Thursday, October 28, 2010

11 weeks post op today!! Bicep Tenodesis, SAD and DCE

Today marks 11 weeks since my bicep tenodesis surgery.

Since this past Monday (and I don't know whether it was the new stretches I got assigned from the physical therapist, or whether it was the magic "10.5 weeks since surgery") I have seen a tremendous improvement. It was like a light switch just flipped on. I have such an amazing amount of range of motion (passive), and am slowly regaining the strength.

Except for one thing. Last night I tweaked my arm while I was sleeping. I was laying on my back with my arm around a pillow near the side of the bed, and it fell off (my arm -- not off my body, but off the pillow) and overextended as it fell toward the floor, jarring me awake with a cry.

I am going to assume I just tweaked some muscles and that in a day or two it will be all better.

The time it takes (approximately) for the bicep tenodesis to heal, is 12 weeks. Then, the next 12 weeks after that is focusing on strengthening and completely getting my range of motion and strength back. I understand I won't be able to be as strong as I was in my heyday (in my bicep muscle) but no worries on that.

One more week until I hit that magical 12 week mark!

I am so excited. I am still having trouble sleeping, it is very painful, but I am off all my painkillers, and only take Aleve or Advil when necessary (about 1x every two days it seems now).

My range of motion is about the same as it was before surgery now, so that is something. The pain may also be about the same, but of course it is a different kind of pain -- soreness vs. pain with movements. And it gets better every day!

I am still pretty cautious about what I do, but I am slowly doing more. Starting to lift things with both hands vs. only using my right hand, starting to maybe lift a pot or pan in the kitchen with only my left hand. Things like that.

And, I am very serious about my physical therapy. I do stretches every morning, and evening, and I do strengthening like I am supposed to do, every other day. It does seem like a long time, and patience is an issue with me, but I have to keep on keeping on, and focus on the long term effects, vs. what I want NOW.

My right shoulder is now 6 weeks post op on the subacromial decompression (SAD) and Distal Clavicle Excision (DCE). I have full range of motion and am doing weights up to 3lbs on my strengthening (not the rotator cuff muscles, that is set at 2 lbs, no need to ever go more than that -- but the arm curls I am at 3lbs now, and hope to move up to 5 lbs within a week). I have a lot of tenderness on the top of the shoulder, where the acromium and clavicle meet. But as I mentioned before in previous posts, that was to be expected and it may take a few months more to have that fully be gone. And, other than that, the pain is completely gone in my right shoulder, which is great.

My fears? Yes, I still have them. I fear still that I will get a frozen shoulder. I know that is a silly thing to fear, as I am very active and consistently do my stretching and physical therapy. But I still worry.

I also worry that the numbness in my left arm near one of the incisions will never go away, and it will stay like that forever.

My left elbow hurts, too, as a result of all the stretching that I am doing, it is carrying the brunt of the weight from over compensating for my shoulder. So the tendons around my elbow are very sore and right now, it hurts more than my shoulders!! But I have been told that once I regain my strength in my shoulder and the elbow stops overcompensating, then it will go away. Let's hope! It would be sad to fix one problem only to cause another.

So, my goal of being at full range of motion by the end of the month... I actually still may be able to achieve it, I am almost there now! (Passively, which means when I use the wand for range of motion exercises, I guide the stretch with my other hand). I cannot do the stretches actively yet, at least most of them. But who knows, at the rate I have progressed these past 3 days, I just might! I can put my arm straight over my head perfectly now, but not hold it there long because it is still weak... with the wand I can hold it there forever! And I can now get it behind my back, but not up to my shoulder blades yet, unless I use a door handle or something to help. So that is cool.

My ultimate goal is to have everything "back to normal" by Thanksgiving. I have a lot of cooking to do! This includes strength and range of motion. I understand it will take months to achieve my max strength, what I mean is so that I can perform my daily tasks with ease.

I can do it!!

I also understand it will probably take 6 months to a year before I can sleep without pain. Of course I would like it to be closer to 6 months, so I will pray for that!

Posted via email from rhauptman's posterous

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week 10 bicep tenodesis and subacromial decompression (shoulder surgery) recovery

I was traveling for business this week and it wreaked havoc on my physical therapy routine. I love having a set protocol each day, when  I wake up, I have a routine. Before bed, I have a routine. But being away from home and having weird hours throws that routine off kilter.

I have to say that I was able to reach full range of motion for one specific stretch I am doing, last weekend. And every day I stretch and stretch to make sure I can still reach that full range of motion for that one. So far, so good.

My goal to get full range of motion back by the end of this month will not be attainable. That is sad for me, but I have to be realistic.

I also have been in a lot of pain lately. My right shoulder is very tender, I would have to say it is more tender than it has been since right after the surgery. My left shoulder is also sore -- my tricep (the back side of my arm) and my deltoid muscles are very sore. I know it is because I am working them out, after so long without working out, and I was hauling around luggage, etc which I probably shouldn't have been doing. I just don't see why we have to have the farthest gate at the most inconvenient terminal, when we travel. Hah!! So a lot of walking, pulling luggage and carrying a backpack over my shoulder.

