Facing Surgery & Lengthy Recovery for SLAP Tear

Left superior labral tear extending along the posterior superior quadrant.”

I am facing surgery and a lengthy recovery time for a SLAP Tear – and I need your help.

As you likely know, I own PhoenixFire Designs where I make handmade-from-scratch jewelry, including my signature wire wrapped tree of life pendants since 2006. You might not realize I’ve actually been making jewelry a lot longer than that – all the way since 2001!

In 2011, I made the leap and decided to run PhoenixFire Designs full time. My online storefront + the couple dozen in person art & craft shows I do a year make up 100% of my income.

But making jewelry has taken a toll on my body.

Last Fall, I started having extreme pain and weakness in my left shoulder and arm. It went on for months and finally May of this year, I went to an orthopedic doctor. Initially, he felt it was a repetitive stress injury; rotator cuff tendinitis and shoulder impingement. He sent me off for physical therapy.

script for physical therapy on my left shoulder

script for physical therapy on my left shoulder

I worked hard for 8 weeks; 2x/week with my therapist and continued work at home as well. But it only gave me a small bit of relief. It was time for further testing.

I had an MRI Arthrogram – a very uncomfortable experience I blogged about on my personal blog – and got the results I dreaded: SLAP Tear. Specifically, “Left superior labral tear extending along the posterior superior quadrant.”

Left superior labral tear extending along the posterior superior quadrant.”

Left superior labral tear extending along the posterior superior quadrant.”

Radiology report from my mri arthrogram. Findings? Left superior labral tear extending along the posterior superior quadrant.

Radiology report from my mri arthrogram. Findings? Left superior labral tear extending along the posterior superior quadrant.

I’ve already had a cortisone shot as well as physical therapy. Surgery to repair it is my next step.

SLAP tear surgery is a difficult and extremely life altering recovery. Overnight, I will essentially be one-armed. I will be in a sling 100% immobilized for between 3-6 weeks. It will be a minimum of 3 months (to as much as 6 months) of down time. I won’t be able to drive, I won’t be able to work, I won’t be able to use my arm in any capacity.

The problem is that I work for myself. If I cannot make jewelry or physically participate as a vendor in shows, I have zero income. A minimum of three months without income is impossible for me to survive on my own.

While I DO have health insurance, actual surgery costs are only one tiny part of the entire process.

There are also a host of things I will need for the recovery – ranging from a recliner to sleep in, to little things like front closing bras – all of which is also going to have to come from savings I don’t currently have. (I have a surgery amazon wishlist I’m compiling here.)

So, on the recommendation of my friends and family, I am starting Go Fund Me to help raise money so I can have my surgery so I can get better and stop being in pain all the time. It currently vastly limits me and I’m just so tired of hurting. As terrifying as surgery sounds, being in pain forever sounds worse.

Anything you can do to help boost the signal – share my shop link, share my facebook page, get a jump start on your holiday shopping by putting in an order now, getting items from my surgery wishlist, or sharing my gofundme link, or even donating to my gofundme – all of it is so greatly appreciated.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and PhoenixFire Designs these past 16 years. With a little help and a little luck, hopefully, I can have another 16 successful years too.

My po box for mailing purposes.


Ever since being in the ER, I’ve had a whirlwind of emotions; fear, anxiety, anger, resentment but also gratitude, thankfulness, amazement and wonderment. With the exclusion of a very limited few who showed their ugly, inner true colors, almost universally, I’ve received the most positive support. Friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers have been so generous with their support both vocally and financially.

Between donations of money or craft items to sell and other aide like links and awareness of my cause, I’ve kept my head above water these past few months. I was able to pay almost a thousand dollars in doctor bills before my insurance kicked in and since it has, have been able to pay my premiums and start putting a dent towards that deductible as well. I went from a situation that was impossible – raising money when down an income! – to one that, with help, has been kept not only alive, but truly thriving.

Today I was the recipient of another amazing blessing. A substantial donation putting me within arm’s reach of my immediate total surgery goal. (The breakdown is: $588 due to my doctor, $1,000 deductible and $948 for a minimum 4 months premium or total of $2536 bare minimum to raise.) I don’t know if this person wants to be named, but I wanted to publicly acknowledge their kindness. $1,000 was gifted to my fund today and brings my actual cash-in-hand total to an amazing $1,933!

Where government resources and supposed charity and assistance programs have utterly failed me and totally left me between the cracks, the kindness of a dedicated group of individuals has gotten me leaps and bounds closer then I ever thought possible. It’s because of each and every one of you that I’m still here, still fighting and still able to keep striving towards my goal. And ultimately, when this is all over and done with, my health and my ability to move on with my life better then before will also be because of all of you and your care, support, kindness and generosity.

It’s all too easy to think the worst of people and to look at the problems of the world and believe that everyone just sucks. But let me assure you there is still goodness in the hearts of many. There is kindness in the world and there are still people who care. I’ve been truly blessed with getting to experience this first hand.

The battle is not yet won and some days it feels like I will never be done with this, but I know we’re getting ever closer and in truth, it will be here sooner then it seems. And again, it’s only because of you – all of you who have supported me – that I am where I am.

I won’t lie, many days the whole thing still scares me and facing surgery is not easy. But knowing that I have such a solid support system in place and so many people behind me, really does make it a little easier to bear.

So thank you to everyone for helping me get this far. We’re getting so close now and days like this remind me that all things truly are possible – with a little bit of kindness.