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I am the owner of Legal Force Firearms Training and an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor. I am the Leader of the North Cincinnati Chapter of The Well Armed Woman. I received Certification as Private Armed Security from the OPOTA. Through the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Program I qualified as Distinguished Expert with a pistol. I am the Founder and Director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge, a non-profit that provides backpacks and school supplies to the Lakota children on Pine Ridge Reservation. Every year I also lead mission teams to Pine Ridge Reservation. I enjoy playing around with photography, skydiving, and kayaking. I am a pastor's wife, mom of one minister and one cop, and gramma to the most adorable grandchildren in the world. If that sounds a bit busy, I also enjoy the more expected "grandma" activities of sitting by the fire with a good book and crocheting.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Rotator Cuff Surgery: Some Tips

For anyone getting ready to have rotator cuff surgery, here is a bit of my experience and some tips that may or may not be helpful.


Pre-Surgery

Aside from doing everything your doctor suggests, I found it was a good idea to get the house ready for post-surgery. Since I'm the primary cook in our family and would not be able to cook for a while, I prepared a couple of weeks worth of meals that could be frozen and then reheated as needed. Some people will have family and friends who will want to bring meals by and that is great, but you will probably be in a sling for anywhere from 4-6 weeks so having meals prepared is always really helpful. I also stocked up on any shopping that needed to be done to make life a little easier for my husband who gets lost in a grocery store really easily. As much as you can do ahead of time, the easier things will be after surgery.

You might also want to get the room you'll be sleeping in ready. You probably won't be able to sleep in a bed for a while so they suggest a recliner. I don't have a recliner that's good for sleeping so pillows propped up in the corner of the couch worked well too.
A friend suggested that I have a basket of goodies close at hand after surgery so I loaded up a basket with hand lotion, chap stick, my iPod, books, tissues, hard candy, chocolate and pain meds (all the essentials of life), along with a water bottle with a pop-up lid. Something I wasn't expecting was the horrendous sore throat I had after surgery from the breathing tube. The hard candy was especially handy for keeping my throat lubricated and feeling better. And of course the TV remote and my phone was essential too. You can Facebook with one hand from the phone and stay in touch with people to help with boredom.




Surgery

As for the surgery itself there's not much to say. It is easy and fast and I think in most cases now is done on an outpatient basis. If they offer a nerve block, I would highly recommend it. It will numb your shoulder and arm down to your hand. You'll wake up and have a really strange sensation in your arm and hand and your hand will be completely useless but it will give you anywhere from 12-18 hours with no pain. Numbness can be a good thing!


After Surgery

They will want you to start physical therapy ASAP. A good thing to invest in is a pulley that will help you stretch out the arm when your doctors says you can do that. If you're handy, you can probably make one, if not, you can buy them for about $20. They are well worth every penny. A wall works well too but the pulley was a good starting place for me to work up to the wall.


At the suggestion of my PT I also use a baseball bat (the ultimate weapon) to help with over the head stretches.

Bottom line is - DO YOUR THERAPY. It HURTS like all get out but if you skip even a day you may lose what ROM (range of motion) you have and you don't want to have gone through all of this for nothing.


Getting Dressed

This was something I was worried about. For women, this surgery presents some challenges our men friends just don't have. One thing that worked out well for me was to find a sports bra with spaghetti straps - not the kind that cross over in the back - you wont be able to get your arm though those. When you get dressed, just step into the bra and pull it up. Sounds crazy I know, but "whatever works".

Button up shirts are a must as well as sweat pants - you wont be able to button your jeans for quite a while - that just requires too many gymnastics for a one-armed person.

Hair

I had worried about this one. No one can fix my hair. I pay a very good hairstylist to cut my hair and she can't fix it to please me so I was worried. I bought some hats to wear "just in case". Turns out, they want me to raise my hand above my head as much as possible so I just consider it "therapy" to fix my hair. It may not look great, but I'm pretty proud of the effort.

Make Up

Put your makeup on. Ha! Seriously, no one cares if you wear make up or not but IF it makes you feel better, then go for it. If you feel better you'll be more likely to get up and move and that's what recovery takes, so whatever works to get you moving, do it.

