Saturday, July 23, 2011


Shoulder Surgery

I can't now remember how I first hurt my shoulder, but I'm now sure I tore my right shoulder rotator cuff whatever I did. My orthopedic specialist gave me a miracle shot of marcain and steroids and I did some physical therapy and things seemed better--at least it didn't keep me awake at night. Then I broke a stout green branch in the air in front of me with two hands to put into the trash a few years ago. That was a mistake, but I recovered soon and was learning to cope when just before Christmas last I fell on the ice. I went back to the orthopedic surgeon. I got an MRI and the results were alarming, at least to her. Then I noticed how I was compensating a lot when lifting and the eventual up-shot was that I had arthroscopic surgery yesterday that I think went OK.

There are four muscles that make up the rotator cuff and keep the top of the humorous bone, the ball, in the socket. Most of the pain from a tear in one or more of the muscles comes from impingement, when the ball rides up in the socket and pinches muscle and tendons against the acromium. To repair things, the doctors put screws, with sutures attached at the head, in the ball and then pull over the retracted remnants of the torn muscles and tendons and tie them down. The success of the surgery depends a lot on the pliancy of the remnants and the 'quality' of the tissue-- will it hold down and reattach. Apparently my torn muscles were good and I have a good chance of a near full recovery. Yeah.

I made the mistake of agreeing to a brachial plexus nerve block which numbed and paralyzed my whole arm for most of the day. Touching a warm Zombie arm is an unpleasant thing, made even creepier by the sense that it is not your arm and is your arm both at the same time. I had a general anesthetic as well, but this time the last two seconds before coming to were not as supremely pleasant as in the past. The last times were so good, it's what you hope to feel in the presence of God. The good thing about the block was that there was no pain while it lasted and now that it's worn off, even with low grade narcotics, I'm in pain, maybe a four out of ten.

You have to wear a sling, all the time, even in bed, so sleep was hard to come by last night. Not that I'm complaining; I think things will get better as time goes by.


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