Thursday, October 8, 2009

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time ..... Part One

The Rotator Cuff Trilogy ... and then some
I've been away from the computer for several weeks ... more mentally than physically ... I've been busy with ... LIFE!! I have, however, written the first 'chapter' of this saga. For your reading enjoyment, may I present .... It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time ....

Several blog friends have asked what I was referring to when I said that I had had THREE surgeries (on the same shoulder) last year. I just celebrated the one year anniversary last week of the third and final surgery on my rotator cuff. I never thought about rotator cuffs ... unfortunately now I could tell you everything you would ever want to know about rotator cuffs!

But first, let me start the tale with how I managed to tear my rotator cuff ... it truly seemed like a good idea at the time ... I wanted to impress a two-year-old (at that time) granddaughter... not that I needed to impress her, but .....

I decided to slide down one of those enclosed tube slides ... Suffice to say, the slide was very tall. I guess the metal bars on each of the levels should have been a warning ... but when your granddaughter thinks you can do anything ...

The first time down was a 'piece of cake' ...

the hard part was climbing up the platform and over the bars to get to the top.

It WAS fun (the first time down, sitting on my fanny and sliding that is) soooo, I made the decision (you see, I AM taking responsibility for my actions!) I decided to go down this tall (4 or 5 levels) slide head first! I actually crawled up into the tube, put my arms out in front and proceed to 'push off.'
In a matter of a nanosecond, I realized this was a huge mistake! I wanted out of that tube!! I'm not normally claustrophobic, but for some reason the tube seemed to be closing in on me. I put my hands out on the sides of the tube; I did the same thing with my feet. My intention was to stop myself ... or at the very least slow down! I instead did a somersault in the cramped tube ... and for several seconds I was STUCK! A vision of an EMS team cutting me out of the tube leaped into my head ... and in about the same time it took to think of being humiliated "Jaws of Life used to free Grandma 'trapped' inside tube slide" I completed the somersault, now I was lying on my back with my feet leading my way down the slide.

When I became 'unstuck' (picture one's derriere directly above one's head, feet dangling in mid-air) my right ear was uncomfortably close to my right shoulder. I heard (and felt!) something
in my shoulder tear.

Your rotator cuff is a combination of four muscles and many tendons that allow your arm to rotate. This grouping covers the head of the upper arm bone. The rotator cuff muscles hold the bone in place and rotate the arm.
The rotator cuff can be torn from a single traumatic injury. Most tears, however, are the result of overuse of these muscles and tendons over a period of years. People who are especially at risk for overuse are those who engage in repetitive overhead motions. These include participants in sports such as baseball, tennis, weight lifting, and rowing.
Rotator cuff tears are most common in people who are over the age of 40. Younger people tend to have rotator cuff tears following acute trauma or repetitive overhead work or sports activity. I was/am on the 'other side' of age 60 ... I am not athletic, I'm not a 'wuss' ... but this thing hurt like nothing I've ever experienced ... at least not at that time!!!
So after a few days of my primary physician's office hassling the insurance company I finally got to have the 'definitive' MRI.

There was a huge tear in the rotator cuff I was told. I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon in my area. As I knew this doctor (having had some other surgery on my feet done by him) I set up an appointment to see what my options were. SURGERY !!!!

And so on a sunny April morning, I had 'out-patient' surgery on my right shoulder at the local hospital. But not before the nincompoop anesthesiologist waltzed into my room five minutes before I was to be taken back to the surgical suite and announced "this surgery hurts more than a knee or hip replacement!" and then proceeded to show me 'his' scar!! He did mention that I would have a 'block' given to me prior to the surgery because "if you woke up in recovery without a block used, you would think they were still cutting on you!" his name was stricken from my Christmas card list!

I awoke in the recovery room very talky and in absolutely no pain. The doctor had already talked to my husband, I could go home as soon as 'other things' were working ... besides my mouth! I ate jello and drank a Dr Pepper ... I finally was able to ... uh, go! So then we attempted to get my 'moo-moo' dress over the sling.

I was told to use ice for the swelling and my husband filled the prescription for pain medication on the way home. All was great ... I was home, I was propped up on the sofa with an ice pack to my shoulder. I was numb ... until exactly 12 hours to the minute after the surgery. I was literally out of my head with PAIN ... my husband quickly gave me two of the pain pills. At least that was what the bottle said they were for ... nothing, the pain was unbelievable. I could not sit still, I was pacing like a trapped animal, I wailed, I cried, I prayed ... I'm not sure if I was asking to be struck dead ... I just knew I couldn't take much more. My frantic husband was on the phone with the doctor. Yes, I had taken the pills, No they didn't help, No, I hadn't taken them earlier while the block was still working. We had not been told to take them BEFORE I needed them! And to make matters worse the choice of medication was rather pitiful in the pain prevention department. It was like taking a sugar pill .... Stronger drugs were ordered. Finally after what seemed an eternity, I was able to drift off to sleep ... sitting upright in a lounge chair. It was a very long night. Over the next few days, I started feeling so much better ... friends brought food and DVDs for my entertainment. Only a week following surgery, I started physical therapy ... I was their 'star' patient ... able to move my arm, use the arm bike, everything was going great.

About three weeks following surgery, my husband took me over to visit our granddaughter ... for the record I DID NOT use my right arm, I DID NOT lift her or anything else for that matter. The second night there my arm started hurting again ... it felt like it had prior to surgery. This time the incision was red and hot! After a quick check with the surgeon, it was deemed that I would need more surgery. Four weeks to the very day, I had the second rotator cuff surgery; this time it was at a surgical center and I was admitted to the hospital for two days following the surgery with an IV morphine drip! HALLELUJAH!!!

The surgeon told my husband that all the sutures were 'gone', there was "frothy yellow liquid every where" (sorry, TMI, uh???) But even stranger, the cultures grew absolutely nothing ... I did not start physical therapy as soon as before and when I did it was very passive. I had had the sling on my right arm now for six weeks ... I could now sleep (on my back!) in bed with my husband, but the arm had to be elevated on a soft pillow. Since I had to share my bed with this bulky sling, I dubbed it Tom ... as in Tom Selleck ( I am nothing if not a realist ... Tom Cruise is young enough to be my son!!!) The Duck, Tom and I got along quite fine, I was improving, gaining my strength back, so I started walking each morning. Neighbors waved at the 'one-armed grandma with the I-pod.' The therapist was pleased with my progress as well ... I was ten weeks post-op ... looking good!!!
To be continued ....


Bz said...

"I wanted to impress a two-year-old (at that time) granddaughter... not that I needed to impress her."
...yup, no need to go to those lengths... why, you have the luxury of not NEEDING to impress her. Just show up to the party, and every one else magically turns into chopped liver.

Tatersmama said...

Just doing some catching up... and I'm cringing with it!
But WHY would you want to go head first down a slide? Hun, we aren't spring chickens anymore, ya know!
But that yellow frothy liquid has got me scratching my head... what in the world WAS it?

On to part 2...