“What did you do? Did you get hurt at work?” That’s what lots of people ask when they find out I’ve recently had two shoulder (rotator cuff) surgeries. Truly I have no idea what caused it, but each of my shoulders became so painful that they were waking me up, and limiting what I could do. Was it lifting too many heavy trays as a waitress when I was younger? Too much weight lifting at the gym? Or maybe it was from lifting binoculars to watch birds on walks with my husband?
For years I represented clients who had complicated rotator cuff surgery and I vowed that I would never allow that to happen to me. Too painful! Too risky! However, I also once had a client who refused the surgery and ended up not being able to shop, cook or groom herself properly. So, when the doctor I trust told me I needed some pretty heavy-duty procedures, I signed up. One shoulder after another.
And now I know a little of what my clients go through. Operation followed by sleeping sitting up in the recliner, trying different pain medicines that I couldn’t tolerate, going to physical therapy for months, and doing lots and lots of stretching. And, fighting with the hospital, and perhaps with our law firm’s insurance company, over the bills. And since I only need a keyboard to work, I only took two weeks off.
It’s been an eye opening experience. First, no wonder our clients are written out of work for months after they have this surgery! It takes all of your time to heal. Just getting dressed can take forever. Second, I was very fortunate to not have to deal with a workers’ comp insurance company every time my doctor changed my prescription. I’m sure it would have been a nightmare.
Lessons I learned: This surgery really hurts! But just sometimes, not all day. Dealing with the hospital’s billing department can turn you into a monster. Yes, you can get an ulcer from Ibuprofen. If you feel pain when you do your PT, it’s likely because you are weak. If you feel a pop during your exercises, that is probably scar tissue breaking up and it’s a good thing. If you don’t like your physical therapist that is bad because you are going to spend a lot of time with them, and they are going to give you a lot of orders.
Finally, at least for me on the first arm, if it goes well you can end up stronger than ever and you can do way more than before. With the second arm, we have yet to see!