My most difficult chore was managing the pain, and my medications. I was not a fan of the Oxycodone, so I quickly switched to Tylenol during the day, and the Oxy, only at night.
Trying to get comfortable was nearly impossible; whether it was day, or night. All day I waited for night, and all night, I waited for day, hoping for some relief. I can honestly say that the nerve pain in my elbow, from being in the sling, and the pain from the skin rash/irritation, from the surgical compression tape, were worse than the pain in my shoulder. Weird, huh?
The first week at home, was barely tolerable, and I questioned my decision to have this surgery, over and over and over again. I was allowed to remove the sling for showers, and encouraged to take my arm out of the sling, a few times a day, to gently raise and lower my arm, to keep my elbow from locking up.
Coming out of the sling, and the desired position for healing, which is raised, out in front of you, at 90 degrees, is extremely scary and painful. Doing this made me feel like throwing up!
I was surprised at how painful, yet itchy, the skin irritation was, and I tried everything from some home remedy, to cortaid to benadryl gel; which seemed to be the most helpful, as it was cooling, too. This pain lasted several weeks, and I can honestly say, that if it were not for that, the recovery period would have been much easier, which is annoying, because that could have been avoided; guess I will know better, if there is ever a next time.
Funny thing is, they gave me some sort of antibacterial soap that I was suppose to use, at home, prior to surgery. I was supposed to use it twice, leaving it on my body for several minutes to kill any germs. While I can appreciate their desire to have a bacteria free body, in which to operate on, after reading the precautions and side effects from that "soap", I called and said, "Nope, not doing it!" They said that was alright, to just use my regular soap, and not take any chances, since I have such sensitive skin.
Oh the joys of being me! One thing I have learned, the hard way, is to ALWAYS read medication inserts, and take their warnings seriously. Outweigh the risks vs the rewards, and make an educated decision, whether it is an antibiotic, a soap, a pain medication, itching or nauseas pill; it doesn't matter the type of medication; do your homework!
Tips for those having Rotator Cuff Surgery
My K-cups made it so I could actually make my own cup of coffee or tea, and my RTIC Tumbler kept things cold for long periods of time, with no condensation. I kept all of my medications and bandages together and within easy reach. Anything that you can do, prior to surgery, to help make life easier post surgery, is a good idea. Things like getting a haircut, washing your sheets, cleaning your house, having clean pajamas and clothes available which are easy to take on and off are all recommended. Frozen bags of soups and spaghetti are also a blessing!
Ice Machine; Get ONE!
Also, depending upon the type of ice machine that you have, freezing water bottles, three times as many as will fit in the machine, will help to keep your water very cold, at all times, with much less mess, and fuss. Make sure you take the labels off, and check the filter on a regular basis, to ensure the water moves freely.This was a lifesaver!
Clothing & Sling
To remove your sling, sit in a chair, and prop it up on a pillow, on your lap; take off the neck strap, then the waist strap, and then open the arm straps; it is helpful to have someone aid you in sliding your arm free, in the beginning; as time goes on, you should be able to do this yourself. Be careful to keep your arm supported at all times.
To put your arm back in the sling, do the reverse.
With practice, and the correct clothing, it does become easier.
Shower and/or BathAllow yourself plenty of time! It takes quite awhile, to just get undressed. Make sure you have everything you need in the shower, before stepping in. I recommend having a chair, with a towel draped on it, placed right by the shower, so that you can sit down, immediately upon exiting the shower.
As far as a bath goes, I found that getting in and out, one armed, was not easy, but once there, it was bliss! Allowing my arm to float freely in the water felt amazing, and it was so much easier than trying to keep it supported in the shower.
SleepingFrom what I understand, many people sleep in recliners, during the beginning of their recovery. For me, my bed is my sanctuary, and I wanted to be in it!
The way I slept, was propped up; with feather pillows behind me, as well as formed underneath my elbow area, and my arm, which rested on my abdomen; trust me when I say that your ribs get really sore, throughout this whole ordeal!
Once "settled", and fully supported, I was able to remove the neck strap. I had the ice machine going, and in my case the oxygen, too. I took a pain pill, along with Benadryl, and Zofran; and prayed for sleep!
Biotene seemed to temporarily help. Just another side effect of medication, and something to keep you awake, at night.
I also kept a small flashlight within my reach, so that when I inevitably had to go to the bathroom, I could see what I was doing and where I was going; getting in and out of bed was NOT easy, as I had to get all unhooked, and then hooked back up to everything; sling, oxygen, pillows, covers and ice. What you will learn, is that you will become much more dependent on your abdomen muscles and your legs. Since it is nearly impossible to pull the covers OVER your sling, I also kept a snuggly blank, nearby, to put over my chest area. Ear plugs also are a great help, as the ice machine is likely to cause "gurgles" throughout the night.
I think that I have covered enough material for one blog! I am sure that other helpful tips will come to me, as I continue to update this journey.
While I pray that none of you will have to endure this surgery, I hope that if you do, this information will be of some help. I am sure it would be helpful for other types of surgery, as well.