Monday, January 16, 2006

In-Depth Details About the Shoulder Surgery, Part Three: The Results

I talked to the surgeon the next day.

He said that part of the labrum was torn and he was able to repair it.

He said that part of the labrum had also been torn away from the bone and he was able to reattach it.

And he said that there was some "fraying" that he debrided.

I was very happy to hear that he had found definitive injuries in there and that he was able to repair all of them. I was very worried that he wouldn't find much of anything or wouldn't find anything conclusive. He sounded very happy and optimistic about it. He definitely considered the surgery a success.

He said that I would have to rest the shoulder for two weeks. I don't have to keep it in the sling but I can't raise the arm to shoulder height. Have to keep it low near my hip.

I have a follow-up appointment with him after that and then physical therapy can begin immediately (which means it is NOT the 8-weeks of healing scenario, thankfully!). He didn't say how long rehab would take.

The injuries all make sense - if you google "labrum" you'll find that it can be injured while doing overhead arm motions (e.g. throwing a baseball). It provides stability to the rotator cuff, especially in overhead motions. This explains why the shoulder only hurt when I was hanging from a bar or trying to spike a v-ball. Other motions didn't affect the injured area.

Post-Surgery Recovery
I've been amazed at how fast and easy the recovery has been. On the next morning I still didn't feel much pain at all. At worst it felt like mild muscle soreness after an intense workout. I kept up with the painkillers, but I could tell that they didn't have that much pain to counteract.

My appetite returned the next day and I could even move the shoulder around a bit without any pain.

The bandaged area was pretty compact, with enough padding to protect the incision points. I had to keep the area dry though, so I couldn't really shower or wash my hair. Picture is reversed since I'm shooting off a mirror.

After three days I could remove the bandages and let water flow over the wounds (finally showering was SO nice!!). The rear incision (there were three) bled a surprising amount into the bandage. You can see a picture of it here, but only click if you're okay with seeing bloody bandages!

Under the bandages were the three incision points (pics are reversed in the mirror):

You can also see the lines they drew on me to mark the various bones and other reference points during the surgery.

And with the little bandages removed the incision points are visible, each are maybe an inch long (pics are front, side, rear incision point):

The surgeon said the sutures were under the skin. I think that's why they're a little bit bumpy and some of them have kind of a horizontal pinch near the middle. After removing the bandages they said to just keep a band-aid over the wounds.

It hurts to press directly on the wounds, but otherwise they never really hurt. After the second or third day I switched to Alleve instead of the hydrocodone to avoid the potential nausea. I'm sleeping just fine - still in a recliner though. It helps to keep the arm in the sling. The area starts aching a bit if I just let the arm dangle on its own.

Interestingly only the surface wounds hurt. The area where my injury is (top of the shoulder) doesn't hurt at all.

Now that it's been a week since the surgery I think I could get along just fine without the painkiller but I'm still taking the Alleve just to be safe.

Conclusions So Far...
I'm very happy with the recovery and I'm thrilled that the sugeon found specific injuries that he could fix. Recovering from the general anesthesia and that damn nerve block were trying, but since then it's been absolutely astonishing how good it all feels.

I'm not quite as helpless as I was afraid I'd be. It's easier to eat with your left hand than you'd think. And the pain is so mild or nonexistent that I can still use my right arm in limited fashion. For example - I can almost pull up my pants with both arms. It sounds funny, but that's much more than I expected to be able to do.

We'll see how painful physical therapy is, but right now I think my chances at a 100% recovery seem very very good.

Overall it's looking like the arthroscopic surgery was definitely the right decision for me.


Post a Comment

<< Home