Normally, Jeffrey's friends chide him for being so safety-cautious, but one momentary lapse in judgment proved he should have been paying even better attention. Backcountry skiing with friends, Jeffrey turned to talk with someone and not realizing his binding wasn’t clicked in, he took a really bad fall. His shoulder was in severe pain, “I knew it was bad, I could hear a grinding sound in my shoulder,” recalls the well-known Breckenridge Town Council member, who also moonlights as a TV host and newspaper columnist.
After managing to ski down the mountain, Jeffrey went to see his regular physician who took an x-ray and told him to see Dr. Paul Abbott - an orthopaedic surgeon with VSO who specializes in shoulder problems - right away. “He told me not only was Dr. Abbott the best in the area, but possibly the best surgeon in the country for this particular injury.” Jeffrey called a physician friend out of Salt Lake City who confirmed Dr. Abbott was the best choice.
Less than three hours later, Jeffrey was in Dr. Abbott’s office looking at the MRI which showed a comminuted displaced glenoid fracture; Jeffrey had broken the shallow socket of his shoulder blade, where the head of his upper arm bone rest. As someone who lives to recreate, the extremely fit 56-year old says his options were fairly limited. “Either live a life of inactivity or have surgery; it was a pretty simple decision,” recalls Jeffrey.
Two days later, Jeffrey was in surgery where Dr. Abbott repaired the fracture using screws to hold the bone together. Although disheartened by how long the recovery was expected to take and how painful the injury was, Jeffrey says Dr. Abbott took the time to walk him through everything he could expect. “It was prophetic how ‘right-on’ he was with the whole timeline. He has so much experience to draw upon, he doesn’t have to go by the book,” says Jeffrey.
As a surgeon, Dr. Abbott believes his most important job is to educate his patients about their problem: What it is, how they got it, how to get rid of it, and how to keep it from coming back. He prides himself on how often he can prevent surgery by the use of physical therapy, judicious use of medicines, and alternative medicine. He looks at surgery as a last resort. If surgery is necessary, however, he possesses excellent skills and has pioneered arthroscopy techniques.
To speed up his recovery, Jeffrey went to physical therapy, had acupuncture and continued his work-out regimen at the gym 3-4 days a week. Today, he is back to skiing, mountain biking, doing everything he loves to do. “My injured shoulder is now definitely the better of the two.”
“The thing I love most about Vail-Summit Ortho is they don’t over-schedule their patients,” says Jeffrey. “I started to feel bad about how much time Dr. Abbott was spending with me during my follow-up appointments. He would ask me over and over again if I had any more questions. I ended up buying him a book because he took so much time with me.”