Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Seven weeks ago I had my rotator cuff repaired. Little did I truly understand how rough and how long the recovery from that surgery would be. In the thick of it, I was hazy on pain killers, sleeping only intermittently in a rented recliner, addicted to a shoulder icing machine, always sporting an arm immobilizer (even while sleeping intermittently in the rented recliner), dealing with really nasty muscle spasms and wondering if/how I was ever going to use my dominant right arm again.
I thought I'd read while cooped up; I had a pile of books on my bedside table. I thought I'd binge-watch all the great TV series friends had raved about. I don't know why I didn't do either, but I never seemed to have the energy or level of concentration required. One day, when I realized I had just cruised through back to back episodes of Leave it to Beaver, I knew I had crossed over into complete boredom. So I drew with my left hand to remain engaged and creative. I figured out how to tie my shoes, floss my teeth, write letters and make meals with my left hand (making poached eggs was one of my single greatest accomplishments!). I spent time revisiting past photo projects. I birthed the book Some Grandmas. I discovered and fell in love with Uber.
My friends stepped up. They drove me to physical therapy and brought me chicken soup. They came over just to hang out. My cabin fever got pretty intense.
There were some dark days. There were times I didn't think the pain would ever go away. I can think of at least two days when I just sat on the couch and cried.
Now that I've been freed from the immobilizer, I can drive again. Hallelujah! Life's simple pleasures are glorious.
Throwing away the immobilizer brings on a whole new set of challenges, of course. Not having used my arm for so long means it is weak, and it is kind of stuck in one position. Physical therapy is getting more challenging, as I move from passive (the therapist moves me) to active (I move me) exercise. I'm supposed to use my arm as much as I can, yet I am limited to lifting a maximum of two pounds with it. (Did you know that a half-full bottle of olive oil weighs in at a whopping four pounds??) The pain is still enough to require at least an Advil at all times - occasionally something stronger.
I've been told it takes a full year to reclaim ones shoulder after this type of surgery.
My husband has been a rock-star-super-hero, there for me at every single turn and every single bump. He has caught me and lifted me back up hundreds of times over the past seven weeks.
I've had to cancel shoots and even had to cancel my trip to Portland for Photolucida. But I am printing work for my upcoming show at Snapshot Gallery, and I'm excited about how it's coming together.
And I've noticed how particularly fragrant the lilacs are this spring.
Life is good. Onward and upward.