There are a couple of British horror movies that explore the conditions in England 28 days and 28 weeks (respectively) after a “rage virus” infects the population with the end result of turning everyone into zombies. Appropriately enough, the first movie directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, the 2012 Summer Olympics) was named “28 Days Later”, and the second movie starring noted British actor Robert Carlyle, was named “28 Weeks Later.”
I feel like I’ve been living my own zombie movie for the past week since surgery (thus the title of the post …).
I’ve had a lot of surgery, but I have to say this one has been very rough. The last week has been a blur of sweat-soaked nights and pain-wracked days interspersed with frequent visits with my new best friends, Percocet, Hydrocodone, and Oxycontin. I had my first glimmer of normalcy for a few hours on Saturday when a friend came over to rattle my cage and share pizza. Then yesterday, I started feeling a bit human and finally today, a week later, I feel like I’ve finally awakened from a week-long nightmare.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. You know, like the murder mysteries that open with the main character awakening face down, covered in blood, wearing a ski mask, and surrounded by the pink plastic flamingos in the next-door neighbor’s yard.
When I last wrote, I didn’t know what procedure(s) would actually be done. The options ranged from a simple orthoscopic cleanup (or “debridement”) up to a full shoulder replacement.
They started with the debridement which generally cleans up the joint and, in the process, found a “massive” rotator cuff tear (which apparently didn’t show up on the imaging studies). Apparently my rotator cuff was being held together “by a thread”. So they did that repair. Unfortunately, it wasn’t done with the scope, I have a 3-4″ scar over the crown of my right shoulder, which I’m sure accounts for a great deal of the pain I’ve been having.
My previous rotator cuff surgery (two years ago on the same shoulder) was a breeze. I was the poster child of all possible outcomes being the best possible. Of course, looking back over my posts, I note that my surgeon told me that it would be more painful than shoulder replacement — which it wasn’t then but it is now.
One of the worst parts is having to sleep propped up with my shoulder in a sling. Of course, I’m off my RA meds, and since I’m basically in the same position all night, I wake up so stiff, I’m crinkly. I feel like ice has formed in my joints overnight and I have to “crunch” through it just to move in the morning.
But, a week later, I am doing much better.
A couple of other things re the surgery worth noting. First, the doctor said that I will likely need to have the shoulder replaced in 2-3 years, but that it wasn’t degraded enough at this point that he could justify it doing it now (as opposed to putting me through another major surgery in the future …). The second was that I agreed to not only general anesthesia, but a regional block which worked really well when I had shoulder replacement surgery. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist (literally) missed the mark and I wound up with the entire right side of my head numb, but nothing in my shoulder. I could do an entire
rant post about that, but it wouldn’t solve anything.
I’m doing passive exercises at home 2-3 times a day and start real physical therapy later this week. I need it. My arm is so stiff, I can’t raise my hand above my shoulder. The goal was to improve things and obviously we aren’t there yet.
So thanks to the wonderful nursing skills of my husband who pretty much stayed home with me all week, I’m starting to regain my humanity (although I still sort of look like a zombie with stringy hair, a stiff gait, and bags under my eyes).
Oh, and a final tip of the day (and I can’t believe I’m just now learning about this), if you need to keep some of your pieces and parts dry in the shower, get some Glad Press and Seal wrap. It seals to the skin. A double layer will pretty much guarantee that bandages and stitches and skin will all stay dry while the rest of you can get soaped up. (And for people like me who are allergic to tapes and adhesives, a non-tape option is a God-send.)
I probably have lots more to write, but I’ve used up all of my energy and creative juices. It’s nice to be upright and conscious for a change. Thanks to everyone who sent warm thoughts and well wishes and, as always, thanks for checking in.