So my shoulder looks okay, and nothing really jumps out, so my doctor writes me a referral to a physical therapist. Again, with no insurance, she refers me to a direct provider, Carter Physiotherapy. I go for about six weeks, and although my upper shoulder feels a little better, my range of motion is still an issue, I have a shooting pain in my upper arm.
I even tried "dry needling," an Americanized version of acupuncture. It actually felt pretty good.
The cost of the physical therapy was comparable to an hour-and-a-half massage, but was definitely more intense. I paid out of pocket and never saw another bill, which was nice.
We realized that something more significant is going on, so my doctor gave me a recommendation to Texas Free Market Surgery. We were hoping to avoid that option, but it's time to look into it.
I called Texas Free Market Surgery, and paid for my consultation over the phone, which cost $200 (April 2018). I was a little unfamiliar with the process, but I was given the address of a well-known orthopedic practice in Austin, and had my first appointment with the same doctor who performed my direct primary care physician's shoulder surgery in 2010.
After an orthopedic radiologist looked at the MRI, they determined that I had a bone spur in my shoulder and an inflamed "bursa." The doctor said that they could inject it with something to bring down the inflammation, and I asked if I should schedule an appointment. He said that he could do it "right now." I was a little unprepared, and since I'm afraid of needles, that was a little intimidating. But I had my iPhone and some headphones, so I just jammed on some German heavy metal (it's my dental playlist!) and he used something to freeze the injection site and then it was done!
Through the whole thing, I was a little worried about the cost. I knew someone who got a shot like this and paid $1400 out of pocket. I was surprised at the end of my visit that I didn't owe anything more and that it was included in my office visit! I scheduled a followup in a month.
The surgeon said that I would probably feel sore the following day or so, then by Monday I should start to feel relief. It was Thursday. The relief came on the second day, on Saturday, and I literally felt NO PAIN. It was glorious! But then the relief started to wane. I waited a week, and it got worse, so I contacted Texas Free Market Surgery and asked what the next steps would be.
At first, they suggested that physical therapy and another injection would be the most "conservative" approach, but in light of the fact that it was a bone spur, the most appropriate course of action is the thing I dreaded most.
SURGERY. Here we go.