Second Post-Op Checkup

On Thursday I drove up to the orthopedist’s clinic in a borrowed 1984 Volvo 240 wagon because I still had not been cleared to drive a stick-shift automobile. I left the house before 6:00 and arrived at my destination about 7:05, an hour early for my appointment. I got taken back to an exam room pretty quickly, talked to the nurse, then had a long wait for the doctor. No problem – I got to see him around 8:30, which is good for that busy clinic.

The report is good. Good range of motion, and I can return to work next Tuesday with only a couple of restrictions – must continue physical therapy, may not lift more than 20#, may only engage in sedentary work activities. And I get to drive my car again. 😀 Car needs washed in the worst way. The new house has beautiful, old trees all over the lot, but makes for a dirty car. Especially if it’s been parked under those trees for three and a half weeks.

Here are some photos from the surgery:

The surface of my acromium resembling the roof of a Tims Ford Lake cave I paddled into a couple of seasons ago

The surface of my acromium resembling the roof of a Tims Ford Lake cave I paddled into a couple of seasons ago

Acromium's surface all pink after the spurs' removal

Acromium's surface all pink after the spurs' removal

In the joint - frayed cartilage

In the joint - frayed cartilage

Here's what some of that cartilage looked like after tears and frayed bits had been neatly cut away - very workmanlike

Here's what some of that cartilage looked like after tears and frayed bits had been neatly cut away - very workmanlike

Post-Surgery Check-Up

A two hyphenate headline 😮

The Vzzzt-Bot family got up crack of dawn yesterday morning, dressed in haste and hit the road by 6:30 am to drive to the orthopedist’s clinic for an 8:00 am appointment. Looong school zone slow down about a third of the way there. Then traffic backed up at least one mile to make the turn on to Hwy 96. No accident, just normal rush hour for that part of Middle Tennessee. The left turn off Hwy 96 to I don’t recall the name of the street or avenue narrowed from two lanes turning left to one lane without warning – road or utilities work. So we arrived at 8:15. Longish wait. Caution-Lady had packed Seventy-Six’s diaper bag with every necessary except a diaper. While I continued to wait, she took the boy and went in search of diapers.

Not long after that, I was taken back to see the doctor. Showed me pictures taken with the “scope” of horribly frayed cartilage in the joint, another torn bit of cartilage forming a flap, and the acromium bone spurs that looked like the roof of that cave I paddled in Winchester. Then he showed me the partially torn supraspinatus – he said he left it alone because it looked as if it had enough strands holding that it would heal on its own with the other wreckage cleared away. The “After” photos showed that he’d done a very neat, workmanlike job removing the frayed bits, the torn flap, and the bone spurs. He said it is “unlikely” the spurs will recur, but if they do “it would take a long time.”

The problem with my left wrist and forearm, as well as similar left-side problems, he said, are residual effects of the nerve-block administered at surgery. “I’m sorry you’re experiencing this, but it will clear up,” the doctor said. He reported that the longest such effect he knew of was similar to mine and afflicted his medical partner for some six weeks after he’d repaired the man’s rotator cuff. Two to three weeks is apparently the norm for this side-effect.

He asked about physical therapy, and I explained about my experience Monday with the group his clinic recommends. “Hmmm, that doesn’t sound good,” he said. So he wrote me an order that would be accepted at any physical therapy clinic. Our realtor, Brenda, was horribly injured in an automobile wreck when a Stepford city policeman drove his squad car into her van. She’s recommended another group that she said helped her a lot. I’ll be calling them today.

Finally, the doctor told me to “come back in two weeks, and we’ll decide then” when I can return to work. In the mean time, I am not to lift anything heavy one handed, nor two-handed as much as 10 pounds. And I still may not drive a stick-shift car.

Rain fell during part of the drive home, and I was entertained by the way the water drops were forced to run up the windshield because it had been RainX-ed. Seventy-Six slept most of the way. He’d behaved really well during the diaper expedition (Caution-Lady bought him a Baby Einstein book while they were out) and in the waiting room. At home we ate a hurried lunch. Wife and son wolfed fish-sticks and sweet potato fries, and I ate a turkey sandwich and four generic fig-newton cookies (the name-brand fig bars are way too ‘dry’ for my taste). The boy wanted to bite off the corners of my fig cookies, and I let him. Cautious Wife was a little concerned because those cookies have, I don’t know, trace amounts of trans-fat in them.

Then she took him off to the sitter’s house (remember, the kid weighs more than 10 pounds), and went off to some teacher-training activity to use a computer based learning program that, and this is my guess, doesn’t make up for lack of parental involvement at home and school in the child’s academic endeavors.

I scanned the medical note stating I’d need to be off another two weeks and emailed that to the office, then telephoned and spoke with the manager there. She said Ron, my colleague across the hall who sends me most of my referrals, was wondering if I was going to be home in the afternoon because he thought he would stop by. No problem, not going anywhere, tell him to come on by. Exchanged emails with another co-worker from the office.

Figured Ron wouldn’t leave the office until about 3:30; I set out walking a route through the various roads in my new neighborhood that I figured would be a little longer than the one I usually take. Pretty humid out there; had been some cloudbursts earlier as evidenced by patches of damp pavement here and there. At the first of my final two left turns, I saw Ron turing his pickup truck onto the street as I turned. I called his name, and he stopped, looked over at me surprised. He had passed me walking, but had not “seen” me.

