For those wondering how Laurel is doing after her rotator-cuff shoulder surgery this morning: the surgeon, Dr. Dan Sewell from Salem's Hope Orthopedics Center, told me fixing the detached tendon went beautifully.
A torn biceps muscle couldn't be fixed, but a flap was cut off to stop it from...I don't know, flapping around, or something. I couldn't understand everything Sewell told me while Laurel was in the recovery area.
The before and after images of her shoulder were mystifying to non-physician me. They all looked like black and white photos of the moon, albeit with different shadings. So the reassurance came from Sewell's clear statement that all went well.
Laurel is now 12 hours into her lengthy rehabilitation.
Her right arm will be in a sling for six weeks. Then she can discard the sling and use the arm gently for another six weeks. After three months, more heavy duty physical therapy and exercising will begin until, hopefully, she's back to normal.
So far, she's feeling no shoulder pain.
Because she isn't feeling her right arm at all, having been given a powerful anesthetic shot in the shoulder that is still going strong (after 24 hours, it should have worn off; when it does, oxycodone and other pain medications almost certainly will be needed, because this is an especially painful surgery).
Laurel finds it weird to have no feeling at all in her arm. It's been dead weight since the surgery, owing to the anesthetic. She also has crawling and itchy feelings in her head -- an uncommon side effect of the general anesthesia according to the helpful physician's assistant at Hope Orthopedics Laurel talked by phone with this afternoon.
Oh, she also has a mild sore throat from the breathing tube used during the surgery. It was arthroscopic, so a heck of a lot less involved than shoulder surgeries used to be, and sometimes still are. But there's no way surgeries are fun.
We've been using a Cold Rush Cold Therapy System for much of the time, on low power (since Laurel can't feel her shoulder, she wouldn't be able to tell if her skin got overly cold). This is a cool, so to speak, gadget that beats the heck out of ice bags.
Early on, the two of us are having yin and yang post-surgery experiences. Which is completely normal and understandable, especially for the first few days.
For Laurel, the day has gone slowly and boringly after her early morning surgery. Sitting in a recliner; watching TV; asking me to bring her things and do stuff for her -- not fun, especially for a woman who (like most women) is used to doing this and that all day long, crossing things off of her to-do list.
By the weekend Laurel should be up and about. Until then, I've taken over all of the dog walking and dog care chores, which already is making me more popular with Zu Zu than usual. Dogs know who to suck up to. Usually it's Laurel; today it's been me.
I've been pleased with how well I've been carrying out my care-taking duties. Buddha-nature, be mine! However, I suppose I should hold off on applying for a Mother Teresa Award until more than 12 hours have passed since I became Laurel's right arm.
So far, though, I don't mind being busier than usual. I waste a lot of time during the day. Just checking news web sites and worrying about the up-to-the-minute state of the world consumes a lot of mostly unproductive minutes.
Today I let the world go, until now, and worried about the state of my wife. Which I'll be happy to do until her recovery is well under way. Six weeks really isn't that long. It'll probably seem a lot longer to Laurel than to me, since she'll be the one with limited activities and annoying pain.
There's nothing worse than someone who spouts excessive positive thinking when another person is in a justifiably negative frame of mind. Thus I do my best to keep platitudes to a minimum when Laurel bemoans the lengthy and likely painful rehabilitation period that awaits her.
I have mentioned to her, though, that many people in worse circumstances would be overjoyed to know that in just six weeks, they'd have the use of one of their arms back.
I realize that this sort of "be grateful, because others are worse off than you are" stuff can be annoying, and doesn't help much -- since that thought brings to mind the other evident fact that other people are much better off than you are, and would be saddened to think of being in your condition.
In the end, I find myself left with a cliche that is both utterly meaningless and marvelously profound: it is what it is. (Over on my churchless blog, I've pondered this.) Today Laurel's life changed, as did mine.
We'll deal with it. We'll get through it. We'll learn from it. We'll love it. We'll hate it. But the one thing we can't do is change it -- make it go away, disappear, go poof. Life doesn't work that way. I'd much prefer that Laurel had a normal right arm that wasn't in a sling.
But then, there's lots of things I'd like to be, but aren't. It is what it is. Tomorrow, it will be something different.
Glad she is doing reasonably well. Hoping for a speedy recovery!
Posted by: Brook | October 24, 2014 at 09:35 AM
Dear Right Arm,
You are doing the right thing. I wish I could do the right thing everyday.
Posted by: carole smith | October 24, 2014 at 11:59 AM
Start the oxy before the anesthetic wears off!! Oh well, too late if you didn't know that already.
I had big toe fusion surgery that laid me up for six weeks, except I could go around on a knee scooter. I didn't start the pain meds until my toe really started to hurt in the evening after the morning surgery. And hurt it did for about a day and a half and then it gradually subsided. The first night was excruciating. Some of the worst pain I have had and I have had some.
Unfortunately, the fusion failed when I broke the hardware holding it together while stepping off a curb in NYC. Now, all I have is one screw and scar tissue holding the toe together. It was a bracket spanning the fused area that broke. It is still in there.
I could have a revision surgery but this time I would have to be in a cast and immobilized for 6-8 weeks followed by physical therapy. I can't bear the thought of it. So, for now I accept it for what it is. It does hurt less than before the surgery and amazingly I am able to walk around pretty normally and even "hike". Running is no more. I can live with that, and I will until I can't.
My advice is to be conservative with movement as recovery progresses. Don't take any chances and one day this will be a memory.
Posted by: tucson | October 24, 2014 at 09:11 PM