46 comments:

Natalia said...

thanks so much for the useful tips! having my surgery in a few days, 7.29.10, for my full thickness tear. could you tell me if you were able to retain use of your slinged-arm finger tips? I have had both of my arms in removable casts years ago, but still had some strength in my finger tips for opening zip lock bags. would this have been possible for you post-op? i have dogs and pre-measured/separated it by ziplock in anticipation of the surgery.
many thanks - talia

Amber said...

Hi Natalila. Yes I was able to use my fingers so opening zip lock bags shouldn't be a problem for you. Good luck with your surgery!

Natalia said...

EXCELLENT - thanks!

Lori said...

I am having surgery for a rotator cuff tear in a month...your ideas about having everything ready is a great help. I have already done a few of them and plan on having a basket ready for the recovery time..The idea to have meals ready and frozen will help alot...Thanks!

Mary Bridget said...

Thank you, Amber! I am scheduled for rotator cuff repair 2011 Jan 07. I am concerned because I live alone and I will not have anyone to help. I had many questions, but have found only a few answers.
Your comments, and ideas are really helpful. I intend to prepare a few meals ahead. I am looking into purchasing a used recliner chair.

Anonymous said...

i also suggest a battery operated tooth brush...walmart has them for 3.95...makes brushing teeth with nondominant hand a lot easier!

Jack R said...

My wife had surgery for a torn rotator cuff a week ago. She's doing fairly well other than some discomfort from her sling. She's able to use her sling hand for some things but doesn't have a lot of strength. She's right handed and the repair was on her left shoulder. I am an artist and work at home so I've been able to take over the cooking, dish washing and all the other things she can't do. Luckily I like to cook and she said she could get used to letting me cook all the time. I must say all these things take time so I'm not getting much art created. I also like grocery stores. I have to help her in the shower. She had a cheap mesh sling that she can wear in the shower which is a good idea. I can't imagine trying to get dressed by yourself. It would be a good idea to stay with a friend or relative. Getting comfortable in bed has been also been a problem. She has about 6 pillows that she can't seem to find the right place for. We're getting ready to go out for dinner on the one week anniversary of her surgery so all in all things are good

Maria Reier said...

Thanks for this post Amber! I am getting ready to have this surgery in a couple weeks on my dominant arm....I am a stay at home Mom of two young boys and wondering how I am going to manage. How long before they let you drive? My doc says 2 weeks then I can drive w/one hand. Are you fully recovered now and happy you did the surgery?

Dave said...

Hi guys, I'm 15 days since my rotator cuff surgery.The tips at the begining of this blog are absolutly worth paying attention to.I have had 2 physical therapy sessions. I find dressing the primary hazzard.Shoe tieing and trouser fastening seem to be hardest to master.

Dave said...

For you independent persons,I suggest a long handel bathing brush,to reach spots not possible with use of only one hand.Also get a scratch stick,one with a curved end,to use adjusting clothing,scooting things in your cupboard toward you.And of course the occaisional itch. I replaced my shoestrings with 1/4in elastic cord,using a good solid knot.Makes my leather shoes work like slip ons. Other things too many to mention. PS anyone having finger tips slightly numb? my sling arm hand has become very dry and peeling in spots.Good luck all.

Anonymous said...

Having surgery soon, great tips, OK - practical question here. difficulty in the bathroom for female when the very dominate hand is in the sling??

Sue said...

I am getting ready for rotator surgery. I live alone and I am concerned about feeding myself and hair care. I injured my right shoulder and it's the dominant shoulder. Also I have an old injury on the left wrist and I don't get much help from that side. Using the left side will be and issue. At what point will I be able to shampoo my hair in the shower and at what point will I be able to blow dry my hair with surgery arm.

Dave said...

Hi Sue, Sorry to hear of your injury. In my case, I couldnt use my repaired arm in the raised position for 2 1/2 months. My surgery was april 11 and I still only have 75 to 80 percent of use of my shoulder and strength.Use the postings here to prepare yourself for recovery. Dave

Sue said...

