It’s been a little over three weeks since my shoulder surgery and to be completely honest, I’ve been extremely discouraged. Countless amounts of people warned me that the recovery for shoulder surgery is long and painstakingly difficult but for some reason I didn’t think it would be this hard for me. I know its only been three weeks but I thought I would be making more progress than I actually am. Not only is the pain and immobility a major issue, no one tells you about the mental effects of a surgery like this. For me, that has been one of the hardest parts. I know this is something most people don’t have to go through but I wanted to write this in hopes that it might help someone else going through the same thing.
After 9 days, I went to my surgeon for my post-op appointment to see how my shoulder was progressing and to get a new set of exercises to start doing each day. I had been having some major pain in my upper arm underneath my shoulder in which the doctor told me I have a large fluid pocket built up. After that diagnosis, the surgeon informed me that my incisions were healing as they should be and started examining the movement of my arm. No, thank you. That seemed impossible considering I haven’t been able to move it much at all.
After that appointment I was down for the count for the next 2 days. Besides my shoulder being tight and in pain, this fluid pocket is literal hell and it hurts with any minuscule movement. My arm is currently like a lump of deadweight that is refusing to do anything, especially straighten out.
Surgeries like this really suck… Once you’re in the clear to start doing more exercises and get PT going, you’re literally rebuilding and teaching your muscles how to perform simple functions again. When I really think of how far this surgery set me back I get so discouraged. I think, well after three weeks I should be able to do this and this again… WRONG. I am definitely making amazing progress and can do more tasks that I was able to a week ago but I’m still not able to put my hair in a pony tail… I’m not even kidding, that has to be one of the worst parts of it… Grayson will put my hair up at night but in the morning it is all messy, greasy and in my face and I’m stuck like that all day until he gets home to help me.
Like I said above, the mental effect of surgery is probably one of the worst. Not only are you in severe pain but you are limited at doing things you would easily do on a day-to-day basis, and then the depression and mental anguish start to set in. So many people have told me that this surgery is going to make me take a break and relax. but this is not relaxing and surprisingly I don’t feel like I have that much free time where I feel up to doing anything.
Trying to talk to friends or family who haven’t experienced a recovery like this don’t seem to truly understand what I’m going through or really how to help in an effective way. It’s always the same thing, you’ll be better in no time, just rest, take a pain pill, you’re doing great, its only been a few weeks…
Here are some tips that have helped me get through this tough time –
STAY ACTIVE AND DO WHAT YOU CAN – This is one of the hardest parts considering that’s all you want to do but you can’t physically get yourself out of bed, get dressed and still have enough energy to walk around or go outside. You can do it. Get out of bed. It seems so easy, but it IS an effort. Get up, get in the bath or shower and feel refreshed! I try and do my small exercises a couple times a day so my shoulder doesn’t lock up from scar tissue build up. Mobility is the key to almost any recovery even though its the last thing you want to do. At least once a day I’ll get out of the house whether it is to go get coffee or go to lunch with a friend, and that has dramatically helped my sanity. I’ve also tried doing some squats and lunges to get my heart rate up so I don’t feel like such a fat ass sitting on the couch all day long. The doctor told me the gym was probably a bad idea this close after surgery with open/healing incisions and the fact that if I fell on the treadmill or elliptical I would be starting all over again.
STAY POSITIVE – Being positive is probably my biggest downfall at this point. After my surgery I was feeling great for the amount of work that they did on my shoulder. I could get around, I was able to eat, and I was weaning myself off the pain pills and feeling really good about where I was. Then, the fluid pocket emerged and I felt like I was moving backwards, like I had made 0 progress the past 2 weeks. This would be my current state. Frustration. My mentality the last few days is that everyday is exactly the same as the last and every week is going to be the same as that. Extremely depressing.
The pain is still pretty intense… But would I rather deal with the anguish of being in pain or the anguish of being on pain pills and REALLY not feeling like myself? I stopped taking my pain pills a week after surgery and have been taking a couple Advil and Tylenol as needed. I’m still in my brace/sling for 10 weeks but I’m able to start PT in a couple more weeks which I’m really looking forward to.
Sleeping is still an effort. I am still sleeping sitting straight up, on my back. Sometimes I can roll slightly on my left side and get comfortable but I have to prop my arm up to where it won’t move around.
Being alone and in pain is a mind f&*$. I’ve currently never felt more alone in my life…
The thought of not being able to do basic, daily tasks is demoralizing! I’m just glad I can wipe my own ass at this point! But really, I have to plan out my day on when Grayson will be back just to get stuff done that used to take me 5 minutes… Such as getting dressed on my own… I still can’t get a shirt over my head. I wanted to look really cute for lunch one day and I spent TWO hours getting ready. I showered alone, washed my hair, got it dried somehow, half ass put my makeup on with my left hand and then I got stuck trying to put a top on. I literally thought I was going to have to cut myself out of the shirt because I couldn’t move. Or how about going to the UPS store to ship packages. Well, I can’t carry them all, I can’t put them all in a bag, and no, I don’t want to ask the UPS man for help because I want to do it myself!!
I’m SICK of people helping me! Everywhere I go, everything I do, can I help you with that… NO! Please, just let me try to do it on my own. And if I can’t I will most likely throw a fit and want to cry and then ask for help.
This experience has made me so fragile and weak that I want to cry at everything. I get so frustrated and down on myself that all I want to do is have a pitty party and go cry in the closet or in the bath. I’ll be watching TV and a stupid insurance or car commercial comes on and it seriously makes me want to just break down. I mean, WHO AM I??? I don’t cry at stuff like this! I’m like a hormonal pregnant person who’s not pregnant!
I can’t work. If you know me, you know how hard this is. Yes, I have a blog and most people think that’s all I do for work but I own my own company and actually have a very demanding job that takes a lot of physical and mental awareness. I’ve had to turn down so many jobs because of this surgery and I am beyond grateful for the agencies that are waiting for me to recover so they can use me. The blog is also hard to maintain as well… I’m not able to change clothes to go shoot any new content so I haven’t been able to take on any new collaborations besides the one’s that I previously shot for, thankfully!
Find a friend or therapist because they will keep you sane. Staying positive is something that I am working hard on every single day. I have such an amazing husband who helps me out 24/7 with whatever I need and one of my best friends went through the exact same issues when she shattered her leg in a skiing accident. I am so grateful to have a friend that truly understands what I am going through and she has given me some helpful advice on how to get through this hard time. She has been a life saver and I owe her so much for all of the help she has given me. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without the empathy from someone else who has been through the same recovery.
BE REALISTIC – This would not be me… I thought I would have progressed further than I have and even though people told me that this would take months and months to recover, that’s just not the case. PLUS, everyone is 100% different. Take it slow and take your time. Every time I talk to the surgeon I have more and more questions. When can I get out of my sling? When can I start PT? When can I get back to the gym? I have no idea when I will be back to normal and realizing that is the hardest part. It is teaching me to take my life day-by-day and not get discouraged because this is all to be expected. This recovery is SLOW and difficult.
Overall, don’t let your thoughts become your worst enemy. Pain WILL wear down your ability to stay positive and you start thinking you won’t get better. Try and continuously think positive thoughts. Mind over matter is true in these types of cases so use it to your advantage!