Thursday, November 12, 2009

Surgery +16 days

So I said that I would update more often on the shoulder but there is always something. This time it was my computer. My original was infected by a rogue email and it took me 3 days to get it to even turn on. This was OK because it gave me a reason to get a new one, which I had been contemplating for a while anyway. So here I am, back in business.

Recovery has been faster than I would have expected. I spent the first 3 days in a sling. Then I ditched the sling and started doing some doctor prescribed exercises. The pain was awful!! At day 9 I saw the doctor to get my stitches out. That was a painless procedure but while there I asked him about my range of motion and he decided to help me by forcing my arm above my head. I swear that I had tears in my eye when he did this, but he then said, "If you don't deal with and work through the pain now you will be in even worse shape a week from now." Made sense, I just wanted to be sure that movement was not going to jeopardize recovery.

The doctor cleared me to run and to get on the stationary bike so the next day I was on the bike. It felt good after 11 days off from doing absolutely nothing. Now I am 16 days past surgery and if I did not tell you that I had it you would never know. Is there still pain? Yes. Sometimes it is really annoying, but my range of motion is close to 100% even with the pain.

Still no swimming and no upper body weights but I have known that all along. I see the doctor again in about 2 weeks and he says that that will be the big turning point. He says this is where most people are finally feeling normal. I will hopefully be back on the bike at that time but I know there is still no swimming until January.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Needles, Anesthesia, and Bright lights

Well it has been 8 days since I had my shoulder surgery. Despite my muscles not wanting to work because of the trauma I think everything is going well. Let me catch everyone up and then I will try to post about my recovery over the next few weeks.

As you probably know I have been putting off surgery for some years now but I finally exhausted all other options and went for it. The procedure is known as Distal Clavicle Resection. I think the animation here shows it best:

I have never had surgery before. I cannot remember the last time I was at a hospital for that matter so I was really nervous. So nervous that I made Jenn get to the center about 30 minuted early. She probably wanted to get rid of me anyway because I was not a very friendly post op patient. In fact at one point she made a comment that she could not wait until I got old and started falling apart, talk about being a complainer now, just wait a few years. When we got to the surgery center I had to sign all kinds of paperwork that listed all the BAD things that could possibly go wrong. Honestly that scared me more than the thought of feeling severe pain. What if they botch it? What if I wake up and its 5 days later because something went terribly wrong? What if they cut into the wrong arm? At some point I just had to let it all go and hope for the best and decide to deal with anything that happened the best I could.

So after spending 20 minutes trying to put on those hideous hospital gowns I was laying in a bed with an IV of fluid to keep me hydrated. honestly, in this day and age can't someone come up with a more stylish hospital gown? One that is not right out of the 1970's. The 1070's look was so 1990's, come on already. At this point Jenn was allowed in to sit with me as they preped my arm. Jenn did ease the tension by making a comment about the very fashion challenged socks that they put on my feet, light blue with white grippy things on them. Kind of like the ones you get at Gymboree for kids. So as I sat there they scrubbed my arm in a warm soap bath and wrote a big YES on the right shoulder. This was to signify the correct arm to operate on. Not only did they put a YES on the shoulder but my doctor had to put his signature underneath it to show he agreed. Everyone that I talked to made me tell them the procedure and the arm that was supposed to be involved. This made me feel better because there was no way they could get it wrong at that point. After the scrub it was all a waiting game. There were other people getting procedures done so I had to wait my turn. I think I sat for about an hour before anything else happened.

Finally the Anesthesiologist came over and started my sleep medicine. Boy that stuff is powerful. It is like having 4 glasses of wine in 20 minutes. This was good too because I was going to have a nerve block done on the right arm. This procedure was kind of scary just because before hand I had to sign away all kinds of liability and there were two pages of possible side effects. Then on top of that the Anesthesiologist shows up with this giant needle. I remember a nurse asking him, "Is a 2 inch needle going to work"? I am sure my eyes were as wide as dinner plates at that comment even with the anesthesia. The idea of the nerve block was to temporarily kill the nerve in my neck that sends signals down the arm. My arm was going to be asleep for up to 24 hours but I would feel no pain. This gives time for me to get other narcotics in my system so when the Block wears off I am more ready to take on the pain.

So the anesthesiologist started messing with my arm trying to find the right nerve. They hooked me up to some machine that send electrical pulses down the arm and made me clench my fist. That is the last thing I remember clearly. I don't remember the 2 inch needle and I barely remember being wheeled into the OR. Even 8 days later I still have a large bruise on my neck where they stuck me with the giant needle. There were bright lights above my head and someone put a mask on my face then the next thing I know I am waking up in recovery and Jenn is siting with me.

The whole procedure from walking into the center to the time they wheeled me out was about 4.5 hours but only an hour of that was actual surgery. I hope I never have to do something like that again and if I do I hope that it is never more complicated than what I am going through now. There are so many worse things I could have done to me and I am sure all of them hurt worse than this so I feel for those that have any kind of surgery no matter how small.