Dave,
Did you have more than one anchor used in your rotator surgery. I actually am an operating room nurse. I was told I will need 1 anchor. But I know from working in an operating room...that once a surgeon get in the shoulder (even arthroscopic) he may realize you need more than 1 anchor. In other words, mri's are only an image and not a photo. Could you give me insight.

Dave said...

Sue, I would be pleased to give you more info, not sure this is the correct venue. E mail maybe ?

Bits of Fiber said...

Had mine done 4 days ago, non-dominant arm. I got the nerve block done which did the job. Took pain Meds before the 12 hrs nerve block stopped working. A bit swollen and red were they put the block in, otherwise no side effects from it. Only taking pain med now before taking a shower. The rest of the day only have pain when I start off doing the passive exercises.

Sleeping reclined on a wide sofa wedged in between pillows. First night woke up every hour to readjust myself.

Didn't opt for ice machine my PT said they could be a pain when you have to unplug to get up. Got two giant gel pads from them ($20 compared to $150 for the ice machine) which work like a champ. She showed me how to wrap them in a big bath towel to stay in place.

Night two slept 1-2 hrs at a time. Took dressing off and took shower! Hubby helped. Smaller towels are the easiest to use at this point to dry yourself. Doing passive exercises helps a lot from becoming stiff make sure you do them!

Night three slept 5 hrs without waking up without pain Meds. Very sore this morning but seems to be due to not having moved for 5 hrs! Did exercises took shower and no pain Meds and doing great.

I'm a sign shop artist by day and have a home art business knitting, crocheting, felting. Can knit with hand in lap just holding project with the arm in sling 1-2 rows no more because I want to make sure I do not mess it up. Crocheting, no way that one hurts. Needle felting, need to figure out how to hold the project with sling arm. Think I might have to start drawing and painting at home to keep me from going nuts not being able to do what I like to do. Hopefully in a couple of months things will be different.

Take care everybody, our bodies take time to heal.

Cheers,
Chantal

Robyn said...

Amber, I can't tell you just how much your blog helped me prepare for my surgery. I am a 53 yr old dental hygienist (33 yrs) suffering from carpal, shoulder and neck pain. I'm sure all due to my profession.
After seeing a neuro and ortho, decided to get the shoulder done first since I'm going to be a grandma in June, I want to be able to pick up my baby!
I am 2 1/2 weeks post op. It ended up being a full thickness tear and I only needed one anchor. You can't even see the 2 in incision now, great surgeon!!!
Have not had to take any pain meds after a week ...maybe advil. Large gel icepacks a must. The surgery center gave me 2 and I had one already. That's the only way to get comfortable some nights. I chose to sleep in another room so I wouldn't keep hubby up and I could sleep in. Now I'm getting used to it.....having my own room and sleeping in!
I had my one week post op last week and my ROM with that arm was where I needed to be. The dr had me doing my passive excercises the day after surgery and said he wouldn't put me in PT for another month since basically that's all they would be working on with me.I got an A ....yea!
I get to start my pulley on Monday, which will be 3 wks post op.
There are days where I don't wear the sling 24/7, but hold it close at 90 degrees, but you can definitely tell that the sling is for a reason!
I am hoping I can go back to work at my dental office by January 7th. I hope that's not wishful thinking!
Amber, all of your tips helped me so much. I went out and bought(mens) longer button down shirts to wear with leggings and since I live in Texas, we're in flip flops year round. I know I wouldn't be able to tie any shoes.
My hair has been my biggest issue. I bought a little shower stool at BBB and it works great to sit in shower and slowly wash my hair with one hand. I use the small sample bottles and can kind of squirt it in bad hand then use good hand to shampoo it in. Since I'm not doing it daily, it may take a couple washes and rinses to feel like I did a good job. It just feels good to sit and take my time. I've given up shaving legs w/ non-dominant and thank goodness for laser hair underarm treatments last year. I also bought flushable baby wipes. Helped alot.
Yes, an electric tooth brush is a must.
Since I had my surgery the Monday after Thanksgiving, I froze tons of leftovers, so needless to say we've been turkey'd out.
Going out to dinner is kind of hard. You can't cut any meat.
I know I shouldn't but I have driven. Only short trips. The bad thing is not being able to put on the seatbelt. Passenger seat yes, driver seat no way.
Another tip. If you take daily meds...take them out of their child proof plastic bottles.You will never be able to open them. I found that out yesterday when my husband picked up a new prescription for me and left for wk. I used one of those rubber looking jar openers and laid it on the counter. Put the pill container upside down and twisted with my good arm. It worked!
I hope my surgery worked, guess I'll know soon enough!
I'm a very high energy ADD kind of person, so just not being able to do my every day activities has been depressing for me.
My office is less than a mile so I've gone up there a couple times just to hang out, but it gets difficult to look presentable when I can't even put my hair in a pony tail.
Thank you all for all the great info. I guess I can say, it wasn't as bad as I thought...pain wise. It's the being one armed thats a pain in the you know what!
Speedy recovery to those of you pre or post surgery.