“Get in,” he said clearing a place for me on the small pickup truck’s passenger seat. The thing he’d moved out of the way was a gift basket he’d brought from the folks at the office, along with a card. He said he’d driven around the neighborhood, but couldn’t remember the street name or address, and had thrown away the directions I’d printed for him a few weeks ago. He and his son brought a trailer out to the house to pick up the old carpeting that I’d had set aside for him. An excellent quality carpet, although gray in color and used by us as a drop cloth when painting, he was able to cut clean portions for use in a rental property. In exchange, I had asked for and he delivered a Ducktona Duck River Speedway shirt. I like the logo – way better than the subdued duckhead on the race-track’s website. Maybe the designer, Kim Griggs, will post a photo of the design – but it’s too cool to just scan and post without permission.

Anyway, at the house we chatted about the office, because in spite of myself, I honestly love my work (even though I despise the Potemkin Village model of public service that appears to have gained ascendency in most government venues). Have you ever watched that late 1960s musical, How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying? Watch it, and you will gain some understanding, if you are capable of reasoning from absurd extreme to actual practice, of how executive branch government operates.

I walked to the mailbox as Ron pulled out of the driveway. As he turned the vehicle to drive off, he rolled down the window and told me that his race car had been nearly totaled in a wreck at the track last weekend. None of the driver’s were hurt, but it sounds like Ron will have a lot of work to do putting the car back into working order.

The fruit basket was an unexpected bonus – I bagged and refrigerated grapes, pears, apples. Two oranges I left on the counter. Some candy was included in the faux grass (like a subdued version of the stuff that goes into Easter baskets), as well as snack packages of cookies and crackers. I ate a few grapes and a small package of Snackwell’s cookies.

By the time Caution-Lady and Seventy-Six returned, I’d got the dishwasher unloaded, reloaded, and the little guy’s high-chair tray cleaned off and dried. At supper we shared one of the oranges; according to the sticker grown in South Africa. Our little monkey liked the orange, and also ate a number of blueberries. Great kid – loves vegetables and fruit.

After dinner we cleaned up the kitchen. The Cautious One got some laundry in the machine. Seventy-Six and I played on the floor with a cookie sheet. He gets them out of the drawer under the bottom oven and carries them around beating on them to make noise. I got him to sit down on top of the rectangular metal thing like one would sit in a kayak, bracing his feet against the raised edge in front. Then I reached around from behind, took hold of the pan’s corners by his feet, and pushed him around on the den’s carpeted floor. He thought that was really fun, and I had to push him around the room at least three times making whooshing sounds until he became distracted by what Caution-Lady was doing in the kitchen.

Later, my wife, called “Mimi” by our son, played the piano for him, then set him up on her lap and let him hammer away at the keys while she played actual music. That kid loves the piano – an old Chickering upright, a gift from my mother, that predates my own birth. We sang silly songs. After that, we played with soft foam balls, throwing them around in the entry hall and playing “Bwaaawwwaaooong!” by flipping the doorstop affixed to the baseboard. Makes a great sound, and looks cool, too. We read nursery rhymes. We read a Goodnight Moon counting book. Exploring the house, Seventy-Six grabbed one of Caution-Lady’s running-shoe sneakers from her closet and tried to put his foot in it. I helped him balance, and he succeed in walking with one bare foot and one adult sneakered foot. Just to experiment, I put both shoes on his feet, and he walked a bit like that, too. We got some photos. Funny kid. He’d had a long and eventful day, and was ready for bed early. About an hour later we conked out, ourselves.

Post-Surgery Rehabilitation

My first appointment with the physical therapist was Monday afternoon, and my wife came home from work, picked me up, and dropped me off there.  The entire staff minus two has completely turned over since I completed the my pre-surgery course of physical therapy.  Did not inspire much confidence.  The clerical staff had not communicated with my surgeon for orders, so the therapist was not clear on how to proceed.  In the end, they iced my shoulder, partially measured range of motion, and gave me some exercises to perform.

The back of my left wrist and left forearm are still numb, except when I reach too far, or reach with a straight back, or reach in whatever direction the nerves think is the wrong direction, it feels as if that wrist/forearm/hand are being torn inside out by those selfsame hundred nerve strands.  I still have some pain in my left foot.  The shoulder, itself, and trapezius are a little less painful than before surgery, and the pain is improving some day by day.

I have been walking a lot, because I cannot drive anywhere, and have been putting the arm in a sling.  Three to four miles at a time, I’d estimate.  Last night after supper, Caution-Lady, Seventy-Six (in his stroller), and I went for maybe a half to three-quarter mile walk in the neighborhood, and I forgot to use my sling.  Didn’t remember until we were already down the road, and I didn’t want to go back and get it.  I wish I had gone back to get it; its use makes an appreciable difference vis-a-vis attendant shoulder pain after only a short time.

I have been eating a little more per diem than had been my wont, but I’m attributing that to the fact that I’m getting more exercise daily than my normal sedentary occupation calls for.  Still painful to type for very long.

Tomorrow is my first post-operative check-up with the specialist who performed the surgery.