Not what I wanted to hear

Today I had my January appointment with my surgeon. As usual, he had me raise my arm as high as I could get it up (to my side and out in front), and then he took hold of it and forced it up until I winced in pain.

He told me that, although it looked like I’ve made some progress, I was not where he would like me to be at four months out from surgery.

He also told me that, because I am still having issues with pain, I may have damaged the repair. I told him that I didn’t remember any time (but once) where I could have damaged it. He said that it would not necessarily have been something that I would have noticed. He said that if things didn’t settle down, he would order another MRI on my next visit (2/3/15).

In conclusion, he said to continue with the therapy three days a week, and to “ask the man upstairs to make it get better.” I told him that I’ve already done the latter quite a few times.

So, although it looked for a little while like this shoulder repair was going to go better than the last one, it now looks like it could be about the same (and hopefully I have not damaged it). I am anxious for this to be done, but I’ll have to be patient.

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Christmas vacation

This Sunday (the 27th), it will be four months since I had my surgery. I have been in therapy for 14 weeks, having begun on September the 14th.

Yesterday, I asked Jason (my therapist) whether we would be done by the end of the month. I knew he would say no, but I asked him just to get his response. He told me that he “wished” we would be done by then. I then asked him when he thought we would be done. He said that he would be very happy if we were done by the end of January.

We are still making incremental progress, and so that is good. We have also started the strengthening exercises with weights and resistance bands. Jason still “works” on me, by forcing my arm into “stretched” positions. This is the most painful part of the therapy. He literally pushes my arm “hard” to get a “stretch.” This is the only way to break the scar tissue loose to recover the range of motion.

He then has me do a bunch of exercises where I force my arm myself into those stretch positions. This is self inflicted pain – you push until it hurts. There is no other way to get things loosened up.

I am progressing along as I did in my last rotator cuff surgery. It was in January that I started to freeze up after my last surgery. I was moving along slowly as now. So, I am hoping that I don’t run into the same situation this time around. The next two weeks, I will have only one appointment with Jason each week, and so all of the work of stretching will be on me here at home. Jason warned me that I had better not slack off, or we could lose some of the progress that we’ve worked hard to gain. I will do my best to not allow that to happen.

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A Moment of Thankfulness

Recovery from rotator cuff surgery is a long and painful road. Today, I had my physical therapy appointment in the morning, and then my surgeon appointment in the afternoon.

I’ll go ahead and confess that during the course of my recovery, I am not always in a mood of thankfulness. So, when that special time is upon me, I try to post my blog reports.

This morning, I once again asked Jason to give me his assessment of my progress. I wanted to know how far along we are toward completion. He will always do an evaluation prior to my monthly doctor appointment, advising my surgeon of our progress.

But, today, Jason wanted me to do a self-evaluation first. After thinking for a minute, I guessed that we could be 60% of the way. I then told him that it wasn’t really important what I thought, but what he thought. He then told me that he believed we are at about the 50% mark.

Then, this afternoon, I had my surgeon appointment. The doc raised my arm in different positions, and then let go of it, telling me to see how high I could maintain that position. He made me jump during a couple of the motions.

After that, we talked about my use of the pain medication, and how I would eventually need to wean myself off of it. He explained that the body builds up tolerance to it, and that after a while, it doesn’t help as much.

My doctor is a humble, but exceptionally gifted man. I have the utmost respect for him. He is not condescending, but instead very personable and always cheerful. He would have been GREAT at whatever he decided to do with his life, but he chose medicine. We had a nice conversation today, and he advised me to “stay the course” with the therapy, reminding me that my last shoulder surgery recovery took longer than most.

This afternoon, I began to realize just how blessed I am to have him for my surgeon, and Jason for my therapist. I love them both. I feel so fortunate to have the kind of care that I’m getting. These men are so gifted and professional. They both really care about me, and are doing the best job they know how to get me fixed up and back in action.

Even the staff at my surgeon’s office is wonderful. They are all courteous, cheerful, and respectful. The same is true for the therapy center.

As I said earlier in this post, I am not always in the mood to be thankful, so I wanted to get this written down while I was “in the spirit” of thankfulness. God has really blessed me, and I am SO grateful for it.

Thank you, Lord, and thank you to all those who have prayed for me. 🙂

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It has been fifteen weeks (almost four months) since my surgery, and I’ve been going to therapy for thirteen weeks (three times a week).

Today, I asked Jason (my therapist) what kind of progress we were making. I pointed out the fact that, at present, I can’t lift my affected arm to shoulder height. I asked him what was necessary to get my arm up higher. He said that there was nothing to do that we were not already doing. He said that until I get my range of motion back, we could not begin working on strengthening the shoulder.

