Post op day 20: frozen shoulder pillow talk

fit4Today is one of those “not good” days. Well, actually, none of them have been particularly great. But you know it’s a “bad” day when it’s only 7:42 a.m. and you’re in a funk.

But let’s start with some good news, because there has to be good news. Right? Right. So here it is. Almost three weeks post surgery and my range of motion is DEFINITELY improving. I note that my arm moves more in all directions, I’m forcing myself to use it and with help from my right arm, can reach it over my head.

I also had one of those scary moments where I had to reach out with my left arm to stop myself from falling and while it hurt, it wasn’t that searing, jarring, I feel like I’ve electrocuted myself type of pain that those of you with frozen shoulder are familiar with. Hey, I said the good news was good not “great”. I will take my good news where I can get it.

Also on the plus side, my external rotation is getting a little better, my exercises now only take 30 minutes to do at home as opposed to an hour, and we’ve started adding strength and resistance exercises to my range of motion exercises in physical therapy. So this is all good news.

In bad news, because of the addition of these strengthening exercises, when the doctor went to manipulate my arm last week, it started going into spasms. Really, really, painful. And NOT fun. But he said that’s normal, we’re finally working the muscles so I guess this is the new story for me. Sigh.

In worse news, the sleep thing is killing me. Sometimes I wonder how badly I need sleep? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question. But I dread going to sleep. It’s when the pain is the absolute worst. I occasionally manage these days to sleep on my right side with a pillow tucked under my left arm. But I’m not sure it’s worth it. The pain when I wake up is awful. And I still wake up every 60 to 90 minutes every single night. This is what a typical night is for me.

Go to sleep propped up on four pillows and another one under my arm. Sleep for 60-90 minutes. Wake up in agony. Get up, put heating pad in microwave for 90 seconds. Crawl back to bed with heating pad. Try and get comfortable. Fall asleep. Wake up in another 60-90 minutes in agony. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes this game varies with me taking  a pain killer and/or using massage cream on my arm and shoulder. Otherwise this is my nightly ritual. Not fun.

In addition, while the pain varies in intensity throughout the day, there is never a single moment where I’m not in some kind of pain, even if it’s not off the charts terrible pain. It’s ALWAYS there. I obviously need more sleep but, like I said, sleeping is so painful I’d rather be awake and exhausted. (I think).

So yes, I’m in a crappy mood today. Time to get up and do my exercises and head to $3 torture (aka physical therapy). My boyfriend likes to call it $3 torture, because my copay is $3. I pay them to hurt me!

Hope to have better news soon. But this is just miserable. Wish I knew when the pain would finally go away.


Frozen shoulder milestone: two weeks post-op



Yes, it has been exactly 14 days ago today that I went under the knife.  I’m now at PT only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Yesterday, I hoped to reach “Spanish Casual Chat” status (see the other day’s post), but alas that did not happen. Now that my range of motion is getting so much better overhead and to the side, Dr. Mike decided it was time to work on areas that hadn’t been worked on. This basically meant stretch the muscles alongside and under my armpit. Yes, screaming ensued.

However, this is the path that must be taken. Just when you think you’re doing well, along comes another pressure point that the doctor can find to make you scream for mercy. On the plus side (there’s a plus side????), afterwards, I was actually pain free for a while. Stretching had definitely helped.

Dr. Mike also made me feel a whole lot better by saying to me that even though I was still in the painful freezing stage, it would be silly for me to expect to be free of the pain from surgery barely two weeks after the operation. So maybe I’m asking a little too much of myself?

I also noted that yesterday my exercises only took me a little over an hour as opposed to an hour and a half. It means they’re getting a bit easier. We’ve now added another ROM exercise and starting tomorrow we’re going to add strengthening exercises, because right now I have zero strength in my left arm, given that it’s been four months now without being able to use it. I can lift my left arm only if I use my right arm to support it. Pathetic.

Once again, last night was a difficult night. The pain at night is truly awful and I wish I’d stop waking up every couple of hours and needing to apply a heat pack. Again, I think I’m being too hard on myself. After I do my exercises, the pain definitely lessens, but come morning it’s all seized up again and I have to attack my exercises like a vigilante.

