The aftermath of my November surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and related problems continues. While I have every reason to believe that all this will have been worth it when I’m totally recovered, it is not for the faint of heart. I undertook the surgery and subsequent physiotherapy because I believed I would be better off with it than without it.
The visible scars of the surgery are three small Xs where the arthroscopic tools were inserted and a two inch vertical scar on the front of my shoulder. Dr. Balyk said that watching those scars gradually smooth out and lighten from angry red to a whiter, faded version is a good indicator of the progress of healing going on inside.
Part of my home therapy involves massaging the scars to loosen and break up the adhesion of tissue. Using Vitamin E oil on the scar is also supposed to help.
Because I opted to be part of a shoulder research study at the Grey Nuns Hospital, my physiotherapist has a very specific protocol of physiotherapy to lead me through. He also needs to report on my compliance. Many of the early exercises included a self-assisted component. Because the arm doesn’t have the strength and range of motion, my good arm or a cane are needed to help complete the exercise.
My therapy took a decided turn for the better when I “got it'”about pain management. I also learned about doing too many physiotherapy sessions. I learned that one session of exercises followed by 24 hours for recovery is what I should be doing. My other boo-boo was not taking enough time to rest between sets of repetitions between exercises. Now I literally watch a clock to time myself to ensure I take one-minute rest after each set of five repetitions. Five chicken wing lifts, rest, five more, rest, five more, and rest. Sometimes I feel a bit light-headed, which I guess is the body’s attention-getter. The one move than can bring me to my knees is to lie on my left side with my right arm bent and dangling down, followed by trying to point my fingers up to the ceiling. Yoy!
At this point, I’ve got about a dozen different routines to go through. Clinic visits include these plus the use of specialized equipment, as well as ultrasound and ice if necessary. Those visits go well or do not go well depending on how I feel when I get there. I have nearly a one-hour drive to get to the hospital. The potholes, ridges and heaves in the road don’t make that drive very comfortable for my poor arm.
I am however thrilled to be able to drive again. My world was very small when I had to rely on someone to pick me up, buckle me in and close my door for me. That act, plus Roy taking my arm when walking across icy parking lots and sidewalks, made me feel chivalry was reborn. That was nice.
Therapy is the road back to function, from where I sit.