It happens tomorrow

Mark (that would be my surgeon) takes his hardest cases first, and I’m first. I have to check-in at 6:00 a.m. He will remove a bursa, chisel down my acromium (a bone in the shoulder), sever and reattach at least one tendon, and possibly sever and reattach my biceps. He’ll try doing it all arthroscopically, but there is a possibility that he will have to cut me open.

If all goes well, I will be sent home tomorrow afternoon with my arm in a sling, and the sling fastened around my body. The sling comes with a thick pad that will hold my arm three inches away from my chest. I have to wear the sling day and night for six weeks. During the first two weeks, Peggy is supposed to use a weird looking apparatus to pump ice water around my shoulder once an hour for 25 minutes.

After the sling is removed, I will begin flexing exercises. After a month of those, I will (hopefully) be allowed to lift things that weigh a pound or two, and will begin strengthening exercises. After a year, I should have regained 90% of my strength and range of motion. Sometime during that year, I will start the process again on my left shoulder.

I’ve had twelve surgeries (or will have after tomorrow), eight of them since the year 2000, and three of them last year alone. I used to regard surgery as an adventure rather than something to fear. I’ll still grant that it’s an adventure all right, but if my fear were any stronger, I would have to be in constant screaming agony to let anyone near me with a scalpel. The reason for the change was that the more surgeries I had, the more I observed that things just never seemed to turn out the way they were supposed to. Based upon this, I’ve come to expect an unexpectedly bad outcome.

When I had my first fairly serious surgery in 2003, I got into an argument with the anesthesiologist about whether I needed something to calm my nerves pre-operatively. I said I didn’t because I wasn’t scared, and he said I did because anybody in my position would be scared. Now, I want all of everything as I lie there awaiting that gurney ride to the operating room.

Since learning what a drag chronic pain can be, I’ve gone out of my way to stash narcotics. I will actually endure considerable pain rather than take the drugs now at the risk of not having them at some future time when I might be truly desperate. I won’t do that this time because I expect the pain to be of such intensity that it might build to the point that the narcotics won’t be as effective. It’s like when you have a headache. If you treat it early on, you might be able to head it off (pardon the pun), whereas if you wait, you probably won't.

I wish I could think of something good to say, but the only thing that comes to mind is that it will be adventure. God knows; it will be that. And, hell, things might even turn out okay. A year from now, I might be feeling pretty good. Stranger things have happened…I guess. Well, maybe they haven’t. I wouldn’t want to run amuck with optimism here.


Natalie said...

Your fear is understandable,Snow!
Best of luck for tomorrow, mate, I will be there with you in spirit, annoying you with my faith, and my music that is too loud, and generally making a nuisance of myself!
Take care,because if you don't, I will get my Angels to bop you one!xx

Kanga Jen said...

I'll be thinking about you tomorrow. My dad had a somewhat similar surgery this past summer - not quite as intensive as you're planning, it sounds though. Once he got through some minor (?) surgical complications (intestinal blockage), he's been fine and today he told me he can move his arm without pain for just about everything he wants to do. I asked him if he'd ever be a weight lifter but he just scoffed at me.

I wish I could tell you not to worry, but I am a master worrier and I would be worried about the same things if I were in your place. I can say that most times my worries have been proven unfounded after the fact, and I do hope that holds true for you.

In a selfish vein, I hope that in a couple of months you'll be back writing your insightful posts interlaced with your very delightful dry sense of humor.



Michelle said...

Wishing you all the very best and a great outcome!

I can relate to your terror, but it sounds to me like it may well be worth it if it helps you with your pain in the long run.


Anonymous said...

I'll be sending good vibes your way! Everything will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Snowbrush. I hope that this is the surgery that corrects the problem and allows you to move on with your life.
Sending you healing prayers.

MarionL said...

Snow, regarding having the earliest surgery, I'll tell you some advice that was given to me before I got my first tattoo: "Get the freaks while they're fresh."

So count yourself LUCKY that you're getting the "fresh" surgeon! Good Luck....but don't you think "The Scream" painting is maybe helping feed your fear? Maybe a nice pastoral scene by Renoir instead? LOL! I love it. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery. HUGS from stormy Louisiana

julie said...

Snow, I'm so sorry that you are going through this...You have a lot of people thinking of you and sending you light...Hope you're back with us soon...

Renee said...

I am thinking of you now and will be thinking of you tomorrow.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and I am praying that you will have a good outcome.

I must say though tht I am very surprised that you will be out tomorrow.

Take care and here is to everything going well.

love Renee xoxo

KC said...

I, too am sending my best wishes for the optimistic outcome. I think many of us prepare ourselves for the worst, but hope for the best and are pleasantly surprised when that is what we get. I also send my best wishes to Peggy.

Unknown said...

you my friend are the first name on my nightly devotional list which means, YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO ME.
I can relate to the pre-op fear -( 'give me anything and give me lots of it !!!') as well as the drug stashing for future pain- i always have a pile, well hidden because you just never know.

My only thought to you here and now is about projection and trying hard ( it is hard) to project a positive outcome rather than a dark one.

