Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Surgery is Done, But I Think They're Going to Hurt Me Some More

At Majestic Pines RV Park, Willis, Texas...

They didn't quite tell me the whole story there at the doctor's office. They told me that, once the surgery was done, they would send me home with a pain medicine pump that would make my shoulder feel "yummy" for a couple of days. 

"Yummy?" I pondered the word for a minute. That's not a term I've heard from a surgeon before, but Dr. Hayes had a great reputation and a folksy personality, so I thought it was kinda cool. But I had heard this kind of surgery was painful, so I was grateful for this extra measure to help lessen its impact. With this in mind, I presumed I would have no pain at all if my shoulder was supposed to feel "yummy." 

After the surgery, I went home from the hospital looking like some kind of cyborg--half human, half machine--with an arm sling and a brace, along with other restraints and straps to immobilize my arm. Hanging at waist level by an additional strap around my neck was a black pouch containing the pump and the "yummy" pain medicine that would be automatically injected into my shoulder for the next two days. From the bag ran a small plastic tube that snaked up my torso and across my back into a little hole that had been punctured in my neck, through which the "yummy" painkilling fluid would flow, supposedly numbing my entire shoulder via a nerve block. (Remember that word "supposedly.") The tube was held in place on its routing from the bag to my neck with what seemed like enough tape to patch the hole in the Titanic; that sucker wasn't about to come loose, and the whole spectacle definitely turned heads as I exited the elevator and was wheeled out to the car to go home.

The surgeon said that the repairs he had to make to my rotator cuff were far more significant than the MRI had revealed. Three of the attached tendons had been severed and shredded in the fall, and the surgery took twice as long as he had expected. It was arthroscopic surgery, requiring what would ultimately be seven holes to be opened in my shoulder for the insertion of surgical instruments and a camera. This is a photo of my shoulder taken a day after surgery (Two of the holes are nearer the back of my shoulder, not visible in this photo; the yellow is the residue of a surgical sanitizing liquid. The blue markings are part of the process they use to ensure they are operating on the correct shoulder):

One of the first things I noticed when I awakened in the recovery room was that my shoulder didn't feel "yummy" as had been advertised. The anesthetic was working, as my arm and shoulder felt numb to the touch but, evidently, there was just so much it could do. The next 18 hours were pretty hellish, painwise, and I can just imagine what it would have been like without the pump. I mentioned this on the followup, and the surgeon said he wasn't surprised, given the damage inside my shoulder and the extensiveness of his repairs. Thankfully, after a couple of days, things were quite manageable with the pain meds that I was given.

Sandy is doing quite well, looking more or less like new except for a little scar tissue on her lip and nose, so I'm glad about that. 

With each passing day, my arm's stiffness and the shoulder pain lessen, so I am pleased with my progress. I'll be getting the stitches out next week, and the physical therapy begins immediately afterward. 

Speaking of physical therapists, I know these people. I was introduced to them after my hip replacement surgery a few years ago, so I am fully aware of what to expect from them in a few days. I think you have to be a special person to be a PT. I'm not sure what their training is like, but I think they are educated in two very different phases: In the first phase, they are trained by ex-Gestapo operatives in the art of torture and, in the second phase, they attend a Dale Carnegie course. The result is what you could only describe as a charming sadist. If you've had PT after these kinds of surgeries, you know what I'm talking about. In any case, I'm going into the therapy phase with my eyes open, and I promise not to carry any hidden weapons for retaliation.  I'm going to be compliant and do what they tell me, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Let me send heartfelt thanks to all of you who expressed kind thoughts and prayers for us whether or not we were aware of them. We are grateful for every one and believe in the effectiveness of prayer. 

Of course, this little episode has vastly curtailed our summer travel plans, but we're still hoping to save some of them. We have a tickets, along with Arkansas friends Larry and Carolyn, for a gospel concert in Missouri in a couple of months, and I still hope to get Phannie's jacks replaced at some point. By the way, I have some news about that, and I will share it in the next post. 

Meanwhile, it's great being here in Conroe with our family:

In closing, here are a couple of charming bonus photos of Mindy and brand new grandson Sutton:

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.

We don't stop playing when we get old; we get old when we stop playing. -- George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Shoulder to Cry On

At Majestic Pines RV Resort, Willis, Texas...

I thought I should give you an update on our condition since our freak accident in Fredericksburg that was described a couple of posts earlier in this blog. Sandy, obviously because of her relative youth and vigor, is pretty much back to about 90 percent, awaiting her broken nose to heal fully.

I wasn't so lucky. I noticed at the time of the fall that I couldn't raise my right arm above my waist. While the other bruises and lacerations have healed, the mobility problem with my arm has remained. My fear of a rotator cuff injury was confirmed by an MRI yesterday, and I will be having surgery in Houston as soon as it can be arranged.

This, of course, will completely change our plans for summer travel, as I will need physical therapy for quite a while after the surgery. On the positive side, we will be able to spend more time here with our family and gush over our new grandson, Sutton. 

I will be posting from time to time with progress reports, but these may not be all that often due to typing limitations with my right arm and my reluctance to turn this into a medical soap opera.  In the meantime, we always appreciate being included in your prayers.

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 when we get old; we get old when we stop playing.
--George Bernard Shaw