11/23/2010

Look, Ma! No Sling!



I had my first follow-up appointment with my shoulder surgeon on Monday. The good news is that he told me to start leaving the sling off my arm.

The bad news is he thought I should have a better range of motion at this point, so he wanted the sling dumped to let the arm move around more and get more flexible.

Yes, I have been wearing the sling pretty much 24/7 since the surgery, because that's what I was told to do. The first month following surgery, other than the passive therapy when the therapist moves the arm around while I try to keep it limp, was supposed to give the incision a chance to heal, and not to stress the sutures and repairs to the rotator cuff.

But the second month (as in, now) is when I'm supposed to get more active with the arm, including home-based exercises to stretch the shoulder as well as more-physical appointments with the PT people.

I'm kinda happy to have the sling off. "Kinda", because I still have to be careful not to overextend or overuse the left arm, and because it does ache some just from being out loose. But I can use that arm a bit more than before, with care, and I appreciate that. (Typing one-handed has been, umm, dreary.)

The stretching exercises started today. I figured they'd probably hurt. I was right. (I was saying "Owch! Owch! Oooch! Owch!" when another patient in another room gave a sharp, loud scream from thir own therapy. "Hey, someone's having a worse day than I am," I said. It's very, very bad of me, but that made me feel a bit better about the whole thing.)

Besides the appointments for physical therapy, I'm supposed to do the stretching exercises at home two or three times a day, using a stick and a set of pulleys to help push and pull the arm past it's comfort zone and into larger extensions. This hurts, too, but it does help get the range of motion slowly back to normal. (Right now I can only raise that left arm up to about shoulder level without an assist from the stick or pulleys. That's not sufficient, so I need to do the exercises, regardless of how much they hurt.)

After a month of stretching and extending the range of motion, the third month will be when I start working on getting that arm's strength back, because between not being able to use it fully before the surgery and not being able to use it pretty much at all since the surgery, the strength on that arm is pretty much punked out. Something tells me that's probably going to hurt too.

1 comment:

mjlayman said...

I pulled a muscle in my left shoulder and when my doctor was checking, I was saying "okay, okay, OUCH, ouch, okay, OUCH..."

I am no longer allowed to get the litter from a shelf above my head, which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable to have the pharmacy call for someone to do it for me. On the other hand, he'd never heard of flushable litter and he has a cat.