Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shoulder Surgery Rehab Presents Surprising Challanges

There are some things that are tough, if not impossible, in the weeks immediately after shoulder surgery.

The surgery itself was a breeze -- great surgeon and anesthesiologist ... kind nurses ... being unconscious during the tricky bits. All this was easy compared to trying to get the child-proof cap off the pain medicine a day later.

It's been over a week now. I have found one position in which I can set my computer and type while keeping my left arm immobile. Taking a shower is lengthy but doable. I can't drive yet, but since my sling makes me look helpless, my co-workers at Fauquier Health are willing to drive me around.

It's the little things I miss. One of my favorite snacks is an apple cut neatly into segments, slathered with peanut butter. There is no way I can work the apple cutter with one hand. Trust me. I've tried. Slather; yes; cutting, no.

After shoulder surgery, children can be both an advantage and a liability, depending on their age. If they are in elementary school or younger, most kids secretly think you are faking the whole thing. They do not associate their enthusiastic leap onto your lap with your subsequent scream of pain. You could be in a full-body cast; they'd still expect you to cut the crusts off their sandwiches. So unless you just need someone to fetch a blanket or hand you the remote, little ones are not much help.

By the time your kids reach middle school, if you are lucky they have developed a modicum of compassion and can be helpful. My daughter is at the perfect age. She is 14 -- old enough to scramble eggs, but young enough to still depend on me for shelter and Internet service. It's a nice balance.

Shoulder recovery requires six weeks of near immobility followed by serious rehabilitation overseen by a physical therapist. I look forward with eager anticipation to sleeping without a bag of frozen peas perched on my shoulder and being able to cut my own apples.




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