Shoulder surgery: Second time around

26 12 2015

Five years ago I had shoulder surgery on my left shoulder.

However, in the past 12 months my upper right arm has exhibited the same pain as the left one did in the months prior to the operation. I’ve had bursa injections, done physio, had acupuncture done by the physio, etc. Everything gave only temporary relief (from a couple of hours to a couple of days [the injection]). I’ve also been on anti-inflammatories for several months. So it was back to the orthopedic surgeon who did my left shoulder, and yes, I had to have the same procedure done on the right shoulder.

I had surgery on my right shoulder on Dec 19, the Saturday before Christmas. As before, it was an Arthroscopic Subacromial Decompression (ASAD), with a something called a ‘Capsular Release’. Basically, the surgeon scraped away some of the bone in my shoulder so that the tendon could move freely. He also told me afterwards that he had found some spurs, which he also removed.

The operation was late in the afternoon (after 4pm) and I spent Saturday night in the hospital in a fog of anaesthesia and pain killers. I was still a bit wonky and woozy on Sunday, but by mid-morning I was able to shower myself (with minimal assistance) and after the surgeon and physiotherapist visited and they’d checked all my vitals were OK, they sent me home with LOTS of strong drugs and my arm in a sling.

The anaesthetist told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to be in a LOT of pain afterwards and that I had to take the drugs whenever I felt the first twinges of pain and not be brave! He gave me a nerve block prior to putting me under. Fortunately, I’d had one five years’ ago, so I had an idea of what to expect. My whole upper right chest/shoulder area went into uncontrollable spasms until he was satisfied he’d hit the right place. A very weird experience.

This time, they didn’t leave a pain pump (like a grenade) hanging out of my shoulder — the general consensus is that it really doesn’t work.

I was in reasonable discomfort on Sunday, and still woozy every so often. I wore a sling for the first 24 hours, which helped a lot.

I actually felt pretty good — until I took the drugs I was prescribed. They knocked me around and I got really woozy fairly soon after taking them (they also give you really bad constipation!).

After a day at home, the pain wasn’t too bad (despite all the warnings from the anaesthetist and a friend who has had the same operation), so I stopped taking the drugs — they really were quite debilitating. But I had to take a laxative to clear the blockages caused by the drugs.

I spent the days after surgery doing not a lot. I read, I slept, I watched some movies and TV programs I’d recorded a while ago, I worked on a couple of jigsaws. I hardly turned on the computer, I didn’t touch the sewing or quilting machines, and I definitely didn’t go into the garden! Unlike five years ago, I can now get groceries home delivered so I avoided the Christmas crowds by doing so — that saved a lot of anguish for both me and my husband (I’m not allowed to drive for 2 to 4 weeks after the operation, and he’s not a fan of crowds/supermarkets/shopping at the best of times, let alone in the madness of Christmas!).

I’m doing all the exercises that the physio gave me to do when she visited me in hospital. And I can handle meal preparation, with only a small amount of assistance from my husband when I need to reach up.

No, I’m not pushing myself and ‘being brave’. Seriously, the pain isn’t too bad — it’s just a tad worse than I’d been putting up with for the past year or so. Very bearable. I can feel my range of movement improving with the exercises, so here’s hoping that continues to improve with time. After all, it’s only been 7 days since I had my surgery. I’ve had the occasional bit of pain, enough to take an anti-inflammatory overnight, but only once or twice. And I haven’t worn the sling since the first day home.

I had expected that I’d be in a lot of pain and have a very limited range of movement for some weeks, if not months, after this surgery. To say I’m delighted with the results so far, would be an understatement. As at Christmas morning, I can dry my back after my shower. I still can’t reach up high in the pantry or carry anything heavy in my right hand yet, or do up my bra from behind, or put on a t-shirt over my head, but these activities will come back in time.

I see the surgeon for the post-op appointment on December 29, so we’ll see what he says about my progress and what he found (I was pretty dopey when he saw me the next morning in hospital).





One response

27 12 2015

So sorry that you had to have this done. I have had 3 done on same shoulder and going in for 3rd neck surgery soon. My whole neck will be fused. I hope can sew afterward but what ever I can do will be grateful for. Pain meds not helping much but hopefully surgery and meds will work. You do everything they say!! How long will you have physical therapy?

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