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With right shoulder snugly tied down, editor hunts and pecks with left hand

I got a little concerned when I had to use my left hand to help my right one lift my camera to eye level to take photos. When I started noticing that my right arm balked a bit when I made a left turn in my truck I worried a bit. But when pain in my right shoulder reached a point where I had to curtail a day’s fishing by several hours I realized that I had to have the rotator cuff looked at.

I consulted a surgeon. Guess what he suggested?

When you consult a car dealer he wants to sell you a car. When you talk to a stockbroker he wants access to your money. But when you tell a surgeon that some part of your body hurts he wants to slice it open and have a look.

Such was the case and such is the reason I’m typing, slowly, with my left hand, the other being protected in a bulky sling strapped to my torso to assure the repaired shoulder remains stabilized. Not that I care to move it since even the slightest tremor sends pain shooting from my neck to my fingertips.

But as surgeries go, this one was fairly routine — if you don’t count the trauma of passing out before the anesthetist administered the stuff that’s designed to make you pass out. I must admit to a certain wussiness regarding all things painful and it’s not the actual pain that sets me off — or out — but the idea that something’s amiss. Been this way since I was a kid and stuck a fish stringer through my hand but that’s another story.

As I was saying, the anesthetist decided to put a block into several nerves in my shoulder to reduce post-op pain, a great idea I thought at the time. He gave me a local to prevent pain from the block, and then asked me to describe any unusual feelings in my shoulder as he stuck in a foot-long needle.

I did okay with that for a minute or two — until I actually felt something as he gouged around in my arm with a railroad spike. My head felt woozy, my eyes glazed over until a nice nurse just lowered me to the bed. Next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room, shoulder repaired, head in a fog and no memory of any of it. Blessed ignorance.

I stayed in that fog for two days until I got tired of the hallucinations, dry mouth and itch the pain pills caused. I switched to a different painkiller with other, but equally annoying, side effects. It took only one dose to wean me off those and onto over-the-counter stuff.

I’m already into physical therapy. More pain. First visit consisted of me trying to be cooperative with a double-dose of those high-level pain killers coursing through my body. Rag dolls would be more stable. I felt like a scared puppy just separated from its littermates, shivering, shaking and wondering what horrors awaited. None, really. We saved that for the second visit, during which I discovered just how far we could stretch my shoulder before I start screaming like a cat caught in a cotton picker. Not far. Not far at all, but the therapist said he was pleased with my progress, since I didn’t pass out or cower in the corner.

Therapy should last for a month — or two. Fun times.

Meanwhile I’m learning to do things with one, non-dominant hand. I do emails. I type, slowly and with even more errors than udusl (see?). I make lunch. I shaved — once — but will not try that again without a handful of band-aids, preferable already out of their packets.

But mostly I depend on my wife. Have I ever mentioned that I’m married to a saint?


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