Day-to-Day Life after Surgery
So what happens after surgery?
Well, the day of surgery most people sleep the majority of the day. As you probably read in my Surgery part 2 post, I was awake most of the day 🙂 It’s helpful to have people in the morning and the evening when you’re getting dressed and bathing. Here are some subject-specific ideas that will hopefully give you an idea of what to expect!
What to expect the day of surgery.
At the hospital, surgery happens every day, multiple times a day. For the patient, it happens once in a blue moon (for most people). Bottom line: Surgery is a big deal!
I make this point because it’s important for patients to not be afraid to speak up! If you are cold, ask for a blanket… or five blankets! If something doesn’t feel right, or you need an explanation, speak up and ask. The nurses, techs, and surgeons do this every day and it can be easy for them to forget how foreign and frightening the whole experience often feels for patients. It’s important to feel comfortable and in control.
The hospital will have you arrive at least an hour before surgery. Soon thereafter they will have you change into a gown, take your vitals, and begin an IV. Before you know it, you’re fading out. Although I was apparently awake and talking to my surgeon and anesthesiologist, I completely forgot all of it when I woke up.
Last October I had shoulder surgery. Throughout the process, I knew I wanted to share what I learned on the blog because I wished I had known more going into it. I searched for information online and didn’t find a whole lot, so I hope this post will help serve as an informational guide before you have your procedure. The “how-to” of shoulder surgery that the doctors don’t give.
*Before I begin, I need to note that my surgery was a very different procedure than most shoulder surgeries. I had surgery to tighten the joint, because I was having consistent subluxations (partial dislocations) and the joint was completely unstable. After suffering for nearly six years with many restless nights, I finally decided there were no other options. The goal of this surgery was to actually limit my range of motion, and tighten the whole joint. Therefore my recovery time was much slower than a rotator cuff tear, for example. For most shoulder surgeries, the surgeon and therapists want you to be moving it within a week or two. My arm stayed in the sling for over a month. Keep this in mind when reading dates and timeline, as yours may very well be faster.
Getting Dressed: A very basic ADL!
One of my biggest concerns in preparing for surgery was, how am I going to dress myself every day on my own? My mom and boyfriend are at work early, so am I just going to stay in my PJs all day? Not the healthiest thing for your mental state. You don’t realize how important this ADL (activity of daily life) is until you first hand are unable to do it! I talked to my friend who is an OT and her recommendation was to cut up some large shirts I didn’t care about and also just buy some bigger, stretchier shirts that I would be able to get over everything.
“For a while she considered being ill, but she changed her mind.” – Tove Jansson
There is an expectation in the world of care-providers to never label someone by leading with their diagnosis. For example, you should never say “the autistic kid” but rather, “the child with autism.” We would never say my cancer friend or my Alzheimer’s grandparent. Out of respect for the person, we are taught to name the disability after, as to not make the illness own the patient. The term we use is person-first language.
So why then, if our medical providers (attempt to) treat us with respect, do we (as patients) so often label our own illnesses or disabilities ahead of ourselves? Why do we classify ourselves in terms of the diagnoses that so often bring us down?
It’s here! The countdown to rare disease day comes to an end. However, since I started the 100 Positive Days very late, I will keep going on into March, April, and May! In any case, I thought I should stop and take a minute to share some education about the rare illnesses that I have, and hopefully bring some awareness.
Ehlers-Danlos (EDS) is a genetic connective tissue disorder, which can present itself in a variety of forms or types, including a vascular form which can be life-threatening. However, I have type III, also known as “hypermobile” form. They call us “zebras,” – since we are often medically complicated and hard to figure out – hence the zebra on my blog banner. Hypermobile EDS, also often identified as “Joint Hypermobility Syndrome”, affects 1 in 10,000 people. What it means for me, is I do not have enough collagen and my joints are very loose and stretchy. I’m really good at yoga and gymnastics but should never be allowed to do them because there’s a good chance my joints will dislocate or at least sublux (partially dislocate). I have severe joint pain and my shoulders often sublux, creating further trauma. EDS is the cause of many of my other issues, including two I will mention below, so diagnosis is important to help understand other symptoms. Often a rheumatologist or geneticist can help make the diagnosis, which is typically made from physical manipulations (beighton scale) and symptoms, rather than genetic testing.
“Profound joy of the heart is like a magnet that indicates the path of life.” – Mother Teresa
For as long as I can remember, my mom has been telling people “Emily is going to save the world.” Obviously, this is quite the daunting task. I do not mean to suggest that by any means I will save the entire world, but I do have a passion for changing at least some small part of it.
As a little girl, I fell in love with horses. Not just their beauty, the rush of riding them, or the friendship they provide, but also their hearts. You can tell a horse anything and they will still stand there with the same kind eyes, without any judgement, and just listen. You can hear more about my love for the barn on this post here, but today I’m writing specifically about where my heart has taken me.
Kids and Animals Continue reading
“When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” – Gilbert K Chesterton
Today I am thankful for the gift of exercise. I know I recently wrote about strength and that it isn’t all about physical muscle, but the fact that I am able to get out of bed every day and use my body, is a blessing.
Yesterday my mom and I took my dog for a walk, in keeping with our new Saturday tradition. There is a great walking path where she works and my 10 year old dog helps us keep a good pace, wet nose leading the way. Yesterday evening I used my therapy bands and equipment and did some exercises. Some days, my body just is not up for exercise and my joints ache so much that it’s impossible to do even the easiest exercises. But I can’t get in the habit that I often fall into of letting that be my normal, and taking for granted the days when I do feel well enough to work out. I have to be thankful for those days God has given me and use them to my advantage so that I will hopefully have more of them, the more I stabilize my joints and gain muscle.
“Choose rather to be strong of soul than strong of body.” Pythagoras
Strength is relative. My Strong, may not be the same Strong that it was last year, and it’s definitely not the same as your Strong. But in the end, Strength is needed for us all to “keep on keepin’ on” and get through the hard stuff.
Strength can be measured in terms of physical muscle mass. It can be measured by perseverance. Strength can be measured by emotions, athletic Strength, Strength in talents, Strength in relationships, etc. Strength cannot just be measured in the amount of time you spend at the gym or how far you run.