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WanderingBob

Dive Destination while recuperating from shoulder surgery

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I will have shoulder surgery in early January and will be out of work for many months I am looking for a place to recuperate once I can get on a plane. As healing progresses I may as well be near a dive destination.

 

I am told Thailand is inexpensive with good diving, but would recommend any details about there or anywhere else that is cheap, because I won't have much of an income for a while.

 

Thanks so much

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I would suggest Indonesia or Philippines over Thai diving. There are some parts of the Philippines unaffected by the typhoon and the diving is just better than anywhere within reach of the coast of Thailand.
The medical expertise is better in Thailand but I think Philippines is cheaper overall. Indonesia is also cheaper than Thailand for budget travelers, but I personally think the Philippines is the best value for diving destinations, IF you can find a local place to rent. It's especially better since many locals speak english.

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Wearing cylinders, climbing into dive boats and supporting a camera are going to put a fair amount of strain onto a shoulder, whether you are having a joint replacement, a rotator cuff or a labral repair. Good rehabilitative physiotherapy advice would be useful before diving, and a month or so to heal before travelling...

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Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but a shoulder takes a long time to recover. I've had all of mine done and they were each 6-8 months before I was diving again.

It's not the heavy work (tanks, ladders, cameras, etc) that gets you, it's trying to push your arm into a wetsuit, putting a mask over your head or shooing away a fly. It's very frustrating. Sorry.

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I'll be in this same situtation in a year or two. I plan on having the surgery in Bangkok, and then holing up somewhere for a while as I recover. I have both a knee and shoulder surgey coming, and I know I can be diving within a few months after the knee surgery, but am not sure how long the shoulder will take. As SteveB said, and I have heard, shoulders take a while to recover. That said, I was diving 2 days after having seperated my shoulder a few years ago, and I actually found that once I got my wetsuit on, the pressure from the suit and cool water actually made my shoulder feel much better.

 

As far as where to stay, Bali might be a good choice, as you can get decent diving there and not be too far from decent medical care, should you need it. There is also a orthopedic clinic in Phuket, that I've been looking at as a possible recovery location, but that is more due to the fact that I know Phuket very well.

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I'll be in this same situtation in a year or two. I plan on having the surgery in Bangkok, and then holing up somewhere for a while as I recover.

 

Has American medicine come to this? I went diving three weeks after (British) prostate surgery, but recovery is rather different to surgical tourism: I've seen some nasty complications and there's a significant risk that profit precedes professional practice...

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Recuperation times really depends on what is done to your shoulder. Figure a minimum of 6 weeks to allow healing of incisions and suture points. Good physical therapy will help range of motion return sooner after surgery.

The big problem is unexpected strain on the incisions and suture points before they heal. Second problem is theoretical decompression alterations in tissue ongassing and offgassing that could increase the risk of DCS. I dove 6 weeks after my shoulder surgery on a liveaboard without any problems (the shoulder was still a bit limited in mobility, but no increase in pain)

Best shoulder surgeon is Andrews in Alabama. Good luck.

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Thanks so much for the replies. I had no idea there may be so many people with this experience here. Are we getting gimpy? :mocking: I would have given more detail had I known.

 

I am having the whole ball of wax. SLAP tear, and rotator cuff repair, including cadaver transplants. I will be out of work for 9-12 months IF all goes well. I live in Alaska and would hate to take one slip on the ice and ruin it all. SO, I'm considering shutting up the house and moving someplace warm to convalesce.

 

I do not expect to dive for 5-6 months, but am hoping to get in some serious diving in the month or 2 prior to returning to work.

 

I have found a small home near the beach in Vietnam for $350 a month, completely furnished. But, would like to find smoothing similar in a better diving area. The initial trip may be 2-3 months post repair and may be just recon for further down the road.

 

I was also thinking of cutting the arm off an old 3mm wetsuit and strapping my arm to my chest. In order to do this, I would have to only go out in clam seas and be on a boat that would allow me to get in the water, then hand me my dive gear. I doubt I will be photographing at all for some time as my right shoulder is involved.

