle accident, which resulted in a polytrauma in 2014. I continue to do my best to address each of my injuries in this website (see the various tabs) and blog about my subsequent rehabilitation (see frequently asked questions page for more information about HOPE TBI).
Through this whole process there are injuries that have been discovered which are somewhat subjective, some that are obviously causal, and then those that are absolutely empirical. The most empirical injuries in a polytrauma are orthopedic injuries. Yet even with the vast knowledge, sacrifice, and dedication of our best orthopedic professionals, there is still more to learn about the body to facilitate repair and healing.
At The Scapula Institute (St. Paul, MN) that is exactly what they do. Promote wellness, artistically and methodically delve into the seemingly impossible and make miracles happen.
I know this because I am one of their many success stories thanks to Dr. Peter Cole MD and his Trauma team. Thanks to The Scapula Institute, Regions Hospital, Health Partners and St. Paul Radiology. All of them. Working together in a cohesive way to affect change and dish up a bit of HOPE for those who have been cast out as hopeless. I know this first hand after being told by numerous previous traumatologists that I just had to live with my injuries and they could not be fixed. They were thankfully VERY wrong about my shoulder and the ability to have it fixed.
Dr. Peter Cole, MD is a visionary and progressive man and an artist with his Scalpel. It is, in honor of his great works, and in true appreciation of having the majority of the use back in my right shoulder, that I (and HOPE TBI – which is essentially me too – lol) endorse The Scapula Institute and their endeavors.
It is rare to fracture your scapula. In fact I did not just fracture mine, I shattered it. That gives you a bit of an indication of the sheer force involved with the wreck and how truly blessed I am to still be here to talk about this.
Information taken from The Scapula Institute website:
“It is important to know that the majority of scapula fractures do not require surgery. The scapula has a rich blood supply, which helps fractures heal quickly. In addition, the surrounding muscles provide support for the bone during the healing process. These two factors can provide a very favorable environment for healing. There are, however, certain categories that may benefit from surgical intervention.
It is estimated that scapula fractures account for less than 1% of all fractures. It truly is a rare injury with few surgeons experienced in the surgical management of severe fracture variants. Please look through our site and then contact us regarding your specific needs. We are one of the world’s top research teams dedicated to all aspects of shoulder girdle trauma.”
The Scapula Institute has developed optimal diagnostic strategies in addition to pioneering advancements in the surgical treatment of complex fractures. “It is our goal to restore normal function to patients who have sustained injuries to the scapula, clavicle and shoulder girdle unit.”
The Scapula Institute has an International referral base. So don’t think that your ability to rehabilitate is limited by your location or Country you come from.
Let me know if you have any questions about my experiences. I still have a long way to go….however, I am here…alive and able to complete my life journey…now with the use of both of my arms; man does it feel good to be able to hug with both arms again!!!
Never give up HOPE.
Cinco De Mayo (May 5th) is the date that is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
Much like Cinco De Mayo….my recovery and rehabilitation processes have had numerous UNLIKELY VICTORIES!
So it is ironic, and while tragic – also beautiful that my proposed final surgery on my shoulder/scapula/Acromion process was on May 5, 2016. This was the surgery that would also give me MY independence…..from an orthopedic (arm/shoulder) perspective anyway.
Now…to just wait until my follow-up appointment on June 1st to clear me for the Physical Therapy Regimen (exciting stuff).
I continue to be in awe of Regions Hospital and Health Partners system of patient focused care there in St. Paul, Minnesota. Perhaps because my providers there have been so instrumental in being so responsive and progressive in numerous aspects of my care, and continue to be.
On May 5th I underwent the final surgery on my shoulder (hopefully forever) to plate my Acromion Fracture which had gapped and was not healing. This was an unprecedented surgery for my orthopedic surgeon who has a niche in that field specializing in scapula injuries. He stated that the type of plating and procedure during this surgery for the Acromion Reconstruction nonunion fracture he had not done before, and that this repair was in the top 1-2% of complexities despite having an International referral practice for such injuries.
So I want to take the time to thank the folks involved in my care and surgery while in MN this time around. I tried to take diligent notes. If I missed someone, it was not intentional and I appreciate you just as much.
It all begins with how you are welcomed. When you walk into Regions there is ALWAYS someone there to welcome you and ask if they can help. It makes you feel like they are actually glad you are there…..it’s a great feeling when you are full of anxiety about your visit. It kind of preps you to just go with the flow…so to speak.
To Lonnie and her coworker (nurse that brought me back to preop from waiting room); Aneshtesiologist Dr. Mike Scmid and his nurse Anesthetist Marlene; Pre-op nurses Beckie, and Jackie…..and let’s not forget Lynette F who FINALLY got the IV started successfully; Amelia (who cleaned the surgery site); the Orthopedic Fellow (or Nurse don’t remember) Kyle you guys are all amazing and helped me relax before taking that final plunge to the Operating Room.
