One-Armed Wonder and Other Musings

I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once. 
~Jennifer Yane

It’s finally happening! I’m going to have surgery in exactly four weeks. While I’m scared and nervous, I’m also so excited. I sure hope this will finally fix my shoulder.

Unfortunately, the doctor isn’t sure what is wrong. My MRI came back fine, but he wasn’t expecting to find anything on it. He said labrum tears (which is what he’s expecting to find) are hard to see on MRI and because it’s been 18 months months since the injury, he said it would have been even more unusual to actually find something. He also says there is a possibility of me having stretched ligaments (like a rubber band that’s been stretched and won’t go back in place). If it’s the labrum tear, he’ll fix that by shaving off the flyaway pieces and, depending on the severity and type of tear, re-attach it. If it’s a stretched ligament, he will have to tighten it back up.

The doc has said the goal of the surgery is pain relief and the prognosis is “good to excellent.”  That’s good news for the most part. If all I get from this surgery is pain relief, I’ll be happy. He says there’s a good chance that I will have pain the rest of my life. There’s also a moderate chance that if the ligaments are fixed, they could be fixed too tight or too loose… and then I’d have to have surgery again.  And while he expects me to be back in Navy-shape six to 12 months after the surgery… there’s a chance this won’t happen. Which means I’d be medically separated.

But I’m focusing on the positive… I have a GOOD chance of lessening the pain after this surgery. I’m so excited about that. I’d love to sleep more than 3 or so hours without waking up and having to re-adjust my sleeping position. I’d LOVE to sleep on my left side again. I miss it. And my right shoulder gets tired of being the only one slept on.

According to the doctor, I will need care 24/7 for the first 10 days. After that, I should be able to return to work since I do office work. I’m going to have to rent an “ice machine.” Apparently, it’s a gizmo that is wrapped around the shoulder and delivers a continuous flow of cold water to keep the area iced and the swelling down.

Huzzy has told his command about the surgery but they haven’t given him the okay that he can take care of me for either that day or for the entire 10 days. And while I know I have friends in the area who wouldn’t mind shuttling me to the hospital for the surgery (while it’s total anesthesia, it’s a same-day hospital stay/surgery), I loathe to ask people to help. I will if I have to, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t really want to.

I’ll be in a sling for quite a while and I’ll still be in it when Huzzy goes on his next patrol (deployment). This should be our second-to-last one before shore duty. Four in 2 1/2 years so far. Pretty normal for our community except deployments 2 & 3 happened back-to-back and that’s what’s going to happen to deployments 4 & 5. That’s not normal but we’ll have been with three different commands during these five patrols, so it happens. The final deployment looks like it’ll be a long one (so far). Oh well, I know it will (or should) be our last, so once we get through this one, we are one away from being home free! Well, at least for a little bit.

As I go through my daily routines, I’ve been thinking about how that will be with a sling. And not just a sling, but I won’t be allowed to move, turn or lift my shoulder for fear of un-doing whatever fixing/tightening the doctor will do in there. I’ve wondered things like….

How in the WORLD do I get a shirt on?

Not to mention my Navy uniforms… how am I supposed to wear those and still be in regulations?

I drive a stick shift… uh…..

How do I put muzzles on the dogs?

How do I open a jar?

The bathroom. ‘Nuff said.

I am going to have to become a one-handed pecker. (get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking a hunt-and-peck typist)

How do you pull a chord for the push-mower while holding down the bar thing on the handle?

I’m glad I don’t have kids and have to deal with them one-handed. But dealing with the dogs should be interesting.


This should be quite the adventure… and one I will hopefully not have to repeat. The Navy hasn’t given me an LOD (Line of Duty) letter yet, so right now, I’ll have take those 10 days off unpaid and also not be able to do my second job and lose the pay from THAT. The letter was supposed to be here a month ago. My choice is to either do the surgery now and hope they will eventually back-pay me or put it off… and have the surgery while Huzzy’s deployed.

Have any of you had labrum surgery and/or tightening of the ligaments/tendons? How did it go? Am I worrying about not having help afterward for no reason?


4 thoughts on “One-Armed Wonder and Other Musings

  1. I’ve never had any kind of shoulder surgery so can’t answer your questions, but I’m so glad you’re finally getting surgery! I hope it goes well and finally solves your problems! And that Huzzy’s command gives him the time off.

  2. My FIL had shoulder surgery and he needed constant care for the first week or so. He eventually learned how to pull up his pants one handed and the like. I would advise practicing doing things one handed just to get the feel of it. When it comes to the dogs and mowing the lawn and such, it may behoove you to pay for some help.

  3. While I never had any problems with my arms, I do know about having to do things only using one arm. When I broke my femur & I was too stubborn to let others do everything for me, I had to learn how to do many things with only one arm so the other could support my weight for my broken leg & for balance. For me, I figured out what worked and what didn’t. Also in terms of my leg, something I couldn’t do one day was something I was strong enough to do a few days later (rolling over, moving my leg a certain way, etc.). I always slept on my injured side before the wreck, I had to stop doing that at first, then I was able to figure out ways to sleep on that side again, just modified. Also in terms of the uniform issue, when someone in my husband’s old unit had surgery on his foot, he went to drill with as much of his uniform as he could wear, if the Navy is like the Army you should be able to either do the same, or reschedule you drill days until after you have recovered.

    Sorry so long, but hopefully I could help you some. Good luck with everything!

  4. I wore a lot of warm up pants and hoodies that zip up the front. that way I can start with my arm in a good position to get into the shirt. Slip on shoes are also helpful. Not sure what to do about the uniforms, though…

    as far as driving goes, that was not an issue for me because I lived in brooklyn and took the subway (whole other set of problems) but I would think you couldn’t drive, whether it was a stick or not, until your arm is out of the sling. so someone may have to drive you back and forth to work for a while or work from home if that’s possible if there is no mass transit available.

    A lot of the other stuff you will figure out. You’ll still be able to use your hand, so some things won’t be as tricky as you are anticipating. I found that if I slept with my arm slightly away from my body, I was more comfortable, so I experimented with stuffed animals and pillows to tuck between my shoulder and my body, it was easier to sleep.

    If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know.

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