The Arm: Back To Work, Finally

At the end of our last thrilling installment, the arm pain had improved remarkably for no discernible reason, enough so that the second shoulder surgery set for the end of June was cancelled, and I was referred to a physiatrist (musculature specialist) at Mayo for further evaluation and probable return to physical therapy for a while.

Between various scheduling, authorization and paperwork complications, I didn't see the physiatrist until July 19th.  The arm pain had continued at the reduced level, staying mostly in the lower half of that 1-to-10 pain scale doctors like to use, and with the use of aspirin and Tylenol several times a day, mostly in the lower half of that lower half.  And those lower levels keep me out of the Stupid Zone, where you can't ignore the pain and you can't think.

At those lower levels, I felt it was possible to finally return to work.  The upper arm and shoulder still feel stiff and sore a good amount of the time, but it's probably never going to be completely pain-free again for the rest of my life.  The doctor had a job-description sheet from my workplace, and we went over the list of tasks I need to perform at work, none of which I felt were un-doable.  (Some of them, involving high reaches or other extensive arm movements, need to be done with the left arm rather than the right, but they can be done.)  So he gave me a release to return to work as of July 22nd, within the right arm's limitations.  He also wrote orders for me to resume physical therapy for the next month, and scheduled an appointment for re-evaluating my progress in late August.

Then I had to contact the HR rep at work to see about actually resuming work.  Monday the 22nd I met with her and the assistant Security head, then went around the property with him to demonstrate that I was physically able to do the work required.  I didn't have much problem with any of the tests, so I got a call Tuesday morning to say I was back on the work schedule starting Thursday night.

Completed my first work-week back at work Sunday night.  No major problems.  The shoulder got stiff and sore a few times, but that was expected and I carried a small pillbox with extra aspirin/Tylenol tablets for those occasions.  So it looks like I'm a working stiff (heh) again.

The Arm saga isn't over quite yet.  My job isn't strenuous; it doesn't require lifting or moving any heavy objects, at least not any I can't handle left-handed.  But there's still a lot of stuff at home I'm not capable of without over-stressing the arm.  That's one of the reasons for going back to physical therapy, to try and get back some of the strength and stamina the right arm has lost over the months.  (The right arm is visibly thinner than the left, due to muscle loss from lack of use.)

So there'll probably still be occasional post about "The Arm" from time to time.   But, at least as of now, they should be farther apart in time and hopefully less dramatic than some of the posts have been.

No comments: