Tuesday, May 13, 2008

They Put a Bolt in My Shoulder

My Dear Reader,

They put a bolt in my shoulder. That's right; an object that normally goes in a bookshelf or a table is now in situated inside of me. The doctor said that it's made out of crystal and will dissolve in a year, and by that I mean that I would now like to tell you the story of my recent surgery.

After my shoulder dislocated twice in two weeks, and since I had dislocated it about five times previously, surgery was pretty much the only option. The only other alternative was physical therapy, which had almost no chance of working. So last week I had to go to a pre-surgery appointment with my doctor, who told me that he was fellowshipped in the kind of surgery he was going to perform on me, which I learned meant that he had received special, additional training and was a lot more qualified than your average physician. He told me to expect only a few days in recovery (when I had previously been told two-to-three weeks) and only three-to-four weeks in a sling (as opposed to six weeks). So I was thinking that was pretty darn awesome. He then told me that I needed to pick up my sling and my narcotics. Lovely.

Going to pick up your sling before you even need one is a curious thing. I got this whole spiel about how great it was, and why I should go for this super-fab ice pack machine that my insurance didn't cover. Padre thought that the extra features didn't exactly warrant the $190 price. Then it was off to the pharmacy. When we got there, the pharmacist pulled me aside to give me some instructions about my meds. She must have realized that I was giving her a strange look. What she probably didn't realize was that I was also attempting mentally transmit this message to her: "Are you sure that you want to give me narcotics? Are you aware that I'm the kind of person who thinks twice about taking cough syrup?" I don't think that she quite understood, but when you try the mental messages, that tends to happen.

Two days later, it was go time. After they made me put on that gown, I was starting to think that the whole surgery thing it wasn't such a good idea. When they started coming at me with needles, I was getting pretty sure. I don't like blood, I don't like hospitals, I don't like those gowns, and I definitely don't like it when people jab a long, thin piece of metal into my body. They were putting in an IV so they could put the anesthesia directly in my veins, which was a lot more than I wanted to think about.

Then they asked me to sign my shoulder, and I actually wrote my initials on my skin with a permanent marker. It's still there. Then my doctor signed my shoulder, too. I suppose that was to make sure he operated on the correct shoulder, and I didn't want to know what kinds of mishaps occurred before they made up that rule. Then they walked me into the surgery room, which to me is kind of like what that compacting garbage room in Star Wars is for most people. Still, the anesthesiologist did her best to distract me by telling me that she graduated from UC Davis, and I was just trying to figure out how to tactfully ask her how she managed to stay at a college that smelled like manure long enough to graduate when I fell asleep. Later when I woke up, I was kind of disappointed, because I had heard that in these kind of situations that they ask you to repeat the alphabet backwards, and though I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it, I'd been practicing so I would look stupid on the big day. All for nothing.

I woke up an hour an a half later in recovery. My Madre had given me strict instructions to refrain from acting crazy when I woke up (I understand that she had a bad experience with one of my brothers a couple of years ago). I really tried my best, but when I woke up, I was already crying inexplicably. It went kind of like this:

Cecily: I'm so sorry. I don't know why I'm crying. I'm not even sad.

Nurse #1: That just happens sometimes. Now let me get your . . .

Cecily: Where's my hand?

Nurse #2: The doctor put a block on your right arm. That's just the way it works; if we let you feel your arm, you'll feel your shoulder. too.

Cecily: But I want my hand back.

Nurse #2: I'm sorry, but . . .

Cecily: What has my hand done to deserve this? And why can't I stop crying?

Nurse #1: Oh, brother.

The surgery went pretty well, even though there was a lot more damage in my shoulder than initially expected, which is why I ended up with the infamous bolt. I hadn't been able to mentally prepare for that, and let's just say that after I found out, I knew why I was crying.

All that I had left to do was recover, which wasn't nearly fun as it sounds. The rest of the first day was fairly easy, since my arm was still knocked out, but by the second day the anesthesia had worn off and I was absolutely sure that this whole thing was just about the worst idea I'd ever had. I practically lived on the couch in the living room because it hurt too much to move. It also hurt to laugh, cry, and even choke, and it took me about fifteen minutes to get to the bathroom because my walking speed now capped at a half-mile per hour. And I had to do everything with my left hand, which isn't my dominant hand, so it was a lot harder than it had to be. On day three, I felt good enough to walk the long ten feet to the kitchen to make myself a microwave dinner, and I had to call a brother over to help me open it. When a girl can't even make herself a microwave dinner, there ain't nothing going right.

Anyway, the nice thing was that, like I said, the recovery went pretty quickly, and I was feeling better every day. My parents and brothers were really nice about helping me out with everything, and that made a big difference. Now, I'm off the narcotics and I'm not feeling that bad. But I had to type this entire post with my left hand. And I still have that bolt in my shoulder.

Regards, best wishes, and bolt-free shoulders,

-Cecily Jane


~Stappsters~ said...

Best line of your whole blog about the smell of manure at UCD. From a CSUS graduate living in Woodland! Get well soon Cecily. Rachel's hardwared doesn't dissolve. She got ripped off!

lina said...

Glad it went well. I hope you're back to 100% soon. And as much as you seem to think it was a bad idea, it'll be worth it the next time your sholder should pop out, but dosen't.

Kiki said...

Yeah, I cried after my surgery, too. And then I proceeded to sleep all day long. In the hospital. Apparently,I need less anaethesia than other people, cause I went into surgery at 9 in the morning and didn't leave the hospital until after 5 that evening. My parents kept trying to get me up, but I just kept falling asleep again. It must have been so boring for them. Poor parents!

Chris said...

I love the cow manure line too! I am glad that you are recovering well. Those needles are no fun!

Molly said...

I love that you practiced your ABC's backwards. Even I can't do that, and I'm the queen of backwards. I'm sorry I haven't been online. I put my phone through the wash (again.) and Jean has on-again off-again internet. I just want to say I'm proud of you and I MISS you!

Anonymous said...

You make me so proud.