You have my prayers my friend, and soon you will have my angels as well- like i have told you before, my faith is enough for both of us.

blessed be dear Snow, I will see you on the other side ( of the op not of life !!!!!- stop thinking like that !!!!!)
smooch xx

All Consuming said...

Here's hoping all went well Snow, you're in my thoughts, and I know exactly what you mean about hoarding painkillers, spot on for me that. Fond wishes to you and Peggy, you've both been thorugh the mill for some time now, you're due some good times, I hope the small gods send them to you. xx

His kajirah said...

You haven't left my thoughts since I learned this day was coming for you.

Since I'm home from my surgery (they cut my spine open and I got to come home the same day. Workers Comp doesn't pay for "extra's) and you're not, my thoughts and prayers are with you all the way.

Wishing you pain eased days and nights. The first 3 maybe even week will probably be the worse from there I'll be praying for a speedy recovery for you.

If you ever need to vent, I'll be near.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

I went through a similar surgery and, with pain meds, the "after" was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. I hope the same for you.

On another note, I'm writing a book about smart dogs and would like to include the story of Peggy throwing the ball and Frisbee for Bonnie. Please contact me by email (karen at karen shanley dot com)to let me know if you're interested. Thanks.

Good luck tomorrow!

Unknown said...

Will also be thinking of you Snow,and I think you posted the perfect piece of art, lol.

So you (used to) hoard painkillers too? I did the same thing when I was out of a job and before I became Medicare eligible! I was so afraid my back would 'go out' and there would be nothing to dull the pain, I kept anything I could get my hands on in anticipation.

Wish for you the perfect outcome and like someone else said, at least your doc will be fresh.

Prayers coming your way.

Strayer said...

Good luck, Snow. Actually I wish it was me, there, getting my shoulder fixed maybe for good. Mine was numb and painful most of last week. I'm fairly useless these days, due to the chronic pain, mainly from that original neck thing. So I hope for you the relief will come, and you can live more years without so much pain. You must be under the knife now, or just done. Let's hope all will be well. Sounds pretty rough though, from your description of what might get cut through, and re-attached, etc. Yikes.

Unknown said...

i am guessing the work is done now- i am sending love and light and angels to guide your healing xx

Snowbrush said...

"I asked him if he'd ever be a weight lifter..." Jen

I used to lift weights, and would like to do it again so as to help prevent injuries such as this one. I can't wait to get started (although I know I have to).

"most times my worries have been proven unfounded after the fact..." Jen

Mine too.

"it may well be worth it if it helps you with your pain in the long run." MIchelle

It had to be done, if not now later, so why not now before the arm goes to hell completely. Such was my thinking.

"I'll be sending good vibes your way!" Pan Mom

Caught them! Thanks.

"Sending you healing prayers." Audrey

Blessed may you be, Audrey.

"'re due some good times..." All con

Feeling pretty good at the moment, my dear Brit, but maybe it's the Demerol, eh?

"...don't you think "The Scream" painting is maybe helping feed your fear?" Marion

And I thought that particular Munch was called "The Guffaw"! On a serious note, I don't know the answer to your question. Sometimes, the quickest way out of something is straight through it, but only if one doesn't become stuck.

"You have a lot of people thinking of you and sending you light."

Thank you, Julie.

"I must say though tht I am very surprised that you will be out tomorrow." Renee

It's good to be home, though. I'm so much more comfortable here, and then too hospitals are dangerous places for mursa, pneumonia, and the like.

"I also send my best wishes to Peggy." K.C.

Yes, she will be doing most of the work around here for a long time to come.

"blessed be dear Snow" Lisa

And back at you a hundred times over if such a thing is possible.

"I wish it was me, there, getting my shoulder fixed..." Strayer

Yes, if there's anything worse than having surgery, it's not having insurance that will pay for surgery. I have often reflected upon how lucky I am in this regard. BTW, I too had numbness and tingling, but it was from my neck rather than my shoulder, and three steroid shots took care of it, at least for now.

Karen, I will be in touch. Thank you for your compassion.

"I think you posted the perfect piece of art, lol. "

It makes it nice when something comes to mind without even having to go looking for it. BTW, I loved you story about the snake.

"I'll be praying for a speedy recovery for you." Kajirah

And I for you, my friend who has known so much suffering.

CJ said...

Ouch. This sounds painful and scary, but I am posting this comment after the fact so the surgery is over. I hope your recovery and therapy are going well.

My husband had shoulder pain for years and then we started to do Nordic walking, which was developed for cross-country skiers to keep in shape during the off-season. I suggested it after reading an article. I had knee surgery and had torn ligaments and tendons in my ankle. Nordic walking relieves pressure on those areas and works the upper as well as the lower body. We didn't think it would help my husband, but he has had no pain in his shoulder since we started walking regularly. We are in our 60's and I am out-of-shape, so it isn't difficult or overly strenuous, although you can get a good workout by walking longer/faster. I’m not sure exactly the nature of yuor shoulder problem, but you might ask your doctor if Nordic walking would be a good activity for you once you are up to it.

Snowbrush said...

CJ, I'm 20 days out, and it still hurts a good bit, but it had to be done.

I was to the point that I couldn't even do the gentlest exercises without steroids. There were times when I even had to hold place my hands atop my shoulders because I couldn't stand for my arms to swing the least bit when I walked.