Shoulder Surgery

Today’s post is from Ben.

Well, sometimes things don’t go as planned.

I was in the hospital Wednesday for rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder. Prognosis for recovery was six weeks in a sling and then a lot of therapy with full recovery taking eight months to a year. Woofda. Could be worse, I could still be milking cows. I think I got pretty lucky, after my dad retired from milking, I milked cows for 14 years and I don’t recall ever missing a milking due to injury. I remember a few times having a stomach bug, and I had to run up to the house to use the bathroom, and then come back and finish milking. And some days I probably moved pretty slow. But I don’t think I missed any milking’s other than random vacation days.

But it turns out my torn tendons were all old enough injuries that they couldn’t pull the tendons back into place. I will only need to wear the sling for two weeks, and then a lot of physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that are still there. And considering prior to Thanksgiving I didn’t know I had any issues, I would expect to be back to where I was then. And perhaps looking at shoulder replacement in 5 to 10 years. Yay! Only two weeks in a sling!

In November 1976, my dad had bunions removed from both feet at the same time. I was 12 years old. Dad hired a guy to come and do chores and milk the cows as Dad was supposed be off his feet for six weeks. That was a year it was cold and there was a lot of snow early in the winter. If I remember right, the guy only lasted a few days or a week, and then he broke the chain on the manure spreader and rather than fixing it, just parked it in the shed and went home. Well, you can’t leave a spreader full of manure sitting in freezing weather; it will freeze solid and we need to use it every day. You have to fix it and get it empty. That may mean unloading it by hand, but it needs to be emptied one way or another. Which Mom and I did. Then Mom and I laid in the snow fixing while dad shouted instructions from the living room window. The guy was fired and mom and I did the milking and chores. And it wasn’t long before dad had bread bags over the casts on his feet and he was back down in the barn. He didn’t really have a choice. I’ve asked my siblings if they remember helping or hearing about this. They don’t. Funny the things we forget or put out of our minds.

Point being: At least I’m not trying to milk cows with one arm.   

Here’s a photo of the dogs, Bailey and Humphrey, keeping an eye on a squirrel.

I was / am excited and scared, the shoulder was giving me muscle spasms or something about once a week or so, and they hurt like the dickens, so I hope that will be gone. They did clean up the site and realign some things and I got a balloon in there holding it all in place. And I keep reminding myself, in the long run, this will be nothing. I am still so fortunate.

There’s a farmer on youtube called ‘The Harmless Farmer’, Andy Detwiler.  He impresses me with the things he can do with his feet. And we’ve got a friend who’s been dealing with cancer for years. So, a sore shoulder for a few months? One arm in a sling for 2 weeks? This is nothing. Keep the perspective.

What helps keep your perspective?

Help me with fun phrases or stories for the sling:

‘______ than a one armed__________’

‘_________with one arm tied to his side.’

66 thoughts on “Shoulder Surgery”

  1. Well, you are clearly safe from the squirrels, if that photo is any indication.

    You’re right that remembering/knowing others who have it a lot worse than you is a helpful practice. And time – getting a distance away from whatever trauma time wise helps you see everything in a different light.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. As lame as my WORDLE attempts today. I got three letters right off the start, then it still took me four tries because of the letter arrangement. BAH. Man, this is really an obsession and my self-esteem is becoming dependent on my number of guesses. I don’t usually feel a sense of competition, but this!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Four or five is just fine, Jacque, as is six. I think of the daily Wordle and Nerdle as a challenge to this old noodle, an attempt at keeping it flexible. I noticed that this morning’s challenge has moved to NYT, and while it’s still free, they didn’t transfer my stats for games played. That’s fine with me since I missed the very first one I tried. Ha! It took a little while, but I got today’s in three, same thing for the Nerdle. I must say, of the two games, I find the Nerdle more fun.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Regarding your game today, Jacque, I sometimes find it a disadvantage to get too many letters right in the first try, especially if they’re not in the right place. It’s helpful when more letters are eliminated.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I read an opinion piece a few days ago about how people feel badly if they don’t get Wordle in the first two or three tries as if it’s an indication of their lack of intelligence. But really when you think about the enormous number of five letter words (using at minimum 26 variables) that there are in the English language, you really have to put some of it down to luck. I got it in three today but again, very lucky first word and a good 20 minutes between guess two and guess three.

          Liked by 3 people

      3. I’m wondering whether you’re right or left handed, Ben? If this injury is on your dominant side, it might provide an opportunity for developing the dexterity of your other side. When I had my fall, and my right side (my dominant one) was out of commission for months, I learned to do a lot of things with my left hand that I couldn’t do before. I had to. I was amazed how difficult it was to find my mouth with my left hand initially. After a while I could do it without too much trouble.