To my Trauma team in the Operating Room, including Dr. Peter Cole, THANK YOU for making me better and keeping me alive. I know I am a difficult and complex case. You never gave up on me or dismissed me, or made me feel embarrassed about anything. You are amazing and that is not even a strong enough word to describe your abilities and how much I am truly appreciative.
On the floor the first Nurse I had was named Mike. He had dark beautiful hair and a gentle spirit. He was very attentive along with his PCA Sandra “Sandy” and Bretta the respiratory therapist. I also want to thank Aron for my first meal after surviving surgery. You are a gem. I want to thank Annie for the Aromatherapy and appreciate her professionalism when I did not want her as my nurse due to my January experience with her. I didn’t immediately remember her name…but did her face and voice. Upon reviewing my notes I realized why she was familiar. I want to thank the Charge Nurse of the floor who was a patient listener and got me another Nurse who was awesome to deal with; I want to thank Katie from the lab; and Chian from transport (super nice person who has a relatively thankless job); I also want to thank Amanda, Tim, and Chris from Xray; Dr. Spilseth the Intern who checked in on me in my room; Thank you to Rachel my nurse and her PCA Uniqua; Jennifer from admitting who had the questions about insurance; Kjirsten the Social worker; Brent and Vic from OT and Meghan and Jenny from PT; a thank you to Kidist as well.
I had many wonderful nurses. The list of names was hard to keep track of….I do want to also thank Diana as well along with her PCA Logann (who ran ice packs for me and I am sure was tired of coming in my room); Logann, Dianna, and Patty who replaced Dianna on her shift. I appreciated the rounding from Dr. Hole. I also want to thank Leah and her nurse trainee Sarah and Logann again (yep got me again !); Scott from RT – thank you for checking on my pulse ox and CPAP; Tim and Jessica who did my CT Scan, and Aric from transport…vroom vroom; thank you to my Nurses Netti who took my vitals and said my nurse and pca (Shelly and Lisa) left (without giving a bedside report); thank you to Ketih and Karen; Lynn Charge Nurse and Night Charge Nurse Melissa;
Thank you also to Shelly my nurse and Lisa her PCA (who kept getting Shelly and later Shelly would say that Lisa never got her once and was apologetic) who were late getting me my post op pain meds by over an hour and taught me how much resilience I really have in this tired body.
Thank you to my nurse Melissa and PCA Jonase (spelling might be wrong on this one)…Thank you to Mai, Kaitlyn Schoeck 2nd year Resident and Jocelyn who worked tirelessly to get together all my take home paperwork; Thank you to Marcus Mittelsteadt 2nd year Resident, and the unforgettable Germaine from transport (what a selfless and patient soul) to medical records, and then to the Hotel Bus waiting for us upon departure from Regions after all was said and done.
A special thank you also to Tina Most and the CARE Team as well.
Dr. Cole, thank you for visiting me in my hospital room on Mother’s Day (and a Sunday no less and your weekend off). It meant more than you know. You sat down and explained everything. You rock! You are an Orthopedic Genius. Blessings Abound for you and yours I am sure.
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Hello. In MN January 11-24, 2016. It has taken me this long to get my energy up enough to type an update…..
I apologize that it has taken me so long to come to give all of you an update since my surgeries. I also must apologize for any horrible writing or spelling…I am still on the mend. First I want to sayis HALLELUJAH i AM ALIVE!!!
This has been quite the experience and it will continue to be. More posts will follow this one, however for this one I want to address some special folks. I tried to keep track the best I could with my notes. I truly apologize if I miss your name.
Specifically to My Primary Care Physician and her office staff; my Counselor, Mercy Medical Angels (especially Steve Craven), Barry and Caryn Mehler (dear Friends), Mary Herndon-Williams (sister from another mother), Priscilla Benavides and her husband (an old soul friend), Karleen Robinson (my mother-in-law), Carly Kissinger ( a teacher), and Samantha Rogers (Trauma Survivor), and the Rabbi from Ahavas Israel in Grand Rapids, MI; and Unity Center for Spiritual Growth in Ada, MI; United Airlines and its many wonderful staff and crew, Gerald R Ford Airport out of Grand Rapids, MI to Chicago O’Hare (in nowhere else but Chicago, IL) to Minneapolis St. Paul. Minnesota and those of you who pushed my wheelchair – THANK YOU FOR GETTING ME THERE SAFELY. Without your help and support my arrival would not have been possible. To the gentlemen in 1st class who gave up your seat for me because I looked so uncomfortable in coach from Chicago to St. Paul – mere words are not enough to give you my deepest gratitude. You are a gem.
When we arrived. An enormous thank you to Yellow Cab, Embassy Suites, UBER, SuperShuttle, the hospital shuttles, delivery folks, and the beautiful people of St. Paul who made a very scary and lonely time not so scary and not so painful for my husband and myself. Thank you Unity in the Heart Church in St Paul, MN.
