The Arm: Achy Breaky Arm

Finally got to see my orthopedic doctor at Mayo on Monday.  He reviewed the x-rays from the operating surgeon, plus a fresh set done at Mayo, asked me a number of questions about my recovery and progress to date, and checked how much strength and motion I currently have in that arm.

The bad news is: I probably will not recover a full range of motion in my right arm.  Most of this is because of the limitations of the prosthetic joint that was implanted.  He also noted that the remaining portion of the head of the humerus was very slightly off from its ideal position, and may make it more difficult for the rotator cuff on that side to work perfectly.

(This is not a slam against the operating surgeon.  The results are well within "acceptable" range, just not ideal.  There's always going to be factors like how quickly the surgical site heals, how much scar tissue forms, and how much stress the healing limb is subjected to during healing that can affect how quickly and how well the arm recovers.)

I'll probably recover most of the arm's range of motion.  But the extreme end of that range will probably be gone.  One of the things I did before the accident was a set of dumbbell exercises that, when I did them regularly, kept me pretty well-toned.  (Full disclosure: I usually didn't do them that regularly.)  Some of those, particularly the military presses, won't be possible any more.

If I was still delivering mail for the Postal Service, I'd be screwed.  Sorting mail in the mornings, and delivering the rest of the day, both involved lots of long and high reaches.  If I hadn't taken retirement in 2008, and had broken the arm while working for USPS,  I'd almost certainly have had to switch crafts and work as a clerk instead of a letter carrier.

My current security job mostly doesn't involve many of those sort of motions, so I don't anticipate too many problems when I've recovered enough range and strength in that arm to go back to work.  I'll probably find a few, and have to figure a workaround for them.

In the meantime, the right arm is still pretty much a putz in regards to its current strength and range.  I started the more active phase of physical therapy on Tuesday.  Ouch, but that's how I'll get as much use back as I can.

I've also been told I should start using the sling less during the day, and try to use it mostly when I'm sleeping.  The hand and forearm are back close to normal, so freeing them from the sling lets me use them for (lightweight) tasks. (Starting to do a little typing with the right hand again, though I try to keep some sort of support under my elbow when I do.  I was getting pretty good at left-handed typing.)  Push that a little too far, though, and I get some sharp pains in my upper arm and shoulder, so I'm being careful.

Prognosis: Aching with occasional painstorms, with clearer weather expected eventually.  Continued improvement, more slowly, more painful, less complete than I would have preferred.  So it goes.

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