 

I'm still investigating and appreciate any continued info. Again thanks.

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Has American medicine come to this? I went diving three weeks after (British) prostate surgery, but recovery is rather different to surgical tourism: I've seen some nasty complications and there's a significant risk that profit precedes professional practice...

 

Medical tourism is the norm in SEA and even Asia, Tim, precisely due to shoddy equipment and expertise in home countries. Entire hospitals in SG cater to the Indonesians/Arabs alone and have some of the best surgeons in SEA. BKK (and now KL) has been known to be the low cost alternative to SG, offering packages including hotel rooms for checkups and procedures. My friends in SEA/UAE frequently go to SG for medical trips including births etc.

 

Bob, the diving in Vietnam is errr… "not so good" to put it mildly! :) I'm not sure you'll find low cost accommodations online directly but I'm sure there are dive forums like Scubaboard with locals in diving areas that may help.

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Wanderingbob, you might consider inquiring if you will be getting an interscalene nerve block for immediate post-op pain control. They can be very helpful.

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Wanderingbob, you might consider inquiring if you will be getting an interscalene nerve block for immediate post-op pain control. They can be very helpful.

Thanks Doug. I had a cervical fusion that was not too painful, But I hear shoulders hurt. Especially with all the work I'm having done.

 

:) I'm not sure you'll find low cost accommodations online directly but I'm sure there are dive forums like Scubaboard with locals in diving areas that may help.

 

I will look into that, good tip. Thanks Drew

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Wanderingbob, you might consider inquiring if you will be getting an interscalene nerve block for immediate post-op pain control. They can be very helpful.

 

I had an infraclavicular block (similar thing at a different place on the nerve) and it really does work well. I had the op at 6pm and discharged the following morning at 10am and had to stand up and give a eulogy that day at 1:30pm. I was exhausted at the end but didn't really have any pain to speak of.

 

I don't know that I'd call it a painful recovery. It's more that a lot of movements cause pain, especially trying to sleep. I slept on the couch for a couple of months because that stopped me from rolling on to my back which is painful when your arm slides back.

I was back working at the computer in short bursts in a few weeks. Use the other hand for the mouse and put the keyboard under the other hand to press the shift key, etc. It's more a journey of discovery of things that you can't do yet. This week I discovered that I can't throw a blanket on to the clothes line yet.

I can understand the desire to go somewhere warm to convalesce. Ironically, mine is just about all healed and we're coming up to your part of the world (mostly Fairbanks) for Christmas. We won't be diving there though. :)

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I had an infraclavicular block (similar thing at a different place on the nerve) and it really does work well. I had the op at 6pm and discharged the following morning at 10am and had to stand up and give a eulogy that day at 1:30pm. I was exhausted at the end but didn't really have any pain to speak of.

 

I don't know that I'd call it a painful recovery. It's more that a lot of movements cause pain, especially trying to sleep. I slept on the couch for a couple of months because that stopped me from rolling on to my back which is painful when your arm slides back.

I was back working at the computer in short bursts in a few weeks. Use the other hand for the mouse and put the keyboard under the other hand to press the shift key, etc. It's more a journey of discovery of things that you can't do yet. This week I discovered that I can't throw a blanket on to the clothes line yet.

I can understand the desire to go somewhere warm to convalesce. Ironically, mine is just about all healed and we're coming up to your part of the world (mostly Fairbanks) for Christmas. We won't be diving there though. :)

Steve, Thanks for the response. But, you don't say what you had done. "I don't know that I'd call it a painful recovery." What is "it"?

 

I will have cadaver transplants, meaning 4 areas of grinding periosteum down to bloody bone tissue in order to regenerate bone, tendon and muscle growth. The periosteum is some of the most sensitive tissue in the body. Regardless, there is NO Light Duty in my line of work. I can't work on a computer. If I can't save lives, I can't work … or need to find another source of income.

 

I've been up here for 10 yrs, and do not relish sliding on the ice even one time after having surgery. Especially, she I consider how delicate the transplants are.

