Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 5 - Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery

This is a chronicle of my recovery, because no one told me what it would really be like trying to recover from intensive rotator cuff surgery.  Or maybe, I just wanted to be ignorant.  I heard several times that it was a "long recovery," but did I know I wouldn't be able to use my arm for three months?  Yes, I guess I did know that, but what I didn't know is what that meant.

I didn't know I wouldn't be able to pull up my own pants the first week, or tie my own shoes for two weeks, or put on a bra.  I just didn't think about the daily details that would be so different.  So I thought, maybe someone else will want to know, and it won't be so difficult coping for them.  I'll have to work backwards, because today is the first day I've had the strength/endurance in my arm and the motivation to type this much.

Week 5 has had some ups and some downs.  I am getting totally off the pain killers (including Ibuprofen and Tylenol), but because of that, I'm experiencing more pain.  Typing is still tiring and somewhat painful.  I've extended the hours I can sleep in my bed (with a wedge to prop me up 7 inches) to five hours, then I move down to the den and the recliner for the rest of the night.

Mind you, I've only had two 5-hour nights in bed this week; the others were two, three, and four hours at a time.  Part of me just wants to give up trying to sleep in my own bed, but Don likes to have me there, at least at the beginning of the night.  (He doesn't wake up when I move to the den.)  The other thing that keeps me trying is that I remember how much I was loathing sleeping by myself in the den after three weeks.  (Part of that is because I'm afraid of the wind, and there's a huge willow tree right outside the den... I kept envisioning it breaking through the roof of the den.) 

New Week 5 accomplishments: 30 minutes of aerobics (bike and treadmill) at the gym (twice this week), down to two times a week for physical therapy, can almost wipe with my right hand, able to update my blog :) ,  able to put on almost any kind of shirt (taking them off is more difficult), could put on tights without too much pain, have gotten 8 hours of sleep twice this week (with short wakeful times to change sleep locations), handwriting is almost normal if the writing surface is low,  thinking and emotions more stable with the decrease in pain meds.  I think that's about it.

Things I still can't do with my right arm/hand: lift it (PT people said "no, no"), brush my teeth or hair, put cream on my face, blow my nose (have to do that one-handed), wash my hair, dry off, wipe (just try wiping with your other hand! TMI), nothing behind my back, can't carry anything heavier than a cup of coffee (that hasn't changed), chores (yipee!) (actually, I did vacuum with my left hand yesterday, and I take out the trash, do my own laundry, dishes, cook and pick up dog poo, but all with one arm, so it takes about twice as long).  Can't open doors, or put on my own seatbelt when I'm in the driver's seat, grading student papers is hard, ... blah, blah, blah... and of course I can't draw my bow.

I haven't tried to draw my bow, of course, big no, no.  But my husband put it together yesterday and hung it back up on the wall (it is a take-down, 3-piece DAS recurve).  I almost cried.  I haven't seen it since we went to the 2009 Traditional Championships in Erie, PA (I earned fourth place).  Two days after we got back, I was in surgery.

So, do you suppose he put it back up for some psychological motivation to heal faster?!?  I won't be able to even try to pull it until January.  Maybe it will keep me looking forward towards the goal of being able to shoot again.

This surgery recovery is more difficult than when I had disk-replacement surgery 13 years ago.  After that surgery, I felt immediately better (no more pinched nerves).  This time, after 5 weeks, my arm/shoulder still hurts more than before the surgery.  Mentally, it is hard for me to grasp.  I just don't understand. I should have "bounced back" by now.  But I have to hang on to the belief that it will be better some day.  Weird.   When I saw the x-ray, it looked like Frankenstein.  There are six-3/5ths inch screws in my shoulder, all womp-a-jog.  And you could see the metal plate in my neck and the four screws there in the picture, too.  Really Frankenstein!