I have no idea when this pain is going to end. I have no idea when I’ll be able to use my bloody arm again, but I do note that range of motion is definitely greater than pre-surgery. Over my head I am now at 170 degrees (almost there!). To the side, about the same too. Side movement – a pathetic 60 degrees (that’s with being pushed by Dr. Mike and me screaming). I guess it’s better than the other day when it was only 45 degrees. Aaargh.

Trying to stay positive here, but sometimes it’s exhausting.



Frozen shoulder pain in real time (a la Jack Bauer: 24)



Because let’s face it. That’s why most of you are here, right? For anyone who has or has had a frozen shoulder you know what I’m talking about. The pain is beyond anything. It’s awful. It’s debilitating. It makes you weep. It makes you want to kill people and rip your arm out of its socket. It blinds you, shocks you, makes your life a living hell. And that’s just the pain. Forget about the fact that you can’t reach a jar on a shelf (I broke the butter dish the other day), or dress yourself properly or drive properly or walk the dog properly. All that’s just an added bonus to the constant, excruciating pain.

It’s the pain that makes us seek options – in my case – like surgery. So here I am to tell you what pain is like following surgery. After you’ve exhausted all other options.  And yes, I know all my posts are peppered with talk about the pain.

Today is Day 13 post surgery for me. My blog has now been caught up in real time (Just like Jack Bauer on 24 – but I bet he wouldn’t scream in pain. He’d just say “dammit” a lot and operate on his own damn shoulder, without anesthesia. Alas I’m no Jack).

So bear in mind I’m writing this having had a bad night last night. I’m in a ton of pain this morning. And I’m not happy. Firstly, because of my great news on Friday at not screaming when Dr. Cho yanked my arm every which way, I decided to give myself a night off doing exercises at home. Big mistake. I paid for that the following morning. And so, over this weekend I did all my exercises twice a day.

I also treated myself to a massage and a facial this weekend (Dr. said it was fine to get a massage – just be careful of incision sites). My masseuse was amazing. He worked gently on my arm and shoulder and it felt wonderful knowing someone was there to work on my body and wasn’t going to yank my limbs. Bliss.

However, it’s been incredibly hot the last couple of days here in Los Angeles. I think the heat may have contributed to my feeling crappy but the pain was pretty awful yesterday. And this morning, as I mentioned, it’s bad.

Here’s some bad news. I’m pretty much over the pain of surgery – now almost two weeks out. But here’s some important information to consider if you plan on having frozen shoulder surgery. I promised I wouldn’t sugar coat anything. I’m writing about my experiences so others can make informed choices.

As you probably know there are three stages of frozen shoulder:

Stage 1: The “freezing” stage. This is the bloody excruciating pain stage where range of motion becomes more and more limited.

Stage 2: The “frozen” stage. The stage where the pain is pretty much gone but you have zero range of motion.

Stage 3: The “thawing” stage. Where your shoulder finally becomes unstuck and you’re back to normal (or you may have permanent limited range of motion).

And as you probably know each of these stages can last anywhere from several months to a year. So if you can stick around for  3 years waiting to heal, good for you! Like I said, I was at my wits end after three months.

The good news is I had surgery during the “freezing” stage, which according to my surgeon and PT means a shorter recovery period, and high rate of full recovery. The bad news, as my doctor pointed out is the surgery allows my arm to regain full range of motion, so I can do the PT. Prior to surgery all the exercises in the world wouldn’t give me my full ROM back because there was too much scar tissue and inflammation.

The worse news is while the surgery allows range of motion, it can’t do anything to make the joint less “frozen.” Meaning it can’t do anything to help the pain. Therefore, because I’m still in the “freezing” stage, that pain will remain until I’m out of the “freezing” stage and nobody can predict how long that stage will take.

So, this is my way of saying that I’m in the same amount of horrible pain I was in prior to surgery. Which is awful! The only difference is I can do the exercises, I can move my arm and I can push my shoulder to get better. But it hurts! It hurts to do the exercises (although I do feel better after I’ve done them – the stretching does relieve the pain  – albeit temporarily). And it hurts when I do nothing.

Like I said, this morning is a bad morning. I’m in a LOT of pain. The same pain I was in prior to surgery. There are days I weep and wonder what the hell I’ve done. But I’m assured it WILL get better.

Right now I’m going to get up, take a shower, and do my exercises before heading out to PT. This is my first week of three days a week therapy (as opposed to five days a week). I’ll let you know how it goes.