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I had acromioplasty, supraspinatus repair and bicep tenodesis. I was just trying to put the recovery into some sort of context. I hope it all goes well for you.

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I'm currently diving with an unhealed right collar bone. As they say in Python's Holy Grail "Its only a flesh wound"...but do not underestimate the load dive kit puts on the shoulders; kitting up, carrying kit around, holding the camera underwater.

 

Its uncomfortable, but not enough to stop me...

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I'm currently diving with an unhealed right collar bone. Its uncomfortable, but not enough to stop me...

 

I'm sorry to hear it. I suspect it's rather worse than diving with a broken rib, and that wasn't too much fun.

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I'm currently diving with an unhealed right collar bone. As they say in Python's Holy Grail "Its only a flesh wound"...but do not underestimate the load dive kit puts on the shoulders; kitting up, carrying kit around, holding the camera underwater.

 

Its uncomfortable, but not enough to stop me...

 

Ouch! Fx clavicle with a rig on above water.

 

I had a cervical fusion last year and was not able to lift anything over my head, at all. My U/W photo kit is about 55lb inclusive, so I'd get on the plane first and wait til the isle slowed and picked on a young buff looking dude. "Hey. How's your neck and back?" "Huh?"

"Well, I can't lift the suitcase b/c I had neck surgery. Would you mind?", I'd say

"Hey, no problem", "Careful, it's heavy", I'd say.

" s%^#!, that's heavy!"

Had some nice people help me out all the way to Bahamas and back. The best part was the dive outfit I went with wouldn't let me lift a thing. I'd get in the water, they'd hand me my bcd and when I was ready, they'd hand me my camera.

 

Don't think I can do the same after shoulder surgery, but still trying to figure it out.

 

 

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I had acromioplasty, supraspinatus repair and bicep tenodesis. I was just trying to put the recovery into some sort of context. I hope it all goes well for you.

Thanks Steve. Yeah, a supraspinatus repair is quite common, but usually heal nicely if you don't wait too long. I'm curious why your doctor chose a tenodesis vs a SLAP repair? Extent vs age of injury?

 

I keep hearing shoulders just hurt. Regardless, it's time!

 

Edited by WanderingBob

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Ouch! Fx clavicle with a rig on above water.

 

 

Perhaps I should add that I'm diving with my right clavicle in at least two pieces...carrying twin 12s (approx 100cuft doubles), two stages and a Subal housing. I survived a week in Scapa Flow last week using this kit. It was not a perfect experience, but tolerable. On one day it was 50knt winds...we English would call those conditions 'sporting' and if I'm being honest it was a blessed relief to get off the boat and underwater, out of the wind. The boat had a very comfortable diver lift too I should add.

 

The boat was MV Valkryie and they were more than helpful with my somewhat unique circumstances. I had the seat next to the entry/exit reserved for me.

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... if I'm being honest it was a blessed relief to get off the boat and underwater, out of the wind....

 

I thought that was what Hazel's kitchen was for... :evilgrin2:

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I had a cervical fusion last year...
...a supraspinatus repair is quite common...


Well, not to rain on your parade, but as specialist in chronic pain I see a fair number of repairs that remain painful, and a fair number of supraspinatus injuries that do well with physiotherapy and pain-killers. Rehabilitation with good physiotherapy and good perioperative analgesia could easily be as important as your surgeon in preventing long-term and intractable shoulder pain.

I've noticed that there's a tendency to treat musculoskeletal pain with analgesics and injections on the East coast of the USA, with surgery in the Midwest, and with psychology and exercise in California!

Repeated surgery for pain in the same or related areas of the body rapidly becomes ineffective, as the functional disturbance contributes more to the continued pain than the anatomical damage. Edited by tdpriest
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Well, not to rain on your parade, but as specialist in chronic pain I see a fair number of repairs that remain painful, and a fair number of supraspinatus injuries that do well with physiotherapy and pain-killers. Rehabilitation with good physiotherapy and good perioperative analgesia could easily be as important as your surgeon in preventing long-term and intractable shoulder pain.