Happy Holidays to you all
Robyn

Lynne said...

hapy new year to all of you - I am hoping to have surgery on my left (dominant) shoulder at the end of January. This is what radiologist says is wrong: CLINICAL HISTORY: Left shoulder bursitis, rotator cuff tear, labral tear.
IMPRESSION:
TORN AND RETRACTED INTRA-ARTICULAR BICEPS.
FULL-THICKNESS ROTATOR CUFF TEAR INVOLVING SUPRASPINATUS WITH RETRACTION TO GLENOHUMERAL JOINT.
MODERATE AC JOINT DEGENERATIVE CHANGES NOTED. PARTIAL INTERSTITIAL TEARING OF infraspinatus this sounds really awful to me and my general ortho said it did not look good. The surgeon I saw seemed to almost make light of it. He also told me I will be able to use my mouse within a few days and can go back to work "whenever I feel like it." Does anyone think this is possible? I work full time and use my computer almost all day and am constantly mousing. Even if I can use the mouse, not sure I can go to work naked or braless and in sweat pants as I have no idea how I will get dressed!! Just for fun I have moderate carpal tunnel in the other hand. I am 68, live with my 2 cats. Good friends live in same condo complex and daughter(w husband and toddler) lives 10 to 15mins away. Sister,then son plan to come to town to stay with me for a week each post op. Oh,and I usually cook some meals for, grocery shop for and visit my 97 year old mother several times a week. Obviously that is not going to happen for a while. Sorry this is so long but I have spent hours on line looking for info. This is the first current blog I have found and also the most practical. Yes I am freaked and stressed. My son is getting married end of May out of town and I WAS going to be making about 130 guest welcome bags with my home made pastries in them. Anybody see any chance of that happening? Am trying to get an appointment with the local doc who is the shoulder god here. Current doc did a fellowship in shoulders and one in hands but mainly is known for doing hands.
Now you all know everything aboutme except the names of my wonderful long haired cats who probably will not get combed for a very long time:) ALL ADVICE IS WELCOME

Shelly said...

Lynne - It sounds like you may have a similar problem to the surgery I had a year and a half ago on my left shoulder (non-dominant). I had a lot of wear and tear in the rotator cuff and a labral tear. My surgeon said any labrum repair is a 6-9 month recovery process, and it took that long for me. He said that after the age of 40 (I am 42) your body doesn't heal as nicely and there is much more risk of the shoulder freezing up. I can't imagine you being able to go back to work in a few days. I was in a sling for 2 weeks and I couldn't drive for about 10 days as I recall, and then I did by just not using my left arm at all. Putting on a seatbelt, dressing, using the restroom, taking a shower, doing your hair, sleeping - all are very difficult for quite some time, especially if this is your dominant arm.
Physical therapy is critical - I went 3 times a week, starting 4 days post op, to prevent the shoulder from freezing up, which it can easily do, as your tendency is to not move it because it is so painful. Find a good PT that knows how to work with shoulders well - it is not that your are supposed to move it in PT to the point of extreme pain, as that causes further inflammation, which leads to more pain and you not wanting to move it. The key is less painful but very frequent movement!
At the end of January I am going in for a similar surgery on my right shoulder, mainly as a result of wear and tear and over use during the recovery of my left shoulder. Not looking forward to it, as I now know what to expect! Take the advice mentioned in other posts. The inability to sleep well for months was what was so difficult for me. And I couldn't have done it without my husband helping me A LOT for the first few weeks, and continuing but to a lesser extent for months as I slowly got more use of the shoulder.
Good luck to you!
Shelly

Anonymous said...

hi im 16 and i have to have sugery.. i got a quesion.. after i have my sugery will i have to wear a cast on my arm?

