Elbow surgery, Hemophilia and Guitars

Posted: July 20, 2015 in Hemophilia, musician, songwriting, surgery
Tags: , , ,

On July 7th, 2015, the anesthesiologist said, “take deep breaths” as he placed the oxygen mask on my face……
….Wait….Let’s first head back in time to December of 2014. I finished my latest CD of cover songs from the 1960’s and 1970’s called “Musical Reunion” and was promoting it on social media sites. As part of my treatment regimen for my hemophilia, I use prophylactic treatment every other day infusing a 50% dose of my clotting factor – the protein my body is missing causing my hemophilia – that keeps my joints from having bleeds. But recently my left elbow was barely making it, without swelling, to the 48th hour before giving the next dose. We treat intravenously using a 23 gauge butterfly needle and a 20 cc syringe – Debbie and I take turns “sticking me”! This helps my veins have time to heal and increases the number of veins we can use. I’m left handed so I can only use the veins in my right hand – so Debbie uses the left hand/arm veins.
Despite diligent treatment, the elbow kept starting to swell. This went on for 6 months – I kept thinking it would get better.
But, deep in my soul I knew what was ahead for me. …
Right ElbowIn 2012 my right elbow had gotten so bad that giving a 100% dose DAILY could not keep swelling in check. So, my hematologist recommended me to Vanderbilt’s best (my opinion) hand/forearm surgeon to evaluate the elbow. X-rays revealed severe arthritic damage and SURGERY was the only option. The surgery was for a synovectomy with a radial head excision. The synovial membrane contains tons of blood vessels that is the main cause of my joint bleeds. These days surgery is routine for the average person but for a “bleeder” so much has to be considered.
We came up with a plan to dose 100% right before surgery, another 100% 12 hours later – another 12 hours after that then 50% every 12 hours for the next 5 days. Then 100% daily for 5 days followed by 50% doses daily until healed. I’ve been told that a 70% clotting factor level is all that is needed for surgery but for my peace of mind keeping it around 100% was necessary!
As a side note, Vanderbilt Hospital uses only ADVATE as the “clotting factor 8” of choice. For some reason, I have tried several of the recombinant clotting factors but they don’t seem to work as well as the plasma based Alphanate does. So we bring our own factor with us! Debbie mixes it up and adminisers it via the IV access the nurse starts.
Going into surgery I admit I was very nervous! I wasn’t even sure I would ever be able to play my guitar again! While the surgery went well, the first 12 hours post-op were the most pain I have experienced in my life. Considering the thousands of joint bleeds I have had in my life that is saying a lot! They had kept me in the hospital overnight to monitor my clotting levels. Debbie slept in the recliner in the room with me getting my pain meds when needed.
But the next morning I could tell the pain was subsiding – thankfully.  They had placed a cast on that arm that went from my shoulder to my wrist – I asked them to cut out an area so I could access the hand veins in my right hand.
The cast was on a little over a week – we bought a plastic sleeve that covered the cast enabling me to take showers! When the cast came off the elbow was still pretty swollen but hardly any pain! They started me on physical therapy, which helped regain my range of motion.
By the end of the second week post-operative I sat on my piano bench, picked up my Ovation guitar, which I had not been able to play in almost a year and started playing a song! But by the second line of the verse I broke down crying

Dave creating a new song

Writing and recording a new song!

– I WAS able to play my guitar!!!

As a postscript to my story of surgery on my Right Elbow, since October 26th 2012, I have not had a single bleed in that joint!!

(back to July 7th, 2015)…..As I started to lose consciousness from the anesthesia, I reassured myself that this surgery on my left elbow would be worthwhile because of the success of the right elbow sur…ger…ree……
– to be continued in the next post…. Dave

  1. Glenn says:

    Well, I didn’t know it had gotten that bad, but glad you made the surgical choice. Here’s to many pain free, non-swelling joint, guitar playing and song writing journeys ahead!

  2. DaveColvinSongs says:

    Thanks Glenn! Yeah, I put it off too long – kept saying “Oh – I’ll get it done after this or after that….” There never is a perfect time. I have that new electric Fender Meredith and Rusty got me for Christmas I’ve only played like 4 times! Gonna change that real soon! 🙂

  3. Mary Dalluge says:

    Wow. I had always know and have marveled at all you have done depite being a bleeder. But wow – YOUR LEFT HANDED!

  4. Glad you got it done! You’ll be back playing in no time.

  5. Sandra Hatfield says:

    Dave, I am so sorry to hear ofyour problems and was unaware. I have added you to my prayer list and see you glowing in good health! I have the opposite problem and have to take blood thinners daily. Bless you and Debbie. Sandy

    • DaveColvinSongs says:

      Thanks so much Sandy!This left elbow is healing faster than the right did!
      I should be playing guitar real soon!
      Hope you and Bill are doing well!
      Love, Dave

  6. […] Elbow surgery, Hemophilia and Guitars […]

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