        Liked by 4 people

  2. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    Wait a minute. Is this really our Ben? That shirt has sleeves! I think this is a conspiracy.


    More expensive than a one armed bandit.
    Dangerous as a one armed shoulder surgeon.
    As scoreless as a one armed Olympic gymnast.

    An undrugged Russian Olympic athlete is as helpless as a Minnesota Farmer with one arm tied to his side.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Last year I stayed with my best friend in Howard Lake after she had rotator cuff surgery on her left shoulder. She had the 8 month rehab schedule you avoided. Here’s something to help you keep your perspective-just be glad you don’t have to put on brassiere.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. I’m gonna go in the opposite direction today but only because I just want to. I am not suggesting in any shape or form that people should be feeling badly.

    After the big recession, the travel industry was hit hard. A lot of folks lost their jobs, a lot of folks got moved into jobs that while they paid the bills, they didn’t like; it was a depressing time. The vice president of our division instituted weekly meetings where we would get updated. All the updates for weeks and weeks were negative. And the vice president on repeated occasions reminded us how lucky those of us in the room were and how horrible other people had it. And while this was true, after awhile it had the effect of making a lot of us feel like we weren’t allowed to have any negative feelings and that voicing any complaints or bad feelings made us horrible people. I actually complained about this to upper management at one point. It didn’t really change until the economy changed but at least I felt like I’ve had my say. So while I absolutely endorse remembering that others besides ourselves are suffering, I also think sometimes we just need to wallow.

    And I am exceedingly glad that it’s only a couple of weeks in a sling. When I read the first line of today’s post, my heart sank as I thought you had found out that things were much worse than you had expected. Whew!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I agree, vs. I think it’s helpful to keep things in perspective, but you have to do that of your own volition. Often when others point out to us how much worse something could be, and it’s not done in a humorous or helpful way, it comes off as dismissive of our suffering.

      One of the lawyers I worked with at the law firm, passed away right before Christmas from ALS. David was whip smart, accomplished and successful. He also had a killer sense of humor, and didn’t take himself too seriously. He was 71 years old when he was diagnosed in August, and he obviously knew his days were numbered. He also knew that this last chapter of his life was going to be both painful and debilitating. But, with typical good humor he called ALS a horrible disease that was at least named after someone he admired. He was trying to lighten the burden of what was to come both for himself and his loved ones, and his final months were both a struggle and an inspiration.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. This is a really good point VS. thanks for sharing it.
      I was anxious before hand that there might be something else wrong. Guess I’m not surprised they were old injures; could have been the dog 8 years ago that dragged me off an ATV, could have been any number of things that made my shoulder hurt over the years. But from the MRI, it looked repairable. So. we’ll figure it out.

      Liked by 5 people

  5. So here’s something weird; Kelly has been doing chores for me the last few days. I’m both worried about slipping on the snow and I’m not allowed to carry anything in the left arm. (I am right handed thankfully). Last nights cold temps froze over the ducks pond for the first time all year. Most cold nights they must stay in the pond enough to keep the middle open. It has froze around the edges but there’s a good 3’x12′ area in the middle open. Except today. Kelly used a fence post to break the ice. And she says the ducks aren’t eating their corn like they usually do. When it’s warm I don’t expect it. Cold weather, they’re eating as I’m dumping.
    Do they miss me? I tried standing on the deck and calling to them this morning but they weren’t answering me. I may have to walk down (with guidance) and reassure them.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. geez I get pissed when I discover that the entry I thought I had hit the send button on either didn’t go through or I never hit the send button because I had one more line to plug in for the finish
    I had what I thought was a good contribution to the resoling of the boots and how you read people for boots on Renee‘s post yesterday and I had some stuff that I thought I posted for this post today and it’s not like my posts are so valuable that I am passing you all out of the opportunity to read my insight I just like to be able to participate in the group and it takes me off when my ADHD tendencies distract me and take me over here and when I come back the post is been vaporized

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Show the comment I thought I had put up was that the phrases that came to mind immediately were slower than a one armed paper hanger and my dad so tough he can beat up your dad with one hand tied behind his back
    from there my brain starts branching off and trying to do my bill imitation but it’s a pretty pale grouping by comparison

    What helps me keep my perspective is my constant reminder that the idea that seems like the correct idea at the time has about a 30% shot and actually going that way there’s just too many variations on a theme to come up along the way to make anything I slam dunk anymore

