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Joan’s story: ‘Amazing’ total shoulder replacement

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Joan Barry sits in a chair in front of a large bookcase.

Joan Barry does not have time to mess around with a sore shoulder.

She swims, practices yoga, walks her dog, works in her garden, does yard work and trims the trees and shrubs outside her home west of Green Bay.

Joan, a retired teacher who’s in her 70s, has long had pain and arthritis in both shoulders.

“I wore out my shoulders. I wore them out swimming a mile a day,” she says.

Joan’s right shoulder was worse than her left shoulder. She went through a variety of treatments on her right shoulder but eventually decided enough was enough.

She turned to Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic, where she saw Dr. John Awowale. He’s an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder care and joint replacement.

“I just loved him right from the start,” Joan says of Awowale. “He was so open. He was just open to any questions, which was quite different than any surgeon I had ever dealt with.”

They sat down and reviewed options for treating her shoulders. Awowale suggested total shoulder replacement surgery, starting with the right shoulder if doing only one. Joan had to think about that for a while.

“One day, I was swimming and it just was SO painful,” so Joan called to schedule her surgery.

Awowale performed Joan’s shoulder replacement surgery in early March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I love my shoulder,” Joan says. “I just have had such amazing luck with it. I haven’t had any pain. I recovered.”

Her follow-up visits with Awowale were conducted remotely via telemedicine during the pandemic.

“Everybody was great,” Joan says of Awowale and her care team. “I liked everybody, and still do.”

After surgery, Joan wore a shoulder sling that helped with healing but limited her movement. She also received physical therapy for the shoulder. That’s standard for people who have shoulder replacement surgery. However, Joan bounced back so quickly that she stopped wearing the sling ahead of schedule and ended her physical therapy sessions early, too.

“I was already swimming again. I just could do practically everything that I could do previously with that shoulder,” Joan says of her recovery. “It’s been amazing, and I am just really, really happy with it.”

Joan’s advice for anyone with shoulder problems like hers is to see the doctor she calls Dr. John and that others know as Dr. A: “I would tell them to see Dr. John and get his opinion.”

Published: Thursday, January 28, 2021
Author: Jeff Ash