Wednesday, August 4, 2021


ready for surgery
Yesterday was my arthroscopic surgery and manipulation to free up my frozen shoulder. I didn't get the call to tell me what time to arrive until 6:00 p.m. the night before. Wow, I guess none of us needs to plan our surgical day or anything. I was told to arrive at the surgery center by 8:00 a.m. That was actually a pretty good time slot since I was not allowed to eat or drink anything after 10:00 Monday night. I also had to shower with Hibiclens Monday night and again on Tuesday morning, so at least we didn't need to leave our house at 6 or anything.

It was raining, so we allowed 45 minutes to get to the center, arriving at 7:50. I had been told that Jim needed to be masked and stay in the waiting room the whole time. Surgery was scheduled for 9:30, and would take 1/2 hour, then I would be in recovery until 11:00. When we got into the waiting room, it quickly became apparent that the mask mandate was not being enforced. Some people had no mask, some wore them around their chin or under their noses, and a few were compliant. Jim looked around in dismay - as did I, frankly since I was having surgery. 

A couple sat across from us without their masks on. The man looked like he had on a long black skirt, and she had on a skirt with a slit so high it left nothing to the imagination. Including her cellulite. It was very unpleasant. My mask stayed firmly in place until I was taken in the back and they exchanged my cute smiley face mask with the generic hospital mask.

I was taken to the back on time, and gestured to Jim that there was an unoccupied, small consultation room that he could sit in to get away from the unmasked. I would have gone to wait in the car, as the registration lady said that was an option since they had his phone number. He was given a number so he could follow my progress, so he elected to stay in the waiting room.

In the back I was taken to the area where the surgical patients are prepped. I had my own cubby space with three walls and a curtain across the front. I was asked many questions, my temperature was taken, and then I was asked to put on a gown and some bootie slippers. As time went on, it was apparent they were running behind. I was thirsty, hungry and had a major headache from not sleeping much the night before. Fortunately, pre-surgery prep included two Tylenol - yay!

A nurse tried to insert a needle for the IV into a vein on my right hand, and she must have struck a nerve. I yelped and about came off the bed. I told her that hurt worse than my shoulder! She was so apologetic, and took the needle out, but had to press hard on the spot to stop the bleeding and to help prevent bruising. Then she tried for a second vein, which thankfully went much more smoothly. But to show how bad it was, she spent a long time cleaning the blood off my fingers and the floor.

I was able to keep my phone with me so I could text Jim with updates. He said he could see on the board that I was still in pre-op. I was able to let Jim know that unmasked black skirt guy got the cubby next to me. He was asked if he had a negative Covid test, which he did, and then asked if he had been vaccinated. Of course he hadn't!

Finally the anesthesiologist came in and explained that he would do a nerve block on the shoulder. I asked if I would be under when he did that - thinking how ugly the steroid shots are - and he said no, he needed me awake so I could answer questions. They did give me what they called a "margarita" through the IV, and honestly I never felt the nerve block at all. I didn't even realize he had done it until my hand started to go to sleep. Finally the surgeon came in and explained he would make two or possibly three holes in the shoulder, depending on what he saw when he got in there.

They finally wheeled me to surgery at 11:00. I helped shift myself from the bed onto the table, and the next thing I knew they were asking me to take deep breaths through the oxygen mask. I was woken up in recovery at 11:30, and was given some ginger ale. She said my mouth and throat might be sore. I said, "Oh, I guess I was intubated then." She shot me a quick glance and replied, "Where did you learn a big word like that?" I figured it wasn't the time or place to explain that I worked for a medical malpractice insurance company for 15 years. At the end of an hour I was helped to get dressed, put into a wheel chair and taken out to the lobby. They had already called Jim to let him know I was ready. In fact the doctor called him at 11:30 and the recovery nurses called him to let him know when I was there and how I was doing.

We got home and I first hydrated, and then tried a little soup and a few soda crackers. I repeated that for dinner, and was feeling okay. The nerve block was still very much in place, and I have to say having a dead arm is really weird. It's like grabbing the hand of a corpse, except the skin is warm not cold. Jim had gone out in the afternoon to get the two prescriptions they ordered. One was an anti nausea pill and the other a generic Percocet. They repeatedly advised to stay on top of the medicine the first few days, setting the alarm every four hours to take the pain pill. The anti nausea was only to be taken one every 8 hours. I took the first pills at 7:30 and felt okay. The second pill I took at 11:30, and that was okay but I just could not fall asleep. It was almost like it had caffeine instead of codeine in it. By the 3:30 alarm I was feeling sick to my stomach, so I took another anti nausea pill. I held out until 4:00 for the pain pill, hoping my stomach would be settled by then. I also had my first physical therapy (PT) scheduled for 10:00, so I wanted some pain medicine in me before I undertook that. But I continued to feel more and more nauseous, and was throwing up by 8:00.

Jim called the doctor's office as suggested if you felt dizzy or nauseated. It took forever for his call to be answered, only to be told that the doctor's assistant was with a patient and would call him back. In the meantime I was due for a pain pill at 8:00 (stay ahead of the pain, they emphasized) but there was no way I was putting another of the Percocets in me again. By 9:30 we still had no call back, so Jim phoned again, another holding period, and the assistant still wasn't free but would call him soon. I went ahead and called the PT office and said there was no way I could make a 10:00 appointment. I hated to give then so little notice, and I know how important it is to do PT the day after surgery. I was hoping they could get me in during the afternoon, but the best she could do was 2:00 tomorrow.

When the assistant finally called back, he said to just take 3 ibuprofen pills every 4 hours. I can alternate those with Tylenol if I want, which is what I am planning to do. The greatest thing is I can plan for 2 Tylenol PM tablets as my last for the night, so hopefully I can get a few hours of solid sleep tonight. Once the nerve block totally wore off, I removed the sling which has been on since the end of surgery. The doctor doesn't want me to wear it, instead he wants me to move the arm as often as possible. I will only wear the sling when I go out, mostly to let other people know to stay away from that arm. I've been icing the shoulder with the shoulder pad I bought as well to keep the swelling down.

So far the pain is bearable, and I've been doing some minor exercises and arm movements so it doesn't re-freeze. Hopefully this pill regimen will work and I won't need anything stronger for the pain. I'll find out after PT tomorrow!

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