Surgery Stuff

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.


  1. Author

    its understandable where your thoughts are, its not just 1 or 2 weeks your out. and as far as the surgeon chalk some of it up to bad bedside manners, unfortunate but maybe he needs a lesson in discipline. maybe a job for Mrs lion 🙂

  2. Author

    Hi Lion,

    I wrote to you before about me having the same thing. I did mine in a gym power lifting with younger guys (cops).
    The one thing I did not mention. Once I tore the rotor cuff and ignored it (hurt but not bad enough) As I kept using my right arm the rotor tear actually cut through the long head of the bi-cep over time. I think it took about a year or so. The pain was bad. I could not reach into the fridge grab a can of Coke and lift it up and out of the fridge. The pain was aweful.
    In rehab you’ll learn new words like “spider walk” where you try to use your fingers and walk up the wall and stretch the shoulder. They will place a can of soap in that hand of the bad side while you try to lift it up a few inches. It’s slow…I’m not trying to scare you just letting you know you need to something. Either rehab now or do the surgery. Waiting will do more damage, trust me on that one.
    As important as the surgeon is, you need to find a GREAT rehab place as well. One that maybe see’s rotor tears often. The first guy I had (the surgeon sent me to him) was an ass-*&^% I quit him after the first week and found my own place.

    Email if you want and I can explain more if you want.

    1. Author

      Thanks for the great information. I am getting the surgery. Even if the tendon doesn’t hurt the underlying muscle, it will degenerate and reduce the chances of success later. I appreciate your input on physical therapy. I use a full-service medical organization (not HMO!) that has a hospital, clinics and physical therapy near where I live. I went for PT last fall for the shoulder. I had lost a lot of range of motion after my injury. I got that back but some pain remains. I don’t think I will go back to that PT place. There is one associated with my medical team. They didn’t have any openings before. I think I can get one now.

      I know how much PT hurts. I admit I didn’t do the home exercises before and I did get better. This time Mrs. Lion will help me remember.

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