Surgery was at 10AM on Wednesday 09/11/13. Below is the email I sent to the staff at work on 09/12/13, typos & all:
1st let me apologize 4 writing the following in caps. I am typing with 1 hand & caps are easier.
09/11/13 – 7:15 AM & NO CALL FROM MY DRIVER. CALLED THE TRANSPORT OFFICE – NOT OPEN. CALLED SEVERAL MORE TIMES – SAME OUTCOME. BARB IS HOME & AGREES TO DROP ME OFF.
8:25 – REACHED CAR SERVICE & DRIVER IS MIA. ARRANGE 4 PICKUP @ 2:30. CALL BARB 2 TELL HER SHE DOESN’T NEED TO PICK ME UP.
9:15 – TAKEN TO THE BACK, PREPPED 4 SURGERY. WIRED 4 TAKE-OFF, ANSWERED A MILLION QUESTIONS. SURGEON IS CUTE & VERY YOUNG. ANESTHESIOLOGIST IS FUNNY & NICE. HIS ASST IS CUTE & VERY YOUNG TOO. GET A NERVE BLOCK 4 MY SHOULDER & ARM. WILL TAKE 8-10 HOURS 2 WEAR OFF. MOTE ABOUT THAT LATER.
10ISH – WHEELED TO OPERATING ROOM. SCOOT ON TO OPERATING TABLE. LIGHTS OUT IN ABOUT 5-10 MINUTES.
??????- BEGIN WAKING UP. JUST WANTED TO SLEEP – SOME TROUBLE BREATHING. IN & OUT OF CONSCIOUSNESS.
A BIE LATER – PEOPLE START TALKING 2 ME, BRING ME WATER, ASK ME QUESTIONS. NOTICE I’M WEARING SLING, WHICH IS THE SIZE OF A SMALL DOG. MY NOSE WON’T STOP ITCHING & I CAN’T FIND MY RIGHT ARM, LET ALONE MOVE IT. 1ST INKLING THAT RECOVERY AIN’T GONNA BE A BOWL OF CHERRIES. PROGRESSING FROM FRYING PAN TO FIRE. GIVEN PLAIN, STALE GRAHAM CRACKERS TO EAT – HAD NOTHING TO EAT SINCE 10PM THE NIGHT BEFORE. NIBBLES TURN CRACKER INTO DRY SPITBALL THAT CAN’T BE SWALLOWED. GAVE UP ON FOOD. MOVED TO WAITING RECOVERING ROOM WITH RECLINERS & TV. SHORTLY AFTER, PUT IN WHEELCHAIT & TAKEN DOWNSTAIRS TO WAITING DRIVER. STILL OUT OF IT.
3:30 – CALL BARB IN TEARS. SHE CAN’T UNDERSTAND ME . SHE WILL BE OVER IN AN HOUR TO FEED THE CRITTERS. FRUSTRATED AT MY INABILITY TO DO ANYTHING 4 MYSELF, I CALL SANDRA TO COME NOW!!!!!!
BY THIS TIME IT WAS OBVIOUS THE SLING WASN’Y “INSTALLED” PROPERLY. AS INSTRUCTED, I HAD BROUGHT BOTH THE SLING & THE SHOULDER PAD THAT CONNECTS TO COLD MACHINE THAT CIRCULATES COLD WATER TO MY SHOULDER. NURSES’ AIDES SHOWED ME – STILL RECOVERING FROM THE ANESTHETIC – HOW TO PUT ON THE PAD, WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN PUT ON WITH THE SLING. I CALLED THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE TO GO IN TOMORROW TO INSTALL THIS CONTRAPTION PROPERLY. STACY SUGGESTED A HOME HEALTH CARE AIDE AS WELL, TO COME TO MY HOME 4 HOURS A DAY. THAT’S PROBABLY BECAUSE I COULDN’T TALK WITHOUT CRYING. ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10, MY FRSTRATION LEVEL HAD REACHED 1000. I GO TO THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE AT 9 TOMORROW. I ARRANGED FOR THE CAR SERVICE TO TAKE ME IN & BRING ME HOME. I FELL ASLEEP SITTING IN MY CHAIR AT THE COMPUTER. SANDRA ARRIVED & I IMMEDIATELY FELT MY FRUSTRATION LEVEL PLUMMET. SHE IMMEDIATELY GOT ME A GLASS OF COKE & MADE ME TOAST. UNFORTUNATELY, LIKE THE GRAHAM CRACKERS, THE TOAST TURNED INTO DRY SPITBALLS THAT I COULDN’T SWALLOW.
