Recovery Journal, Day 2: Mr. McKenzie Strikes Again

Recovery Journal, Day 2: Mr. McKenzie Strikes Again

I was told from the beginning that the second full day after surgery would be the most difficult. What my doctor didn’t share with me were the realities of how involved my surgery would be. His words in our pre-op meeting were,”This will be super easy- we’ll go in, small incision, snip snip, and you’ll be good to go!” While I appreciate his positive outlook, I feel like someone attacked me with a hatchet to the shoulder. Okay, maybe not a hatchet (pain meds bring out the dramatic side in me), but today, my shoulder hurts like hell, and I somehow doubt that I will be “good as new” in two weeks as my doctor assured me.

I know it will get better, but it was very scary to realize this morning that though I could feel my hand and move my fingers, I had absolutely no control over my arm. It felt like dead weight and had zero strength. I tried over and over again to will myself to lift it even the slightest amount, but no such luck. My post-surgery directions said that I was supposed to begin doing pendulum exercises today to work on range of motion…hmmm… I couldn’t do a pendulum if my life depended on it. I wrote to a nurse friend in a panic, and she helped to calm me down…be patient, it will take time. From what many people have told me, shoulder surgery recovery is tough, and to add to it, Dr. Ponce scraped off some of the arthritis he found in my shoulder- something that I’m sure I’ll appreciate down the line. Figuring out pain meds was tough, too. When the pain got really bad, I upped the dose to two pills as instructed, but that left me nauseous and dizzy, so back down I went. Don’t get me wrong- I’m very glad that I had the surgery, and I am looking forward to healing…I am just not very good at being a patient.

I am the one who likes to do the taking care of- I’m a terrific nurse to those who need me, and I love caring for people. I have never been good at being waited on (I could never be wealthy and have servants…I’d be trying to do things to help them all the time). Dan has to practically force me to stay in my chair, chasing me out of the kitchen as I come in to insist that I can do dishes or laundry with one arm…which I usually sneak in to do anyway when he goes upstairs. I treasure my independence, and like my mother before me, I will be obstinate about holding onto it…no matter how foolishly sometimes.

But…I want to heal quickly and well, and I know that Dan loves taking care of me, and I have done the same for him and will again in a few months when he has his other knee done. It’s all a part of that “for better or worse” thing, as well as being best friends and life partners. And so I am doing my best to listen to Dan’s loving (though sometimes bossy if I’m resistant) admonitions. I’m incredibly excited that tomorrow Dan will remove the pain ball from its port on my neck, and I will be free to remove my bandages and take a shower…thank God. I’m sure that will be interesting with one functioning arm, but I will be blissfully clean, nonetheless, some how, some way.

Death-defying chores...
Death-defying chores…
Mr. McKenzie battles the leaves in the gutters...
Mr. McKenzie battles the leaves in the gutters…

The best part of the day was sitting out on the deck to get some fresh air as Dan did some projects. Now, when Dan starts working around the house, he assumes his alter ego, Mr. McKenzie, our long-standing joke. Mr. McKenzie does all of the big projects and repairs around the house, and today- unbeknownst to Mrs. McKenzie, he decided to tackle hosing off the leaves from our very high two-story roof (the same one that drops off to rock beds on either side). This involved him walking out on the roof, requiring me to need more pain medicine to calm me down. What he calls an easy ‘circus trick’, has me standing by with my phone on 911. Thankfully, he completed the death-defying chore without incident, and I gratefully went back downstairs to climb into my comfy chair. The last thing we need this holiday is another Gainey in the hospital.

Preparing for the dismount.
Preparing for the dismount.
Safely back in my comfy chair with Sophie at my feet.
Safely back in my comfy chair with Sophie at my feet.

Day Two is in the books, having had a little bit of everything- danger, excitement, a touch of romance, and a happy ending. I’ll call it a success.

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