Major Medical: The next episode in the Shoulder Saga

You may have heard something about this before, but I hope you’ll indulge my ruminating for a minute or two…

In a little more than a week, I will be having Major Surgery. At least I think it’s Major. It’s outpatient surgery, since it will be done at a surgery facility and not in the hospital and I’ll go home the same day. It’s an arthroscopic procedure, so it will be less invasive. However, it will require me to spend about three hours under general anesthesia while they mend the torn rotator cuff and fix a couple of others things that I’ve messed up in my right shoulder since last summer – and that part, at least, sounds pretty Major to me.

Granted, it’s probably not quite as Major as the only other surgery I’ve ever had, a C-section delivery which took place 26 years ago and brought my son into the world, but it’s still kind of a big deal. I guess. I seem to be swinging back and forth in my comprehension of just how big a deal it really is.

I spent a total of about seven weeks with my right arm in a sling during 2010 – three weeks the first time I dislocated the shoulder, four weeks the next. Within a couple of weeks of each incident, I didn’t feel all that bad and I was managing pretty well one-handed; the sling stayed on mainly to prevent slippage and possible further injury. Because that’s been my experience, part of me is approaching the procedure like it’s just more of the same.

Meanwhile, another part of me is trying to convince the first part that it will be different. Even though I did have to go under anesthesia for the reduction (the medical term for putting a dislocated joint back in place) after the second dislocation, there were no incisions involved, and the whole thing was accomplished fairly quickly. However, there are always risk with a surgical procedure, even a “less invasive” one.This time, I’ve already been given post-op instructions that include wound care and prescription painkillers (which I’ve been strongly encouraged to use), and I’ll have my right arm in a sling for a non-negotiable six weeks, at the minimum.

And yet, when I told my co-workers I’d be having the surgery, their first question was “How long will you be out?” – and my first answer was “Probably a week, and then I’ll work from home or come in when I have a ride” (again, no driving while I’m in the sling). After giving it a few more days’ thought, I decided to take two weeks off instead of just one, and to be more open-ended about my return. It finally started to sink in that this really is a bigger medical issue than the original injuries were. I’ll be recovering from surgery, and that can be both painful and exhausting…which might actually be good for me. My husband will tell you that I do have a tendency to overdo – I’m not the most patient patient – but if I don’t feel up to doing much, I probably won’t do very much, and that should help the healing process. Good healing is really important, because the last thing I want is to have to go through all this crap again!

In the meantime, I’ve been busier than usual, trying to get ahead on tasks at work – where we’re closing the fiscal year – at home, and on the blog. It’s mostly so that I can relax in good conscience and focus on getting better during those first couple of weeks after surgery. That prospect is actually starting to look pretty appealing right now, to be honest – aside from the whole “recovering from surgery” part, at least. The closer that gets, the more I seem to be understanding that this probably is going to be pretty Major after all. Wish me luck and a speedy recovery, y’all…this episode gets underway on January 21, and I hope it ends up being as minor as something major can be!

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