I would like to add though, in some strange, masochistic way, I can’t imagine not doing my exercises constantly now. They make me feel better, even if they hurt while I’m doing them. The pain in the long run is a whole lot less than when I protect my arm and do no exercises. That’s why I’m in pain this morning. Sleeping is good for the body – frozen shoulders hate it. They seize up. So I’m off to wake up my arm, take some pain killers and see if Dr. Mike makes me scream today.

I believe that this will get better. But I hate, hate, hate this pain. But at least I’m being pro active. I cannot sit around and wait for my shoulder to “heal itself” and I have additional motivation now having had surgery. No way I would go through surgery and then not do the work required. Otherwise the surgery would have been a waste of time.

So, here I go. Sallying forth to start my day, which I hope will be pain free soon.

Nurse! Drugs! Stat!

To sleep, perchance to dream


Let’s talk about sleep – or the lack thereof. How does one sleep following arthroscopic shoulder surgery for frozen shoulder?

Pretty much the same way you slept pre-surgery. Maybe even more difficult.

Pre surgery  I could only sleep on my right side. I spent three months sleeping on my right side only and often it was difficult to find a comfortable position. I was taking lots of pain killers and waking up a lot during the night. We all know sleeping is the most difficult thing with this condition.

I am now 13 days out from surgery and am still sleeping the same way as I did on the first day of surgery. I am not at the point where I can sleep on my side at all. I’m sleeping propped upright on three pillows at a 45 degree angle. In addition, I have a pillow under my left arm (surgery arm) and a pillow under my right arm. Learnt the hard way I need one otherwise that arm goes to sleep and I wake up numb and tingly.

In the first week post surgery I attempted to sleep a lot. I dozed on and off but getting any sleep while on the six days of Prednisone wasn’t easy. Plus I was in pain from the surgery still. And woolly headed. And being beaten to a pulp relentlessly every single day since surgery at PT.

Sleep is still not great. I usually manage to sleep in about two hour increments at a time. On a good night I’ve gone almost four hours without waking up but that hasn’t happened often. Usually I readjust myself and my pillows and fall back to sleep. Often I’ll reheat the heating pad and fall asleep again with that on. If the pain is really bad (and it often is in the night), I’ll take another pain killer.

In a nutshell. Nights are still the toughest. It’s when the pain is at its worst and often mornings are miserable (including this morning). It makes sense. 1. Nights are always bad. 2. You’re not moving your arm when you sleep and it wants to seize up. And so it does. Getting in moving again in the morning is the best thing. My routine is usually: breakfast, shower, exercises! I always feel better when I do my exercises.

So sleep is still not very good. I’m working on it though. Here’s hoping it gets better.

And now for the good news about frozen shoulder surgery

My shoulder surgery selfie.

My shoulder surgery selfie.

Okay. Let’s not get carried away, but I did promise to highlight some of the good stuff so I don’t seem like a complete misery guts, and hopefully I can provide some hope for others (and myself). So here’s the good news:

1. Two days after surgery I got to remove the massive padding from around my shoulder. That helped a LOT with my ROM. It also meant I could take a shower. Hooray! The sticky bandages and gauze came off easily. I don’t envy men who have this surgery. My recommendation: shave or wax your chest and back before hand because ripping off those bandages would not be fun. There was some blood and liquid on the gauze but nothing unbearable. I was still covered in purple pen scrawl, was very swollen, and had a lot of bruising. But it felt good to feel free of the bandages and even better to take a shower! The stitches were in front and back where I’d had the keyhole arthroscopy. They weren’t too awful, were quite small and I had to cover them with bandaids and change them every day.

2. One week after surgery I had my stitches removed. It really wasn’t painful at all. A couple of snips, some steri-strips and some antibiotic ointment and I was good to go. Also, because I had been doing so well at physical therapy, I didn’t have to come back and see the doctor for another three weeks. I also received a cool selfie photo of my shoulder during surgery (see above).

3. Day 9 of PT and Dr. Mike only made me scream out loud once. ONCE! This was amazing. Usually I shrieked for the full 10 minutes of manipulation. And while it was still incredibly painful, it wasn’t enough to make me scream the building down. I gritted my teeth and lived through it.