Unknown said...

Hi, I'm Toby. Had second rotator cuff repair in late January. This one seems easier than first (opposite side). Am a teacher and returned to work four days after surgery. First week was tough, but subsequent weeks have been easier. Can dress, shower, drive, and feed myself as the surgery was on the non-dominant side.

Still hard to sleep. I can't begin pt until 6 weeks after surgery.

Unknown said...

Hi, I'm Toby. Had second rotator cuff repair in late January. This one seems easier than first (opposite side). Am a teacher and returned to work four days after surgery. First week was tough, but subsequent weeks have been easier. Can dress, shower, drive, and feed myself as the surgery was on the non-dominant side.

Still hard to sleep. I can't begin pt until 6 weeks after surgery.

bf said...

had my surgery 5 days ago. i think i planned very well. i live alone and opened all my medicine containers but forgot to tell the pharmacist not to use child proof caps. had to use a hammer on the cap and on the extra strength tylenol.
ooops!

Anonymous said...

I had surgery 3 weeks ago for a full thickness and 50% thickness tears in my right shoulder, as well as a bone spur. There was retraction and the surgeon put in two pins, which is exactly where the pain occurs in therapy. There were some things I wish I had known before the surgery and I want to share them.

First, know that you will need to shower for weeks, until the steri strips come off. Putting a small chair in the bathroom, if you can, will help you get through the bathing and dressing process.

Also, if you have pins, and an abduction pillow sling, you will probably not actively move your arm for six weeks. The therapist will move it for you. You can and should rotate your forearm to retain use and you can use your hand if your other hand brings something to it. But don't think about picking up anything that weighs more than a couple of ounces and don't push anything. You can move your arm slowly to rest it on your leg or counter to help with dressing and putting the sling on. The key is SLOW motion. The nurse at the surgery center sent the wrong order for therapy for me, so it is good to verify you have the right instructions at the post-op visit.

Two half-gallon empty milk jugs for showers really helps. One in the shower under your arm and one for after you dry off so you can walk around to get the things you forgot before you got in the shower. It keeps your arm in the right position.

Get a package of Non-stick pads - 2x3 - for after big bandage comes off and before stitches come out. Walgreens has self adhesive ones for about $5.
Slip on shoes or sandals are easiest. You can make your lace shoes into slip-ons with the curly elastic laces from shoe stores, or WalMart, for about $2. Plan on soft socks as hose with one hand will be a challenge.

2 Hand towels instead of one bath towel will be easier to manage.

Front button shirts and elastic waist pants and pjs -no sweaters because velcro in the sling may ruin them. The heavier the material in your top, the harder it will be to get off. Bras to step into are great, unless you have substantial hips. Unless you have someone to help, consider going without.

I am using a bath pouf for bathing and put it on a command hook. You will need a washcloth, too, to rinse under the arm. You will appreciate the cord on the pouf so you can keep it in your weak hand while getting some body wash to apply to it. I think soap would be pretty hard to manage. If you don't have a shower stall with a ledge for bottles, consider using travel sizes and getting a suction cup container to hold them at a comfortable height.

You will need a minimum of 2 gel ice packs like Ace. They really reduce the pain. If you need a coat, turn the sleeve inside out to keep it from catching in the car door. A binder clip will hold the coat to the sling, so it won't slip off.

If you don't have an adult height toilet or counter next to it on the unaffected side, consider installing a grab bar to help you get up. And flushable wipes will just be easier if you are having your dominant shoulder repaired.

Recliner and/or bed wedge will help you sleep but remember recliner levers are on the right side! A small soft pillow under your shoulder will allow you to sleep in bed after the first few days.

