So it’s a week now since I turned up at the Princess Royal Hospital in south-east London for day surgery. With recurrent dislocations of my right shoulder – four stretching back to November 2009 – and the last being particularly painful (they’re all painful, but the last was even more so) & difficult to reduce (put back in) I decided to have the elective surgery that was offered after various hospital visits (X-Rays, MRI & specialist consultations). The main reason for doing so was the unpredictability of the dislocations – while they are to some degree manageable, they are a lot less so when one is out far away from medical help. Such occasions aren’t completely out of the question with my love of mountain-biking, skiing, hiking, travelling and exploring in general. In my mind, a few months out of action while I’m settling in to life back in the UK is a price worth paying.
I’ve been back up in London staying with Trish (Mum’s cousin) for the week post-op as I needed someone to look after me, particularly for the first twenty-four hours. Trish had screws removed from her ankle six weeks ago, so we make quite the pair as I’m armless & she hobbles around. Consequently, it was Jan (Trish’s sister who kindly came up for two nights) who drove me to & from day surgery. The first couple of hours waiting were spent answering an awful lot of questions from nurses & the surgical team and having my shoulder marked up – I was pleased to confirm many times that it was my right shoulder. One of the surgeons explained the anthroscopic (keyhole surgery) shoulder stabilisation as using an anchor (that will degrade over time) to attach the capsule (tendons & so on that hold the ball in the socket) back to the bone where it had torn away. It made a bit more sense then, if you like seeing inside shoulders there are a few videos online – here is one.
Just after noon, I was first up of the four patients in for the afternoon’s surgery. I wandered in to the anaesthetic room beside my bed, lay on my left side on the bed, had the cannula inserted in to my hand, got a little bit of pain relief, held and oxygen mask & then nothing. Next I knew it was about two o’clock and I was being wheeled back down the corridor. Over the next two hours I drank a bit of tea, had two bouts of nausea during which I became reacquainted with my tea, ate some ridiculously dry biscuits (the dryness perhaps had more to do with a sore throat after being intubated than any fault on McVities’ part). The dressing on my shoulder oozed a bit, so the nurse just kept packing more & more gauze & tape on it – eventually I had what could have passed for a pillow strapped to my shoulder. After fun & games trying to get into trackpants and a sweater, I was released with my arm in some sort of a sling. This sling has proven to be really comfortable & I have none of the usual back & neck ache from having my arm hanging in a normal sling.
I didn’t sleep a whole heap the first night getting used to sleeping in a sling again, but since then it’s been OK and I’ve had plenty of good sleeps overnight & naps during the day. The swelling has gradually subsided & I’ve had very little pain – usually just a slight ache when I wake in the morning. It was a couple of days before my throat was back to normal. The huge dressing was changed on Friday, I was somewhat disappointed to find that, while I had stitches plural, I only had two stitches – one on the front & one on the back. I’m due to have those removed this afternoon before I go back home & hopefully back to work tomorrow to sit at my desk & type rather slowly.
It’s been a very pleasant week convalescing here with Trish looking after me superbly. We’ve been out for a couple of meals, watched a couple of series of Spooks & numerous interesting BBC documentaries & I’ve of course been reading a bit too. Saturday I popped in to London to visit (school friend) Levi & his girlfriend, catch up on their news, look for some slip-on shoes for work (no laces – it’s demeaning having people tie your laces, probably not so great for them either), & meet other Kiwis for the start of St Patrick’s Day drinks in some pub. Later, after half an hour in an extremely loud Picadilly club, I used my recent surgery as a reasonable excuse to leave & save my eardrums. Oh – I booked flights home for a two week visit over August and September. Five more weeks of being in a sling, not driving & waiting to start physio so life can get back to normal…