One Eclipse, Two Rotator Cuffs in Trouble

eclipseWhen the eclipse came last week, I feared my life was in eclipse as well.
I had just received an MRI report that found tears in the tendons and muscles connected to my left arm’s rotator cuff. Two days before, I was informed about an earlier MRI, of my right shoulder, that found the same situation.
Two shoulders, two rotator cuffs—was I in trouble!
Ahead were two operations. And what an operation rotator cuff surgery involves! I went to Google—often depressing I’ve found, when seeking information about a medical problem.
One website said that a rotator cuff operation, even if done arthroscopically can take 2-2 ½ hours. Then that arm needs to be immobilized for weeks, kept in a sling. Another site said to sleep in an easy chair for a time so as not to put pressure on the shoulder.
There would be post-operative pain.
And three to six months of rehabilitation; twice for me
Farewell Prius. Forget driving for a year. How would I be able to work as a professor at SUNY/College at Old Westbury? How would I write this column? I do TV, too. How would I manage that?
All this was in my mind as the eclipse neared.
I went to the post office and there was Rabbi Berel Lerman of the Chabad North Haven in the Hamptons. The Chabad just established a Center for Jewish Life across the street. He asked whether I would like to see this new center.
It was impressive. Rooms for teaching and displaying art, and a beautiful sanctuary.
I told the rabbi about my dilemma. He took me into his study and we prayed. Afterwards, he said maybe my problem could be handled without surgery. I said I wish it could.
I went next to the front steps of the reconstructed library where people had gathered for the eclipse. I figured the friendly folks in my community would share those hard-to-obtain eclipse glasses. They did.
Then I walked in that midday twilight back to my car—believing my life in eclipse, too.
Until the next day. Then I sat with Dr. John J. Brennan, an orthopedic surgeon to whom I was referred.
Dr. Brennan and his compassionate assistant, Sean O’Came, heard my story, examined me and studied the MRIs. Dr. Brennan explained that at my age—75—tears in tendons and muscles linking to rotator cuffs are not unusual. Indeed, he told about a study of hundreds of men who had no shoulder problems in which 25% of those in their 60s were found to have rotator cuff tears and 50% of those in their 70s had torn rotator cuffs.
Because I still have basically OK arm movement and minor occasional pain, he said no surgery was needed! My loving wife of 56 years and I listened to him in amazement and thanksgiving.
My eclipse, a day after the big one, suddenly passed.

Filed in: Suffolk Closeup

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