Sep 7, 2011

Rotator cuff surgery recovery tips

Before I had rotator cuff surgery 5 weeks ago I searched the Internet for recovery tips and advice. I didn't find much other than YouTube videos showing a day to day physical recovery. I was looking for advice on pre and post-op information. I will share what I learned in the process and hope it helps someone else looking for tips on ways to make recovery a much easier experience. This is my experience and may not be the same for anyone else. It is a general list of items and tips I found helpful. Here goes:

The best news I will share is the surgery was not painful. I slept through it like a little baby once they slapped the gas mask over my face and asked me to take five deep breaths. I don't remember a thing after that...

When I woke up in recovery my arm was in a sling and my shoulder had a bulky wrap covering it. I opted for the nerve block on my shoulder before surgery. My doctor said it numbs the arm and helps ease any pain you might feel after surgery. I felt no pain. I also couldn't feel my arm. That was okay with me. I told my doctor I had zero pain tolerance when asked. I actually am around a 1 out of 10 on the pain scale but I didn't want to brag.

I gained a liter while in surgery. The surgeon plumps up your shoulder and arm with a liter of fluid. Nobody told me that was going to happen before surgery or else I would have opted for a contour spray tan to distract from the giant ham hock hanging in a sling that was once my arm. That fluid is the most uncomfortable part of recovery during the first day or two after surgery. My skin was stretched to a "whole notha level" and burned from the pressure. That is the only way I can describe how it felt. It's not a deal breaker or unbearable, just bothersome and irritating. Kinda like some relatives in my family...

My surgery was at noon on a Friday and by 7:3o that night I was sitting on the patio in my backyard enjoying the beautiful summer breeze and hanging out with family. The good ones, not the bothersome, irritating relatives. They were told I was in a coma, indefinitely...

Pain pills were dispensed by my doctor but I didn't really need them. I take half a pain pill an hour before physical therapy. It really helps and makes it a pleasant experience. I highly recommend it. I didn't take a pill for the first appointment and it was unpleasant to say the least.

I have been sleeping in a recliner. It is easier and feels better for my shoulder. If you sleep in a bed surround your shoulder and arm with a pillow underneath. It takes the pressure off your shoulder. I like the recliner because I am confined to a small space and like the cocoon feeling. I may never go back to a real bed again. It also helps prevent bags under your eyes as an added bonus of sleeping in a semi-seated position. Yahoo!

I'm a girl, so this next bit of advice may be of no help to the guys out there. I bought (tube/ smocked) strapless maxi dresses for post surgery attire. They have been ideal and I can't recommend them enough if you are having this surgery during the summer or live in a warm climate. You can step right into them and pull them up instead of struggling to get them over your head or get an arm in a sleeve. The maxi length covers your legs so you don't have to worry about unshaved legs. I am right handed and my surgery was on my right shoulder so I am not able to do much about shaving my legs and the dresses cover that little secret.

I also bought a long handled buff puff body scrubber for use in the shower. It is a handy thing to have when you only have one arm that works. A velcro closure body towel is another helpful tool for drying off. I also bought a dental floss device with a handle that looks like a toothbrush at Target to floss my teeth. You can floss your teeth using one hand.

That is all I can think of right now. Good luck with your surgery and I wish you a speedy and pain free recovery.

My doctor covered my incisions with steri-strips and said to keep them on for 6 weeks to prevent scaring and aid in healing. It is working.