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Holding It All Together-Not As Good As I Once Was

It’s been four weeks since my surgery. As most of you know, I had rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder on August 27. I was familiar with this type of surgery, as I had the same surgery on my right shoulder a few years ago. I knew what I was in for with the pain and recovery. The surgery itself wasn’t the hard part, really. The recovery was the bear.

The good thing, other than knowing what I was in for, what works and what doesn’t, was the fact that this time, the surgery on my left shoulder was going to be arthroscopic, not an open incision, like my right shoulder. The healing and pain should be less and minimal, compared to the right shoulder. I was just looking forward to getting my shoulder fixed, in general, no matter what it took to get there. I had been suffering for over a year, and jumped through all the hoops I needed to prior to surgery. 

There are certain things the doctors fail to tell you, or I fail to read in the small print of the authorization I sign on the day of surgery, that I find out later. One thing about this surgery that I have discovered is that, although I am glad that my shoulder will feel a lot better because of it, no one thought to consider what it would look like to remove 8 mm of my collarbone. I know that my collarbone was jamming into my shoulder bones and causing pain and that I had arthritis build-up and bone spurs, but removing 8 mm of bone has shortened the length of my wingspan and made me look a bit “off.” I’m no longer symmetrical. I like symmetrical!

It’s a good thing I don’t make a living being symmetrical. What if I was a tight-rope walker, or a model, or an olympic swimmer, or a flying trapeze artist? Besides that, my shoulders are now two different lengths away from my head, which makes me look weird. And one arm is shorter than the other now. Good thing I don’t play basketball, it would surely throw off my shot. Plus now, my clothes just won’t fit right. I bet the doctor never thought of that.

I am grateful that he helped me by reducing pain in my left shoulder and fixing what was wrong there, but maybe I need him to now make my other collarbone the same length? I don’t know. Which is worse, living lopsided or going through another surgery to be symmetrical?

I asked my physical therapist if I would be able to do everything I did before after my shoulder was all healed up, if it was going to be as good as new, and she said no. It would not be as good as new, it would always be a little more fragile and apt to tear than before. She also said that if it tore again, I might have to get a complete shoulder replacement, since re-tears can rarely be fixed again.

I asked her specifically if I could pursue things that I had never one before, and she said probably not. So now there are some things I need to take off of my bucket list. Basically anything where I use my arms to hold up my weight are off the table now. Hang gliding, weight lifting, flying trapeze, zip-lining, certain amusement park rides, anything high-intensity, high impact, or dangerous. Skateboarding, skydiving, mountain biking, wild river rafting, bull riding, ostrich riding, alligator wrestling, and skiing. She also told me to stop moving furniture, especially by myself. 

So that is disappointing. I guess I’m not as good as I once was, and I will never be. I’m not ready to start feeling old, even though my body is ready. That is a problem for me. 

But like it or not, we are all changing, as everything around us changes constantly too. The things I never did and can’t do now, I should have done in my youth. That’s on me. There are no second chances, as we all get one day given to us each morning. Don’t waste them thinking you have time for all the things you want to do.

Maybe there will be some perks to getting old and decrepit. Knowing that I can break easily might actually give me time to rest and reflect, refocus my goals. I can read more, learn to paint, write my memoirs, and enjoy jazz. Perhaps this older me will be even more wise and interesting than my crazy younger self. Time will tell. Wish me luck.

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