Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Shoulder Surgery Tips & Tricks

Me Again!

This post has nothing to do with Myositis!

These are my tried and true methods for shoulder surgery recovery. I wanted to share this post so that it was out in the webosphere for others who are looking for tips and tricks to get through their recovery.

This will be my second laparoscopic labral repair and capsular plication – meaning a repair of tears on the labrum and adjustment to correct hypermobility. I am not looking forward to going through this procedure and recovery again, yet am glad to get it over with so I can move on with my life with pain-free shoulders that only move as much as they’re supposed to!

Here are the items that got me through one-arm life!

You can view/shop them all here.
Descriptions are listed for each item and as an Amazon Associate, I do earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Don Joy Cryo/Cuff Aircast for shoulder and Gravity Cooler.
You NEED this for your pain control and to keep swelling down. You can use 3 small frozen water bottles inside as your ice and it will stay cold for almost the whole day!

2. Plant Stand - 21" tall, or as tall as shoulder level when seated on a nearby table/stand.
The Cryo/Cuff Gravity-Fed Cooler needs to be at or above your shoulder (or affected area) to keep the cold water in the cuff. I used a plant stand on a nearby table to keep the water in the cuff full and firm, which really helped with comfort and pain control.

3. Travel Neck Pillow
You'll be sleeping sitting up for over a month. Enough said!

4. Mesh Sling
You won't be able to let your arm hang for a couple of weeks. A mesh sling is helpful in the shower, so you don't accidentally try to use your arm.

5. Long handle loofah.
This makes showering a LOT easier. Trust me! 

6. XL T-shirt and iron-on Velcro

Before your procedure, cut open the side of the t-shirt that you will be having surgery on. Iron on small pieces of Velcro along the seam to close.
This will be incredibly helpful for coming home from surgery, since your shoulder will be bandaged up like a linebacker and you won't be able to move your arm for the first time.

I also wore XL t-shirts at home for months after surgery, since it was hard for me to position elbow to get my arm into a smaller sleeve. Bigger shirts/sweatshirts just made dressing easier.

7. Flossing Picks
I am completely against needless waste like this, but you also can't floss with one hand.

If dental hygiene is important to you, these things are really helpful.

8. Bubba 32 oz Tumbler
Less moving is better in the first couple of weeks. This big mug keeps water cold for hours!

9. Hands Free Dog Leash
You will have one arm/hand, but you will likely need to use that for other things that come up on the walk!

10. Playing Card Holder
You won't have the most exciting social life for a couple of months. Games are fun!

11. Non-slip pads

You can't turn your hand to hold your phone or tablet for the first week, so use this to keep it from slipping off a pillow, etc. when propped up in front of you.

12. Mobile work-station
If you're couch-bound, this table with adjusting height helps with elevating your cryocuff cooler, keeping essentials close at all times, or if you're going to attempt to be productive.

13. Light blanket/cloth
These soft cloths helped to keep my shoulder covered when icing and even when sleeping upright.

14. Stool Softener
Because pain killers and pooping don't go hand in hand.

15. Squatty Potty
Opioid pain meds? You need all the help you can get!

16. Meal Prep Containers
I prepped and froze as much as I could prior to my surgery. This was really helpful in having healthy food ready for lunches and for helping my husband with dinner.

17. Cheap Acetaminophen and a lot of it!

No ibuprofen for a while, so you can only take acetaminophen in addition to your pain meds.


18. New this year - a Keurig!
I am totally against using the traditional k-cups, however I recently discovered the 100% compostable and very tasty Cameron's brand k-cups! 

One-handed coffee for the win!

Also noteworthy: 

  • Pull-on pants with no button
  • Zip-up shirts/sweatshirts
  • Super stretchy "sleep" bras that don't have to be fastened in the back
  • Shampoo, conditioner and soap with pumps! 
  • Additional ice packs that have a strap to hold on the shoulder. You can likely get this from the hospital when you are discharged, but here is an example.
  • Pillows, pillows and more pillows to help prop you and your arm up as you rest
  • Chart to track your medication and when you last took each one
  • HELP! Don't be afraid to ask for it. Your family and friends love you and want to do what they can to help you through this recovery.

Lastly, here are the things that I do NOT recommend for shoulder surgery recovery:

1. Spray Deodorant - nope.
You have to lift your arm up even more to spray versus just using a regular stick.

2. Spray Lotion - NO!
I thought this would be super helpful... I was wrong.
Thankfully, I tested the product out prior to my surgery. The lotion got on the tile floor and I almost slipped and fell and broke every bone in my body. If I would have been in a sling, I would have died for sure. 

3. Books
Not because I'm against reading, but because the opioid pain meds make you dizzy. I loaded up my book list before my surgery and could hardly even read my phone.

4. Removable Shower Head
I tried this at first and it just made showering more difficult for me.

5. Unhealthy Snacks
Opioid pain meds basically turn your metabolism off.
I gained 15 pounds of Cheez-Its weight the last time around.

I hope that this post is helpful for anyone who anticipates being in a sling for an extended period of time.
Wishing you the very best in your recovery!


September Update

Hello there and happy September!

While my next rheumatologist appointment and infusion are not until mid-October, I am checking in now before I once again head in for shoulder surgery.

This will be my second laparoscopic labral repair and capsular plication – meaning a repair of tears on the labrum and adjustment to correct hypermobility. I am not looking forward to going through this procedure and recovery again, yet am glad to get it over with so I can move on with my life with pain-free shoulders that only move as much as they’re supposed to!

I will be having my next infusion while in recovery from my procedure. Unfortunately, Blue Cross has [yet again] made changes to the policies regarding Rituxan and other life-saving drugs, so that they are more difficult to receive.

I can no longer get infusions at United Hospital in St Paul and am not eligible for home infusion. The only place in the state that I can get the infusion currently is at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, so I’ll be hauling my icing pump and set-up there.

I’m anxious about these recent insurance changes, but trying to stay present. There is still one place left and I have my appointments!

Still holding off of Azathioprine and hanging steady. I have struggled with a little fatigue and thigh weakness this summer, but for the most part I improved from my mini flare this past spring! I have still been able to do most of my favorite things!

At my last post in June, I was a couple of months into giving the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet a try to see if it would help alleviate some of my ongoing symptoms.
AIP is similar to paleo in that it is free of grain, dairy and processed food. It also removes inflammatory foods, such as nightshades, sweeteners, coffee and chocolate.
I would say that I was about 90% there and just had to stop. My digestive system just couldn’t handle it and I was miserable.
My body felt amazing and I was sleeping like a rock, but that is where the pros ended for me.

So, I have added back a serving of dairy a day, along with rice and oatmeal. My stomach feels a million times better, but my body doesn’t. I’ll give it another try after I have recovered from my surgery!

Also noteworthy for September: Myositis Awareness Day on the 21st (although now we get a whole month in May), my 38th Birthday on the 23rd and my husband and I celebrate our 11th Anniversary on the 28th, so there are a lot of things to be grateful and happy for this month!

Hopefully focusing on these things (and a couple more rounds of golf) will help calm my nerves about my upcoming surgery!

Thank you for your support and love, as always! 

Hope you enjoy my favorite time of year: Fall!