THE GOOD STUFF – MEDICALLY LAIDEN
To my EMG team and Dr. Olson at Regions hospital, the Radiology Department, the lab, Medical Records and the Welcome staff – thank you for being quick and efficient and accommodating.
Veronica the bone specialist and Dr. Pegrow from Infectious Diseases – you guys are amazing and taught us a lot. Thank you Charge Nurses and Patient Relations and for the Alternative Medicine that compliments the Allopathic side of things. This made a world of difference for me and helped manage my fear, anxiety, and pain..
For my miraculous Dream Team with Health Partners, Regions Hospital, my Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Peter Cole (our dedicated man of God and Science) who made all this possible for so many like me AND ME, Tricia Corbo, Jenny, Tina Most, his two fellows Dr. Hesse and Dr. Diskin, the Anesthetist and the Nurse Anesthetist and all the office and team members whose names I didn’t write down, don’t remember or I don’t know in the office, this process and in the Operating Room – thank you for helping fix me and for keeping me alive to face another day. Your hands are truly the extension of the hands of God himself and I value and am grateful for each and every one of you.
For the floor staff thank you to Dr. Campbell (you were a sheer delight), Dr Brenner (miss that beautiful long hair 🙂 ty for your compassion), Dr. Mehta (kind eyes and soft smile); Brigid PT and Lena OT and lets not forget the folks that make the Doctor’s work look flawless and managed my pain and care in a more extended way – my NURSES Alena, Stella, Annabelle, Megan, Jessie, Abbey, Kasie, Niki Z (or2),Rachel, Rin, Rose, Leann, Brian and Kristy – Annie I forgive you for missing my meds for the whole night….it was a good lesson for me not to miss my scheduled doses – even good comes from mistakes…..forgive yourself and move on.
Also my Nursing Assistants they call PCA’s in MN: Fey, Hanna, Sandi Nettle, Laura, Dominique, Lisa, Mollie, Crystal, Lindsay, Nalee and any others I may have missed while sleeping or being to groggy to write. You were my hands when I couldn’t and my extended family while away.
To my husband Rick Robinson and soulmate and best friend – thank you for braving the trip, this uncertain future, and for sacrificing so much of yourself and your time, and your sleep for me. I know it takes so much from you and you deserve more than I could ever begin to repay you. I love you and value every moment with you. Thank you for believing in me and not doubting me all along through this whole shabang.
To my family who waited for me at home, for my darling children, for those who lovingly cared for my children while Rick and I were gone…..Thank you and I appreciate the support , love, and prayers.
I am home dear ones I am home! I am so eternally grateful and not last or least, but thank you Heavenly Father for granting me purpose in this world and allowing me to carry on another day to tell this story and continue to recover.
Follow up appointments in MN with Dr. Cole on February 10, 2016, then at 6 week mark – then 3 months, 6 months, 9, months, and 12 months. We are grateful for these opportunities to watch miracles abound and grow.
The two surgeries are reconstructive procedures for the nonunion scapula fractures (shattered unhealed scapula I have). The surgeon has done many of these types of surgeries involving complications of scapular fractures, nonunions, malunions, delayed treatments, etc.
The current proposed plan is a 2 stage surgery. The first will involve cleaning out the nonunion site and obtaining bone and soft tissue cultures to be sent for bacterial analysis. He will then place antibiotic beads and then after 5 days in the hospital he will then do the grafting procedure from the iliac crest (pelvis). Waiting that duratino insures a steril environment for him to perform the bone grafting procedure and place the foreign body implants. The second surgery also includes correction of the instability and the malalignment of my shoulder blade. Stainless steel plates and screws will be used in addition to the bone grafting.
The track record for these surgeries is well documented in the literature, of clinical research coming from his practice. He feels the outcome is estimated to be between good and excellent regarding this injury.
Afterwards there will be about 3 months or so of Physical and Occupational Therapy.
I am looking forward to having use back of my right arm with full range of motion. I am looking forward to managing this ongoing debilitating pain and miserable aura.
Godspeed to the hands of the surgeon and his whole team that are making this possible. Godspeed to my husband who will be by my side throughout this ordeal. We have to travel out of the State as Michigan – as Michigan State does not have any surgeons who do this specialized procedure. The kids are already getting anxious and prepared. Rick and I are stilll trying to wrap up loose ends before we have to go.
Intense stuff, however opportunities full of HOPE. Help One Person Excel – To Be Independent.
Thank you all for reading this, being a support and following our process. Please feel free to leave comments below, or share this post on your social media.
Caren Robinson – Polytrauma Survivor
(Note: The picture on this post is the actual hospital where I will be having my surgery. They implement several safety steps during the surgery process – this is very encouraging to me)