BARB CAME OVER TOO & THE 2 OF THEM WASHED DISHES & FED THE CRITTER HOARD. OH WHAT A RELIEF THAT WAS. WATER & DRY FOOD BOWLS WERE FILLED AS WELL. ALL THAT TAKEN CARE OF, SANDRA WENT OUT & GOT ME A MEDIUM CHOCOLATE SHAKE, WHICH I MANAGED TO DRINK HALF OF. BOTH BARB & SANDRA LEFT SHORTLY AFTER. I WAS DOWN FOR THE COUNT AROUND 6:30. I WOKE UP AROUND 8:30 & BARB ARRIVED ABOUT THE SAME TIME. I WENT BACK TO SLEEP & BARB & MAGGIE SNUGGLED ON THE COUCH. I WAS BACK UP AT 11:30 & GREW INCREASINGLY CONCERNED THAT MY ARM/SHOULDER WAS MASSIVELY SWOLLEN. I WAS AFRAID BARB WOULD NEED TO TAKE ME TO THE ER. WITH BARB’S HELP WE DETERMINED THAT THE SLING HAD BEEN DISPLACED, TURNED HALF WAY AROUND MY BODY. IT HAS SO MUCH PADDING IT MADE IT SEEM AS IF MY ARM, IN PARTICULAR, HAD DOUBLED IN SIZE. BY THIS TIME – 14 & A HALF HOURS LATER – THE NERVE BLOCK HAD MOSTLY WORN OFF. MY FOREARM & UPPER BACK OF MY SHOULDER IS STILL COMPLETELY NUMB. LITTLE TO NO PAIN, PROBABLY DUE TO THE PAIN MEDS I’VE TAKEN, BUT I’M ITCHING LIKE CRAZY. I’LL NEED TO GET APPROVAL TO TAKE ANTIHISTAMINES WITH THE OTHER MEDS. THE ITCHING COULD BE DUE TO THE 15 ROLES OF TAPER THEY HAVE COVERING MY SHOULDER. THE ADHESIVE USED ON STERILE TAPE RESULTS IN SEVERE REDNESS & OCCASIONAL BRUISING, WHICH THE DOCTORS & NURSES ARE AWARE OF.
I APOLOGIZE FOR THE LENGTHINESS OF THIS. I’VE DONE THIS TO NOT ONLY GET YA’LL UP TO SPEED BUT FOR MY OWN DOCUMENTATION. WHO KNOWS HOW MUCH OF THIS I WILL REMEMBER BY NEXT WEEK. NO DOUBT THE ADVENTURE WILL CONTINUE & THOSE FUN TIMES WILL SUPPLANT THESE.
AN EXTRA, EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS TO SANDRA & BARB FOR PREVENTING ME FROM GOING OVER THE EDGE…..SO FAR!
Later that day:
- Driver arrives & we're off to the doctor's office. As I suspected, whoever strapped me into the sling did it wrong. The shoulder pad that connects to the cold therapy unit should have been put on 1st, under the sling. So much for training & quality control.
- My home health aide arrives around 10:45, after having gotten lost & driving in circles for 30 minutes or more.
Wow, what a difference 10 days make. I had already forgotten most of what I had written the day after surgery. Plus I can't believe it has already been that long. Between "then & now", I've had both good and bad days. The home health aide was here for just a week. She helped me bathe and dress. She washed the critters' bowls and dishes and even vacuumed the living room one day. Mostly she hooked up the shoulder pad to the cold therapy machine. Just setting that up is a job for a fully functional person, not a one-armed patient. Due to the amount of ice necessary she had to pick up a couple of bags of ice. Her last day was 09/18, the day before I saw the doctor post-op.
So the doctor's visit went fine. The good news was that he said Workers' Comp would cover a driver to take me to work and pick me up. My stitches were removed - there were actually 5 incisions. Not only had I completely torn the tendons of the rotator cuff apart, but I had ripped them from the bone. Since the pain level had diminished considerably, he prescribed Ibuprofen 800mg. No more narcotics.
I emailed my case nurse with Workers' Comp and the doctor was wrong. They won't provide transport to and from work. I either have to find or pay for a ride, or drive myself - with one hand - 14 miles each way if I want to go to work. That thought petrifies me. My boss' solution? Buy a knob for the steering wheel. Problem solved! Yeah, right.
So, I'm doing laundry, washing dishes and cooking a bit. Honestly, I haven't felt much like eating. I just haven't been hungry enough to cook or clean up. My pantry is well stocked and I had done a pretty good job of shopping in advance of the surgery, but I have to go to the grocery store today to pick up a few things. I'm going to try driving myself. My support system, I think, is getting over helping (it's been over 2 months now) and would like to get back to their lives. I want the same thing. Being incapable of fully taking care of myself is really weighing me down.
Then there is work. Even though I'm "laid up", work still has to be done. And things at work have been topsy turvy throughout this period of my life. Our mailroom manager quit, leaving on August 30th. Our Administrative Assistant left shortly afterwards. She had trained her replacement for 9 days before leaving. This was pre-surgery, so I was in the office. Both of us had concerns about the new employee. She was struggling with some of the simplest components of the job. Other staffers stepped in with both Carlene and myself gone. It didn't help and the new Admin Assistant quit on Monday or Tuesday - I can't remember which. And our IT person is leaving at the end of the month.
Throughout all of the above our office network is screwed up. The two main programs, Donor Perfect and Peachtree, are running so slowly that they are nearly inaccessible. It's next to impossible to get the work done under these circumstances. Folks have been working on discerning the problem(s), but to no avail. I've been trying to work from home, remotely, but have made little progress due to how long it takes. I had to run a process on 09/13/13, a process that normally takes nearly all day. This time, it took me 5 days to complete. As if dealing with my current health problems isn't frustrating and stressful enough, the work situation has amped up both of those. Yesterday morning when I took my blood sugar level, it was nearly 300! This morning it was back to normal for me, just 102.
So, for now my world is almost totally focused on me. I can't seem to care that the rest of the world is spinning out of control. Whether it's Syria, the economy, the unraveling of our government which is seemingly run by folks living in an alternate reality, I can't get worked up about any of it. Whatever I have to do, no matter how simple it is normally, is a struggle and/or a major undertaking. I have to settle for getting by instead of staying ahead of whatever should be done. I just wish I could sleep through it all and then wake up and realize it's all been a very bad dream.
I hope your lives aren't troubled and full of obstacles. Wishing all a smooth path as you move through life.