I have been a very brave girl


Some years ago now1, I tore one of my rotator cuff ligaments, and had to have it surgically repaired. I blogged about it because it was traumatic, extremely painful, and took a whole year plus a truckload of physiotherapy to get right, and that was also extremely painful. By the end of that time, I pretty much had full use of my arm, but there were still twinges of pain from time to time, and I swore that if I ever did the same to the other arm, I would refuse the op and just fix it with physio.


Fast forward to 1st June this year. I was clearing up after tenderly tending my hoverfly lagoons, went flying up a 3 inch step in the garden2 and landed heavily and awkwardly, dislocating my (other) shoulder. Much profanity ensued, and after the obligatory six weeks with my arm immobilised in a sling, I set off on the physio trail. It worked, up to a point, and there I stuck. And so, after scans and discussions3 I was booked in for the dreaded surgery, because I’d completely torn two ligaments, and displaced a third, and while I could do an awful lot with that arm, I could not lift it away from my body sideways..

The fateful day – Saturday, 21st October, rolled around, and I admit that I arrived at the hospital in a state of terror and cowardice, and very nearly chickened out. It didn’t help that despite being on a high dose of acid-reducers for GERD, my stomach was pumping out acid like anything – all the stress, no doubt – and I was convinced that I’d wake up from the anaesthetic with a laryngeal spasm4 and die on the spot, and it would all have been for nothing. That’s what happened after the last anaesthetic I had, by the way, except the dying part. Obviously.

But I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to know that I went through with it, and I was fine. The surgeon was able to do the repair arthroscopically, so there is a lot less pain, and I am home and beginning the long road to recovery. When I say ‘there is a lot less pain’, all things, dear reader, are relative, and it still bloody hurts. Oh, boy, does it hurt! But I am managing, so far, without quite as many painkillers as last time, so I am not (at the moment) hallucinating. Is that good? I think it’s good 5

And one of the best things is that I am sleeping okay. Partly, perhaps, because it was a less invasive operation, and partly because I did a lot of research and bought myself a very heavy duty, large, bed wedge to prop me up, and another for under my knees to stop me sliding down the bed6.

The consultant and the anaesthetist were both lovely and very patient, by the way, as were all of the nursing and auxiliary staff throughout my stay. But I still think I was very brave not to turn tail and run from that hospital room.

And I didn’t even get a sticker!

I did, however, get no less than three bunches of flowers from OH, and they were all waiting for me at home when I was discharged. He’d put them into vases, and everything! Aren’t they lovely?


1 2008, to be precise

2 Yes, yes, I knew it was there. It’s been there for fifteen years or more

3 The first consultant I was referred to was a knee specialist and didn’t even order a scan. Then the physio asked for an urgent referral to a shoulder guy, and the doctor’s surgery sent me a copy of my blood results from March 2016, instead

4 Laryngeal spasms are terrifying, and happen when a foreign substance touches your vocal chords – stomach acid, for instance will trigger a spasm, because stomach acid will seriously damage your lungs. Your larynx literally clamps itself shut, so it’s like trying to drag each breath into your lungs through the space between two pages of a damp book. It happened to me after a minor investigative procedure, and didn’t enjoy it

5 Although I did kind enjoy the impromptu opera performances by the invisible people, and OH found the one-sided conversations rather amusing

6 Ah, the wedges … After shoulder surgery, it’s not possible to sleep flat, so you have to find a way to prop yourself up. Last time, I used about five pillows, which kept slipping (which was painful) and if they didn’t slip apart from each other, I slid down the bed off of them (which was painful). This time I have a heavy-duty, 8 inch high firm, long, wedge which I can put my pillow on, and a ‘hill-shaped’ wedge for underneath my knees, so that I don’t slide off it. It’s actually quite comfortable, and it works!

16 thoughts on “I have been a very brave girl

  1. Valerie Daggatt 26th October 2017 / 3:40 pm

    Well, hello. It has been a long, long time. So sorry to hear about your medical problems but you come across as being really brave. I am only going for a camera scan tomorrow and I feel like slamming everything and everyone who gets in my path. Anxieties overwhelm me to that point. I hope things go well for you from now on. All the best.

    • Jay 26th October 2017 / 6:57 pm

      I know how you feel. I used to be like that, but these days I just tend to dissolve into tears and imagine the worst. It’s very lowering.

      I do hope your procedure goes well tomorrow – good luck!

  2. Carol 26th October 2017 / 3:48 pm

    Whew! I am so glad you made it – without any of those awful things happening.
    By the way, Iā€™m pretty sure, maybe even certain, that steps and things sometimes thrust themselves upwards, just a tad, as we approach.

