Four weeks tomorrow

One month down…eleven to go!  These past four weeks have been an eternity and I’m glad to be crossing this milestone.  I wish I could say it’s been easy so far but it has not.  I have had pain like I’ve never experienced and moments of complete despair.  There were days where I literally sat motionless for 23.5 out of 24 hours and other days that just passed in a haze of pain medication and Netflix.  Those were the dark days.

Now, at four weeks, I am still so far away from recovery, but things are getting better every day.  There are some scary developments, like being completely unable to move my arm out in front of me — not because it hurts too much, but because it is not responding to what my brain tells it to do.  It just hangs there.  I can move it in other directions and so I know that it is not a case of the muscle atrophying.  It just feels like whatever muscle was needed to lift it slightly is now gone.  In order to type, I have to pick up my arm and rest my hands on the keyboard.  Once I do that, I can type (with my arm pressed in to my side).  I have no idea if this is normal but I’ll be asking my surgeon when I see him on Wednesday.  Until then, my orders from PCA are to stay positive and not freak out.

I had wanted to write more frequently so that I could keep track of my little victories.  I would love to say that life got in the way, but I don’t have much of one.  I’ll try to make the best of it now.

I made a lot of progress between weeks two and three.  We went to Vegas for Thanksgiving, and PCA hooked up the ice machine in the car so that I could ice the whole way there.  Then we spent most of the time relaxing in the hotel room.  Occasionally I would put on the sling and stroll around the casino, but it sometimes got stressful because there are so many people who don’t look where they are going and I was constantly bobbing and weaving trying to avoid a collision.

We had big plans of going out to dinner and a show — PCA had planned the whole thing, including a Pretty Woman-esque day of shopping for something to wear since I only brought elastic-waist sweatpants and slip on shoes.  Unfortunately, after a few hours of shopping, my shoulder was throbbing and it soon became clear that we had been overdoing it.  I think that was the night that I took a few Percocet and watched a intensely detailed documentary on PBS about David Geffen instead.  

I have no regrets.  It was wonderful to be with my family, and also to be out and about socializing.  We even found a craps machine I could play since I couldn’t throw dice at the table.  It was the first time I had slept in a bed since the surgery.  We got 6 pillows and made me a sort of inverted V shape and I slept on my back propped up with my arm resting on a pillow.  My other triumphs were: taking a shower on my own for the first time (still washing my hair one-handed though) AND I managed to tear the TP off the roll myself.  All in all, I’m so glad I went.  

Today, at four weeks, I feel like I’m slowly getting better.  It is so clear when I overdo it, and I pay the price for days.  I tried to go for a long walk over the weekend, and ended up doing 3.5 miles, including some small hills.  It took me an hour and a half to walk, including two breaks.  I ended up having to sit on a wall outside someone’s home because I thought I was going to get sick.  Once I got home I laid down and could not get warm for hours afterwards.  That night we went to the tree-lighting on Main St and out for a drink, with a plan to walk to a neighbor’s party.  But the walk was too much and we ended up having to turn around just half a block from their house.  I went home and went straight to bed.

As I’m sitting here now, my shoulder is hurting.  I still do my routine of icing and passive exercises and Tylenol.  I stopped taking the pain meds about a week ago and stopped taking Ambien two nights ago.  The nights are still very difficult as I am still sleeping in my sling and lying on my back.  I’ve had terrible nightmares and insomnia.  The pattern seems to be one very bad night followed by a good one, over and over.

What else to report?  The days are longer now since I don’t get as many visitors and I can’t sit in the chair for one minute longer than I need to.  I feel like I can’t watch any more TV and I’ve never been much of a movie person.  I do lots of crossword puzzles and am reading a book about every three days (“The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet” was unbelievable.  David Mitchell is a virtuoso).  PCA has been working a lot and that’s a good thing.  We were together every minute for three weeks (except for breaks when my sisters or mom came to take care of me) and he has been there pre-tearing TP, fastening my bra, getting me dressed, putting my hair up (still a source of frustration), tying my shoes, filling my ice machine, washing my hair, making tea, hosing me down in the shower, cleaning the whole house, cooking to order, running errands, grocery shopping, doing laundry AND working.  But more than anything, he has been my cheerleader.  He has patiently listened to me through the worst of my fears, anger, doubt and sadness.  He forced me to follow the doctor’s orders exactly, and forbid me to overdo it.  And through it all he stayed positive and always brought me back from the “dark place” to one of hope and excitement for the future.  Had I any doubts about marrying him — which I never did — they would certainly have been squashed by now.  He is the most wonderful person on the face of the planet and he’s my rock.

Right now he is dozing in my reclining chair.  I so wish I could wrap (both of my) arms around him.

Anyway, the past few days have seen huge milestones.

  • We had people over for brunch on Sunday and I felt great the whole time.  That night we went to the movies and although I was uncomfortable sometimes, I found that shifting my arm around seemed to help.  P.S. “Lincoln” was incredible.
  • I drove for the first time — to the gym 1 mile away.  I don’t think I’ll be driving any farther for a while, as it’s still one-handed and it’s hard to do any type of twisting to look behind me which makes parking a small challenge BUT it’s so great not to feel trapped
  • I went to the gym and rode the recumbent bike for 20 minutes, then walked to the library a few blocks away to get a few new books.  A guy in the gym told me I was hardcore.  So true.
  • And…I finally managed to reach my hair with both hands!  By crouching over and tilting my head down to my right hand, and keeping my arm firmly pressed against my side, I could almost sort of put it up.  It’s a weird-looking retro side bun but it is huge progress!

Tonight we are heading to the Promenade to get a little Christmas spirit.  I’m about to make coffee with cinnamon whipped cream and can’t wait!

Here’s a pic of my messy side bun:

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