After I awoke in the recovery room, the surgeon showed me photos of the interior of my shoulder, snapped from the little camera that had snaked around inside during the surgery, allowing him to perform the intricate maneuvers that would reconnect things that had been so violently torn apart. Of particular concern were the ends of the three tendons that had been severed from the rotator cuff and had retracted to where only the shredded ends were visible some distance from their former points of attachment. It was obviously a mess, even to the eyes of someone untrained like me. It was an almost surreal feeling that I was looking at photos of the mayhem inside my own sad-looking shoulder, but the pain I felt brought it back to reality. This, he said, was why it took him so long to dig around inside and make repairs.
When I saw him again in a few days, he asked if I was angry with him for not being fully honest about the post-op pain he knew I would experience. I came back with some smart aleck joke but even so, I made sure he knew I felt nothing but gratitude. And even at the worst of the two-day post-op blinding pain, with sleep being impossible, I was nothing but thankful that his God-given skill was likely to make me whole again--or so I hoped.
He delayed the beginning of therapy for a month due to the complications of the repair. I had to be careful to wear my arm sling, staying away from crowds and avoiding at all costs any excess movement that could undo the sutures, clamps and whatever else he had put in place inside my shoulder to reconnect the tendons. He described the movements of my arm that were okay to make, and I followed his instructions carefully.
After about a week, I felt good enough to have visitors, especially enjoying those from the kids. I even went to Mason's tenth birthday party, which I was not going to miss! The kids were schooled beforehand not to run up and hug Poppy, something I sorely missed.
A few days after the surgery, I went in for a checkup. Dr. Hayes gave me allowances for more freedom of movement as I felt comfortable, but with stern instructions about what I was not to try to do. This has been a real confidence builder, as I have noticed steady improvement in the things I am able to do with my right arm. For example, I couldn't dress myself at the beginning (thank God for Sandy!) and now, I need almost no help at all. I'm even allowed to start driving again for brief periods! But small chores like this do not involve the larger muscles connected to the tendons that have lain dormant for weeks and, because they think they're on vacation, still prevent me from raising my arm past my chest. It is to regain the use of these that I have finally begun physical therapy, which will proceed slowly until everything is healed inside.
The first therapy episodes have been conducted in a pool, the buoyancy of the water helping immensely when the larger motion requirements are demanded by the therapist, who knows well her malicious trade. I would like to say that it was delightful to be massaged by a young lady in a swimsuit, but this was clearly not the case. She was there to awaken sleeping muscles, and that she did, looking unhappy if she didn't elicit from me a groan or at least a grimace as she moved my arm to places it did not want to go. Here is a photo of one of my first sessions:
If nothing else, this experience has reinforced the value of family--especially my dear Sandy--and friends, whose support and helpfulness has been superb. I appreciate everyone for everything, no matter how small, even if only a thought, a note or a prayer. It has also reminded me that older people are terribly at risk from falling. In fact, it is the leading cause of accidental injury and death among the elderly, causing 2.8 million hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths last year. I don't know about you, but I was stunned by those statistics.
I know I have made a new commitment toward being more sensible in being aware of my surroundings and movements from now on and realizing that I am no longer the kid who thought he was immortal.
Just as I was putting this finishing touches on this post, we learned that good friends Chip and Diane were staying nearby visiting their grandkids, so we made arrangements for a long lunch together, catching up with the escapades of these fine folks. Their visit really cheered us up, another indication that, yes, things will surely get back to normal before long.
Oh, yes, I mentioned in the last post that I would talk about jacks in this post; well, I suppose that'll have to be next time. This one really needed to be all about me. (grin)
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life;
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it as I should each day.
We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
--George Bernard Shaw