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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Six Weeks Post Op Rotator Cuff Surgery

Weeks 4-6 have been rather painful and fatiguing.  But here's a list of the things I'm thankful for:

*  The sling is finally off! (as of Monday)

*  The joy of being able to shave my underarms

*  The joy of being able to finally wear real lady's undergarments!

*  I managed to work my arm into a super-sized T-shirt yesterday

*  Being able to reach for toilet paper with my left hand (albeit very slowly)

*  Being able to use 2 hands to part my hair and put it in a pony tail (still painful, but possible)

*  Sleeping in my own bed the last 2 nights (still not comfortable and propped up with pillows for shoulder and arm, but time will help)

*  Finally being able to type with two hands.

In essence, I am not cleared for any weight bearing or resistance using the left arm, but am now instructed to begin putting it through all its range of motion to start getting that range of motion back from all angles.

I am just now beginning to raise my arm up slowly to put it on the laptop keyboard to type (sometimes I have to help my arm up there when it gets tired and the simple movement of inching my left hand up to the number row on the keyboard is a bit more than I can do, but I'm working on it).  I am beginning to reach for things, close/open door handles that don't require a lot of strength to pull, etc.

Still doing physical therapy twice a day.  Time consuming, uncomfortable, but critically important.  Do NOT neglect your physical therapy.  You will be very sorry you did. 

I've got a LOT of work left to do to get my range of motion back. Only in the last week have I been instructed to begin working on raising my arm out to the side---was VERY painful at first but I have seen a little improvement.  Raising up an out at an angle is also very difficult, as is raising arm from lap position (one of the key improvements I need to be able to drive).

Beginning Tuesday of this week, I have returned to work on a modified schedule--six hour shifts rather than eight hour shifts.  I'm so glad--you'd be amazed how just 4 hours of actively moving your arm 6 weeks out from surgery is. 

The reason for the reduced work schedule for the first 3 weeks back at work is to be sure I have plenty of time to do physical therapy twice a day (by the time you heat, massage, PT, and ice each PT session, one session takes almost two hours) and also because I'm still not getting adequate sleep due to the discomfort, so I come home and take an afternoon nap to give my body some healing time.

But the bottom line in week 6 is progress.  Which is heartening considering how painful weeks 4 and 5 were and how it seemed I was just spinning my wheels and not seeing any milestone developments.

I'm hopeful I will regain enough range of motion within the next week (maybe even by this week's end!) to begin driving again.  Not driving for the first few weeks was a bit of a novelty, now it's getting annoying.  I want to take myself to doctor and therapy appointments, the grocery store, what have you.  So here's hoping that's soon!

I've got a long, long way to go--full recovery takes 9 months to a year--but I'm on the mend.  Thank you, Lord.

My posts on the topic of rotator cuff surgery will likely become less frequent as the weeks progress.  But if anybody stumbles across this blog who has questions about rotator cuff surgery, please feel free to ask.  I would also recommend a blog of a gentleman whom I don't know but whose blog on his own rotator cuff surgery spawned a thriving community of rotator cuff repair patients who encourage one another and help each other out with information.  His blog has something like 600 hits and you will be able to talk with people from all ranges of the rotator cuff repair spectrum.  It is reassuring and insightful to talk to others who've had to go through this process. 

His name is Scott Loftesness and you can find that blog here:

He's also a freelance photographer and has some beautiful shots for sale on his website.

Now I better go get started on this morning's physical therapy.  Time's getting away from me!

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