4. Day 10 of PT. A BREATHROUGH!  Dr. Cho had the pleasure of my company on this day (Mark it in your calendars: Friday, May 9). He was brave enough to keep me in the main room with everyone else for my treatment. And I didn’t scream once! Not once! Again, it was painful. I winced. Tears came to my eyes. I gritted my teeth. I made horrible faces. But I didn’t scream. Didn’t even wimper. My range of motion was getting better and better. My arm had been pushed to the side 45 degrees (out of a possible 90) and overhead 150 degrees out of  a possible 180. I cried afterwards. Tears of joy that my hard work was paying off. Most days I cried and complained that all the pain I was pushing myself through at home with my exercises and at PT wasn’t working. Doctors assured me it was. Friday was proof that it was.  Dr.Cho said my healing would now be much faster than he anticipated.

Maybe, just maybe, I was on the road to recovery?

5. I am no longer on round the clock pain killers. I take Tylenol 3 only at night. How many times a night depends on how bad the pain is. Usually I can’t get through the night without taking one before I go to bed and/or around 3, 4, or 5 in the morning. I take a Tylenol 4 (yep, need it), an hour before I go to PT to help get through the pain and torture session. But unless things are particularly bad I don’t take another pain killer till I go to bed or the first time I wake up in the night.

6. I also no longer ice round the clock. I only ice after I do my exercises at home and after PT. All other times when I’m in pain I’m instructed to use heat. Morning showers are wonderful and heat packs in the middle of the night when I wake up in terrible pain help a lot too.

7. My bruising has faded. The bruise on my neck is gone (thank you Traumeel), the bruise on my hand from the IV is finally gone. The rash on my arm is barely noticeable or bothersome now. Did I mention I broke out in a rash on my surgery arm? That was fun!

The Spanish casual chat (or Eddie Izzard understands me)


My goal for physical therapy is to reach “Spanish Casual Chat” status.

Okay. Let me back up a bit here. Some of you may know that I’m quoting that great British comedian Eddie Izzard, who in his stand up routine “Circle” does a wonderful monologue about the Pope. One part of it is when he said Pope John Paul apologized for the Spanish Inquisition. Izzard says the Pope said it was supposed to be the Spanish Casual Chat. It’s the last 60 seconds of this video clip above.

This is how I see physical therapy. Akin to being stretched out on a torture rack. And my goal is to get to the point where it’s just a Spanish Casual Chat. I envy the other clients who lie on their tables as the doctors work out their kinks and they discuss normal things. You know, things like, what are your weekend plans? How is work? NORMAL stuff. I long to be able to have those chats.

My conversations – 10 days in – with Dr. Mike still consist of: “Please don’t hurt me!” And him counting down “10 more seconds” as he pushes and pushes and pushes. And then I cry and I scream. And do the Spanish Inquisition thing as opposed to the Spanish Casual Chat thing.

Make sense? On the days that Dr. Mike is not there – I’m beaten to a pulp by Dr. Cho (also first name Mike but it gets confusing so he’s called by his surname).

Dr. Cho doesn’t leave me in the room with everyone else when he “works” on me. He takes me into a private back room, so my screams don’t freak out the entire practice. He may be more afraid of me than I am of him. But he’s just as nice as Dr. Mike -in his own  “let me rip your arm out of its socket” demeanour.


And so the torture continues. I add that my range of motion has been getting better every day, because I’m doing the work. But to say that it’s not painful would be a gross understatement. But enough of the negative – onto some positive things. Find them in the next post.


Frozen shoulder meets physical terrorist (er… therapist)


Remember my 24 hour nerve block? It started wearing off around 3 a.m. that first night. It was a relief to move my swollen, fat, chubby fingers. In other good news, still no nausea and the pain appeared to be manageable with Tylenol 3.

As I mentioned earlier, my shoulder surgery HAD to be accompanied by intense, aggressive, physical therapy. That meant (according to Dr. Meier), I was to undergo two weeks of 2 hour therapy 5 days per week for the first two weeks and three days a week for the following 4 weeks.

This meant, ZERO time to lie in bed and recuperate from the surgery, from the swelling, from the bruising, from the pain. From anything, really.

And so, the following morning, I was back to physical therapy, still swaddled in my bandages, which would come off later that evening. With the nerve block now worn off, the pain – doing anything at physical therapy was excruciating. Even the stupid arm bike (where I start my sessions) was agonizing and we hadn’t even got to the good stuff.

