Trying to prepare for Unknown shoulder injury surgery

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Hi all, I’m completely freaking out ... I have surgery to my left shoulder in 3 weeks and I have to prepare based on no idea what they are repairing and they don’t know what is the problem causing chorionic pain for 2 years, possible tear that didn’t show up on the MRI.  I’m a working single mum of 2 kids with limited support.  I won’t know recovery until I wake up so that could be 2 weeks - 12 weeks.  How did you manage pain, getting dressed, clothing options and basic life hacks to get you through.  Any help is greatly appreciated.  Tia

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  • Posted

    OK I feel you and I will answer. First of all, you have got to get people to come over and take care of you for the first four weeks. My daughters came over every night and every morning they cooked for me they fed me they changed my clothes and they helped to bathe me. You need somebody to take care of you ....you will not be able to do this if you have little kids. You will need to hire a nurse if you can’t get somebody to help you. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this!!! Little kids???

    Ugh

     If your kids are over 10 then they can help you. Otherwise I don’t know what to tell you I would postpone the surgery until you get people to come over and help you. Friends or relatives that can help you? You will need somebody to stay with you for at least the first week overnight.  

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    • Posted

      Hi Mia, thank you  im really starting to freak out it’s been a 2 year wait  and it’s finally real I’m having surgery so it’s hit me hard.  I’m lucky my kids are 10 and 9 so they can help me as best they can.  I have a friend for the first week I can stay with while my dad is here, it’s the 6 + weeks after.  The pain and doing regular things is going to be a struggle but the not knowing what I’m in for scares me.  Thank you for taking the time to post a response, it has helped smile
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  • Posted

    Good luck with your surgery. What to expect, you will be sleeping in a recliner for about 3 weeks. What I did was prepare meals ahead of time so they can easily be cooked. Clean the house, put things where you can reach them. You won't be able to raise your arm for quite a while. Keep ahead of your pain. The TV will be your friend. Sleep will be hard to come by, so when you can, do it. Have someone check on you and be with you the first 48 hours. The pain is awful, not trying to scare you, but my doctor didn't tell me. It takes 6 months to a year to fully recover. Most of all be patient with your recovery and yourself. There will come a time when you start to notice the little things of recovery, ie you do something you couldn't last week. Also make sure you have something to ice with. Again, good luck.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your honestly and response.  Great idea about having things in reach and cleaning before surgery, there’s so much I haven’t thought of yet.  I don’t know what is wrong or what the repair will be so I havnt even been given a ball park for recovery etc so I’m pretty worried.  Thank you again so very much appreciated 
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  • Posted

    Wow...sorry Kelly.  It's not going to be easy being a single mom with 2 children.  The hardest part is showering and drying off.  You will get creative.  Hopefully one of the children can help dry your back off, that's hard.  I made up meals ahead of time and froze then to make it easier.  If you can, it helps to hire a housekeeper every couple of weeks for a month.  After that you can manage most everything.  And if the house isn't spotless, so what?  Maybe a friend or relative can give you a hand once in a while.  Don't stress about it.   Are you children old enough to help?  Changing bed linens is tough.  For dressing, I bought camisoles with a built in bra.  Stepping into them, pulled it up and then put on a button down shirt over or just wore them without another shirt.  Loose, elastic pants work.  I stayed in my pajamas for a couple of weeks.   Easy on and off.   Slip on shoes or slippers or flip flops are a must.  

    Can you children carry the laundry to the machine?  You can show them how to turn it on and hopefully they are old enough to transfer them from the washer to the dryer.  It will be a good learning experience for them.

    Are you right handed?  That will help.  Some things like brushing your teeth or hair are tough if your surgery is on your dominant arm.   I made sure to have a battery operated toothbrush and I got my hair cut to a wash and wear style because you can forget trying to style your hair or curl it or dry it.  I just washed it and let it dry.  People will understand.

    You will sleep in the recliner for weeks.  Nap when you can.  Use ice ice ice, get a couple of ice packs, they work wonders.   If you are going to take pain pills for a while, you absolutely must get a stool softener and start them right away.  

    You won't be able to drive for 6 weeks.   Think  about grocery delivery or order on line and have a friend pick them up for you. 

    Come back here and chat with people. They have a lot of experience.  

    I am 7 months post op.  I can do most anything, just not lifting a lot of weight.  But I get by, you will too.  Get by those first couple of weeks and you will be fine.   Good luck to you!

