I had my two-week follow up appointment with the surgeon today, so it seems an appropriate time to catch up and give a more full account.
We got the call the Thursday before surgery informing me that I had drawn the first slot. Plusses: The surgeon will be fresh and rested; it will be over sooner. Minuses: We will have to be in Taos by 5:45 A.M. Which has unpleasant overtones of being shot at dawn.
It went well, mostly. The I.V. needle in my hand took two pokes, but all else went smoothly. I got a free very close shave of my shoulder. The anesthesiologist gave me a nerve block for the pain; in fact, the last thing I remember is the anesthesiologist telling me the first numbing shots would “pinch”, then telling the nurse to give me the sedative.
I came out of some vague dream to find myself in recovery, my arm in a cradle, and five small holes in my shoulder. All done. The surgeon seemed pleased with himself when he dropped in to see how I was doing, which suggests the surgery went well. The nurse brought out a bedpan and, oddly (in light of later difficulties) I was able to “void.” Soon I was wheeled out to the post-recovery where Cindy joined me.
Bladder got full again. But now those fargin’ smooth muscles would not let go. Deep anesthesia seems to do that to me, and it did not help that I was in a bad state of mind from the drugs. I ended up briefly catheterized, to get me home, and after I got home, it took a supreme effort of will to relax the sphincter enough to “void”. For several days, actually. Next time I have surgery, I’m going to see a urologist first and have myself rebored.
The first day of recovery was swell. I had the nerve block, which numbed everything on that side from earlobe to armpit. I also had some groovin’ narcotics. Life was surprisingly good, except for no appetite and the smooth muscle thing.
And the stretching exercises.
My instructions clearly told me to do passive shoulder table stretches three times a day starting the day after surgery. That hurt enough that I actually called to be sure I had read the instructions right and wasn’t pulling out all the internal sutures.
“But it hurts like hell.”
“You just had arthroscopic surgery, dude. It’s going to hurt like hell.”
I don’t normally get that colorful, but this was a very special occasion. And, oddly, the answer was comforting. Pain I could handle; fear of undoing $25,000 of surgical repairs was another matter.
A few days in, I was very plugged up from the narcotics, and wondered how soon I should start trying to wean myself off them. Called the duty nurse. “Arthroscopic surgery is very painful. Most people continue with the narcotics for at least a week. I mean, you’ve got anchors driven into your shoulder bone.” Well then.
Got very restless by the third Monday (that would be two days ago.) Television is dreadful. As the an-aesthetics wore off, I progressed from Jail to Cops to Pawn Stars to Spongebob Squarepants to Phineas and Ferb. Then just reading books, though I may watch A Bridge Too Far tonight. Earlier I watched Interstellar and The Martian, of which I preferred the latter — the best I’ve seen out of Hollywood in years.
Now relying on pure Tylenol for pain control.
The follow up today went well. I got the stitches out, and the surgeon seemed pleased with the passive range of motion of my arm. We went over photographs of the surgery. Seems there was a lot of scarring and a bone spur to remove, and the biceps tendon was all frayed, but the cuff tear was still held by a couple of strands — which the surgeon cut before reseating it and sewing it down.
I also got cleared to return to light duty at work. We’ll see if Occupational Health wants to have me back with my arm still in a cradle (for four more weeks) and only one hand to type with. I’m actually good if they tell me to go home and not come back for another month; I still have plenty of sick leave. And typing one-fingered makes my other arm sore.
Which is an excellent reason to quit for now.