It’s Gotta Get Better than This

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I think that I’ve been dealing pretty well with this whole shoulder surgery deal. Not saying that I’m happy as a clam, but I’ve sort of came to a understanding with it.

But, saying that, I think it is so weird how uninformed I came into the whole thing even though I had talked to a bunch of people that knew a lot about it. I did make one mistake. I should have talked to a bunch of people that had experienced the surgery. That would of put me in a complete different state of mind going into it.

I’ve had the fortune to personally run into a few guys that have had rotator cuff surgery. And it keeps getting worse and worse. I ran into a guy at PT in Louisville that seemed completely “fixed” by all outward signs. He was throwing a little ball around and moving his arm over his head. I asked him what he was there for and he said rotator cuff surgery. He said he was 13 weeks out. I was at 7 at that time. I was optimistic about that at the time. I said something to him about how the sleep sucked and how I’d only gotten 3 hours the night before, he told me he would kill for 3 hours. I couldn’t believe it.

Then, last weekend in San Diego, my friend, Big Dave had nearly the same response. But his was more dire. He said he wouldn’t wish that for his worst enemy. I told him I was about 8 weeks in and he just started laughing and wouldn’t stop. He said that my should was going to be hurting at least a year from now. And that it will be months before the sleep comes easily.

I had slept pretty okay, for me, the previous too nights, so I thought he just had a bad recovery. But, that was 4 days ago and I haven’t been so fortunate ever since. The last couple nights have been nearly torturous. It is easy to recognize when it (sleep) is not working and at that point it most likely becomes somewhat mental, but I’m still in denial for that. But, no matter what the reason, sleep is not available to me recently.

This is making recovery from training somewhat non existent now. I woke up today feeling like I got hit by a truck. I probably slept around 3 hours or so last night. There was a pretty big amount of field smoke in the air for the ride yesterday too, so I’m sure that adds to how I’m feeling somewhat. But, I know that this lack of sleep is going to start dictating my waking hours once again, which is when I ride, obviously.

I don’t really understand how my shoulder can feel better during the day, and work better too, then not feel better at night. It is pretty perplexing. I’m pretty sure that this is normal for this procedure after so many emails, comments and personal encounters. I thought I was above this, but am sadly disappointed I’m just normal, as usual. I can’t really wrap my mind around the fact that this might go on for a few more months, yet alone close to a year. I think I’ll just stay in denial at this point and assume that all the guys I’ve run into are the exception. But, that is getting harder and harder to do, so I’ve have to come up with a new plan to fool myself.

Maybe I should just track one of these down and tow it behind me while I'm out training.

Maybe I should just track one of these down and tow it behind me while I’m out training.

10 thoughts on “It’s Gotta Get Better than This

  1. velocodger

    Pain meds can interfere with sleep.
    When my leg was broken I took Vicodin, and had sleep problems for a while.
    It’s ironic- just when we need sleep the most it eludes us..
    Sweet dreams Steve….

     
  2. channel_zero

    The acts of Recovery are much longer than your longest ride. Ever. A year to a good shoulder is a good target. This is where setting intermediate and long-term goals regarding recovery is very important. Otherwise, there is little sense of the area “getting better.” Which, IMHO you are struggling with right now.

    IMHO, get a very precise definition of recovery including range of motion, discomfort levels, strength, therapy and work on them. Every day! How much rest/cold-hot therapy is the area getting every day?

     
  3. channel_zero

    The acts of Recovery are much longer than your longest ride. Ever. A year to a good shoulder is a good target. This is where setting intermediate and long-term goals regarding recovery is very important. Otherwise, there is little sense of the area “getting better.” Which, IMHO you are struggling with right now.

    IMHO, get a very precise definition of recovery including range of motion, discomfort levels, strength, therapy and work on them. Every day! How much rest/cold-hot therapy is the area getting every day?

    Just speaking from personal experience with a different area/injury.

     
  4. Scott

    After having hernia surgery the painkillers messed with my ability to sleep, even last night over a week removed from the painkillers I am still having problems and based on my previous experience they tend to cause problems for weeks/months after any “serious” use. I always try and take the minimum I need for pain relief, but the same issues occur every time. After being hit by cars, perforating my colon other various surgeries it just seems to happen, and it seems to have gotten worse the older I get. Hope you get to feeling better and get the sleep problems under control.

     
  5. Chris Gruver

    Your non-sleep reminds me of parenting when the babies are young, some kind of forced march through the world without enough rest. But then after a while it suddenly gets exponentially easier. And easier. Two thoughts which may be obvious: I find that my coffee intake, which is significant at two or three strong cups/mugs during the first half of the day, can interfere with sleep if I’m not careful (I hear it interrupts melatonin production in the body – do you take melatonin some now for sleep? I hear it’s not good to take it too regularly and assume the body might reduce production if supplements are always present. I very occasionally take 1/2 of the usual 3mg dose and it’s great.) Also, at our age, I definitely notice that alcohol, which can put us to sleep, can cause me, like studies show, to awaken in the middle of the night for an hour or two if I’ve had a lot (more than two glasses of red wine in my case). Good luck. I’m sure it will get easier soon.

     
  6. murf

    Surgeons have no incentive to go into great detail about recovery. It would only scare away their work. RNs on the other hand are advocates for the patient. Ask an RN what specific question to ask and you will get a specific answer from the DR but they will not elaborate if they think you don’t understand.

    Had major surgery on my dominant arm shoulder 35 yrs ago. The whole front of the shoulder was cut open, something was pulled a little tighter and stapled to my humerus. After 18 months and swimming 3-5 miles a week I could do a single pushup. During this time I played my sport (playground basketball) with my off hand. Becoming ambidextrous made the long recovery worthwhile.

     
  7. Chris

    I have had 3 major shoulder surgeries in the last 4 years and the thing that helped me a lot was getting a recliner to sleep in. Try to stay on a regular sleep schedule. You have to be realistic with your situation, at your age you are not going to recover as fast and if you screw it up pushing it too fast, you are back to square one. Your shoulder will get better, it never gets back to pre surgery but things will get better, trust me!

     
  8. LC

    Steve, I am an OT, CHT – I work with post-op patients including ones with your surgery. Some rare exceptions don’t have these challenges, but they are rare. My job, far more than telling a patient what exercises to do, and how often, is to read where they are, in all aspects, and try to help them find perspective , and help them walk the path- it’s unique for each person, and it’s quite unpredictable. That’s what takes a great deal of energy, on my end, which is exponential for the patient-I just get a fleeting glance -tough stuff, but meaningful in life experience.

     
  9. DAVID

    I’m also an Occupational Therapist, but in the Army. I echo what LC says…also – no two surgeries are exactly alike. You simply cannot compare yourself to another post op shoulder patient.

     
  10. Mark Feher

    Steve,

    you had the opportunity to talk to many people who have had the same or similar procedures prior to your surgery. there were tons of posts/comments on your blog. By the sounds of it the results and rehab of your surgery are average. Pain, sleep deprivation, etc come with the territory. Maybe you are having trouble just being “average” for a while. By your description I had essentially the same procedure as you in October 2011. My experience coming out of the procedure is nearly identical to what you are experience now. Stop worrying about training/riding/competing and focus on recovery. I hiked a lot and went fishing. You are aggravating your shoulder and yourself. Today I’m 100% with no residual issues from surgery and back to racing. Yesterday I split 1 cord of firewood by hand and did a 2 hour ride afterward. I feel great today. Your shoulder will heal. Stop trying for force it.

     

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