My name is Alex Ruder, and I have been very active in sports for nearly most of my life until my shoulder began to hurt. What I initially thought would go away with rest ended up being a seven-year ordeal. This is the story. Just after I turned 21, my shoulder started to hurt. I played tennis often, lifted weights, and formerly played football. I thought the pain was related to sports, so I took time off. But the pain only became worse. It was sharp, constant, located just beneath where the collar bone meets the shoulder blade on top of my shoulder.
Finally, after months of rest I visited an orthopedic doctor. I was told to rest, go to physical therapy, and then try an injection. None of these things brought relief. Eventually I moved on to another doctor. Over the next five years I visited five different doctors, and no one provided solutions. Naturally, I was frustrated. I was in constant pain. I could no longer work out. In fact, in two short years I went from 210 lbs. of muscle to just over 170 lbs. I became thin. No doctors seemed able to help me.
Then a doctor at a reputable hospital decided to operate on my shoulder. Strangely, the surgery made my pain worse. The doctor told me to rest, get an injection, and that the pain would go away. After several months I went to another doctor at a reputable hospital. This doctor operated again, and once again, instead of helping the pain, it became excruciating. I could not sleep. I could not work, study for my college courses or participate in any activities.
Then everything changed. When I went to see yet another orthopedic surgeon—a physician at Notre Dame—he actually referred me to Doctor Cole. I was immediately impressed with Dr. Cole’s attitude—his priority was fixing my shoulder but carefully explained the potential risks and anticipated outcome. I could tell he took me seriously, which was important, because I felt like all the previous doctors did not take my problem seriously.
The subsequent shoulder surgery was intense, as was the long recovery. But I healed 100%, and now after seven years of shoulder problems I am active. I play squash regularly, and I lift weights daily. My weight is back up to 190 lbs. I am healed.
My advice to anyone suffering similar long-term pain and getting no answers from your doctors: find the right doctor. If I had not found Dr. Cole, I am convinced I would still be in pain.