Shoulder Surgery is the PITS!

One of my friends who read my blog reminded me that I’ve overlooked something fairly major in my life lately.  My husband had surgery a couple of months ago – rotator cuff surgery.  I’ll tell you, this is about the worst surgery I’ve ever heard of.  

Most surgeries you have, you’re pretty sore for a week or two, but then you’re able to get up and around pretty well after that.  I mean, I had two C-sections with 9 and 10 pound babies, and I still was able to take care of myself, a newborn baby, my husband and our pets in about a week.  But shoulder surgery like this is a whole different deal.  He had his surgery in mid-October and I think it was nearly Christmas before he was able to even use his arm for even the slightest thing.  You have to be sling-bound pretty much 24 hrs a day for about the first 8 weeks.  

I sort of thought the doctor was kidding when he told us that before the surgery.  Just imagine taking your dominant hand and arm and strapping them to your side.  Now you don’t get to use them at all for the next two months.  For anything.  No, not ANYTHING, not even a little sneak to pick up a french fry or balance your cereal bowl.  Someone (guess who?) gets to help you shower, dress, put your shoes on, open your pills, fix your meals, drive you around, just about everything!  

Even better, you can’t lay down.  For months.  Literally.  The poor guy has spent the last 3 months sleeping in the recliner.  This weekend was the first time he was able to sleep laying down for more than 2 hours.  I tried to sleep in the recliner once when I had bad heartburn.  It was pretty comfortable for about the first 3 hours, but after that, I wanted to lay DOWN.  I can’t imagine how he did that one.  Fortunately, I realized BEFORE the surgery that our recliner had a right-handed lever – oops!  We managed to find a La-z-y Boy Sofa on Craigslist with a recliner on each end for a whopping $30 bucks!  It’s butt ugly and pretty worn out, but it’s been a lifesaver.

Then there are the exercises.  The only way to get the use of your shoulder back is to do these horrible, painful exercises – six times a day starting the day after surgery.  I wouldn’t wish that on a dog!  Even now, they have him lifting weights every day.  A whole 2 pounds and he can barely lift it, but that’s all the therapist will let him do.  

They say he’s going to be able to go back to work in a couple of weeks, but I think it’s still going to be a part-time, very limited situation for a while.  We’re just lucky they’ve managed to hold his job open.  He works as a the only welder at this tiny little company that makes truck bodies, but they’ve been really good about it and have kept his job open all this time.  

Plus we’ve had a lot of help from our friends and neighbors.  I’ve had to work most of the time through this whole thing, so we’ve had friends and family who have provided meals for us, helped with his therapy, driven him to appointments, etc.  Our son even moved back in to help us with all the stuff Tony can’t do – lawn moving, snow removal, carrying heavy things around, etc.

There have been some benefits to having him home all the time though.  Once he got his sling off, he’s been doing most of the cooking and some of the cleaning.  I managed to guilt him into wrapping almost all the Christmas presents.  He’s been able to make Blake do his homework when he gets home from school.  And once he could drive, he’s been able to run a lot of my little errands for me – bank, post office, etc.  

But on the other hand, it’s kind of like retirement – half as much money and twice as much husband!  I think he’s picked up a major TV addiction.  I swear he watches that thing for about 20 hours a day – mostly reruns of old shows, and reality shows like Pawn Stars and Pimp my Ride.  Even when I was on maternity leave, I managed to do a ton of stuff and take care of a newborn baby besides.  Oh well, guess it’s a guy thing.  

The weird thing is that we don’t really know how he even hurt himself.  I think it’s a combo of work, bowling, moving furniture and stuff around the house, and working in the yard.  He’s always digging up sprinkler lines, or trimming trees or some darn thing.  It’s a wonder he doesn’t hurt himself more often!  

Word of advice – take good care of your shoulders.  Warm up well before sports, and watch yourself on ice.  Just like when you buy a new brand of car and find out everyone else is driving it, we’ve met dozens of people who’ve had this surgery and some who’ve even had it in both shoulders – ick!  Oh well, we’re almost through this and hopefully, he’ll take better care of himself in the future.  He’d better, or next time he is going to be a rotator cuff/lobotomy combo surgery!

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