The Arm: Two Years On

December 10, 2012 was the morning I took a hard fall onto a harder sidewalk at work, badly breaking the upper arm bone and messing up a lot of the shoulder, and ending up with an artificial joint and lasting after-effects. I've written about the accident and the recovery (such as it's been) over a series of posts.

So how I'm doing, two years later?

I had an exam and evaluation by an independent (i.e., picked by Workman's Comp) orthopedic surgeon several months ago, and got the results about a month ago. I've been put into a "stable without full recovery" status, which lets WC put my case into an Inactive category, and the doctor rated my right arm as 40% disabled.

That sounds about right. The range of motion, the strength, and the stamina of that arm are all compromised significantly, and look to be for the rest of my life. The good news is that the pain, so long as I remember to take my aspirin/tylenol tablets regularly, is (most of the time) down to a mild ache.

Besides the actual physical limitations of that arm, I find myself continually annoyed by a sense of trepidation in using it. If I want to do something that requires use at the outside of the arm's new parameters, I find myself hesitating and asking myself: Will I be able to do this? Will I need to ask for help? Will it hurt? How much will it hurt? How long will it hurt afterwards?

Annoyance and frustration on an every-damned-day basis. The possibility's been raised of doing a revision of the joint replacement, replacing the standard-model arthroscopy with a "reverse-shoulder arthroscopy". But there's no guarantee of improvement, and a possibility the new joint would be less useful and more painful.  I can continue to live with the current status quo, even if I'm not pleased about it.

I'm fortunate in that I'm still able to perform my current job's work tasks within those new limitations. If I was still working my old job as a letter carrier, involving reaching and stretching and lifting that arm thousands of times per day, I would be completely screwed; for that job, the disability would be 100%.

So that's where I'm at, and where I'll probably be for the foreseeable future.

(Hmmph, this sure is a grumpy post to make a few days before Christmas.)

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