Sleeping is still very hard. I don't want to take any more narcotics unless my pain gets worse, and then maybe only on the weekends. This whole week I only took 1 vicodin, when I was in  Montreal, and it didn't do anything for me. It doesn't even make me drowsy anymore, which tells me that my body's tolerance for it is rising. Which scares me, of course. So, I will stick with Aleve or Advil when I remember to take them. So the pain must not be that bad if I don't always remember to take the anti-inflammatories.

I don't mean to complain about the pain. I AM healing. It is a long, drawn out process, and at 10 weeks post op for my bicep tenodesis, I think I am doing fairly well. I still have some concerns. Mainly, the range of motion. The stretches still hurt pretty bad, and I have tenderness and soreness and tightness of muscles. But the pain is there. It is no walk in the park, and I get frustrated now that it is starting to be jacket weather -- it is very hard to put on jackets when both your shoulders are not fully healed!

My goals are still to get my range of motion back, but I think I should be realistic and change the goal to Thanksgiving. I see my physical therapist again on Monday, first time in 25 days, so that will be good, he may give me new stretches to do, and then he can assess where I am at. Then, I will see my doctor for another post op visit on November 1st, a week later.

I am nearing the finish line. I can feel it. Give me a few more weeks and I think I will reporting much better news!! Until then, I will still give my weekly updates and continue trudging along on my physical therapy.

Posted via email from rhauptman's posterous

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Physical Therapy and Range of Motion

I was thinking today about my goal to have my complete range of motion back by the end of this month. And I decided I don't think it is do-able. I don't see my physical therapist again until October 25th. And until then, I am supposed to concentrate on the exercises he has given me up to this point. There are a few that I haven't even started on yet. For example, I am not doing any stretches yet to allow my arm to go behind my back (say, scratching my back). I can barely put my hands on my hips!!

So, I think I need to re-assess my goal. I want to have complete range of motion in all the exercises that he has already given me. THAT, I think, is do-able. I will continue working on this.

Now, off to a bubble bath!!

Posted via email from rhauptman's posterous

Friday, October 15, 2010

surgery updates -- 9 weeks and 4 weeks post op bicep tenodesis and SAD/DCLE

I am sore. I understand that the soft tissue in the body, after the trauma of surgery, takes months to heal. So I am definitely learning patience and determination.

It has been 9 weeks since my bicep tenodesis in my left shoulder. I know it takes 12 weeks for the bone to heal, and I am almost there, I can't wait! Only 3 more weeks!! Then I can start strengthening the bicep (I think!) Right now my arm is skinny and flat, looks like a child's arm (haha!) I am taking narcotics sparingly, and then religiously doing my stretching.

I am still in pain. For any of you reading this, and thinking about doing the surgery, or wondering what is going to happen when you have the surgery - -well, every body is different. I was in decent health and shape before my surgery. But, I am in a lot of pain now. I know the pain will go away, and it is better than it was a week ago, or two weeks ago, or a month ago. But it is a long, painful process. It will be worth it in the end, though. I have my ups and downs, but the downs don't seem to be as bad, and slowly getting better. It is no walk in the park, for sure.

In the mornings, I get out of bed in pain, and I think to myself "I don't remember it hurting this bad" and every morning I think the same thing, it is just that I went to bed without feeling the pain... and I wake up stiff and sore. Once I loosen up, do my physical therapy, put Soothanol X2 on, and ice it, I am fine.

I think the pain I should be more descriptive... it is really extreme soreness and tenderness, not jarring pain. But it is a lot of soreness and tenderness. Especially the days after I do the strengthening (I do those every other day). I do more weight on my right arm because it is only recovering from a SAD/DCE, and not the bicep tenodesis.

Another thing... my clavicle on my left side is much more prominent and tender than the one on my right side. I talked to the doc this morning (well, her P.A.) and mentioned it. She had called me back because I left a message requesting a doctor's note to bring my exercise wand on the plane with me, for my business trip next week. I called the TSA, and emailed them. They basically told me that any disabilities would be respected, but that the airport security has the final say in what I can and can't bring on the plane. The wand is only a 2' PVC pipe, weighing like 7 ounces. I suspect it could be used as a weapon, but my bags are really going to be checked in at the gate, (just not baggage claim)... not even on board with me. (regional plane). I use the wand for about an hour a day or more... for the various exercises morning and night. I don't want to mess my physical therapy up.

So... overall, I am healing. I am getting impatient though!!

I am still shooting for October 31st to regain full range of motion on my left arm. I don't know if I will succeed, but that is my goal. And if it takes longer, then so be it. But at least I have a goal to work toward. The hard ones for me are putting my arm behind my back, and also rotating my arm outward, when my elbow is tucked in to my side. But I am getting better!!!

Posted via email from rhauptman's posterous