Korey's TOS Rib Removal Surgery

TOS - Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

As many of you know, I am a professional guitarist and guitar instructor, and the sole provider of a wife, four beautiful children - with a fifth on the way.  I have been struggling for over 8 years with dibilitating pain.  An extra cervical rib has stunted and nearly ended my playing career, and has provented me from participating fully as a father and husband.  It has left me a weakened state where even doing simple things are difficult and cause pain.  The condition is called TOS - Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.Around 2009, I started experiencing lots of shooting pain in my right wrist.  It would travel up my arm, and leave a baseball size lump of inflammation in my pectoral muscle and armpit.  Soon it would travel up my neck and go numb to my ear.  

Before too long, it was constant, 24 hours a day.

This was around the time we bacame pregnant with our first child Charlotte - and from the beginning, I wasn't able to even hold her for long periods of time without discomfort.  

My playing began to disintegrate.  My once effortless movements became labored, and I started doubting every note I played.  "Will this next move hurt?" was always at the front of my mind.  

Everything I did was to avoid pain.  Sleeping different, I couldn't help my wife with simple chores, I was a wreck and became deeply depressed.  My playing fell apart, and I felt hopeless.

Even with the pain, I continued to play around 150 performances a year, teach 40+ students a week and wince through the usual hours of daily guitar practice.

After seeing many doctors and specialists, we were able to rule out the usual RSI's and I was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in 2011.  

Basically, I was born with a extra cervical rib (see below)
This gave me some hope, because now I knew what was wrong.  Unfortunately, we were not in the financial place where I could do anything about it and we decided to hold off.  In addition, we learned that removing the rib was an extremely rare and could possibly result in not fixing the problem, along with the risk of never playing again.

Since 2011, I have limped along with herbal supplements for inflammation, acupuncture, massage, sleeping different, completely relearning my right hand guitar technique for less tension, waaaay to many naps, adjusting my diet, and basically not using my right arm for anything unless it was required by my job, playing guitar.

I've said "Daddy can't play right now, he has to rest his arm" thousands of times to my kids.

I haven't had the pleasure of 'rough-housing' with my children.  I haven't sat in a couch in 8 years, or slept on my side or front. Even sitting in my wife's car will make me go numb for some reason.  Forget opening a jar or turning a doorknob!  My stamina with handwriting is about one page before my thumb goes numb.  Oh, and those of you who text me will know - I only use Siri voice recognition because texting hurts.

Starting in the Spring of '17, we said enough is enough and started the process of rib-removal surgery.  We found out that we were pregnant again, and with the baby due in December of 2017, we both knew that it would be difficult for Andrea to take care of five children and a ever-worsening husband by herself.  

My surgery will be performed by 2 different doctors, who will remove my cervical rib and possibly my first rib to let my Brachial Plexus move properly.  They will remove some muscles, repair some nerves and remove scar tissue.  They will also cut into my right wrist to release the pressure there.

My surgery was originally scheduled for October 20th - but has now been rescheduled for NEXT FRIDAY September 29th.  

This is a rare and invasive surgery.  However, I have every confidence that it will go well.

The surgery will take about five hours.

I will be in ICU for up to five days.

I will be unable to do much of anything for up to two weeks afterwards.

Because it is a rare sugery, the recovery time estimate is anywhere from two weeks to a year.

Which brings us to today and the need for the GoFundMe.

As the sole provider of a family of seven , I may return to teaching within a few weeks, but only in limited capacity.
I will not be able to use my right arm for playing for a month or two, and full recovery to performance ready state could take up to six months or more.

I will basically have to relearn my whole right hand technique from the ground up to avoid re-injury. This will also incude physical therapy and pain management.

Because the surgery has been rescheduled for next week, rather than next month, my family will need funds ASAP. 

I am shooting for $20,000 as a conservative amount to help with bills, rent, student loans, and medical expenses for the next three months. My teaching and playing in bands are contractor jobs. I have no paid timed off or disability insurance.

Multiple doctors and have told me this is the ONLY way I could potentially return to a normal life, and reach my full potential as a husband, father, and musician.

Again, I stress the urgency of the matter as we were blindsided by the change in the surgery date to next week.

Thank you all so much for your support and prayers! God bless you all.
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Korey Hicks 
McKinney, TX
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