If the abduction sling pillow pushes into your upper arm, ask the surgeon's technician to squish it with adhesive velcro straps. And the technician can add an underarm strap to pull the sling away from your neck, if you need it.

Keep your pain meds by your bedside -always take with a snack!

Dominant hand considerations
No cereal or soup, unless you like wearing your meals - or drink it from a cup!
IPad or tablet as mouse will be difficult and sitting in a chair for weeks can get really boring! I keep the IPad, Kindle, and a power strip on a small table next to my chair so I can charge everything easily, including my cell phone.

Good luck to everyone who is getting their shoulder repaired!

Karen

Anonymous said...

I am 5 weeks post op rotator cuff and bicep tendenesis. No pain meds after day 3. No PT until 4 weeks, then only passive until week 6.
No problem or pain with that. Sling 24/7for 5 weeks. Biggest problem has been that the pillow keeps making my pants slide down. I don't wear a bra unless going out in public. It is my non-dominant arm, so I have been cooking since day 4 with occasional help opening and cutting. I started walking a mile daily after day 5 to keep up my energy. Can't drive until after week 6, and need help with seat belts. Couldn't open and shut the door if driving anyway. Few problems getting dressed. Sloppy t shirts work best for me. My hair is very short so that isn't a problem. (couldn't wash it very easily before surgery, so I'm pretty adept withone hand.

ginger said...

Thanks for all the help you have given to others. I think I will have to have 2 RT's done. How do I drive with non dominant hand? Do people try with success? I live alone in an apt and I am on the second floor. Is this doable with all your suggestions in mind?
Thanks,
Ginger

JK said...

Seeing surgeon in a week for non-dom shoulder rotator cuff surgery with possible 1-2 bone spurs.
I am getting house ready, have a cleaner already to help keep place kept up....I live alone. She will also come in daily for the first week to help me with anything that I need.
I am a soda caffeine freak. So, friend will be opening up the caps, and lightly screwing them back on for me. I have stocked up on flavored water additives to keep hyderated.
I will be eating simple sandwiches and breakfast wraps for the first several days. They can be picked up with one hand.
Trying to figure out how to get the old recliner into the back bedroom where computer and tv is. Maybe moving them into the living room/dining room might be easier.
Big concern, my parakeet. He is used to sitting on my shoulders, and taking naps with me....not sure he will like the bandages, etc.
Someone mentioned sore throat from tube? Haven't heard anything about this yet.
I will be wearing oversized sleeping ts, or size larger muumuus for a few days/weeks...easy to slip into by placing arm in one side, and then using other hand over the head and arm....have been practicing.
Worried about night time getting out of bed/chair...will have to practice a bit,
And the pain meds, since I am allergic to most of the highly prescribed ones.
Okay, time to get up from the computer, and put fears and worries to God to handle, it is seeming overwhelming at times.

Anonymous said...

Dominant shoulder surgery for torn rotator cuff on 5/22. Not looking forward to this...thanks to all for your suggestions and tips! I incurred my injury while on my cruise in February, slipped and fell down a few stairs after coming out of a spa pool. No one told me vacation could be so painful!

ensatina said...

Thank all! I'm having surgery tomorrow (rotator, spur and labrum!) and don't feel at all ready! I wish my doc had given me more advice since after reading this I see so many things that would be good to do. I'm also job hunting and have no idea how I'm going to dress for the next interview! I have not idea how to put on a bra for example and don't have someone I am comfortable asking for help with that! Definitely can't pull one over my hips. Oh well... I don't have a recliner either, though I do have a lot of big pillows. Just hope I can get a lot done today.

ensatina said...

oooooowwwwwww !!!!!!!!!

my block wore off and I"m in horrible pain!!!! the 2 percocets dont seem to do anything! i called my doc at 630am before it got this bad and he just told me to take aleve! ive been crying and shaking! normal?

