Mrs. Lion and I have been deep in shoulder surgery research. We have been sharing our learnings. I have been rehearsing the use of my left hand to do things. My right arm hasn’t been doing very much. As a result the shoulder pain has been increasing.
Yesterday, I finally woke up to the fact that by practicing how I will function after surgery, I have been making things worse now. Reasonable use of my injured shoulder maintains my range of motion and minimizes pain.
So, I have made a point of using both arms. The pain has receded a bit. It is still bad at night, but during the day it subsides to a rumble that Tylenol almost controls. I’ve all but committed to the surgery. I am waiting until I can talk to my family physician before pulling the trigger.
I am also not totally happy with the surgeon’s bedside manner. He was a bit short and impatient when I wanted to talk about recovery. If he can’t understand the concern a twelve-to-eighteen month recuperation can cause me, I’m not sure I want him managing my care. If he’s the very best in the Northwest, I will cope. Otherwise I will look for a better medical fit.
You may be wondering why we are both writing so far afield of male chastity and domestic discipline. For me, the reason is very simple: I can’t think about anything else right now.
Unlike lots of other medical stuff, shoulder surgery is technically optional. I can choose to avoid it. Nothing catastrophic will happen if I don’t do it. The pain will continue and probably grow over time. The tears may grow. My range of motion and strength will almost certainly decline. About half the people who have rotator cuff tears don’t get surgery. Many have no idea they have the problem.
This is true in cases of degenerative rotator cuff tears. Over time, the joint deteriorates. People who do physical work that involves lifting or other repetitive motions are particularly prone to this problem. Traumatic tears happen as the result of an accident or a sports injury. These tears go the full thickness of the tendon. Unlike degenerative rotator cuff tears, the traumatic tear involves healthy tissue that hasn’t thinned. That is the case with me.
I fell and caught myself with my straight arm. I was holding my cell phone and it broke. My rotator cuff tore. The MRI, according to the surgeon, shows a fairly large tear through the full thickness. The longer I wait to do this, the more likely it will get worse and the tendon will further deteriorate.
Shoulder surgery is particularly painful during recovery and it takes a long time for things to get better. I can expect physical therapy for many months and more than a year before I get full use of my arm. That’s why it is all I think about right now.