The Arm: Latest Update

Saw my orthopedic doctor at Mayo again yesterday.  Got permission to start the next phase of physical therapy, with resistance training and stronger therapist-assisted stretching.  Also got a limited work release, allowing me to work up to two hours at a stretch, twice a day for the time being; the other limitations are not to use that arm for more than 20 pounds, and to avoid repetitive hammering motions.

That's good news, but it's not likely I'll be called back to work within those limitations; they really need me able to work an 8-hour stretch (or 12-hour shifts on weekends) to get me back onto the schedule.  So I'll probably remain off work until those limitations are removed.  Next appointment is in mid-April, when they'll evaluate again.

This is assuming I get back to that job at all.  I spoke to the head of the Security department, my boss, a few weeks ago.  He was of the opinion that if I wasn't able to recover 100% of my arm's strength and range of motion, he couldn't see authorizing my return to work.

I'm not in agreement with that.  Right now, every individual task that I routinely did at work before is something I feel I could do now (although some things, like locking and unlocking deadbolts located high up on doors, I'd have to do left-handed).  It's more an issue of stamina and pain levels.

On an aural-simile pain-scale, my default level of discomfort is currently like having a mosquito whining around your head; bothersome but ignorable.  If I use the arm much for a few hours, you get past discomfort into actual pain; then it's like fingernails scraping across a chalkboard.  (That's where that 2-hour limitation comes in.)  If I try and push myself further, you get into some pretty harsh pain territory, like working next to a woodchipper without earplugs.  At that point, you cannot think straight; that pain is a wet blanket over your brain, and you're not much use in either a domestic or workplace setting.  And the further I push myself, the longer it takes to recover.

mosquito whine
fingernails on chalkboard

But I am improving, getting able to use the arm more and for longer periods.  (The process is just a lot slower than I wanted, or expected.)  So I feel that even if I don't recover the full range of motion for my right arm (and it looks like 85% is about the best I can hope for, barring having the surgery re-done), I'll still be able to perform everything I need to do at work.  I'm hoping my boss' attitude will turn out to have a flexible range of motion itself.  My intention has always been to stay in that job until I'm eligible for my full Social Security in about another six years. 

Photo credits:
mosquito: US Department oif Agriculture (via Wikimedia Commons)
fingernails on chalkboard: from tvtropes.org
woodchipper: from the movie Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

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