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    • Posted

      Your post has been most helpful thank you, my children are 10 and 9 so they can help me beat they can with washing etc will be good for them to learn being thrown in the deep end haha.  So many things I havnt thought of like shoes etc and the loose clothing is a must I tried this morning dressing make up etc with one hand and the struggle was real.  Im currently on Endone very spareingly due the being out of it can’t work on them and encountered  the need for a stool softener  just recently and wasn’t sure if it was from them, Big thank you on that tip.  What’s the ice for?  Because they don’t know the damage in there so i havnt been told anything in what will be done or my recovery so I need to prepare for the worst 
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  • Posted

    Tia,

    I do know what you are dealing with such as the wrestles night worrying and asking yourself “What am I going to do and how am I going to do this. I have had to go through not one but two rotator cuff surgeries. The first one was on my right shoulder and I am right handed. He was not clear what he saw on my MRI and I was told perhaps frozen shoulder.

    I woke up feeling fine but I was told that I tore a couple of tendons, The one thing that I could not tolerate for almost 48 hrs was having a dead arm (no control and dead weight) like someone who have had a stroke and not able to control the arm.

    I am a grandmother/mommy raising our grandson at the time of my first surgery he was 2 and the second shoulder surgery our grandson was 4 years old. I would and will not let anything get in my way of taking care of him.

    Yes was hard getting dressed, and outing my shoes on was nearly impossible and decided to ware shoe that I could slip my feet into. My husband had to go to work and living me alone to do everything (over whelming)

    The thing I can say is please get your self a good sling, the one the hospital provides is not that great. The good news was for me was that after 3-4 weeks the sling came off, and the recovery was quick. If your mother or a friend can help you around the house and help you put your pants on will be easier to cope with your post-op

    Take care

    Ana

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your response it’s very helpful... wow 2 surgeries I can’t even comprehend how I will be if I need more done, it’s been such a long 2 years to get to this point.  That dead arm feelings will be hard to cope with i think as well.  I will source a good sling goos tip.  I’m so unprepared for something I have no idea to prepare for.  Started pre cooking meals this weekend and freezing, it’s just the little things you don’t think of that have been posted.  Reading everyone’s stories helps a lot too so thank you for sharing yours and hope your recovery is going well.  Take care Kel
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  • Posted

    Remain calm! I've had 5 shoulder surgeries, 2 total replacements and I will tell you that you WILL cope with this and it will not be terrible. It sounds like you have been living with pain for a while so hopefully this will make it better in the long run. The initial pain will be bad, keep ahead of that with whatever meds they give you. Sleeping is hard so if you have a recliner great. I didn't use one but had a large V-pillow in my regular bed. After the initial swelling went down I kept a heating pad next to my bed for pain in the middle of the night. You will be interested to know that the sensors that detect pain are the same ones that detect hot/cold so if they are feeling the warmth they are not sensing the pain. It is very helpful when you can't sleep due to that stabbing pain. Ok, so you will be in a sling..... you have 2 arms so you are not out of action. I got really good at preparing food using kitchen scissors. You can cut things up one handed very easily, including boneless chicken, herbs, lettuce etc. I also bought a lot of pre chopped frozen onions, herbs, garlic etc. I could just throw that in the pan without and prep. You get really good at doing things one handed. My injury was on my dominant arm so you will be better off if you are right handed. Getting dressed is a bit of a challenge, baggy sweaters and button up shirts are easiest. Bras are hard, front hook helps. Forget about socks and what ever you do don't put on a pair of pull on boots unless you have a boot jack to get them off! I wore some cowboy boots one day and thought I was going to have to sleep in them since my husband was away! Doing you hair is hard but mine is short so maybe get a good haircut before you go. Changing beds is not really an option....teach your kids. Let me know how you make out and what kind of repair they do. You may just end up having a simple procedure and be much better in a couple of weeks. Good Luck!

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  • Posted

    A couple of more things Kelly.   First of all you are going to be surprised at what you can do after a week or so.  Yes there are some difficulties, but your children can help with the hard stuff.   Do you have a recliner to sleep in?  I slept in it for about a week and got really sick of that.  I couldn't sleep in my own bed.  If your shoulder falls forward or backward, it is very painful.  I went into  the spare room and pushed the twin bed up against the wall.  Then I put 2-3 pillows on the wall and laid down on my left side (surgery was my right side) and laid kind of half way between my back and side.  Leaned into the pillows a bit.  I put a couple of more pillows by my tummy and rested my arm on those.  It felt good to stretch out.  Sometimes not all night, sometimes I retreated to the recliner, but it helped.  Baby steps

    About the dead arm thing.   I'm not gonna lie, it's weird.  It is a nerve block so that you essentially won't have any pain for 24-48 hours, but you won't have any feeling either.  However, please take your pain med even when it doesn't hurt.  Because when that block wears off, if you don't have some pain med built up in you, it is bad.  I didn't do that and ended up in an ambulance and at the ER getting IV morphine.  Lesson learned.

    I had out of town company 3 weeks after surgery.  It was planned long before my surgery.  I did fine.  By 3 weeks, you have figured out most things and you can do more than you think.  I drug the laundry basket to the laundry room and put the clothes in the washer with my good arm, etc.  It works.  Using a broom...nope ...it just doesn't work.  Can vacuum, clean up the kitchen, do some cooking, fill  the dishwasher.  Just be sure you never ever use your surgical arm until your doctor says it is okay.