    I listen to lots of podcasts in my life these days and it’s interesting how people that are putting out podcasts are often times experts in their fields and how full of themselves they are and how unaware that there’s another side to the equation

    If I forget about that for a minute I’m reminded that certainly helps me keep my perspective
    I guess I have tomorrow to come up with more one armed and hand tied behind your back or at your side I’ll have to go back and look again I’ve heard the expression to be your hand tied behind your back

    oh and ben don’t be in a big hurry what you can do immediately is start doing a little drum rolls with your fingertips on the table that is the first exercise and then you take those fingertips and you go sit down next to the wall and have your fingertips start crawling up the wall like the itsy-bitsy spider and you can keep doing that for almost a year before it starts coming back around my surgeries I had two of them on rotor cuff generally took two years before I was back in the saddle good luck more tomorrow

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I work on keeping things in perspective every day. I meditate and remember to be grateful for my relative health, for the choices I have in life, for the sunny day, for my friends and for my home.

    I agree with VS’s comments. I went through a rough time back in the Waterville years and my friends just kept telling me to be positive and be happy. That is hard to do sometimes so I got through it on my own and changed my own life for the better. That helps me keep things in perspective too.

    My right shoulder has been hurting bad in the mornings. I’m afraid to have it checked out but I probably should. I’m right handed so any surgeries or slings would be a huge inconvenience. I’m glad you have a reprieve for now, Ben.

    So many funny similes. I can’t come up with any that are as funny. Noisy as a one-armed ukulele picker?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Mine was magnificent, and I wondered how your household would fare on this one. The Nerdle, however, was tough. There were six equally valid options after my second guess. I squeezed in the right guess on my sixth try.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think you’re completely alone, PJ! Wasn’t the SuperBowl in January, and on a Sunday afternoon in the past? Seems it’s gotten later, as well as later in the day. I’ve always thought days like this are good days for hiking as fewer people are out in the parks. That’s not really true anymore. It’s too icy for hiking anyway. Skiing and snowshoeing are tough right now too because the rain we had has turned everything to solid ice. And now the solid ice has a dusting of snow on it, making even walking a treacherous choice.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I don’t even know who is playing. We used to have our church annual meeting on Superbowl Sunday so that irritable windbags would keep the meeting short and the discussion to the point. The more obstreperous ones have all died. They liked to argue against the church being be air-conditioned and nonsensical things like that.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I had a SLAP tear and they cut one head of the biceps tendon to fix it. Sling for a few days and I could move it as I wanted. Went to physical therapy and did everything they said, but apparently diabetics have an increased risk for frozen shoulder. No one had mentioned this. When I didn’t get any better, I went back to the doc and he put me under and unfroze it. Recovery then progressed.

    I still had other issues with my shoulder and I had another tear. This one needed to be repaired with an anchor. I was not happy as the recovery is much longer and it was my dominant arm. 8 months later I had a second surgery. Now I had to be careful not to undue the repair work. I was not used to that and didn’t like being sidelined. Again, I have gotten to a point where recovery is not progressing.

    I learned about Gua Sha, a Chinese treatment of scraping the skin to release the underlying fascia. (Massage places can perform this). I went for a 15 minute treatment and could move my arm in directions I could not before! It was almost like a miracle. Physical therapy has not provided any more results and insurance has stopped paying for it. So, 6 months after this surgery, I am having gua sha treatments every 2 weeks and each time I go my arm gets much better. I have found it wasn’t an issue with the shoulder repair, but the scar tissue that inevitably sneaks in.

    I have been told stories of how another person with pain and limited range of motion had surgery scheduled and ONE gua sha treatment fixed his issue. Why he went to have surgery I will never know. I would definitely try this before I have any other muscular or tendon surgery. You may want to check it out if yo have continued issues. It worked wonders for me!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi shelley. Welcome to the trail. I hadn’t heard of Gua Sha, though I’m familiar with several other ancient Chinese healing pratices. Glad to hear that you’ve had positive results. Thanks for sharing.


  10. I am spending Superbowl Sunday making three pies. Two will go to work with me for my coworkers on the Youth and Family Team (banana cream and strawberry rhubarb). One is for Husband, who believes it is important to use up the cranberries in the freezer, and since I am making pie anyway. . . At least I have enough crusts in the freezer.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I’ve had rotator cuff impingement, but haven’t needed surgery, and it never got to the point of having my shoulder pronounced “frozen”. It is really hard to sleep with that shoulder pain.

    It does get better, especially with the aid of a good physical therapist.

    Liked by 2 people

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