    • Jay 26th October 2017 / 7:00 pm

      Haha – you may well be right! OH and I are convinced that gravity becomes variable, and sometimes increases 100% just to play around with us. We find this particularly noticeable on the stairs, and on hills. I suspect you may find the same. šŸ˜€

  3. Kathy G 26th October 2017 / 11:22 pm

    Hubby had some shoulder issues over the summer that were solved by many weeks of physical therapy. Even though the problem resolved itself he still does his exercises at home diligently, hoping it never comes back.

    I’d still hold out for a sticker šŸ™‚

    • Jay 27th October 2017 / 9:50 am

      Hi Kathy! Nice to see you!

      Yes, I’m told that 80-something percent of actual tears can be resolved with physio, but sadly this wasn’t one of them. I’m really pleased it was the case for your husband, though. And tell him he’s a very good boy for continuing with the exercises (and very wise) and that he deserves a sticker!

      Did I mention that I didn’t get one?

      • Ursula 30th October 2017 / 11:42 am

        Jay, this is what I love about the English language. I was astonished to learn (in your reply to Kathy) that actual tears can be resolved with physio. Who needs bereavement counselling any more? Well, blame my momentary misreading of tear and tear on you mentioning dissolving into tears in a previous comment.

        Commiserations on your plight. The only good thing that can be said about injuries that are so painful you are not any longer interested in the state of the world, going through the roof will suffice, that they’ll give you morphine. Happened a few years ago to me when, after breaking my wrist and bits, they tried to reset my lower arm, manually. No doing. So, they settled me for the night, doping me up till the op next day. That night was brilliant. It was so brilliant that if morphine were available over the counter I wouldn’t be able to vouch for myself.

        Hope you are healing well (one might of course say, heeling, same difference), have a virtual sticker from me,

        Last but not least, thanks for bringing yourself to my attention and making me laugh; I read some of your “the depp effect” blog’s back catalogue earlier today. I think you may have coined a new and most beneficial movement.


        • Jay 30th October 2017 / 12:37 pm

          Hi Ursula! Thank you for visiting me – I’m so glad that The Depp Effect made you laugh (one of my aims is to make people laugh), and I’m so glad I found your blog, too! I have really enjoyed the posts I read today.

          Ha, yes! Or rather, no. You can’t resolve those kinds of tears with physio. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that simple? I’m so sorry to hear of your experiences with the broken arm, but I’m here to tell you that too much morphine will result in extremely unpleasant gastro-intestinal side-effects, and never mind the whole dependency and withdrawal thing. As soon as I got to my feet after having my dislocation reduced, I threw up, suddenly, and extremely violently. There are Other Effects, too, which are probably best not discussed, but which turn up later. Or not, as it were.

  4. cranky 26th October 2017 / 11:35 pm

    I assume “bloody hurts” is English for “Hurts like F*cking Hell!” Which is a lot. You have my sympathies.

    • Jay 27th October 2017 / 9:58 am

      Thanks, Cranky – pretty much, although my friend Jen from Tennessee said it ‘hurt like a bitch’ when she had the same op. Not sure which I prefer (they’re all good), but just so you know, I said ‘f*ck’ a lot while lying on the cold ground waiting for the ambulance the day I fell and dislocated that arm. I think if you asked OH, he’d say that 90% of what came out of my mouth in that 2 1/2 hours was ‘f*ck’.

  5. Rob Lenihan 27th October 2017 / 3:47 am

    Oh, Jay, I’m so sorry! This sounds like quite an ordeal. And I agree wholeheartedly–you have been a very brave girl indeed!

    I wishing you a very speedy recovery!

    • Jay 27th October 2017 / 10:04 am

      Ah, thanks, Rob! I knew I could rely on you for a good dollop of sympathy! Thank you, my friend!

      I always say that you have to be afraid before you can be said to be brave, otherwise it isn’t bravery, it’s just … not being worried.

  6. Liz 29th October 2017 / 2:21 pm

    Glad it wasn’t quite so bad this time. I am impressed Dh knew where to find 3 vases.

    • Jay 29th October 2017 / 5:22 pm

      Thanks! OH should know where to find three vases. I keep them on the windowsill of the downstairs cloakroom, so he stares at them quite frequently! šŸ˜€

  7. nick 30th October 2017 / 12:55 pm

    Glad the operation went well. I gather most people are terrified before an operation, conjuring up the most dire possibilities of everything going horribly wrong. I had an operation a few months ago to reduce my prostate, and thought I would be terrified but in the event I had such trust in my surgeon that I wasn’t at all nervous. The operation did in fact go well.

    I hope all the pain eventually subsides. and you’ll be able to use your hand and arm normally again.

    • Jay 30th October 2017 / 6:45 pm

      Thanks, Nick – good to hear that your op went well, and that you weren’t terrified! OH is like that, he doesn’t like the idea gf going in for surgery, but he is very matter-of-fact about it and just gets on with it without fretting.

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