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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Progress on Rehab! And Back-To-School Days are Here!

I am so excited!

9 weeks post op was the magic number!!!!!!!!!

Oh hallelujah!  You have no idea how relieved I am!

A couple big things happened in my recovery from rotator cuff surgery at week 9:

1.     FINALLY, the pain has gone from excruciating, throw-myself-under-the-bus-and-be-done-with-it pain to pain that is simply annoying and uncomfortable.  The pain and discomfort is still nearly constant but there is a huge difference between the tolerance level now vs. what it was the previous 8 weeks.  I am beyond relief at that.

2.     Nine weeks after surgery, I've FINALLY begun to have REM sleep.  That deep, deep, natural restorative sleep you need to rest and repair.  I'm still not sleeping for a full night, but at long last I'm back on the path to returning to a normal sleeping cycle.  As a humorous note--the night of September 10th, I dreamed I was frolicking in the field ala The Sound of Music and flinging my arm around freely in every direction and it went everywhere I told it to and didn't hurt a bit.  It was quite amusing to wake up and realize the content of my dream.  And the dream has significance, which is point #4 below.

3.     I've had in the last week, for a few hours a day, periods where I feel like my old self, with clarity of mind, energy, and just feeling well.  It doesn't last all day and my stamina is still greatly depleted, but I'm getting glimpses now of what it feels like to be a normal human being. 8-)

4.     This one is huge.  We all take our shoulders for granted.  One of the motions we take for granted is the ability to hold our arm straight out to the side and raise it up so that it is pointed straight up at the side of our head.  For the first 8 weeks, I couldn't even raise my arm to shoulder height, much less raise it straight up beside my head. 

To be honest, it was starting to freak me out, because I'd begun to fear the range of motion was never coming back--I'd heard horror stories from other rotator cuff surgery patients who never fully regained their range of motion after surgery. 

But Saturday 9/13, for the first time ever since surgery, I was able to raise my arm almost all the way up.  You have no idea what a relief that was.  It literally made me cry tears of joy.  I don't dream often, but a good bit of the time, when I do, or on the rare occasions that I have visions (nothing elaborate, just brief flashes of something), it usually is a message from God.  So my "Sound of Music" style dream snippet was a message that was "Relax!  I've got this.  You'll get to use the arm again.  Be patient."  And Saturday the arm movement came. 8-)

I still have many months of rehab, but at last the worst is behind me.  Thank you, Lord.

Now to switch gears and talk education.  For the last year and a half, I've had a developing desire to be able to help people my age who have orthopedic problems and problems getting/staying fit.  But I haven't known what to do with that information.

If I could have whatever I wanted, I'd go back in time and become a physical therapist.  But realistically at 47, that is just not a logical goal. I'd be pushing 60 before I earned my doctorate, and needless to say, would not be able to withstand the physical rigors of such an occupation.  A shame too, because to me that is one of the jobs that has the most power to make a difference in a patient's life--and I put physical therapist above doctor, nurse, or any other medical provider.

So then I looked at becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant--they are a licensed profession and do some manual therapy but not the full work of a PT.  Unfortunately, the schools in my area have full-time only programs and that is not compatible with the fact that I must work full time to survive.  So at least for now, that door is closed and out of the question.

That leaves on the table two other paths:
1.  Physical Therapy Tech (they do the tasks assigned by the PT--watch over patients as they do assigned rehab exercises, set up equipment, provide minor treatments such as heat, ice, stem etc)
2.  Personal Trainer

Long story short, starting next month, I'm taking two classes at the local community college designed to give me an introduction to health and wellness and the study of kinesiology (the study of human movement).  Through these classes, I hope to assess how deep is my interest in these areas and to map out a plan.  If I choose to pursue a bachelors in Kinesiology at the university, these classes will transfer.  If I decide to pursue a 2 year degree and personal trainer certification, they will also apply to that specialty.

The only negative about ASU's Kinesiology program is that all the classes are downtown Phoenix, which is about the worst location possible to have to drive for classes, but that's a battle for another day.

I can't wait to get started and see where these initial classes will lead me.  So my busy life is about to get even busier, but I'm excited about being able to take some forward steps.  I think God can use what I've been through to help others.  But even should that not turn out to be the case, it will better educate me in how to take care of myself for the remainder of my life span.

On we go!

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