Caring For Yourself After Surgery

I just had surgery for a rotator cuff tear, all three layers were torn. The doc also scraped bone spurs from the shoulder joint. On my dominant right arm nonetheless!

I knew I would be in a sling for 6 weeks, I knew therapy was going to be rough, I knew I’d have pain and I knew I’d have to depend on my left arm that also has a small rotator tear as well as a bicep injury.

But, was I really “prepared” for my recovery??? I thought I was…

I piled books I wanted to read, photo’s and albums to clean up and organize, cookbooks and magazines to sort through and find new inspiration…. At 4 weeks into my recovery and I had little to no motivation!

What I HAVE tried is painting canvases with my left hand! It’s almost a challenge to see just how much I can depress myself with how awful they turn out!! Sort of makes me laugh too.  And playing with paint always brings me joy!!

But what I wasn’t expecting was the amount of time I would spend spiritually in prayer and meditation. The peace I find I have now is slowly bringing me to a new place in my life post recovery. It’s also helping me get through long days.

I’ve been very blessed with family and friends that are such a great help by bringing me meals, visiting, and taking me for groceries, to doctor appointments and therapy.  My daughter is such a huge blessing!

But even with all this, I still found myself on many days, lonely, depressed, and BORED!!!

So, I thought I would use some of my boredom trying to type with a non-dominant hand and maybe find some pointers for those of you that may be facing some downtime while you recover from some sort of health issue.

  1. Prepare your home. Whatever that may be for your recovery. For me, I was instructed to sleep in a recliner for my recovery but I don’t own a recliner so I slept on my sofa for many uncomfortable weeks. I brought a few bed pillows, a warm throw blanket, and I placed a large tray beside me. I used the tray to hold my cell, water bottle, remotes, tissues, lip balm, hand lotion, my library card (see #3) and a few books. My laptop was placed on the dining room table along with my checkbook and all of my bills/finances.
  2. Prepare food. My friends from work provided almost all of my meals the first few weeks which was such a huge help and greatly appreciated! But I also made a few things for the freezer, I purchased some frozen food items and I stocked my pantry. Unfortunately I had a lot of nausea after the surgery so it took some time for me to actually want to eat anything!!
  3. Books, magazines, etc. I knew my recovery would be long and painful and that I would physically not be able to do much so I placed about 15 books on my table. If you like to read I would suggest giving yourself a wide variety to choose from, when the boredom sets in you will appreciate the many choices. I kept my library card handy too because I like to “borrow” ebooks, an awesome way to spend time is browsing book online from my library!!
  4. Prayer, meditate, spiritual time. I have 2 daily devotionals that I have been reading. Also, my prayer book that I made. It includes favorite prayers, verses, and people that have either requested prayers or that I am praying for. And I have a bible app on my phone compliments of my pre-teen grandson!! My prayer time has increased tremendously since surgery!
  5. Any plans to be made?? I planned my gardens, flower and veggie. I ordered some plants online, and made a list of what I wanted to purchase when it’s time to plant. Sadly I will have to hire someone to actually dig up the gardens and do the planting as my shoulder most likely won’t be ready for that just yet!
  6. Prepare for bad days. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have them. I have days where I swear I am going to die from boredom, I have days that I swear I am going explode just from the discomfort of this awful sling that I am confined to wearing. Those moments are when you will need your prayer time the most. Try to breathe, try to relax, and remind yourself this is only temporary. I also needed to tell myself there are many others with a much worse and permanent situation. Even though I was told it would be a year before I would be back to my normal self, I knew things would get better. Put your situation in perspective.
  7. Don’t spend all of your time in front of the TV. The boob-tube will only add to your depression, you will find yourself lethargic and lifeless! This was difficult too since I cannot do much else, but I often turned off the TV. Find other ways to occupy your mind…prayer, meditate, read, games, catch up on phone calls, crossword puzzles.
  8. Exercise? Check with your doctor first!!! My left shoulder is also injured but I am allowed to do some bicep curls with a light weight. Get some bands to do leg exercises. Get out and walk! Just PLEASE use caution and do not do anything to further injure yourself and check with your doc before you do anything!
  9. Accept the help you are offered. This was VERY difficult for me to accept because I am always doing things to help others. A friend of mine very bluntly told me that it is now MY time to let others care for me. The day I came home from the hospital was all it took for me to realize I had no other way to live with my dominant arm in a sling unless I had help! I cannot take my shirt off (much less my bra) without help!!!!
  10. And finslly….Just RELAX! Take this time to heal, let others love and care for you. And most of all love and care for YOURSELF!!

Ok I gotta go, my son is bringing me tacos for dinner!!