    I have had 3 surgeries on my shoulder in 2 1/2 years.  Because...I didn't follow the doctor's orders and did more than  I should.  To be fair the first time I re tore it was because we had to unexpectedly move because of my husbands health. I didn't have much choice and I thought I could do it...I couldn't.  The 2nd time the tissue was too badly damaged so it lasted about 3 weeks.  ugh.   The 3rd time they used cadaver tissue to rebuild.  I am 7 months out and I think it's gonna work.  

    Ice packs will help keep your pain in check.  I lived with mine day and night.  Rotated, one in the freezer, one on my shoulder.  It works very well.  

    Good luck to you.  Try to stay calm.   Remember this is the beginning of the end of pain.  Everyday will be better and you will do a little more.   

    Now is also a good time to find a physical therapist.  Go to their office...ask for a tour....talk  to  them, see if they fit with you.  It's important to have a good therapist, one you can trust.  Look at google reviews.  You will most likely be in therapy a minimum of 3 months.  You don't have to use one the doctor recommends, especially if it is a long ways away.   The one my doctor recommended was 40 miles each way.  Not happening.  I found one a few miles from home and it turned out to be the best thing I did.

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  • Posted

    When I had my first shoulder surgery I got ready in advance. I ended up only having debridement and bone spur removal and felt better almost immediately so I was not at all prepared for the recovery from my second surgery. If you can get some idea from your surgeon in advance about what he or she thinks the surgery will entail, that will help a lot. 

    Every surgery is different and every recovery is different so I have no way of telling you exactly what you need.  Some people go out and buy a reclining chair, a chair for the shower, an ice machine and then find out that they didn't need any of it.  So I hate to say it, but don't buy anything until after the surgery. 

    My kids are grown and if I had needed help, they would have but I never needed anyone to come and help me to get dressed or anything like that. I froze some food in advance and moved the microwave from the top of the refrigerator down to the counter. Someone lent me an cyro-cuff ice machine. I didn't think that I would need it but it was wonderful. I never slept in my recliner, I slept on a futon on my side so that my back was propped up. Some people sleep on the couch. My biggest problem was with clothing. I needed large t-shirts that I purchased at a nearby salvation army and I used a laundry service. 

    You may not need any of this, so I strongly suggest that you wait until after your surgery to see what you need. If you have friends who have had shoulder surgery or other surgery see if they can lend you some of the stuff that you may not be able to afford. 

    Good luck

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  • Posted

    although I didn't read all the comments, looks like you got a lot. Interesting to have surgery but they don't know what's wrong. That would freak me out. But, I did go in for rotator cuff repair (18 months ago) and also came out with bicep repair I was not prepared for. My Mom came to stay with me for 3 weeks. I think the first 2 weeks was the most important because doing everything was difficult and I was not allowed to lift more then a coffee cup for 12 weeks, was in a sling for 6 weeks. I did sleep in a recliner but only for 4 nights then went to the bed with a wedge for a few more days and finally flat with arm propped on pillows in the sling. Driving is something you won't be able to do for a while...at least as long as your are on narcotic pain meds. I only needed narcotic med for 4 days, then went to tramadol/tylenol. My Dr was pretty relaxed about driving...but you really should not be driving with a sling on your arm and need to be in control of your car at all times...so that's that for driving.  My kids are grown so did not have to worry about taking care of anyone but my cat. I did not work for 6 months. I have a job that requires pushing/pulling/lifting. I got button shirts, loose T shirts, elastic band pants. Get the dental floss picks cause then you only need 1 hand to floss your teeth with. prepare meals ahead of time...freeze things...buy things the kids can help you with. There are 9 and 10 year olds on "Master Chef."  They cook better than I do. 

    Everyone has a different surgery experience. But if you can get help at least for driving kids to school and helping with grocery shopping or even coming to supervise you in the shower. Put a chair in your shower if you can. sometimes those plastic outdoor chairs will fit (unless you have a tub) in which case you can get a shower chair for cheap on Amazon. You can also order groceries online is that's available near you. The first 6 weeks is probably the toughest. I wish you all the best in  your journey. 

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  • Posted

    Hi Everyone, this may be a silly question but can you tell me if you were able to use you fingers on the operated arm, still when you were in a sling for the first few weeks? 
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    • Posted

      I did.  Within a couple of days I was on my laptop and my phone.   There are things I can't do without.  Haha  Especially being basically housebound.  As a matter of fact you will probably be encouraged to use your hand and fingers.  My doctor said anything from the elbow down was okay, just no lifting of anything and no moving my elbow and upper arm away from my body.

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    • Posted

      yes, I was able to sit at my computer and type and use i pad. I had a ball that I was supposed to be squeezing several times a day. It is usually advisable to move your fingers and wrist. 
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