My shoulder surgery was 9 weeks ago! Whew! As most of you know, I had rotator cuff surgery on May 15th and I am still in physical therapy to regain complete use of my shoulder.
The first 6 weeks I was in a sling and not allowed to use my arm at all
! I did go to therapy during that time where the therapist
moved and stretched my arm and shoulder muscles. I could just lie back and enjoy the movement. This phase of therapy was called Phase I and it involved passive movement. At home, my wonderful husband did the moving of my shoulder following the instructions of the therapist. Twice a day we went through the exercises - he was a relentless taskmaster. After 2 weeks of this, we reached the goal most people take 6 - 8 weeks to achieve. I had full range of motion in my shoulder!!! That meant that I would recover full use of my shoulder once the muscle strength returned. Hooray. But wait, that also meant that we were in a holding pattern for 4 weeks because we could not begin Phase II until the 6 week mark.
I had completely torn 2 of the 4 muscles in my shoulder and one of them was a large tear. Dr. Gittinger was very pleased with the progress but because of the size of the tear, he wanted me to wait the entire 6 weeks before beginning the next stage. The only thing holding the previously-torn muscles to my bone was sutures and we did not want to risk tearing those supporting sutures.
June 27th we began Phase II which is called active-assistance. I could begin to use my shoulder and arm but most of the movement needed assistance. For instance, I could carry something which was not too heavy as long as my left arm was assisting. I could finally eat with my right hand as long as my elbow was resting on the table. That was not an easy thing to do with the words of my mother echoing in my ear "Barbie, get your elbows off the table".
In the past three weeks I have continued to gain strength in the shoulder and arm muscles. Some of them have not been used in over a year which is when the injury originally happened. I can not believe how weak my arm got from the 6 weeks in a sling. As far as the therapy goes, my left arm is helping my right arm. As it continues to strengthen, my right arm is taking over more of the work. I can now brush my teeth, reach for things at chest height and actually tie my shoes. Doesn't sound like much but they really are worked for
Earlier this week I had a different therapist since Karen (the regular) was on vacation. Maria really
pushed me and gave me some exercises which were Phase III. My body did not react well; tears were shed in frustration as I tried to make my body do what it was not ready to do. I ended up with much swelling from aggravated muscles which in turn increased the pain I had. Yesterday's therapist suggested I tone down that really-hard-impossible-to-do-now exercise. My wise husband suggested I take 800 mg of ibuprofen for the inflammation and by last night I was a new woman!!
There are still things to accomplish. Soon (I hope) I will be in Phase III, the last phase! That will be adding weights to build up the muscles even more. Here is my personal list of things I look forward to
- Driving!!!! Then I will be released from my prison : )
- Carrying a purse so I can have all my things with me
- Physically picking up my grandchildren. I have not held Thomas with both my arms since May!
- Washing my own hair although I really do like my husband doing it for me!
- Reaching into the cupboards for things on the second shelf.
- Being able to chop, chop, chop so I can increase the things I can cook.
- Pulling weeds so the flowers show through!
- Being pain free so I can stop taking so many pills.