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Nancy, shoulder replacement patient

nancy heffernan, full body, happily walking her dogs

I was born in California and lived all over the West. When my husband and I moved to Bristol, we liked it and decided to stay. I’ve been here for 44 years now.

I have always been active. When my husband was alive, we hiked and camped and mountain climbed. I used to rappel, too. Living in Colorado, we did a lot of that. I also snow skied and water skied. I’m not sure how I first hurt my shoulders. They started bothering me in the late 80s and early 90s, which doesn’t seem that long ago to me.

I ended up having three rotator cuff repairs on my left shoulder. Turns out I was allergic to the sutures they were using. Years later, I was at the senior center doing step aerobics and I fell off the step onto my shoulder. I knew when I landed that would be the end of it. My right arm was worthless after that. I couldn’t move or lift anything with it.

Someone recommended Dr. Jonathan Clark, an orthopedic surgeon at Bristol Regional Medical Center. He talked to me about having shoulder replacement surgery. That was two years ago in February. I started physical therapy and experienced some pain with that. But nothing like before surgery.

I started physical therapy and experienced some pain with that. But nothing like before surgery.

Even now, it sometimes gets stiff and I know I have to do more exercises and strengthen more. I do a lot of workouts at the Slater Center – every day of the week. Some days I do two or three classes. I think it helps me move and really makes a difference.

What’s important is I can still do my volunteer work and walk my dogs. I have two dogs. Pearl is a 6-year-old German shepherd. Isabella is a 13-year-old mutt. I walk them every day, even after workouts. They really love their walks, as I do. Isabella can really pull on her leash, but my shoulder stays strong.

Isabella can really pull on her leash, but my shoulder stays strong.

Having a shoulder replacement has, to Nancy’s surprise, changed her life for the better and now she can enjoy all her activities again and stay on the move.


Is shoulder replacement for you?

If you think surgery might help you get moving again – like it did for Matt – learn more about shoulder surgery at Ballad Health.