Every yank on the overhead pulley felt like someone was ripping my arm from my socket.And I only had to do it for one minute – both overhead and to the side. Dr. Meier had also given me a pulley before surgery, so I could use one at home every day, too.

From the pulley, we went to arm slides. Again, agony. I cried the whole time. Yep. A total baby. From the arm slides we moved onto lying on my back and using a stick to raise over my head, and to the side. Again, agony. Terrible burning, ripping, stretching pain. I felt like my stitches were being ripped from me. I honestly couldn’t fathom a time when I’d been in so much self-inflicted pain. But I knew this was the pact I’d made.

Okay. Time out. I knew – intellectually – the deal I’d made. Surgery. Followed by aggressive, intensive PT. Followed by doing same aggressive, intensive exercises at home on my own. If I had had any idea the sheer agony this treatment entailed, would I have still had the surgery? Probably. But nothing – and I mean nothing – prepared me for this kind of torture.

I have therapy at Back 2 Health PT in West Hollywood. These guys are the sweetest people in the world. Great doctors, great assistants. And every session ends with five minutes of ultrasound (bliss) and 15 minutes of electrical stimulation (sleep time for me).  However, there’s two hurdles you must overcome before ultrasound and stim. The first is your exercise program and the second is the 10 minutes or so with the doctor, where he assesses you and pummels you.

Over the course of the next 10 days I came to dread my sessions with Dr. Mike. Because this is when he pushed my arm into full range of motion – in every direction. The surgery freed up the adhesions so my arm could indeed be pushed to full range of motion. Doesn’t mean it wanted to go there. That first day (well technically second day but I had  a nerve block on day one and felt nothing), was when I learned why PT is often called pain and torture and why your therapist can also be known as a physical terrorist.

It was Dr. Mike’ s job to push my arm to places it had ZERO desire to go. To say I screamed the entire building down, would be an understatement. As much as I tried to grit my teeth, there was no way I could not scream out loud. At one point I remember distinctly shrieking “Stop, stop, stop!” but he wouldn’t. He told me my surgeon would be mad at me if he didn’t do his job and allowed my arm to freeze up again.

In return for his excruciating torture, Dr. Mike told me I could scream and cry and curse as loud as I wanted to. He didn’t mind at all. He said, “You do whatever you need to get through it.” (I got a lot of sympathetic looks from other patients in the room.) He said he was okay with that because he had to do his job. Ugh.

This torture routine became standard for the next 10 days. It’s relentless, it’s brutal, it’s tough when you’re still recuperating from surgery. It’s tougher when you have to go home and know that you still have to do all those exercises that hurt so much at physical therapy, at home as well.

I got into a routine. I’d do the exercises in the morning before therapy – because your arm seizes up at night. And again in the evening after physical therapy. I can’t begin to tell you the grit and stamina and mindset you need to put yourself in that headspace and force yourself to do these exercises at home and then to go in EVERY DAY without a break to PT and do the exercises again and again and again, and be stretched and pummeled, and scream and cry. It got to the point where I’d just start shaking when Dr. Mike approached me. I’d cry before he even touched me!

But, range of motion is getting better. The exercises are a little less painful every day (they are still awful and incredibly painful, but I see an improvement and so does the doctor).

And so, I got into a routine of exercise, PT, come home, sleep, take pain killers, do my exercises, sleep, get up, do exercises, go to PT. Rinse and repeat.

Surgery day (in which I feel like the Swedish chef from The Muppets)

Swedish Chef


I had to be at the surgery at 7:30 a.m. – an actually halfway decent hour. Bunion surgery required me there at 5:30 a.m. Maybe this was better? The sleepier you are the less nervous you can be?

Nonetheless, my arrival time was 7:30 a.m. with a surgery start time of 8:30 a.m. – which actually began 45 minutes late. I didn’t care because I was asleep. Ha!

The staff at La Peer Surgery Center are wonderful. My lovely nurse gave me the requisite blue gown, blue shower-cap-thingy and brown socks (hey not everything can be colour coordinated). I was told to tie the gown at the side and at the top of my neck. Easy for her to say. I I could tie a gown at the top of my neck, I wouldn’t need shoulder surgery! Luckily, she helped with that. She also scrawled in fat, purple ink all over my left shoulder, to make sure they operated on the correct side. Heaven forbid!

