Sunday, January 4, 2015

Getting Old is a Pain

I'm getting old. 
A dear friend reminded me of this in November when I first learned exactly what I did to myself. 
But I'm also stubborn and not very good about waiting for someone to help me do stuff. 

This summer was no exception.  
We were getting ready to go to Kalaloch.  Matt, Brit and Mr. T were riding with me because Mike was on the Fire Tower.  We were discussing how much to bring and whether or not we'd be able to get everything in the Tahoe and the rocket boxes.  

I decided to do a test load.  

Since I'm just a tad OCD when preparing for camping, I had been collecting food and supplies for a couple of weeks on the dining room table. 
I loaded up a couple of spare Rubbermaid totes. 
I carried them outside to the garage and started to load tents, (empty) coolers for spacing, sleeping bags and chairs as well as the two totes.  

Hearing the voices of my husband and sons I made a conscience effort to 'lift with the knees' so not to strain my back.  I knew I'd never hear the end of it if something happened.  
As I lifted and twisted to put the tote in the back of the Tahoe, I felt a horrendous pain and pop in my right shoulder. I dropped to my knees.  My arm was numb and I thought I was going to be sick. 

After several minutes I started feeling a tingling sensation in my hand again and appeared to have full motion with my arm.  I slowly, and very carefully, continued my practice load session to confirm we would be able to manage everything.  

My shoulder ached and I wasn't ashamed to ice it and find a pain pill for sleeping.  

Life continued...  I finished up my work week and we left for Kalaloch as planned.

  The following week at the beach, the same thing happened when I was lifting my camera to take a picture of Ruby Beach.  This time was more manageable but just as painful.  I spent the rest of the week being very cautious. 
Once home I started a new position at work - one where I unpack freight, move boxes and load shelves of inventory.   My shoulder would ache and I found the analgesic pads like Salonpas worked well to help. I went to the doctor the end of August for x-rays, a steroid injection and PT exercises.  Figured time would just have to do it's thing and thought to give it "a couple of weeks".  

In November I was no longer sleeping.  Turns out if you research shoulder injuries, this is a very common result. I went back to the doctor who ordered an MRI.  I was no longer able to move my arm across the front of me or behind my back.  

The MRI showed the damages.  
Torn rotator cuff
Shredded cartilage
Bone spurs
I was going to need surgery.  Time was not going to help. 

It was the end of the year.  Everyone and their brother is trying to get their injuries fixed before the end of the year to take advantage of their already paid deductibles. I was referred to a doctor at St. Al's but after a week they didn't call nor did they return my call.  I talked to coworkers and finally walked to the Orthopedic office in the hospital.  The very busy office receptionist got me help. because I 'was one of our own'. Finally something going right. The employee went through the multiple surgeon schedules and found the earliest one - still mid December.  I was grateful to have anything.  I really wanted to have surgery before classes began in January. 

Back in the OR, another coworker thought I should talk to one of the surgeon's direct.  I wasn't comfortable but am friends with a surgeon's favorite scrub tech.  I talked to him one morning between cases.  He talked to the surgeon who shared she had just cancelled a ski trip and would have openings in her schedule in a couple of weeks.  She texted her nurse who put me on her calendar the first week of December.  At my appointment, the surgeon confirmed the MRI results - and the need for surgery.  Surgery was scheduled for the following week - December 10th. 

I never wanted to be a patient at the OR where I worked.  I thought it would be awkward.  Turns out when you are desperate to feel better you don't really care.  
And my coworkers were the best.  My treatment was superb.  
Honestly, I just wish I remembered more about the day...

Mike's favorite - the arthroscopic pictures taken of the procedure.  I have five sutures and two implants holding the rotator cuff tendon back together.  The bone spurs were shaved off.  The additional tear was also repaired and the bicep tendon was repaired but didn't require placement. 

I turned black and blue...  no surprise there.  

Fortunately I'll heal quicker as it wasn't an open procedure - she didn't cut my shoulder open.  Just four small incisions where the camera and equipment went inside.  


I'm three weeks into my six week movement restriction.  I'm sick of wearing a sling strapped to my waist 24-7.  I see improvement.  I can move my right arm across the front of me.  I am not able to raise my arm or move it without help from my other arm.  I still take pain meds at night and often after physical therapy.  I try to limit my meds to a strong anti-inflammation med during the day.

I go to passive physical therapy twice a week.  It's not hard work.  I lay down while the therapist tells me to relax and he moves my arm around to keep the muscles from stiffening.  Its not as easy as it sounds.  Try to relax when your shoulder is feeling every stretch.  I'm still limited with what he does because the tendons need to heal. 

I start regular physical therapy (i.e. rehab) the last week of January - when I also hope to be returning to work.  Silly me - I seriously thought I could go back after two weeks and just do computer work.  At two weeks I was still unable to reach my laptop on the desk - and barely functioning.  

I slept one week in the recliner and have since been in the guest room where I can arrange my half dozen pillows just so - 
I tried my own bed last night - for about twenty minutes.
I survived Christmas festivities single armed.
I will be on the far side of surgery when classes start the 12th.

Note - wrapping gifts with one arm is not practical and tape is a pain. 
Removing anything from the oven isn't a big deal - it doesn't work. 
Folding clothes is a deal breaker.  It's easier to wad them up.
Buy twist top wine...
My hair has always been a no-fuss deal - now more than ever.
My DIL's are big help with mascara because a left handed application is not a pretty sight. 

So many things have gotten easier.
I can wear my contacts again. 
I can dry myself with a towel. 
I can dress myself and dress myself.
And I've learned - grandsons are sweet and worry about one armed grandmas. 

But I'm still a horrible patient and I spent entirely too much time this weekend being mad at the world. 

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