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Patricia Brawer

New York, NY
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Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement Puts 70 Year Old Back in the Game!

I have had shoulder problems for many years as a result of degenerative osteoarthritis. Over a 15 year period, I tried everything: from arthroscopy to physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, and even two rounds of Euflexxa. Working with Dr. Peter Moley in the Physiatry Department, I was able to buy myself almost two years of pain remediation, until I was emotionally ready to consider surgery.

When I first visited Dr. Lawrence Gulotta to discuss a possible shoulder replacement, he patiently answered all my questions and told me that, since this was elective surgery done for pain remediation, I would be the judge of “when.” He further said that when it was time, I would know it and would be back to see him. Five months later, I reappeared in his office with the words, “It’s time and I’m back!”

We discussed the post-surgical pros and cons of an anatomic vs. reverse total shoulder replacement and Dr. Gulotta wasn’t at all fazed by my two-page spreadsheet of questions. His concern was making sure that I was informed and comfortable; which reassured me that I would be in good hands -- both figuratively and literally!!!  The final decision (which he made during surgery) was that I needed a Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement. The actual surgery was amazing: from check-in through discharge. The anesthesiology team met with me to discuss my concerns, the Anesthesia Pain Management team made sure that any post-op pain was well managed, and the nursing team was wonderful.

I’m now six months post-surgery, and recently completed my 30<sup>th</sup> PT visit with Marlena Albanese -an insightful and highly experienced therapist. While there is no doubt that Dr. Gulotta is an amazing surgeon, I recognized that I had to do my part during the subsequent rehab process in order to become the best I could be. That meant really taking PT seriously and committing to 6 months of “homework;” getting up 20 minutes earlier each day, to do the first of my two strength and flexibility sessions each day.

So, how am I doing now? Well, I can sleep through the night and, for the 1<sup>st</sup> time in over 15 years, am now totally pain-free, flexible and <strong><em>strong</em></strong>! I can keep up with my niece’s very active toddlers of 4 and 6; climbing up monkey bars, and sliding down slides. What’s more, I’m back to doing reformer Pilates, and even able to do a 2 ½ minute “plank.” And, while it may say 70 years old on my driver’s license, I’m rocking my new lease on life!  Although I had no idea what to expect when I began this undertaking, the whole experience has exceeded any expectations I had, and I am undyingly grateful to Dr. Gulotta and the amazing support universe at HSS.

April 21, 2020:

As I approach the 5-year anniversary of my rTSA (reverse total shoulder replacement), I can only marvel at how wonderful my life has been since my surgery! The most obvious benefit is that I’ve been totally pain free, and have never once been aware that I even have a prosthetic joint. I am now the bionic woman!

I’ve not only resumed all the activities I’d done previously, but have ‘taken it up a notch,’ and now do a pretty intense strength training regimen three times a week. And, oh – did I mention that my 5 year surgical anniversary will be only one month after my 75th birthday!

None of this would have been possible without the superb care and skill of Dr. Gulotta, and the wonderful team who helped me both pre- and post-surgery: Dr. Peter Moley and Marlena Albanese (my PT). The things I learned in rehab are now the everyday tools in my arsenal that I use to keep me safe and strong!

I couldn’t let this landmark pass without expressing my undying gratitude to Dr. Gulotta for giving me these wonderful years --- and for all those years to come.