Cellphone reception can be sketchy where Sandy Main lives. That doesn’t bother her much.

“I am an outdoor farm girl. I’ve always had an outdoor life,” she said.

Sandy raises animals on land in the Greene County community of Hillview. She has goats, chickens, turkeys and horses, and raises Australian shepherd dogs. Sandy’s not sure how many animals she has, except the chickens. They come to 150.

“My mom and dad always had animals. It’s born and bred in me,” Sandy exclaimed.

Besides sometimes weak cellphone reception, she has paid a price for her dream lifestyle. Sandy has torn the rotator cuff in her right arm three times since 2014.

“I’m packing buckets of feed. Unloading hay. We have a wood stove so we need wood for the winter,” she states.

The rotator cuff covers the head of the humerus, the bone between the shoulder and elbow, attaching it to the shoulder blade. It is made up of four tendons that keep the humerus centered in the shoulder socket. When the rotator cuff is damaged, it hurts.

“I could not pick up items and hold on to them,” Sandy recalled. “I could only move my arm so far before feeling extreme pain. And it was tough to sleep because laying certain ways made my arm hurt.”

Good thing Sandy found an orthopedic surgeon she likes, Dr. Darr Leutz of Blessing Physician Services. Dr. Leutz sees patients in Quincy and Pittsfield. But Sandy met him after her first rotator cuff tear seven years ago, before he joined Blessing and practiced in Jacksonville, Illinois.

“Dr. Leutz has always been a straight-shooter,” she said. “He doesn’t use words I don’t understand. He’s always just told me like it is.”

“He’ll tell me I am doing things I shouldn’t be doing,” she continued. “Lifting is probably the worst thing. Lifting things I shouldn’t be lifting. I understand that. I tell him just like it is. He knows more about farm girls than other doctors.”

“You cannot stop them from doing what they have to do,” Dr. Leutz says of his patients who farm. “Some people can take 4-to-6 weeks off. But when you are a farmer, like the Bible says, when your cow gets in the ditch you’ve got to get your cow out of the ditch.”

Sandy’s third trip to see Dr. Leutz came during 2021. By that time he had joined Blessing Physician Services and was seeing patients at Illini Community Hospital. Sandy became the first patient to undergo shoulder arthroscopy at the hospital.

During shoulder arthroscopy, the surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the patient’s shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a video monitor. The surgeon uses the images to guide small surgical instruments inserted through equally small incisions to repair the damage, resulting in less pain and shorter recovery time.

For Sandy’s third rotator cuff repair, Dr. Leutz used the “double row” technique, anchoring the rotator cuff at six different points and attaching it to the humerus.

“A double row repair has been shown to be a very strong way of holding the rotator cuff back down to the bone when the demand is high or the cuff tear is large,” said Dr. Leutz.

Sandy was grateful to be able to have her surgery done at Illini Community Hospital.

“Anytime anyone has ever been hurt, or my husband has needed anything, we’ve always gone to Illini,” Sandy explained. “They are always first rate. Everyone is extremely kind and a lot more caring there. Illini works really hard to make sure they take care of all your health needs.”

Speaking of Sandy’s husband - a heavy equipment operator - when he tore his rotator cuff, guess who fixed it and where? That’s right. Dr. Leutz at Illini Community Hospital.