Mike Powers
News-Bulletin sports writer

Almost game day 

It’s almost game day, less than 24 hours away. Am I nervous? Heck yeah. Plenty of butterflies, just like in high school before a big game against the Miles City Cowboys or Glasgow Scotties. No question my team is ready, but am I?  

The clock is ticking toward tipoff or kickoff or whatever sports metaphor that fits. It’s almost time for the bright lights. The bright lights of the operating room.  

Tomorrow, the Wednesday before Christmas, a doctor and his team will perform surgery on my right shoulder. It was shattered by a fall on an icy sidewalk almost exactly eight years ago in Rapid City, S.D.   

Two surgeries immediately followed, leaving me with a partial shoulder replacement. In x-rays, the replacement appeared to look like PVC pipe, something a plumber might use.  

I was also left with nagging pain and something of a disability. The slang term, as I learned, is called “frozen shoulder,” a sadly all-too perfect description. The damage left me unable to lift my right arm above my head or behind my back.  

Combing hair, shaving, putting on a hoodie, reaching for a can of beans or signaling a three-pointer are all major challenges. Just call me “lefty.” So, despite my apprehension and nerves, I want to do this. Take a deep breath, big fella. Be brave.   

Game day 

My wife, Patty, and I arrive at the hospital for check-in at 6 a.m. as scheduled. Smooth. Some 45 minutes later in pre-op, a nurse is asking a list of mostly basic questions: name, date of birth, allergies and so on. One inquiry was startling. 

“In the unlikely event you go into cardiac arrest, do you want to be resuscitated?” The response was a quick “yes,” but then I added, “Maybe you should check with my wife first.” I’ve still got it.  

Doc and the staff checked in with a quick recap about our previously-discussed expectations: “Improved range of motion and less pain,” adding that any miracle recovery such as a return to the golf course or my three-point shooting prowess should not be expected. Patty could see my disappointment.    

The anesthesiologist was next, placing a large needle into my right arm. It would be a lie to say it didn’t hurt like heck. My muffled wailing could not have been a comfort to other patients behind nearby curtains.    

Amazingly, the path of the painkiller dripping inside the shoulder could dramatically be followed on a black-and-white monitor. It was like viewing a sonogram of a baby. “I wonder if it’s a boy or girl,” I enquired of the anesthesiologist. Judging by his response, it wasn’t the first time hearing that wisecrack.   

Here we go. After a quick kiss from Patty, the gurney was on the move, down the hall, a right turn and into the operating room. Before you could say good night and good luck, I was out.  


Back in recovery, my eyes open. I’m feeling OK. The operation took about two hours, but how did it go? The doctor was already back in another surgery, but Patty was updated while I was still groggy.  

In short, all went fine but the bone was too brittle around the original replacement to do anything extensive. Plan A was not an option.  

Several weeks later, doc said the shoulder before surgery was more immobile than any they had seen.   

Soon, I was released from the hospital and back home, armed with a pillow sling and a list of to-dos and don’ts.   

The mission over the next days and weeks is to stay away from any possible setbacks, including infection. Having been through two shoulder surgeries of her own, Patty was an excellent nurse and sounding board.   

That first night home, I awoke about 4 a.m., not so much from the pain but from worry. Lots of negative thoughts, mostly about whether it was worth it. It was a little “pity party.”   

During that “woe is me” session, I received a mystifying kick in the pants. “Get over it,” was the signal sent from somewhere, from someone. Mom, Dad, is that you?  

The message was clear. It is time to move forward, surrounded by light, not darkness. This game isn’t over. It’s only halftime. In my playing days, if we were trailing at halftime I never, ever, thought we were going to lose. Why now?  


Not that it will be easy. There is a lot to overcome. Perhaps overtime is in the offing? A big next step is physical therapy. I am looking forward to it, with some trepidation, but mostly enthusiasm.  

So, get out there and get it done. Ready? Let’s go. 

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.