By the sign of the Trident – right shoulder surgery, x2

Preparing for the one-armed days ahead

The surgeries, I was told by my friends and the surgeon and Internet research, that I should expect to spend many moons after surgery being unable to sleep or indeed sit comfortably without a recliner… and I put figured that reading books would be difficult with one arm alone.

So.

Recliner was acquired for a song and only part of a dance (read: $45) from Craigslist and is close to brand new.  Installed it into the basement (not realizing it would eventually need to be moved to my bedroom, as the pain meds made 2 flights of stairs to the bathroom in my house).

That left the issue of reading.

So I decided a $200 consumer book stand meant for reading from any angle (standing, sitting, reclining, laying down, etc) was overpriced without even knowing it maxed out at 4 lbs (due to the adjustable elbow being plastic).  As someone who dislikes stupid designs, this assured that I would design and build my own book stand.

So I did.

$47 or so worth of galvanized steel, Velcro, plumbing fittings, and spare lumber later, here was the final project outcome:

bookstand and recliner in the basement

bookstand and recliner in the basement

Sadly, as mentioned, the recliner had to move upstairs to my room, where it (and by extension, I) exist to this very day.

recliner in place in my bedroom so it would be closer to the restroom

recliner in place in my bedroom so it would be closer to the restroom

On the vehicular front, my stick shift car is not viable for months; thankfully, my good friend from krav maga, Andrea, owns a house with a driveway the MFALCON can live for months… and a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a Mike-useable automatic transmission.  Helped her wash it, even had my dad restore the headlights while he was here after the surgery happened, and Convalescent-Mike has got wheels.

Jeep borrowed from my friend Andrea and storing my car there

Jeep borrowed from my friend Andrea and storing my car there

Merely a flesh wound…

But what were these surgeries, and why were they needed?  A question many folks have asked me, so I wanted to offer a brief timeline and explanation here.

Causes

1) in late May, whilst throwing an elbow strike at krav maga, it suddenly felt like something tore; an x-ray and 2 MRIs later, it turns out I had a tear in the posterior labarum (in short, the bundles of fibers holding the muscles to the joint);
2) I also have a genetic abnormality in the capsule of the shoulder, meaning the ligaments holding the arm to the torso formed improperly from birth; this is related to
3) the fact that I have serious hypermobility in my shoulder (think double-jointed thumbs), making my shoulders (naturally the least stable joint in the human body) dangerously prone to injury of the potentially irreparable sort in the future

initial dressing, sling, and ice pack harness

initial dressing, sling, and ice pack harness

Surgical intentions:

1) orthoscopically (incision-free) fixing the labral tear
2) an incision in the front of the shoulder to determine just how much the capsule needed fixing by reattaching it to the bone (oy)
3) poking around to make sure there were no other problems hidden from 2 MRIs (OY)

The surgery itself went quite well, with neither complication nor infection.  This whole process was far les stressful because my wonderful parents insisted on traveling the many miles from Cleveland to be with me.

And boy golly did I need the help post-surgery, as I will elaborate below.

… “the Trident?”

An odd title for this post perhaps, yes.  But odder still was the eventual removal of the dressing, and finding a blue tattooed Trident.  The surgeon, apparently, moonlights as a Greek hoplite who travels overseas to fight.

the two wounds and the Trident

the two wounds and the Trident

My body is too big for the prescribed Vicodin to touch me, so they gave me heavier-duty narcotics for the pain. And sweet Jesus I am glad they did, because the first week after was *incredibly* painful.  Even through percocet and oxycontin, and staying 6 days at the Yale Health Infirmary (the tertiary blessing in this whole debacle) I still struggled with the pain of using my ab muscles to get out of bed for using the restroom; thus my father’s presence for the first week was huge, as he could help me get up and lay down, and make me laugh in the midst of grimacing.  My mom too was present, and was an angel of medicine and maintaining cleanliness (the fear of infection given the 4 inch incision was quite pronounced).

My mom remained for the second week, and helped me all the way through, which also turned out more necessary than I realized.

Prognosis at the end of the second week post-surgery?

In short, its good.

my bike turned into exercise equipment for the winter and my healing

my bike turned into exercise equipment for the winter and my healing

In long, its goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood.

I am infection- and complication-free after the most vulnerable time for those; I am off the pain meds (which means clearer head and better sleep, at the cost of pain a lot).  My friends have all been wonderful about striving to help me; my professors have been understanding; and my wonderful parents, prior to returning home, made sure I was as prepped as I could be.

my friends Matt and Jess, bringing me get-well apple cobbler

my friends Matt and Jess, bringing me get-well apple cobbler

That said, one-armed-living ain’t always fun. Had to buy shoes with clasps and Velcro (Tevas, a la my friend Tom).  And a grabber tool.  And other such tools.  Not all foods can be eaten one-handed; even fewer can be prepared.  Nevertheless, I fight ever onwards, ever upwards.

Another 3-5 weeks in the sling; an indeterminate number of months of physical therapy to follow.

And now you know the rest of the story.

my mom and I enjoying lunch on the new chairs she bought me

my mom and I enjoying lunch on the new chairs she bought me

dinner with my folks before they depart after two weeks of caring for me

dinner with my folks before they depart after two weeks of caring for me

enjoying fresh air towards healing fully

enjoying fresh air towards healing fully

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