Dave said...

hi ensatina, Did you take the meds before the block wore off? I did and the pain was managable for me. I am pretty sure if you try to use the arm at all (in my case 3 weeks) the pain will be ugly. Sorry your having a rough time. My operation was 11 months ago, 2 days after the surgery a blood clot in my elbow joint was found and added months of delayed healing, because I could not do the therapy needed at 30 days. Best of luck. Need to chat, send me a note. Oh yeah, I'm 95% of use in my rt arm and shoulder. Finally.

ensatina said...

Hi Dave, sorry for the delay it's ver hard to type when i'm drugged and using my non dominant hand! so i just gave up for a few days.
So yes, when i went to sleep at 11:30pm that first night, i decided I'd better take 2 percocets in case the block wore off during the night... I set the alarm for 4:30am to take another set of pills. when i woke up i noticed that i could feel my hand more and had an inkling of pain far inside and i took the pills... but i never got back to sleep because the pain kept increasing! i wrote that note at my worst - which lasted 2-3 hours :( sure wish i'd have known that would be a possibility! tho don't know if that would have helped - the hardest was not knowing how long it would last! now i just have to make sure i dont cut down too much, too fast! That said, glad you're better! please tell me - how did you know you had a clot? I have 1 clotting gene... and tho surgery was cleared by a hematologist, it's in the back of my mind! Thanks!

ensatina said...

all - have any of you done any damage to the repairs by moving the wrong way before PT started? I didnt get good written post op instructions and am trying to remember what I'm not supposed to do... and i jostle it a lot getting in and out of bed and taking the sling and its cushion on and off... as well as the cold shoulder unit! and theres all that velcro!!! not easy to make adjustments!

ensatina said...

Tips: ask the nurses if they can put a sock -type sleeve (like they put on arms before putting casts on them) onto your arm before putting on the sling! all the seams and nylon thread and velcro can really be irritating! I'm also very glad I took a soft undershirt (with thin straps) that they helped me put on before they put on the sling.. it also helps with scratchy things - plus- if you are a woman and at all bashful and have friends helping you - its really nice to have something on when you are getting help adjusting all the straps over and under your breasts....

Dave said...

Hi ensatina, seems you have your pain under control now.You asked about how I knew about the clot, inside my elbow below on the surgery arm, I there was an odd pressure inside. When I did the passive arm dangle exercise the arm from the bicep to the ends of my fingers would swell in size. So much so that when I stopped the exercise and about an hour or so later the outer layer skin on my wrist,hand and fingers would dry crack and peel. After 4 days of this I went to my primary Dr and he says oh thats just your skin dryed out. When I dangled my arm for about a minute, he saw the swelling occur and said I need an ultra sound to verify. I did, it was and all I was allowed for 2.5 months was passive stuff.Put on coumadin and my rehab was delayd so long I was lucky not to have the shoulder lockup. I too found sleeveless t-shirts easiest to put on. Also house coat with nice wide arm holes. Hoping for a fast recovery to you. Dont use that arm it will only hurt more and possibly damage the repair. My neighbor used his , way to early bragging to me that He knew better than the surgeon,,,,he had 3 repeated operations because he was too aggressive with the arm use. See ya. Dave_2u@Comcast.Net

Doodlebug said...

So glad I found this blog. I am now 2.5 weeks after surgery. I didn't do the nerve block and it wasn't that bad. As long as I kept up with my pain medicine, everything went fine. I did get behind once and it was a little difficult.

I might as well put in my advice to future patients.

I never wore a bra after surgery and I still wont. the effort it would take to put one on doesn't seem worth it. I wear very loose shirts that are easy to pull over, if I'm not wearing a button up shirt.

for the first week I hated not being able to put my hair up. I had to have my mother wash my hair outside with the hose. If I took a shower, my boyfriend would make a sling out of a shirt. Granted, anytime out of the sling in the first couple of days was very painful. Gravity is not your friend.

I went out and bought a recliner for the surgery. Best investment ever! I would not recommend trying to prop yourself up in bed. it's just not enough support. You're most likely paying a significant amount for surgery, might as well spend a little more to be comfortable afterwards.

one thing I did struggle with in the recliner is that the strap for your sling falls directly across the shoulder on the backside. At night I would undo the strap and just rest my arm against my side but still in the actual sling for support. I tried to sleep in the bed a week ago with just pillows and it still was not comfortable enough for me. I am now concerned with when I will be able to return to bed.

