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I Get It Now.

Attorney Mike Bottaro's thoughts after his recent shoulder surgery.

Several weeks ago I had surgery on my dominant shoulder.  The procedure was outpatient to repair labral and rotator cuff tears and a bone growth over my AC joint.  My surgeon, hospital experience, and physical therapist experiences have all been top notch.  For the first six weeks, I am (mostly) wearing a sling and restricted to passive exercises.  I threw out the pain medication after 13 days. Each day, I sense some improvement and am very optimistic. 

I had an appendectomy when I was in college, but nothing like this before.  For the months leading up to the surgery (when we knew something was wrong, but were trying to avoid surgery), I was limited from my normal exercise regimen.  That was tough.  But nothing like the last several weeks, a time in which not only am I restricted from most exercise, but also restricted from use of my dominant arm….. the experience has really made me stop and think.  When you’re a personal injury lawyer, you’re accustomed to hearing your clients tell you about their injuries literally on a daily basis.  But “hearing” is not always “feeling.”  One wiser (old) lawyer once told me that to effectively represent an injured person at trial, you needed to visit them at their house and “crawl around in their skin.”  I believed him, but I’m not sure I really “got it” until recently.  Many people, after an injury, will continue pushing through with their routine.  Who can afford not to?  Often, clients would tell me “Yes, I can and do continue to work.  But when I am active, I really feel it and pay for it the next day.”   I never really understood that, at least not until the week before my own surgery.  I intentionally scheduled my surgery for one week after the opening day of fishing.  On opening day, I took my daughter down to Frosty Hollow Pond where we laughed and caught fish.  I spent hours casting for her.  The next two nights, I woke up with a throbbing shoulder.  Oh, I get it now.  Some people, after an injury, experience depression and feelings of lower self esteem.  I read that in the journals, at least.  But I am not sure I ever really absorbed it.  That is, until recently, when my wife was left to pack the heavy suitcases in the car while I looked on sheepishly.  Or when I couldn’t pick up my crying two year old son to comfort him.  Oh, I get it now.  Some people say, “Cherish your health, live life in the moment.”  I’m not sure I always truly appreciated that one either.  But each day, as I get a bit stronger, a bit less fatigued, I think I get it now.

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Deb Fernandez May 17, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Hi Mike, Best wishes for a speedy recovery. And you're right - unfortunately we don't really absorb the lessons until we have to go through the pain of something ourselves. But at least if we are a little aware we CAN learn. And I'm sure it will make you a better dad, lawyer, and human being for having the experience. So hang in there! All the best, Deb
Suzanne Arena May 25, 2012 at 03:14 AM
"... you needed to visit them at their house and “crawl around in their skin.” Love that! Yes, I know exactly how you feel and Deb is right, you are better for it! That said, I recall walking on my lunch hour in the North End and a messenger bicyclist hit me. I was out of work for 8 months with a rotary cuff issue and settled with the company for $25K, but after bills....loss of a job...inability to run The Boston Marathon I was training for...and being left with bruisitus and paying out the other incidental medical bills that weren't covered ~ it's NOT worth it! I can imagine your pain. I'm sure you will find you are like the bionic man now - LOL!
Mike Bottaro June 02, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Thank you, Deb and Suzanne for reading and for your kind words!
Ed June 03, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Mike.... I was going to ask if you are going to sue the surgeon (as a joke), but I do appreciate your articles and hope everything is fine....

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