I then asked him how much longer he thought it would take to get to the finish line. He said that, presently, we are making progress, and that as long as we are making progress (albeit slowly), we just had to keep going forward. He said, “I can tell you this with confidence, you may as well count on being here going into January.”

I also asked him when I will know whether I’m going to end up with a frozen shoulder like the last time. He said that as long as we are making progress each week, we don’t have to start that conversation. I asked him this because it was in January after my last shoulder surgery, that he and my surgeon concluded that my range of motion progress had stalled, and more radical measures were called for.

So, there it is. Rotator cuff repairs can take a long time to heal, and then even among those who have this surgery, there is no guarantee how long it will take each patient. We are all different, and there are differences in the amount of damage that was repaired. I’m always bugging Jason to try to find out how much longer it’s going to take, but like they say, “It ain’t over, till it’s over.”

Next Wednesday, I’ll have another appointment with my surgeon. He will see how high he can lift my arm before I start jumping, and then he’ll tell me to keep going to therapy. The appointment in January will be the critical one.




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Happy Thanksgiving!

In everything give thanks!

Thomas Watson,  1620-1686, All Things for Good

“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

See what cause the saints have to be frequent in the work of thanksgiving! In this, Christians are defective; though they are much in supplication–yet they are little in thanksgiving. The apostle says, “In everything give thanks!” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Why so? Because God makes everything work together for our good. We thank the physician, though he gives us a bitter medicine which makes us nauseated–because it is to make us well. We thank any man who does us a good turn; and shall we not be thankful to God–who makes everything work for good to us?

God loves a thankful Christian! Job thanked God when He took all away: “The Lord has taken away–blessed be the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21). Many will thank God when He gives; Job thanks Him when He takes away, because he knew that God would work good out of it.

We read of saints with harps in their hands–an emblem of praise (Revelation 14:2). Yet we meet many Christians who have tears in their eyes, and complaints in their mouths! But there are few with their harps in their hands–who praise God in affliction.

To be thankful in affliction–is a work peculiar to a saint.
Every bird can sing in spring–but few birds will sing in the dead of winter!
Everyone, almost, can be thankful in prosperity–but a true saint can be thankful in adversity!

Well may we, in the worst that befalls us–have a psalm of thankfulness, because God works all things for our good. Oh, be much in giving thanks to God!

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Week 11 – The slog

On Wednesday of this week, Jason (my therapist) asked me whether I had done my exercises at home on Tuesday. I told him that I hadn’t because I was sick. He then wanted to know what sickness I was suffering from. I explained to him what my problem was and why I could not do my exercises.

I then reminded him that he told me at one point that he was accepting of my having a day off each week from the exercises. He then said, “Yes, you can have that day off, IF you have faithfully done your exercises TWICE on each of the days that you don’t come in for therapy. Only under those conditions, can you have a day off.” He then said that he can tell whether I’m doing my exercises because I will be more “tight” than if I had done my “homework.”

When Jason is doing the painful PROM (passive range of motion) exercises, I make a lot of faces (like the header above this page) according to the amount of pain I’m dealing with. Jason told me that when I do my AROM (active range of motion) exercises, he wants to see the same “faces” that I make when he is working on me. I laughed and asked him whether he thought I was just “acting.” I told him the faces I make are because I’m in extreme pain, and that it is an involuntary response to the pain I’m being subjected to. He said that I’m going to have to push myself harder if I want to make more progress. He thinks that I’m being too easy on myself doing my home exercises.

Ok, today is Friday, and Jason could tell today that I had done my “homework” yesterday. He said that doing my exercises at home helps to “keep” the progress that we made when I come in and he stretches me. He said that without my own aggressive exercise at home, my tightness returns just like a rubber band contracting.

So, when it was all said and done this week, we did make some progress. I have now been going to therapy for 2 months. It does get old going in there 3 days a week and doing my “homework” on all the other days. And, what makes it a little depressing is that I don’t know when I will ever get done with this. It’s nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I don’t see it yet. But, I will press on.

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Week 10 Doctor’s Appointment

Today I had my 10 week doctor’s appointment with my surgeon. No surprises. He lifted my arm to see how high he could get it, and then lowered it. He then told me, “Stay the course, it’s a long road as you know.”

I asked him if he read the therapist report that was sent, and he said that he had not. He said that it didn’t matter, because I still had a lot of therapy to go yet. He also said that this shoulder will probably take longer to heal because it had a larger tear.

So, there it is. Perseverance is the name of the game at this point. I’ll keep going into therapy 3 days a week, and hopefully things will loosen up. Jason has added some new exercises this week, and we are making slow progress.

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