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Margaret

Age at interview: 71
Brief Outline: For three years Margaret experienced severe pain in her left shoulder that restricted mobility and affected her quality of life. An X-ray showed that she had calcium build up in both shoulders, though the left one also had a bone spur that was impinging on the tendon. She has had decompression surgery in her left shoulder and she is making good recovery. Margaret is awaiting treatment for her right shoulder.
Background: Margaret is married, has no children; retired. Ethnic background: British.

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Four years ago, Margaret had a fall and broke both her wrists and feels that her shoulder problems might have started then. Two or three years after her accident, she had an X-ray that showed up something in the left shoulder. She was referred to physiotherapy and was also given two steroid injections at her GP surgery, but there was no improvement. She was experiencing severe pain and was taking lots of painkillers.

Margaret had problems moving her left arm in, upwards or outwards and found it difficult to get dressed and do ordinary chores such as getting things out of the cupboard. To a lesser degree, she also has mobility problems in her right shoulder, which even further reduced her ability to do everyday chores. The pain and restrictive mobility was also affecting her emotionally. 

Margaret was referred to see a specialist at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, an NHS hospital and, after examination and tests, was told she had calcium build up in the tendon in her left, and to a lesser extent, in her right shoulder. She had a procedure to remove the calcification from the tendon in her left shoulder. She had it done twice, but relief lasted no more than two months. 

Margaret went back to her surgery and saw a different GP, who gave her a steroid injection in both shoulders, but it didn’t do any good. Then she was sent to have an X-ray, which showed calcification in her left and right shoulder as well as a flap of the bone that was coming down and restricting the tendon. She was referred back to the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, an NHS hospital, but found out there was a wait of three months for surgery, so she decided to go and see the consultant as a private patient. Then, she waited for an appointment to go to the pre-surgery assessment clinic.

Margaret feels that there was too much waiting time in between each session at the assessment clinic and that the NHS could save lots of money if they reduce the sizes of the nose drop tube and the body wash she was given to use twice before surgery.

Margaret thinks highly of the medical team that cared for her and says that they explained things in a nice and friendly manner, without using lots of big words. So she understood what the surgery involved and the recovery process afterwards. But, the nerve block didn’t work and she had her surgery under general anesthetics. She expected to be sore after surgery but was relieved not to experience the severe pain she had had previously. Gradually, she has been regaining mobility and flexibility in her left shoulder and she is pleased to be able to do those things she hadn’t been able to do for so long. She already knew the exercises she was told to do after surgery and says she is getting better at them. 

She is currently waiting to receive treatment to disperse the calcium build up in her right shoulder.
 

Margaret couldn’t understand the nurse who went through a long form with her. He seemed to be ‘going through the motions’. There was a lot of hanging around.

Margaret couldn’t understand the nurse who went through a long form with her. He seemed to be ‘going through the motions’. There was a lot of hanging around.

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We got there [hospital] for half past eleven I think it was and we left at half past three. It was horrendous. We waited so long and then we were assigned to a nurse. I don’t know if he was Spanish or what he was. But my husband couldn’t understand him and it was a job to understand him. 

And we had to fill in an eighteen page questionnaire and, when we went in to a room with a nurse, he went through all these questions again. And I just thought that was a waste of time, you know. Why fill in all these questions and then why, and then he could have used all the information on there. But I found that he was just, what’s the word? Not concentrating on what he was saying. He was just going through the motions and he asked me, “Had we any children?” And I said “No.” “Have you any grandchildren?” 

Argh.

So I said, as I haven’t got any children, I haven’t got any grandchildren. And I thought that was poor that he was just going through the motions with the form. And it was just the amount of time for hanging around going through the different things.

What were the kind of things that you had to do that day?

Had to have ECG, blood test.
 

Margaret had no idea what would happen at follow-up. She’d like to know she’s recovering well. She can now do things that she hasn’t done for a long time.

Margaret had no idea what would happen at follow-up. She’d like to know she’s recovering well. She can now do things that she hasn’t done for a long time.

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You said you hadn’t had your post-op assessment?

No. No.

And do you know when you’re going for that one?

[Looking at paperwork] 14th August.

Do you know much, what do you expect will happen on that day?

I haven’t got a clue. I just presume they’ll ask questions and see how the arm moves and that’ll be it. I’ve no idea.

Okay, you haven’t been told anything about that at the moment?

No. Do they do things to you then?

I don’t, I don’t know.

Oh, okay [laughs].

Is there anything you’d like to happen or you want to find out at that appointment?

Just that it’s going on as it should do. I feel as if it is with the different things I’m able to do now, which I haven’t been able to do for a long time. And I’m automatically doing things and, ‘Ah, I haven’t done that for a long time.’ So it’s quite nice.
 

Margaret recommends exercising during recovery and getting used to the idea of it before surgery. She would have surgery to her other shoulder if the need arose.

Margaret recommends exercising during recovery and getting used to the idea of it before surgery. She would have surgery to her other shoulder if the need arose.

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Is there any advice that you would want to give them [other patients]?

To keep exercising afterwards and get used, maybe getting used to the idea of the exercising before. But if I had to have it done on my right [shoulder], then I wouldn’t hesitate.

Okay. Is that something that you’re planning for the future?

I’m hoping not. I’m hoping the injection to disperse the calcium is going to work. But if in the future, I did have to have it, then I wouldn’t think twice not to. 

And are the Nuffield looking at your other shoulder?

They should be, yeah. I’m hoping they are going to do it when I go for this next appointment. 
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