John Hedtke of Bear Creek said he has his life back, thanks to two bilateral shoulder replacement surgeries. “I feel great,” said Hedtke, 67. “I can cut wood. Anything I want to do I can do.”
Hedtke knew his shoulders were bad. He had been having difficulty lifting his arms, and there was pain with movement. “I injured my left shoulder playing softball just out of high school,” he said.
He saw a specialist for a short time but he continued to play fast pitch softball. Over the years, his shoulders got worse. “They hurt,” he admitted. “They were both bad.”
In 2002, he had both of his knees replaced at Appleton Medical Center. His knees had damaged after years of playing catcher in softball. In May 2012, he was at a routine exam with Jay Rust, physician assistant at ThedaCare Physicians-New London. During the exam, an intern working with Rust lifted Hedtke’s arms and there was a crunching sound in his shoulders, something that did not surprise him but caused the intern to order an X-ray. “It was bone on bone,” he said.
Rust made an appointment for Hedtke to be seen that afternoon by Dr. Eric Erickson, fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care in Appleton.
Dr. Erickson didn’t waste time, said Hedtke. “He told me I had three options: do nothing, do nothing or get a shoulder replacement,” he said, noting the doctor said “the first two are not an option.”
“I didn’t even realize they did shoulder replacement,” added Hedtke.
The surgery was a success. “It didn’t really hurt,” he said, noting the only uncomfortable part was wearing a sling for a few weeks during recovery and sleeping in a recliner. “I didn’t care for that but it was just part of it.”
Hedtke said Dr. Erickson was easy to work with. “He’s a great surgeon,” he said. “He’s just a great guy.”
His recovery process also included therapy. “She was just great,” he said of his therapist. “She even made me cry. We had a love hate relationship going.”
The second shoulder surgery was in December 2014. “It was much easier,” he said, noting he had the same doctor and therapist. “I knew exactly what it was about.”
Hedtke said his shoulders are “doing just great. I have zero complaints. I have my strength back.” He is still surprised he can use his shoulders again and resume his activities like cutting wood and working on his farm. “It just feels great,” he said. “I can lift my arms above my head and touch my hands behind my back, which I could never do before. This shoulder deal, it worked for me.”