My grandfather is one of the reasons why I pursued shoulder surgery. In addition to being someone who helped instill in me a solid work ethic via my father, he was also the example of someone who required expertise and a special skill set when it came to his shoulder problems.
He has always been a very active man. He is one of those people that seems to know how to do everything. Even if he didn't, he wasn't going to let anyone know that. As a child, I remember that he was always busy with projects and work that he and his family were typically the labor force. When he wasn't working, he was spearfishing, pole fishing, or going on adventures in Baja California.
A kink was thrown in the works when he had his right shoulder replaced while living in Long Beach, CA. It was never quite right. Admittedly, he did more than someone with a total shoulder should do, but that's just being a Kummerfeld. Even though things weren't great with his shoulder, he pushed through it. Again, that's just being a Kummerfeld. He eventually gave in and was referred to John Itamura, a shoulder and elbow specialist at USC at the time. He had an initial surgery revising the total shoulder that functioned well for several years, but became clear that something hadn't been right from the start. It turned out that he had a latent infection, likely from the very beginning, that caused things never to feel quite right. He one surgery to clear the infection and one more to reconstruct his shoulder with a bone graft and reverse total shoulder.
Meeting Dr. Itamura was the best thing that happened to my grandpa's shoulder and was pretty fortunate for me too. As a result of what transpired, I was able to meet with Dr. Itamura in San Francisco in 2012 at the Academy of Orthopedic Surgery meeting and interview for his fellowship. I was accepted and spent August of 2013-July 2014 learning how to manage problems just like my grandpa's shoulder. I can say with certainty that I wouldn't be the man I am without my grandfather and I wouldn't be the surgeon that I am without the tutelage of John Itamura. It was a fun, grueling, tiring, exciting and transformative year. Thanks to that experience, I can bring that knowledge and insight back to the people of East Texas to care for their shoulder and elbow ailments.
I have been in Tyler a year and 2 months, finally finished with a rigorous medical training in Orthopedic Surgery and shoulder and elbow fellowship training. Tyler is definitely different than Los Angeles, but mostly good ways. I am biased being Texan, born and raised, spending my formative years in Tyler where my family settled after my father finished his cardiology training and became the third heart specialist in Tyler in 1984. It's great to be back in town, practicing my craft, and most importantly helping people feel better.
My time in Los Angeles was invaluable. My mentor, John Itamura, is a great teacher and a great man. He holds a special place in our family as my grandfather's shoulder surgeon, my mentor and a friend to my girls. He taught me the finer points of shoulder surgery, including things I thought I may never need to know. It turns out East Texas has its own surprises. I've needed just about every tool in my first year that he equipped me with during that year of specialty training. From being proficient in simple shoulder and elbow arthroscopy to complex revision replacement surgeries, rare muscle transfers about the shoulder and even shoulder fusions, I've seen it all here in my hometown. I'm so thankful the Dr. Itamura and God's Providence in preparing me for what East Texas has had to offer.
I am also fortunate that I am surrounded by specialists in my own group. As a young orthopedist, I see everything and can treat most things. At Azalea Orthopedics, I have the luxury of being able to refer to a number of partners that specialize in just about every joint in the body.
I am blessed to be able to care for people's shoulder and elbow needs, blessed by my community and family and very happy to be back home doing what I have a passion for. I tell my girls all of the time that whatever they do, they should strive to be excellent. That is my goal in all areas of my life but especially caring for those that entrust themselves to me. I have been trained in excellence and intend to practice excellence.