A Patient’s Story: “My surgery saved me, emotionally.”
As a lifelong athlete, 35-year-old Derrick Richardson was devastated when he heard “You’re done. You can’t throw a ball anymore” from the first surgeon who looked at his injured shoulder in the summer of 2015. “It was one of the most emotional moments of my life. I was in tears, thinking that I’d never be able to play catch with my kids,” Derrick said.
From the time he was 15 years old he had played baseball, football and even swam competitively. Being an athlete was a big part of his life. Unfortunately, so were the injuries that came with it. At 25 years old, he had already had two shoulder surgeries and started noticing arthritis. Soon after, he cut back on the sports he played and focused instead on coaching high school baseball.
But changing his activity level didn’t stop his pain. By the second year of coaching, Derrick started noticing daily pain in his shoulder and was waking up four to five times a night and sometimes his hand would be numb. He went to see a surgeon who gave him bad news. Derrick explained, “He said I was too young for a new shoulder and suggested rehab, cortisone shots and worst of all—told me I couldn’t throw ball with my kids.” That’s when Derrick sought out a different surgeon, Dr. Anthony Romeo, who had performed a previous surgery on him. And for the first time in a long time Derrick felt hopeful when Dr. Romeo told him, “We have a shoulder meant for guys like you. You’re not going to throw a ball like you used to but you’re going to be active again. You’re going to have a good life.”
That’s when Derrick first learned about the Univers™ Apex, a total shoulder replacement implant from Arthrex that is specially designed so the surgeon can more accurately recreate the patient’s normal shoulder position.
Dr. Romeo explained, "Patients like Derrick are often told they are too young for a shoulder replacement. They live with pain and a poor quality of life during some of the most important years of their young life. Fortunately, advances in shoulder replacement like the Univers Apex include the ability to remove the arthritis and replace the joint with a new ball and socket that works like a normal joint, helping the surrounding muscles and tendon heal and return to normal function. Arthrex innovation allows me to offer these fantastic solutions even at Derrick's young age."
So at almost 34 years old, Derrick had surgery in January of 2016 with his family supporting him every step of the way. His 8-year-old daughter helped him through six months of rehab by getting her own set of therapy bands and doing exercises with him. And his 4-year-old son checked his scar daily, telling him “It’s looking good.”
And today things are looking good for Derrick. He’s throwing a ball, coaching, playing with his kids and happy to share his story. In fact, he’s got a conversation starter right on his cell phone—his wallpaper is an x-ray of his implant. Derrick said, “I love talking to people about it. They can’t believe I’m back to doing what I’m able to do.”
Now looking back, he is happy at how his story ended, “The surgery emotionally saved my life, because I can do what I love to do and live the way I want to live without pain.”
The views expressed in this article reflect the experience and opinions of those involved and do not necessarily reflect those of Arthrex, Inc. This is not medical advice from Arthrex. Postoperative management is patient specific and dependent on the treating professional’s assessment. Individual results will vary and not all patients will experience the same postoperative activity level and/or outcomes. Patient photography is used with express, written consent of the patient or their legal guardian.