In 2006 I was fortunate enough to do a 6-month fellowship with Charles Rockwood in San Antonio. When I had been there less than a week, I received a call from him telling me that that Sunday was Father's Day and it was not right for me to be alone, he invited me to have dinner at his house with his family. I think this is one of the most impressive aspects of Charles Rockwood.
Also, during the first week -almost always everything happens in the first week- he took me to the operating room and told me that he had asked Michael Wirth to help him because it was a very difficult case…It was a primary surgery for avascular necrosis and he planned to do a hemiarthroplasty. It took me a long time to realize how difficult this type of surgery was, especially if you wanted the result to be the one he achieved! On the way to the operating room, he asked me how many cuff surgeries I did in a month. I told him I did one every month… and he answered that I was doing far too much cuff surgery (even though I never told him about what he called “the devil’s tool” arthroscopy!)
His office was in an annex building of the hospital, a prefabricated building, without too many luxuries, but it was a place where you could easily find him, and he was always willing to help.
It was quite common to see in his office how he wrote letters to the doctors who had performed surgeries that he considered inappropriate to a patient, asking them for explanations of why they had performed that surgeries. He always tried to keep a scientific honesty with the patient.
He was born in Oklahoma, as Charles Neer did, and he was also Charles Neer´s first shoulder fellow. Almost every shoulder surgeon in the world remembers him primarily for his name written on the spine of a great book they have too little consulted, and for being a “hemis” protector in a world of “totals”. It is always easier for us to stereotype than to try to transcend, I hope you forgive us for that.
I imagine that the big bell this time caught you by surprise or you just let it do...
I truly believe it has been lucky to have you in some way with us for so long. Thank you, Dr Rockwood.