I had no problem with the IV (or they had no problem with it). I didn’t feel a thing. So that was a relief. My boyfriend told me to relax because this was, after all, Beverly Hills and when I woke up I’d have wonderful big boobs! Alas, that was not the case.

Next up was the man from the medical company who brought the sling I would need for the first 24 hours following surgery. He explained how to put it on. I wasn’t really listening because, I don’t know, I was lying in a hospital bed awaiting surgery. My brain was elsewhere. Luckily, the sling was already on my arm after I woke up from surgery.

The anesthesiologist showed up and we had a nice long chat about my trials and tribulations of my previous surgeries. He told me he would be administering a nerve block which “should help a lot with the nausea.” He then asked me for my phone number and proceeded to type it into his phone. Seriously? Was this man hitting on me? Did he not just see my boyfriend in the hallway? I think, actually, it was for a follow up call. I gave him my number but told him not to call me during surgery as I wouldn’t be able to answer.

He said he was going to put something into my IV  – “the good stuff” to make me sleepy. That good stuff burned like hell for about 30 seconds. The last thing I remember is a nurse coming with  two blue (notice a colour theme?) balloon like products that looked like leg pads cricket players wear. She said she would put them round my legs to help with circulation during surgery. I remember nothing else. All I had later to prove the nerve block had indeed been injected into my neck and not my arm was a vampire-like bruise on my neck.

Surgery went well – so say the doctors. It was a two and half hour procedure and I awoke with my shoulder swaddled in huge bandages and my arm in a sling. My arm was dead, dead, dead. Totally paralyzed. Couldn’t feel a thing. My boyfriend was there, apparently not disappointed that my boobs had stayed small.

In good- no GREAT news, I had no nausea, no vomiting, just a very sore throat from the breathing tube they used, so I could… you know…. breathe during surgery. Apparently that’s key.

I left dressed in my boyfriend’s big sweatshirt – I’d come prepared – knowing I’d be swaddled to look like a linebacker.  I remember little else, except that I had stocked up before surgery on jelly (jell-o), rice pudding, bananas, apple juice and Ensure to help me in my recovery. I also knew I had about four hours between going home and having to get up and be taken to my first day of physical therapy.

My friend had lent me her fancy ice machine (my insurance did not cover said machine and I wasn’t willing to fork out over $200 to buy one), and I iced away as soon as I got home and crawled into bed, propped up on 100 pillows.

I’d still avoided nausea, which was amazing. I was so relieved. Aside from feeling wiped out and having a sore throat, things weren’t so bad. Of course the reason they weren’t so bad was because of the nerve block. Honestly, I felt like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. My arm just hung there in its sling, completely paralyzed. While I willed my brain to move my fingers, nothing happened. Actually, it was a little scary.

Despite my best intentions to try and nap, I couldn’t do that. While the painkillers (which I was taking regularly because you don’t want to wait until the pain starts before taking the meds – that’s a horrible experience) were working, I was also on another six day course of Prednisone, which makes you awake and jittery. So my body said “no” to sleep.  And before I knew it it was time to drag myself out of bed and be driven to physical therapy.


I remember very little. My therapist seemed lovely. He put me through a series of stretching exercises and explained that during surgery my shoulder had been pushed to full range of motion and we were going to work to keep that up. The body’s natural tendency  following surgery is to seize up again – what with all the inflammation. His goal was to make sure that that didn’t happen, or the surgery would be a waste of time.

I was quite happy. The worst part was him removing the sling. My arm hung like a lump of meat. And because it had been strapped to my side with the sling, I felt a “weight” there as if my arm were still in that position. Very strange.

Dr. Mike – my therapist – then proceeded to strap my arm to the arm bike because it would just flop everywhere otherwise. He strapped me arm to the other apparatus – including the pulley and a wooden stick I had to lift over my head. He then proceeded to manipulate my arm and rotate it every which way. I was FINE. Didn’t feel a thing. I was so happy. I kept saying “do what you want to me, I feel nothing.”

I wish I could say this is how it continued in the coming days. But you’re way ahead of me, aren’t you? It was only going to get worse from here on out.


Pre-op prep

20111007-222602As much as I was ready to try and end the frozen shoulder pain and go under the knife (or in this case an arthroscope), it by no means meant that I was remotely excited about surgery. Who is?