 

I've noticed that there's a tendency to treat musculoskeletal pain with analgesics and injections on the East coast of the USA, with surgery in the Midwest, and with psychology and exercise in California!

 

Repeated surgery for pain in the same or related areas of the body rapidly becomes ineffective, as the functional disturbance contributes more to the continued pain than the anatomical damage.

Thanks for the response. I have been getting cook book advice from many professionals about my shoulder since I was 16 (original injury). on one has really evaluated me and treated me.

 

I'm not as concerned about pain as loss of function. Back in the day, I could do 100 pushups, Before my cervical fusion I could do 10, 1.5 yrs after the fusion, I can do one. Yup, messes with my head a bit. But I'm only 55, a mere baby and can no longer cast a fly rod. I can no longer ice climb and do mountaineering … So, my plan is to fix the shoulder and fish and climb some more .. or move to a spot where I can slip into the water and get some relief. No sense in being in AK year round if I'm hanging inside for 6 months a year.

 

Hence the query of finding a warm, inexpensive spot to recuperate and eventually hole up all winter ...

Edited by WanderingBob

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OK Guys. Thanks so much. I was being WAY TOO optimistic and was hoping to utilize time off of work to play and get in some serious diving.

 

The doctor was able to reattach long head of bicep (100% detached)), Reattached and repair supraspinatus (20% left, prior), Unable to attach supbscap, (but probably won't miss it) and reattach SLAP tear (50% detached). What does this mean … IF I'M SMART … I'll probably have a fairly normal functioning shoulder for the next 15 years or so. Pretty exciting since I did this when I was 16 and have no idea what normal is.

 

I am 3 weeks out of surgery and will not be working for several months so I'll still take a trip to Thailand. I've been cleared to snorkel if I can rig up a waterproof sling to stabilize and abduct elbow. I'll figure it out. Mainly, though, I'll play tourist, do some cheap exploratory tours and maybe take a sailing trip involving snorkeling,

 

DiverDoug1 "interscalene nerve block for immediate post-op pain control. " OMG, that was the bomb! For the first time in my adult life, my upper traps and scalene muscle were not in spasm for a week! Neither my neck nor shoulder hurt. Highly recommended!

 

 

Thanks for all the input, maybe I'll get in some diving soon! Off to Thailand in 2 weeks with no U/W kit nor dive gear. Probably gonna be the easiest trip I'll ever make.

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Just a follow up.

 

Rather than sitting on the beach crying about no diving, I ended up doing 3 back to back tours with G Adventures (formerly GAP). I toured from Singapore through Malaysia to Bangkok (BKK). Then from BKK through Northern Thailand and back to BKK where I picked up the last tour through Southern Thailand.

 

I had no idea about the diving out of Krabi or Phuket b/c that was not my focus. Eventually, I ended up in Koa Tao for the last 2 weeks. The first day I went on a snorkeling tour around the Island and was not impressed. I found a small operator called Goodtime Adventures and they catered to my needs.

 

I did some amazing, but easy diving with only a GroPro Hero in tow. The Gulf of Thailand does not offer that much in the way of advanced diving, but I was able to go to Sail Rock, Chumphon Marine Park, Chumphon Pinnacles, Southwest Pinnacles and some dives around the "other side" of Koa Tao. I wore my sling until time to dive and I got in the water, they dropped in my gear, I put it on and off we went. Reversed the process at the end of the dive and never had to carry a tank. There was never a rough day that made me question whether I should go or not and although the visibility can be poor at times, I was rewarded with amazing viz and great dives in a semi- controlled environment. I never once felt like I put my shoulder at risk.

 

Now finally at 4 months out, I am allowed to start increasing range of motion and hope to start strength training in another week. I'm excited as I feel I have a great repair and look forward to using my right shoulder as it was intended for the first time in over 40 yrs.

 

Thanks for all your input. Now will have to go back and check out Phi Phi, Similans and Phuket as dive locales.

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