Rotator cuff…surgery…..

cat games


I’d like to hide too, MaChatte, but your body makes some of your rules.  I’ve had a really bad shoulder for a while now, have to baby it when reaching out or up.  (Washing windows, hanging curtains, doing some other things including some garden work brings on several days of pain.)  I had it checked out a couple years ago by xray and it was determined to be arthritis in the shoulder joint.  My family doc always says getting old is not for the faint of heart.  He’s 2 years younger than me, and he’s so right. And it was getting worse, so, time to go see my favorite orthopedic guy.  I got to know the man and his skill at surgery and surgical reputation,  and also his general, very nice manner, when I was working and took two of my clients to him for successful ACL knee surgeries. (One involved cadaver tissue, and I had to explain to the client what that was… wasn’t a real good day for the guy.)

My family doc had me get an xray and the orthopedic doc looked at that, and said he can go in and clean that joint up for me, arthroscopically, thank heavens; four small cuts, not one big one filleting my shoulder.  Then he said, let’s get an MRI just to be sure we know what we’re looking at in there.  I had told him it sometimes feels like an ice pick going thru my shoulder, and he said he can remove that ice pick for me.  I really like this guy.

Closed MRI, 30 minutes, plus 20 minutes more in different positions, and all of those hurt, but we needed the test.  I’m not claustrophobic but I’ve heard horror stories from people who are, stories about screams that can be heard out in the parking lot. Something about: let me OUT.  I’m glad not to be claustrophobic.  Then back to the orthopedic doc to talk about the results.

Well, he said, now it gets complicated, cos there is arthritis, which we knew, and a rotator cuff tear, which we didn’t.  And, this is a much different kind of surgery and I won’t be allowed to drive for 4-6 weeks.  Do I still like the guy?  Well yea, cos I need to be realistic, and I do still like him.  He’s the guy who can fix me up. But he has to write in my medical record that I’m required not to drive after this surgery, keeping the joint immobilized 4-6 weeks while the internal sutures heal the tear.

Immobilized means never using that set of muscles and tendons to move the arm, so you get fitted for a sling.  Now to me, a sling is a bandanna tied in a triangle and put around your neck, with your arm in it. (Good old first aid courses…) But no, a sling to immobilize the shoulder joint also goes around your waist and your elbow is attached to it at the waist, so all the movement you can do with the sling on is movement from your wrist.  (It looks to me like it might be more appropriately called a harness, like maybe a leash should be attached, or, does anybody remember corsets? I have to laugh a little here, cos laughing always  makes things better, I think.)  You wear the sling 24/7 for the 4-6 weeks except in the shower. (And when it’s off to shower, you must still remember to imagine your elbow is attached to your waist, or risk tearing internal stitches.) You  know how you use both hands to wash your hair?  Well not anymore you don’t.

I’ve been practicing things using only one hand plus small movements of the other hand at waist level. It’s really going to take some getting used to.  Thinking of all the things I do two-handed and then imagining (for now) duct taping my elbow to my side.  One of the only good things about it, and I have to look for the good things, is it’s not my dominant hand.  And, after the sling is off, and then several months of PT to strengthen the shoulder muscles, there will only be a few  limitations for the several months after that. Hmm, yea I  need to see some good things, and having it done in the depth of the winter, when I like to hibernate anyway, is one. (Having retired a year ago and giving myself the ability to hibernate, priceless!) Having a good surgeon to do it right is the real big one.  Planning to be able to do most of my garden work in the spring is one. Knowing ahead of surgery that this is more difficult, has so many limitations after, and not being surprised with a new set of life rules after waking up from anesthesia is really  also a big one. That would have been a real shocker, and this way I got to do a lot of planning ahead for some things to make this all a little easier.

He said 4-6 weeks.  I asked what the distinction between 4 and 6 weeks is.  He said it will depend on how the surgery actually goes once he gets in there, and how well I behave myself during the first couple weeks of the healing.  Oh doc, I intend to behave myself very well, to get this all over with as quickly as possible.  It’s still January now and not driving will be a real pain, and needing to make all these daily activity adjustments will be a real pain, but  having the shoulder pain mostly gone by late spring is…….the ability to grow stuff!  My best time of every year.

More later, including how my attitude holds up, and how much my language deteriorates, lol.  Surgery is scheduled for the end of January.

heirloom veggies


15 responses to “Rotator cuff…surgery…..

  1. Sorry that you have to have this surgery but I do hope that you have the fastest recovery 🙂

  2. So sorry to read this but hey, I’m sure they can ‘fix’ your problem. Wishing you all the best, my dear friend. We will be thinking of you and sending you positive vibes and careful hugs from Mr. Bowie!

    • Aww, that’s so nice Herman, thank you. There will be so many things I can’t do with the sling on, but I will be able to type if I position myself right in the chair. I might have gone crazy if I found out I couldn’t communicate on line in different ways. I’ll be writing more about it after the surgery and saying how it’s going. A Mr. Bowie hug, aww. 🙂

  3. It was hard to click like on this post! I’m also very sorry to read this. Having problems with my right shoulder I can relate and know that the pain is really no fun at all. I was thinking as I was reading your post that the bright spot in all of this is you should be all better by spring! You take care and please keep us posted on how you are doing. xo

    • Thanks Jackie. This cold doesn’t help with bad joints either, and it’s 6 this morning. I’ll be writing a few time to say how it’s going. I have to be able to see good things about it all, cos 4-6 weeks is a long time to be looking at being so affected by the healing process.

  4. I love the pic of that little seedling…a sign of hope and new beginnings for sure. All I can say Nancy, is a VERY southern saying: “God love ya!” I hope you heal quickly. You won’t be able to blog during the healing weeks will you?

    • Thanks Sam. We say that up here too. Yes, I’ll be able to type as long as I position myself right in the chair. And that’s a good thing, cos if I couldn’t keep in touch with people and things on line for 4-6 weeks, I would have gone INSANE for sure, and I don’t want to go to the mental health unit, 🙂 . I’ll be behaving myself cos there will be gardening to do, tho even after the sling is off and PT is done, he said no shovels, hoes or rakes for maybe 6 months. So I might need to get some help and use my head to figure out ways to do things. I will behave then tho too, cos I sure don’t want to have to go thru all this again.

      • Well, you might try windowsill microgreens (and write a post about it!) or sprouts if you really can’t handle tools this summer. God love ya.

      • Nah, sprouts don’t turn me on, and I can’t do windowsill anything, cos I have the cat from hell in regards to that. And I can handle the small tools and use both hands as long as I use the operated one the right way. You know me, if there’s a way to garden, I’m a gonna git ‘er done! Thanks good buddy.

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