More importantly, I have a bad, bad, bad, bad history with surgery. Over 2o years ago I had an epileptic seizure while under anesthesia. Scared the doctor apparently. I had epilepsy as a child and apparently, even though I’ve been cured of it as an adult, you’re still sensitive to certain things, including the right mix of anesthesia.

When I had my bunion surgery back in 2011 I informed them of this and luckily, I had no seizure. Hooray. However, following bunion surgery I had extreme nausea and vomiting; threw up for three days straight; landed up in the Emergency Room being pumped full of IV fluids, anti-nausea medication, and morphine for eight hours straight. NOT fun. And I certainly didn’t want that to happen again. If you’re a masochist and want to read about that fun experience you can find it here. 

Given all this dramatic history, I was going to make certain there would be no repeat offences. On the plus side, it turned out that my surgery was taking place at the La Peer Surgery Center – the exact same place I had my bunion surgery. It’s a small, private facility, so my doctor said there was a good chance it would be the same anesthesiologists. Also, it meant they had my records on file.

Now that I think about it, they were probably terrified of me showing up again. ‘Not that woman who landed up in the ER?’ I’d probably be the talk of the town!

I made sure that Dr. Meier only prescribed my Tylenol 3 for my post op meds. Tylenol 3 is Tylenol with codeine. This is what I was prescribed after the allergic reaction to Percocet from the bunion surgery. I’m allergic to Vicodin too. And Tramadol. And Penicillin. And pretty much most things. I also made sure I had a prescription filled for anti-nausea medication following surgery – just in case. Aside from another six day course of Prednisone I had to take – that’s all the drugs I was willing to take.

I was ready (well as ready as I’d ever be) for surgery!




Why did I get a frozen shoulder?


If you read the frozen shoulder literature it will state quite clearly that sometimes you can get a frozen shoulder following an accident, a trauma, or some incident. However, there are times where there is simply no rhyme or reason as to why one individual may be cursed with this affliction.  They call it idiopathic. Me? I like to call it idiot pathetic. That’s me!

Okay. I do have some of the risk factors:

1) Being a woman. Ha!

2) Being a woman of a “certain age.” Apparently that age is somewhere between 40 and 70. Oh joy. Getting old isn’t for sissies, clearly. Beyond that, though, idiopathic is the catch call.

And so, based on zero scientific studies, and based solely on my own navel gazing, here’s my interpretation as to why I became afflicted with a frozen shoulder. Basically,  I was under so much emotional and mental stress that I believe that my body just screamed “enough” and literally froze.

Now, I know we live in the 21st century and stress is the response to pretty much everything. We are all so stressed out with life, with work, with relationships, with family, with… well…. everything. However, here’s how/why my stress levels went through the roof and I believe surpassed the every day stress we all deal with.

1. Six months ago my best friend and next door neighbour committed suicide. You can read the (edited) details over here at my Kellifornia Dreaming blog.  That little incident sent me straight into trauma counseling twice a week (I’m still in therapy for this), and put me out on disability at work for three straight months.

2. Two weeks after I finally returned to work our company was bought by another and they laid off 95 percent of the employees – including me. Suddenly,  I was unemployed.

3. Along with the loss of my job came the loss of my work visa. While my company had me on a Green Card track, it’s a long, arduous, process and while I’d been “in process” for three years, everything went back to square one the second I lost my job. Don’t even get me started on the insane work immigration visa process. That’s a whole other blog.  Losing my visa meant that I was suddenly out of status and basically had about two weeks to find another job/company to sponsor me or I would have to leave the country. Note, I’ve been living here and paying taxes here for 10 years but they can take it all away with one fell swoop and they planned to.

4. I had a plane ticket booked when I found an attorney who helped me change my status while staying in the country – thanks to sponsorship by another company. It’s a long, convoluted story but thankfully it worked out in the end. But not before serious stress about trying to pack up my life and home and worry about my dog.  Luckily, on that front, all’s well that ends well.

5. A friend from my community died in a car accident. That was followed a few weeks later by the death of my elderly cousin, whom I stayed with for almost a year when I first moved here. Without his generosity I could never have made a home here.

So: between the suicide of my best friend, losing my job, almost losing my ability to stay in the country, losing my source of income and the additional deaths of two people – all in the space of six months – I really do believe my body just gave out and screamed ENOUGH. And when it screamed, it screamed directly at my left shoulder.

Like I said, idiot pathetic.