As you can see, I’m able to do my programming work from the comfort of my big recliner … although Rascal occasionally hops up to remind me I should take a mental break and pay attention to something besides work.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that recovery is going to be a lot longer and more involved than I’d anticipated.
The surgeon originally predicted I’d be back to normal activity within six weeks. That’s because he thought all he’d have to do in there is shave down the bone spur that was causing collisions in the shoulder joint. And in fact, that part of the operation wasn’t traumatic at all. I have three small punctures in my skin where he went in with a scope. I get a bit of an ache in that part of the shoulder, but it’s nothing much.
The torn bicep tendon is another matter altogether. No scope for that procedure. He had to go in the old-fashioned way and slice open my arm. To re-attach the tendon (as I learned later), he cut a slit in the arm bone, then nailed the tendon into the slit with a tiny titanium spike. The bone will eventually grow back over and around the tendon and the spike (which will remain in my arm), and then the tendon will be fully attached.
Well, it turns out that when a surgeon cuts open your arm, slices away a portion of bone, then pounds a little spike into the bone, it hurts rather a lot. I’m allowed to take two Percocet tablets every four to six hours, according to the prescription. I don’t want to process that much acetaminophen and oxycodone through my liver, so after the first day recovering at home, I started limiting myself to one tablet every four hours. Then I stretched it to five hours, then six.
I’ve gotten to the point now where I take one tablet during the day, then two before bed. I need the two-pill dose before bed because if the pain isn’t completely numbed, I can’t sleep. I usually wake up five or six hours later with my shoulder throbbing, take one more pill, then go back to sleep for another three or four hours. During the day, I can mostly get by with cold packs to reduce the pain.
The pain level will continue to diminish. Unfortunately, it will take 10 weeks for the bone to grow around the re-attached bicep tendon, and I’ll be stuck wearing a sling that pins my arm to my body the entire time. I’m not supposed to flex the bicep muscle at all, not even to pick up a coffee cup. A physical therapist will move the arm for me, but the most I’m allowed to do on my own is lift the forearm with my other hand and place it on the laptop for working.
I won’t be able to fully exercise the arm for four to six months. Yeesh. I went through that the last time I had major shoulder surgery. As you’d expect, I lost rather a lot of muscle and strength – not just in the arms, but in the entire upper body, because you can’t do much upper-body work that doesn’t involve the arms.
So no farm work, no fixing up Sara’s cabin, nothing until spring. I’m not happy to be in this situation, but I still feel more gratitude than anything. The surgeon found the torn bicep tendon and fixed it. That was him being a good doctor and looking for problems that didn’t show up on the MRI. I can still do my programming job. I can still write blog posts. After a bit more healing, I’ll be able to get back to working on the film.
If I feel the least bit tempted to complain, I remind myself that Chareva’s father lost the use of his left arm permanently after his stroke. My situation is temporary. It will take some time and effort to get back to full strength and normal activities, but I will get there.
In the meantime, there are plenty of books I’ve wanted to read and courses I’ve wanted to watch on Lynda.com. With no weekend farm work in my near future, I may as well get to them.