Lifespan Orthopedics Institute
The Most Comprehensive Orthopedic Care in the Region

Sarah Sullivan

A Lifetime of Pain - Finally Healed

For years Sarah Sullivan dealt with on-and-off pain in her right shoulder. Over time, simple things like sewing, using a computer mouse and playing video games with her husband and children became unbearable. The radiating pain would travel from her shoulder and down into her arm, making everyday activities nearly impossible. However, it would take many years to determine the bones in her shoulder never properly fused during childhood, causing a lifetime of rubbing and tension on her shoulder, thus putting a constant strain on her rotator cuff. 

Sarah Sullivan
Sarah Sullivan is back on duty at Newport Hospital, after having her rotator cuff and surrounding tendons repaired.

One night in January 2019 after finishing her shift at Newport Hospital, Sarah returned home from work and was startled by her son. 

“My son loves to scare me, so one night when I came home from work he jumped out to frighten me. I tensed and then immediately felt a sharp pain run down the entire length of my arm,” Sarah said. “It was like my arm was hanging on by a thread and the last thread had just snapped.” 

“Before my surgery people would tell me how tough it was going to be. But the pain after was never as bad as the pain before." -- Sarah Sullivan

She didn’t know it at the time, but she had torn her rotator cuff—the tendon that runs over the shoulder bone.

“The pain was so intense. My poor son didn’t know what to do. I was in complete agony,” Sarah remembers.

Because her shoulder had been causing her so much pain prior to that night, Sarah had sought alternative therapies—like trying cortisone shots to help give her some relief. So, by the time she met orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ross Budacki, she learned that, unfortunately, surgery wasn’t an immediate option for her. 

“Once you have a cortisone shot they can’t perform surgery for three months. But Dr. Budacki was amazing. I met with him and he told me that I’d be as good as new once I was through the surgery. It wasn’t easy to believe at the time, but he had a way of calming me. He was direct, but extremely optimistic.”

A Quick Comeback to Favorite Activities

In May 2019 Sarah had surgery to completely repair her rotator cuff, as well as the surrounding tendons— a secondary issue that wasn’t discovered until she was in the operating room. Within a day Sarah was home and resting more comfortably than she had in all the time leading up to the surgery.

Within three months Sarah regained her normal range of motion. Within eight months she was back to the activities she loved —sewing, gaming, and spending quality time with her family—pain free. 

“Before my surgery people would tell me how tough it was going to be,” she recalls. “But the pain after was never as bad as the pain before. I credit Dr. Budacki for his meticulous work for how quickly I was able to recover.”

Now, Sarah is back to her normal routine — and using her arm without any issues or pain. 

“Initially the situation was very overwhelming because there was so much I couldn’t do without the use of my arm. But Dr. Budacki was right, I’m as good as new. I feel great.”

Learn more about orthopedic care at Lifespan