In December, I fell and hurt my hand and shoulders while helping the kiddos at my schoool into their cars during a snowstorm. I have spent the last four months visiting doctors, having MRI’s, going through physical therapy, and having cortisone injections to help control the pain. Well, things finally got real last week.
Last Friday, after spending the wee (Spring Break) shopping and cleaning, and making two weeks of sub plans, I checked into the hospital for shoulder surgery.
I was lucky enough to have my mom take me to the hospital and my dad took the kids for the day. I had been warned by my surgeon, and everyone who had ever had the surgery that it is a wicked surgery and recovery. I thought I was prepared. I was WRONG.
I decided to really glam it up. I ditched the makeup, and didn’t do a darn thing to my hair. I sported my sexy glasses, which I am sad to report that the hospital lost. I secretly think that they were so styling that someone decided to swipe them for themselves. I mean, who wouldn’t want dark purple glasses with a Harry Potter lightening bolt scratch and the arms super glued on.
After fidgeting with my hair every few minutes, my mom offered tô French braid my hair for the surgery. My mom is a master of the French braid and always has been. The best part about her braids are that once she is done, I look like I have had a mini face lift. It is that tight. It ROCKS.
The nurses came in and explained what was going to happen and familiarized me with their pain chart. I have to give them props as this is the BEST pain chart I have ever seen. It is absolutely spot on accurate. They asked me what my current pain level was and I said about an 8. They said that their goal for the day, was to get me below an 8. They also recommended that I ask the anesthesiologist for a nerve block. They said that the pain was going to be intense and that by adding a nerve block it would completely numb my arm and give me a few extra hours pain free. They were also kind enough to give me a nausea patch and arranged for a nice little cocktail to be added to my IV as I was coming out of anesthesia.
The anesthesiologist came in, and we had a nice chat. I had an extremely scary experience several years ago while going through a surgery. The anesthesiologist made a mistake and it nearly cost me my life. I explained my concerns to him and he assured me that all would be fine and that he would take extra precautions.
I did ask for the nerve block and he was reluctant as he does not like doing them. The said that if you have any tolerance to pain at all, you would be fine without out one. I trusted what the nurses said and told him that it was something that I wanted. He agreed to do one. I had to be awake to do it. It is an injection that is given in a few areas of the NECK. That was a little bit of a pain.
I do not come out of anesthesia well. I shake and do a strange little convulsion thing. I get very sick and usuallly have to go home with a throw up bucket. This time was no different with the convulsions, but thanks to my amazing nurses, the nausea was minimal.
With the type of shoulder surgery that I had, my arm has to be held in a very specific position for 8 weeks. This requires a specialized, and rather complicated sling that holds my arm in a very specific angle. My new sling has 6 different connection points, has a bolster, goes up past my fingers and includes a ball to keep my hand from losing mobility. The doctor explained to me that the sling has evolved over the years and it used to be that your arm was casted and propped up at a 90 degree angle with a bar that was casted to your hip. Yeah, I am not going to complain (well, not as much) about the contraption that I am now sporting.
I am able to take it off for very short period of times, basically to shower or change, but my arm has to hang straight and not move. I have to use one hand to wash my hair, and shave etc. Lucky me, it is my left hand. I am right handed and that is the arm that is currently incapacitated.
The sweet nurses had to teach me and my mom how to get dressed. It is a totally different experience to get dressed when you can only use one hand, and you can’t lift one hand at all. They recommended wearing very oversized t-shirts or button down. They showed me how to cut shirts up the side to get them to go on easily. Oh boy. I didn’t anticipate that.
My brother and his wife asked me to stay at their house after the surgery. He is a surgeon (plastic) and my sister in law is a nurse. He has had this surgery before and knew what it was like. When I talked to him and told him that if it wasn’t too much trouble, that I appreciated the offer and would take them up on it. My brother said, ” Well, thanks for not being stupid and not arguing and just accepting the help. It makes things so much easier.” I laughed as my brother knows me all too well.
They both knew what post surgery entailed and were so sweet to help. You cant sleep in a bed for quite a while, and most people opt for recliners. They have a media room and have recliners and set it up as a recovery space. My brother took over my medications and my sister in law was sweet enough to put together a basket of treats and was constantly offering to do anything I needed.
Staying at their house was th best decision ever. Friday around midnight the nerve block started to wear off and I took my pain meds to try to stay ahead of the pain. However, it didn’t work. The pain that commenced was the WORST pain I have ever experienced in my entire life. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, I wanted to cry, but couldn’t get it out. I have had three babies, and I would take child birth again, any day, over the pain felt that night.
I ended up finally being able to call my brother at 2 am (yes, he was upstairs) and he and his cute wife came right down. He gave me meds, went and wrote me a prescription for muscle relaxers and went to fill them for me, and called his best friend (an anesthesiologist for my same surgeon) and arranged for another nerve block.
We ventured our way up to Park City, where his friend practices, and together my brother and his friend gave me sweet relief, ironically with several injections to the neck, the nerve block. Who would have guessed that I would be grateful for a needle in the neck.
This bandage would have been any woman’s dream in the 80’s.
The surgery was done arthoscopically. Three little 1/2 inch incisions, 6 stitches, 1 enormous amount of pain.
I am glad that the surgery is over, and am glad to finally be home. The recovery is going to be long, but it is good to get past this point!!