I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while now. I can’t believe an entire week has passed, and I’m just now getting around to doing it.
Last Tuesday was CapableDad’s follow-up visit with the surgeon who repaired his shoulder. We had been anxiously awaiting this appointment to get more details about why the doctor totally changed the surgery from what he told us he was planning to do originally.
To give a quick summary, CapableDad tore his labrum, which is the cartilage that attaches the arm to the shoulder, and he also tore his rotator cuff. He did this back in late November, but it took until March 8 to find out the extent of the injury and schedule the surgery.
The doctor came in on Tuesday with a file full of photos of the inside of my husband’s shoulder. He had shown these to me quickly right after surgery, but it caught me so much by surprise that I couldn’t fully absorb all that he was saying.
This time, I was ready to listen carefully and look closely at the photos. It was obvious from the photos that his muscles were very red and swollen. The doctor said this was a sign that scar tissue had been building up inside his arm for some time. The doctor even used the word “horrible” or something along those lines to describe what he saw when he looked inside my husband’s arm.
The scar tissue most likely had been building up for a long period of time. It could have been caused by a previous injury. Certain types of people — women, diabetics and people over 40 — are also more likely to have this happen even without an injury. Anyway, apparently, so much scar tissue had formed that he was developing a frozen shoulder (possibly) even before his injury in late November.
Once the doctor saw what was happening on the inside, he realized that my husband was not going to regain full movement if he repaired the labrum and rotator cuff as he had planned. Instead, he cut out tons of scar tissue and filed away a very jagged area on the bone. It was amazing to see in the photos how the bone was rough and discolored before and then nice and smooth afterward.
The bicep is attached to the shoulder with two tendons. One of these tendons was tugging on the torn labrum. Instead of repairing the labrum, he cut the tendon away from it and then fastened it to the bone at a lower point. Although the torn labrum will never repair itself, he said it shouldn’t cause any more problems because the tendon is no longer pulling on it.
During the visit, the doctor pushed and pulled my husband’s arm in every direction to find out how much motion he has regained through physical therapy. I had to cover my eyes to keep from passing out as I watched the doctor stretch my husband’s arm over his leg and push it down.
Somehow, CapableDad survived, although he was in a lot of pain for the next few days. He also gave him a three-week deadline to show a lot more improvement in his movement. Otherwise, the doctor will give him a cortisone shot to help speed up the process.
Being in a constant state of severe pain has become a way of life for CapableDad. For nearly three weeks now, his daily schedule consists of doing physical therapy, icing his muscles and then usually drifting into a comatose state for a few hours from the pain killers. That’s the second reason this blog post is called “frozen.” He spends a lot of time in a frozen state as his ice machine pumps freezing cold water into the ice pack strapped to his arm.
The progress seems extremely slow, but as I watch him do his physical therapy now, I know he has regained movement. He is also feeling better to just walk around the house or talk to people who stop by.
This week, he started working on building some strength back in his shoulder. However, he can’t use his bicep at all until he reaches the 12-week mark. He isn’t even supposed to lift a cup with the injured arm before then.
Thanks for checking in with us and taking the time to read. We continue to be overwhelmingly blessed by people bringing us meals, helping us with stuff around the house, asking about us, praying for us, filling in for me on Sunday mornings and just stopping by to lift my husband’s spirits. We can never fully convey how much we appreciate it!