I did keep an end table next to my recliner. It was helpful to keep a water bottle close by as well as pain medicine, snacks, and of course the remote.

I started driving 4 days after surgery. It was easy since I had surgery on my non dominant arm. getting in and out of the car is slightly difficult but once you're in driving is pretty easy. Parking is the only challenge.

I'm currently in summer school, but all of my classes were online. Typing was a little difficult, but if you propped the lap top up in the right direction it made it easier.

I recently went on vacation and during the drive I met about 6 people who is also gone through this surgery. It was fun to listen to everyones advice and experience.

I go for physical therapy later this week, I'm kind of nervous.but after reading this blog I feel a little better. I am still in the recliner, so if anyone is willing to tell me how long they slept in the recliner, that would be great.

Doodlebug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doodlebug said...

2 more things. Make sure when you feel your prescriptions to ask for the non childproof containers . also, invest in a back scratcher! Lol

Dave said...

Hi Doodlebug, seems you have the situation handled. Typing as well,,,,I'm impressed. A hint from me, I had my surgeon prescribe a medical bed for me 2 days prior to the operation. My right shoulder was the bad one. My recliners' handel is on the right. I tried a strap to it, to see if it was manageable with opposite arm, it was not. The bed rented for 14 bucks a month. it was a single with power, saved my bacon. I kept it for 2 months after I really needed it.
good luck, Dave

Doodlebug said...

I wish I had known about renting a medical bed. I probably would've done that over buying a recliner. However, my boyfriend will love this recliner once I'm out.

Dave, how long did it take for you to be completely flat in the bed? A week ago I tried going back to bed and it pulled on the front of my shoulder too much causing sharp pains, even with a pillow under it. I laid down for a minute in bed today with no pillow support and it seemed comfortable. My concern is the soreness and pain in the am. Any info is greatly appreciated! Thank you so much

Dave said...

My time was extended due to the 6" blood clot that occurred post op,in my rt elbow area added 5 extra weeks to my recovery to the point of laying flat in normal bed.My total time to a reasonable comfort was 3 months. good luck.
Oh, and do the physical therapy,it speeds the usage of your arm and shoulder. Dave

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Anonymous said...

I am scheduled for surgery on my dominant shoulder in four days. I keep wondering if my pain is bad enough to warrant surgery. My injury was a few months ago and my pain level is only 1-2 when I limit use of my shoulder. After doing some housework the pain will increase to 4-5 for a few days. I am so tempted to cancel the surgery - any advise from those of you who are a few months post-op?

Anonymous said...

Had rotator cuff surgery for a large massive tear on8/1/13 after a fall at work. I needed 4 anchors tear was quite bad. Nerve block was fantastic and was able to get off percocets in 3 days. Biggest problem was servere constipation from drugs even taking miralax and senokot as instructed. Start therapy in one day.. I have been advised..very painful. I have a ice cube which projects constant cold to my shoulder. Thanks to all for your advice.. It helped me prepare and all listed in these comments were right on!

Peggy Coffey said...

I am scheduled for surgery at the end of the month and am terrified. Your tips will enable me to feel like I am somewhat in control. I am also a CCW holder and am wondering when I will be able to shoot. Of course the surgery is on my right shoulder and I am right handed. I have been practicing with mt left hand using my revolver instead of my Glock, and I'm getting pretty good. Now if I could figure out how to do my needkepoint, knitting and crocheting. I think my tablet will be very helpful also since typing on a keyboard and mousing will take some practice. Thank you again for the helpful tips.

Lynda St.James said...

Wow, I cannot thank all of you enough for sharing your post-op experiences! These were the most practical and usable suggestions on the web. I will be having surgery on my right (dominant) shoulder in a week and all these suggestions will come in handy. Especially from the women with regard to personal hygiene. I will be shopping, packaging, and stocking up essentials as mentioned. I have a nice recliner and a friend loaned me a bed wedge. My neighbors have stepped up as has my cousin and family. I shall be ready! Thanks again, everyone.