This past week, a ”first” happened in my life. I had my first surgery. Actually, if you count the tonsillectomy I had back in 1974, it’s my second. But based on pain level–and my “weenieness”–this was my first surgery.
A bum shoulder has been giving me problems for the last few years. I did physical therapy and I took prescribed drugs. Both had temporary effects–but nothing long- lasting. This past Tuesday, I “went under the knife” to repair multiple bone spurs and a tear in the recalcitrant shoulder.
No problem, I thought. I will be sore a while; go to PT; and quickly get back to life as I knew it. My doctor told me it would be about three to four months to have a complete recovery. Of course all was dependent on what was discovered when he entered the shoulder. (Aside: I love this guy…especially when he said I was too YOUNG to not do something about the discomfort and get back to my regular regimen. Gotta love it anytime someone recognizes my youth. )
Well, there were no surprises. The bone spurs were there; the tear was not visible on the MRI, but we knew it was a possibility. If there were surprises, they were on my end. Here are a couple of the lessons I took from the experience.
1. Pain is part of the process. When the body is invaded by a knife and other foreign instruments, it is an “insult” to the body. And it is going to hurt. Not during the operation. The team did a great job to minimize my discomfort.
2. I readily admit that I am a weenie. I did not anticipate the level of discomfort–PAIN–I would feel after the surgery. My wife (a nurse for 36 years) calmly said, “You’re not a weenie. Everyone has a different tolerance for pain.” (Any wonder that I am still with this lady after 35 years of marriage…always looking at the positive.)
3. I take a lot of basic things I do each day for granted. Here I am five days post-op, typing with one hand, taking medication every four hours, and on very limited duty. Driving? Nope. Daily workout? You kidding me–not close! With the drugs I am getting a sound sleep, right? Nope. Sleeping in a chair for about 90 minutes at a time. Activities in every room of the home are affected. EVERY room.
4. Recovery is a process. Each day I have gotten stronger. Sleeping longer.
5. Don’t baby the insult. Even though the body was invaded by the surgery, I cannot sit in a corner and wait for it to heal on its own. I was in physical therapy less than 72 hours after my surgery.
6. I am part of the healing process. I know that sounds obvious. I have exercises to do each day (three times). Got to do them. There are no shortcuts.
7. Nurses are angels. I admit I am biased here. My bride has been a nurse for 36+ years. The nurses who took care of me/prepped me for the surgery were great. They had a sense of humor and made me feel comfortable.
8. Ask questions. I did all along the way. Hey, it’s my body and my health.
9. Medical technology is amazing. Just the medical marvel of the doctor sticking a camera-type contraption into my shoulder; followed by tools to break (!) the bone spurs and stitch the tear. That is pretty amazing. I am thankful for that level of expertise.
10. I am a partner with the doctor in the process. We talked about options. His straightforward approach was appreciated. He and his assistant answered all questions and let me know the options all along the way.
11. Patience. Patience! Patience? My idea of patience has always been to count to one. It is not one of my strong suits. (Patience that is; I can count to one very well, thank you.)
12. Gratitude. Again, though, I am so grateful for all I have. Except for one thing…with all the advancements in the medical world, why is it that the hospital gowns have not changed?
[Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please pass it (and any of the archived posts on this site) along to friends and colleagues. You can also follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and click on the “LIKE” button. Also, if you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Have a wonderful week!]
© 2011. Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog.